May 16, 2011

Shadow and Flame

Slave Lake Mosque (apologies for my poor cellphone camera picture)
A few months ago, I wrote about my experiences in Slave Lake, Alberta, an isolated town in Northern Alberta that had a complicated relationship with its large Muslim community, including the arson of the former mosque in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. The Muslim community had since built a new mosque, a beautiful one that unfortunately suffered from an almost complete lack of participation. For the most part, the Muslims there had been overcome with fear and suspicion, and were afraid to attach themselves to a targeted site.

I awoke this morning to the news that the entire city is now burning, due to forest fires carried by heavy winds. While the residents have been safe alhamdulillah, their property and belongings have largely been destroyed.

The pictures depict many streets I've walked myself. The hardest hit areas appear to be those within walking distance of the mosque itself, so it is entirely likely that their beautiful mosque is among the ruins. I can only hope and pray that the community can find a way to pick up the pieces again, and that they work alongside neighbours to rebuild their town. It would be a powerful statement of mutual respect and cooperation that could insha-Allah help them overcome the distrust and fear that split the community over the last decade.

Important numbers

To donate toiletries, bedding call Edmonton Emergency Relief Services780-428-4422
To donate to Red Cross1-800-418-1111
To register as evacuee or to reach evacuees call Red Cross1-800-565-4483
Info on hospital patient evacuees1-866-301-2668
Wildfire information line1-866-916-INFO
WildFire Road Closure Hotline780-644-5653 or 310-4455
Source: CBC


  1. First off I would just like to inform you that the mosque in slave lake is still up :) and second as a muslim from slave lake I just want to correct you on some of your facts.. I recall that The first mosque went down wayyy before sept 11 because I was still a kid when it happened.. And us muslimes aren't ashamed or afraid to go to the mosque everyone just prays at home beacuse business owners can't leave at every call of prayer..although we have the few familys that go for every call. We go to the mosque on fridays and for every eid.. When were you in slave lake?

  2. Thanks for the note! Hope everyone there is doing well insha-Allah after everything that has happened. I passed by Slave Lake twice last summer (May 2011) on the way to Yellowknife, one day being Juma in which there were only four people present. One of the brothers there for Jumah told us the history, which I guess wasn't entirely accurate based on your account; that brother himself was relatively new to Slave Lake so he might have been misinformed, or something got lost in translation.

    Alhamdulillah, it's very good to hear that the mosque is still up, when I saw the map on CBC I thought for sure the mosque was in the vicinity of most of the damages. Insha-Allah you will overcome this setback and the community will prosper!

  3. Nice to know the Mosque in Slave Lake was undamaged! AlhamdoliAllah.