At the beginning of this post series, I related a story about a mosque that I no longer attend. This past summer we drove by that mosque to see bouncy castles and a huge community barbecue in full swing. I felt betrayal and annoyance — but not regret. Circumstances and an uncomfortable atmosphere drove my family away and we were clearly not missed. But figuratively, they did miss us — and we are one more family who no longer support, attend or enrich that community.
So we’ve done what some do when the mosque becomes an unbearable place — we try to make connections to other communities. Now every ‘Eid, we celebrate with the Muslim Association of Canada — who runs programs and events at various secular locations, with bouncy castles and barbecues too. We engage with live-streaming programs from Seeker’s Hub, a learning centre and self-claimed non-mosque, dedicated to community service, social engagement and education through a group of brilliant scholars. And when we can, attend conferences like Reviving the Islamic Spirit. I also attend the occasional gender-inclusive Jummah prayer at the El-Tawhid Jummah Circle and through this blog, have made amazing connections to fellow Muslims all over the world.
But it’s not perfect. Having a liminal or disjointed community base can also at times be unfulfilling. And sometimes, the answer is to create one’s own community as many of our participants have done.
I’m curious to know where or if you find connections to a community, or if you’ve created your own “mosque” community — please join our discussion in the comments!
Since leaving the mosque, where/how do you find community or connection to other Muslims?
Ify: I find community and connection with small groups of friends, meeting in homes or for activities like hiking, going out to eat or the movies. I’ve found small halaqa circles and have been branching out to explore other mosque communities. I regularly attend classes on Islam so there is a great feeling of community within those spaces.
Randy: Basically, the same way I connect with anybody else. I maintain friendships and acquaintances via personal interactions and electronic media. I never relied on a mosque for social connectivity.
Maryam: I’ve co-founded a group in my city, so maybe you can say I’m re-mosqued, but in a very different way?
It’s an incredibly supportive and friendly community, non-segregated, and following principles of gender equality and shared religious authority. The khutbas are beautifully thoughtful and heartfelt, so it’s a spiritually enriching space where I actually feel like I can absorb what’s being said. It’s amazing to have a regular group of people to meet up with to pray and talk about Islam together.
Aside from that, I have Muslim friends from school or from events I’ve gone to (or from the religious spaces I used to go to), and I manage to see them pretty often. It probably takes longer to build a personal Muslim community if you’re not in any one religious space regularly, but I’ve eventually managed to find or create pretty awesome communities wherever I’ve lived.
And then there’s the internet. There are a number of bloggers and other connections that I’ve encountered over the years, and that’s actually been a pretty important source of Muslim community and friendship in my life, even if my interaction with most of them has been almost entirely online.
Javed: Since I’m an honorary Malaysian, through my wife, we’ve met pretty much every Malaysian and Indonesian family in the area. So our Muslim community is more like our Southeast Asian cultural community.
Omar: I don’t really look for community. I like being a loner.
Sajida: I haven’t found a community. Thankfully, my research has connected me with individuals that I have found very inspiring. These have usually been chaplains or shuyukh that these chaplains have put me in touch with.
Furakh: While I was at school, I had a good group of friends and we created our own community of sorts. I still connect with them online, alhamdulillah, but besides that I have little connection with other Muslims.
Ida: I haven’t left the mosque. I just haven’t been going. This is an important distinction which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Khaiam: If you know where to look, when you leave the mosque you can figure out where to find others who have also left. I’ve felt more community from the few Muslims unattached to a mosque than a large group within one.
Read more in this series: