My Montreal: My Neighbour's Faith
Dozens of worshippers bow in prayer at the downtown Al-Omah Al-Islamiah mosque as they do five times a day, but on this day they have some interested observers.
At the back of the room a small group of McGill students are looking on as part of a program called My Neighbour's Faith.
The series of get-togethers introduce McGill university students to the various religions practiced in Montreal. March was a chance to get acquainted with Islam, a word that means "one who submits before God."
The mosque on St. Dominique stands discreetly in the neighbourhood, one wall adorned with a mural. A minaret stands on the roof while inside, the rhythmic and melodic call to prayer brings lines of worshippers together to bow, and then kneel in unison.
Student Jay Alexander Brown says the visit gave him a whole new window into the Muslim faith.
"I've been in a couple of mosques in the Middle East, but I've never gotten to watch people in the prayer before like we just did," he said.
Foreign Student Salman Hafeez says that the series will help to dispel stereotypes.
"Given the political events of the past few years which haven't really been ideal for Islam ... it's a really nice opportunity to clarify what Islam stands for."
The students were invited to visit the mosque as part of a year-long series organized by the McGill chaplaincy service and the Social Equity and Diversity Education office.
The students were introduced to the religious leader, called an imam, and they were invited to remove their shoes and sit down for a halal meal.
Halal food is prepared under the dietary laws of Islamic teachings and is not substantially different from kosher food.
The students were also given a given a crash course on Islam and some said the trip piqued their Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, told CTV's Debra Arbec that he's found a willing audience.
"Some of these questions are quite interesting because I think they are on the minds of many of us today," he said.