According to Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, there were 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada or about 3.2% of the population, making them the second largest religion after Christianity and the fastest growing religion in Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 7.7% of the population is Muslim, making GTA the highest concentration of Muslims in any city in North America.
The majority of Canadian Muslims live in the province of Ontario, and especially in and around the Greater Toronto Area. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 424,925 Muslims living in the Greater Toronto Area equaling 7.7% of the total metro population. It consists of people from all across the Muslim world but there are especially a large number of Muslims of Indian, Pakistani, Iranian and Egyptian/Arab descent. Canada’s national capital Ottawa hosts many Lebanese, South Asian and Somali Muslims, where the Muslim community numbered approximately 65,880 or 5.5% in 2011. Greater Montreal’s Muslim community was 221,040 in 2011 or nearly 6% of the total metro population and included large numbers of people of Moroccan, Algerian and Lebanese descent. In addition to Toronto, Ottawaand Montreal, nearly every major Canadian metropolitan area has a large Muslim community, including Vancouver (73,215), where more than a third are of Iranian descent, Calgary (58,310), Edmonton (46,125), Windsor (15,575), Winnipeg (11,265), and Halifax (7,540). In recent years, there has been rapid population growth in Calgary and Edmonton because of the booming economy.
Most Canadian Muslims are people who were raised Muslim. As with immigrants in general, Muslim immigrants have come to Canada for a variety of reasons. These include higher education, security, employment, and family re-unification. Others have come for religious and political freedom, and safety and security, leaving behind civil wars, persecution, and other forms of civil and ethnic strife. In the 1980s, Canada became an important place of refuge for those fleeing the Lebanese Civil War. The 1990s saw Somali Muslims arrive in the wake of the Somali Civil War as well as Bosniaks fleeing the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. However Canada has yet to receive any significant numbers of Iraqis fleeing theIraqi War. But in general almost every Muslim country in the world has sent immigrants to Canada — from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania toYemen and Bangladesh.
The fertility rate for Muslims in Canada is higher than the rate for other Canadians (an average of 2.4 children per woman for Muslims, compared with 1.6 children per woman for other populations in Canada)
Table 1: Muslim Population of Canada in 2011
|Province||Muslim 2001||% 2001||Muslims 2011||% 2011|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||625||0.1%||1,200||0.2%|
|Prince Edward Island||195||0.1%||660||0.5%|
As the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of religious expression, Canadian Muslims face no official religious discrimination. Under Section 2(a) of the Charter, the wearing of the hijab is permitted in schools and places of work, although Quebec has ruled that medical faculties are not required to accommodate Muslim women who wish to be served by female employees. Religious holidays and dietary restrictions are also respected, but outside major urban areas it may be difficult to find halal food. It is also often difficult to observe Islamic rules against usury. Muslims in some parts of Canada have asked to have family dispute courts to oversee small family cases but were faced with rigorous opposition from traditional groups and liberal Muslim groups, labeling the request as a move towards imposing a Sharia Law. This proposal was opposed by the Muslim Canadian Congress, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and non-Muslim women’s groups. In light of publicity, Muslims in Canada have elected to put the subject to rest.
In December 2011 Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism, announced that women would be required to have their faces uncovered during citizenship ceremonies.
Four years after Canada’s founding in 1867, the 1871 Canadian Census found 13 European Muslims among the population. A great number of Bosniaks (from Bosnia) came to American soil much like Christians from Europe; some came prior to First World War. The first Canadian mosque was constructed in Edmonton in 1938, when there were approximately 700 European Muslims in the country. This building is now part of the museum at Fort Edmonton Park. The years after World War II saw a small increase in the Muslim population. However Muslims were still a distinct minority. It was only after the removal of European immigration preferences in the late 1960s early 1970’s that Muslims began to arrive in significant numbers.
Bosniaks were the initiators and one of the main participants in founding of all first mosques in Toronto. First masjid, out of which the three oldest mosques in Toronto came were founded by Bosniaks and Albanians in 1968. The first masjid in Toronto was named Jami Mosque (56 Boustead Ave. Toronto). Later, with the action of Dr Qadeer Baig r.a. (a professor of University of Toronto), it was purchased by Asian Muslims, while Albanians and Bosniaks later founded their own mosques: Albanian Muslim Society of Toronto on 564 Annette St. and Bosanska džamija (Bosnian Mosque) at Bosnian Islamic Centre. According to the Canadian Census of 1971 there were 33,000 Muslims in Canada. The oldest mosque in Toronto, with the oldest minaret in Ontario, built in Osmanic style is the one in Etobicoke, that is part of the Bosnian Islamic Centre, whose readjustment into masjid(originally an old Catholic school building) was over on June 23, 1973. Mosque (an old Catholic school, bought for 75 000 CAD) was readjusted for the Bosniaks, with the support of the local Christians. In the 1970s large-scale non-European immigration to Canada began. This was reflected in the growth of the Muslim community in Canada. In 1981, the Census listed 98,000 Muslims. The 1991 Census indicated 253,265 Muslims. By 2001, the Islamic community in Canada had grown to more than 579,000. Estimates for the Census 2006 pointed to a figure of 800,000. As of May 2013, Muslims account for 3.2% of the total population, with a total of over a million, and Islam has become the fastest growing religion in Canada. The Muslim community in Canada is just one among many ethnic, religious, racial and cultural communities that together make up Canada. Canadian Muslims may be classified as Muslims for official governmental statistical and policy-making purposes.
A major aspect of the Muslim community in Canada is the prevalence of city-based associations such as the Muslim Council of Montreal, or Toronto’s Council; organizations that deal mainly with issues pertaining to their home city, but that support national associations. Most of these national organisations are not grass root organizations, except theMuslim Association of Canada, but instead are umbrellas and coordination bodies between local associations.There is also Arabic Muslims,and they are originally from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and some other countries in the Middle East. The Iraqi population is estimated at about 100,000 in 2013, and around 90% of them are Muslims. Many Arab Muslims have arrived to Ontario in the 1990s.
These are only some of the key organisations within the Muslim Canadian community. As the community is large and diverse with well over 60 ethno-cultural groups. Various organisations are continually emerging as they seek to meet the needs of community members.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada acts as an Ahmadi Muslim (sect that rejects Muhammad as the last prophet) representative. It has about 50 Local Chapters scattered across Canada, concentrating mainly in southern Ontario. The community has good relations with the government and helps in humanitarian causes. Baitun Nur is the largest mosque in Canada. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Canada has many active Auxiliary organizations such as: