Islamic centre urges City of Toronto to create prayer spaces in subway stations

Abu Ubaydah Islamic Centre in Toronto has initiated a petition calling on the authorities to create prayer spaces in Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway stations.

Here is the text of the petition:

In the name of thy Lord, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This petition is to Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to create prayer spaces in subway facilities like those that already exists in Tokyo or other cities around the world.

I saw Tarek Fatah’s tweet on this subject yesterday and it got me wondering as something seemed off so I did a bit of digging. It’s a bizarre but not unexpected request from the Muslim community but let’s examine things a little closer. I don’t think it’s a hoax but I suspect the request originates from an insignificant source of little influence. While it is alarming that the petition has reached over 3000 signatures as I write there is sufficient reason to question their relevance if not their authenticity, more on that later.

Let’s start with the organization behind the petition, the Abu Ubaydah Islamic Centre.

No such Mosque or Islamic centre exists that I can find with a physical address in the GTA.

The  petition states the “Abu Ubaydah Islamic Centre (BIN: 281266692) is a non for profit organization affiliated with Zancana community centre”.

I haven’t verified the BIN number ( Provincial requirement = Business Identification Number) yet but I’ll have more related to this later.

The affiliated Zancana Community Centre does exist, this is the web site, Well it exists as a web site at least. The address given as it’s location is 32 River Street Toronto Ontario M5A 3N9. It’s a house, nice location steps from the beer store.

The site itself displays purported activity under its news and events sections with the last dated entries being 2013 and 2014 respectively.  In a single odd entry under “Zanzibar History” it has an article discussing “Space Station Zanzibar”, I’m not kidding.

The only and closest reference to the petition originator Abu Ubaydah Islamic Centre is found under the section labeled “Fund Raising Project”. At one point they were raising funds for a madrassa to be named the ABU UBAIDAH ISLAMIC CENTER (AUIC), note the variation in spelling. They claim to have raised 61K toward a 300K goal though over what time frame and whether or not it’s still an active campaign I can’t say.  The web site shows no signs of recent activity. They do list an address on “256 Eddy stone avenue North York ON M3N 1H7” as an ongoing location for the madrassa fundraiser. Google street-view reveals a commercial stripmall and the pertinent tenant may be the Queen Supermarket.  I do most of my fundraising from supermarkets don’t you?

The Zancana Community Centre is registered with Canada Revenue as a charity under BN no. 833373558RR0001. For its report of 2017 it recorded no activity of any kind under Section C of its filing.   $27,283 in assets and $14,953 in total revenue from donations are listed under section D3.  The organization was not engaged in any sort of “charitable” activity as outlined in it’s program description; religious education, counselling and immigration homework tutoring, and declared itself inactive for the fiscal year covered by this report – see sections C1 & C2.

It does identify six board members.

I still have to track the BIN number provided on the petition web site (BIN: 281266692) and see if i can dig up financials. Any help on this would be appreciated.

So that’s it for the “organization” behind the request. It’s a small, I’d almost suggest “Potemkin like”, operation with a dubious CRA charity status, and don’t we all have one of those.

The only other reference I could find to the petition were Google Plus postings by this individual.

A total of 5 posts with links to the petition were made to Google Plus Groups dedicated to Islam. One such group  “Beauty of Islam” has over 187,000 members, another “What is Islam” has over 327,000 members.

And your point is? With group numbers like that it’s very possible that many of the signatures on the petition aren’t from Toronto or even Canada. They may be sympathetic but they ain’t from here, possibly, as I have no way of validating the signatures.

Lot’s of questions, very few answers. I don’t think it’s a ‘serious” request but then I am left with bothersome questions about its motivation and the organization’s charitable status.