The Islamic Institute of Toronto has evolved from a fledgling institution to become one of Canada's premier Islamic educational institutions. This journey began in 1996 with a vision to create an institution that provides education and training, promote scholarly research and provide community outreach. By being committed to its core values of disseminating authentic Islamic knowledge and promoting the middle way, IIT has been a stabilising force within the community.
From its humble roots in the basement of a medical building at 1825 Markham Road, IIT moved into its new headquarters at 1630 Neilson Road in 2006 on an eight acre plot of land. The new building currently houses an elementary school (Junior and Senior Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2), adult and children evening classes, a bookstore, a small library, a gymnasium and administrative offices. In addition to offering courses in Arabic language, Aqeedah, Quranic Arabic, Islamic Jurisprudence and Seerah, the IIT also works with Scouts Canada to promote scouting; leadership training for youths, seminars and workshops are also provided at the IIT.
The IIT's story exemplifies the power of collaboration and working together. It symbolises the power of perseverance, patience, commitment and community engagement. Reflecting on the last fourteen years, this institution has indeed come a long way, by Allah's grace. While the building is a means to an end, it is an important milestone. Despite the financial challenges, the land was bought in 2001, and the ground breaking ceremony in 2004 was attended by the Imams and Directors of all the major Islamic Centres and other dignitaries in the Greater Toronto Area. It was perhaps one of the largest outpourings of community support in the history of Muslims in the GTA. Tents constructed on the grounds (reminiscent of the tents in Mina and Arafat) were bursting at the seams – the festive atmosphere, punctuated with recitation of the Quran, speeches and children scampering and playing, was a preview of what this institution was striving to promote.
The construction started in 2004 with the pouring of the foundation and construction began in earnest in 2005. Since that time, the organisation hasn't looked back – through the hard work of the volunteers and the unwavering support of our donor community, an occupancy permit was granted in 2006. It was indeed a blessing from Allah that we spent a portion of the blessed month in that year worshipping in our own facility rather than rented space at a high school in the Town of Markham. Firmly nested in a residential community in the north east end of the city, the IIT is fast becoming a community hub.
While we have achieved much, Alhamdulillah, we have much more to do – we are hoping to complete the second floor before the blessed month of Ramadan in 2010. The upper floor will house a number of classrooms, thereby enabling us to increase our offerings in the elementary school and to fulfil a promise to have a state of the art library and reading room.