VAUGHAN -Before dawn in this sprawl north of Toronto, McDonald’s is locked and Tim Hortons is empty. The fake mountain of Canada’s Wonderland, the amusement park, peeks from the gloom. Across the street looms the white minaret of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at mosque.
A speaker in the parking lot crackles and broadcasts the Arabic call to prayer. Suddenly, silent life fills the dark streets. Men dressed in the long white shalwar camise of their native Pakistan and women in head scarfs emerge from their brick homes.
The only sound is the squeak of hundreds of soles on the asphalt. At the mosque, couples separate: women to their basement prayer hall, men headed upstairs. Before sunrise on this day of Ramadan, they are coming to pray.
Welcome to Peace Village, Canada’s first Islamic subdivision, where all 260 homes belong to members the Ahmadiyya sect, who flooded to Canada in the 1980s after persecution in Pakistan. It looks ordinary, with basketball nets and minivans in the driveways, until you notice the street signs: Mahmood Crescent, Ahmadiyya Avenue and Noor-Ud-Din Court.
“There is nothing like this in North America,” boasts Naseer Ahmad, a real estate agent from Pakistan who dreamed up this community of Islamic dream homes (including oak stairs and central air conditioning) on the edge of Toronto. “You have a mosque, and people are walking to enjoy their faith.”
The houses, with some modifications, such as increased ventilation (for spicy food) and separate living rooms for women and men, are so successful that, six years after Peace Village opened, Mr. Ahmad plans to double the mosque’s size and is now selling 55 townhomes, 1,700 square feet each, for around $350,000 with a garage and a yard, as “Peace Village Phase II.”
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* From Jihad Watch Deutschland