Islamic History Month – Profile 2: Mohamed and Fatima Hattum
Fatima and Mohamed Hattum have been living and farming near the Swift Current area in Saskatchewan all their lives. Mohamed lives at the same farm he was born at, while Fatima immigrated
to Saskatchewan from Lebanon to marry him in November 1978. “When I arrived we were the only Muslims in the area. Now there are around 20 Muslim families and we are supporting two Syrian refugee families who arrived this year,” explains Fatima. “We have become their family here in Canada just like the community of Swift Current became mine when I first arrived.” Fatima and Mohamed raised three children, two girls and one boy, who also live and work in Saskatchewan. The Hattums have welcomed two grandchildren into their family.
Mohamed is part of six generations of the Hattum family, who all inherited the farm from their grandfather who arrived in the area in 1916. Initially, the Hattums found a rented space to gather and use as an Islamic Centre. In 1982, through Canada-wide fundraising, they bought the current mosque as their permanent facility to run a Sunday school and offer regular prayers. It also serves as a communal place for funerals and various other community needs.
Fatima is the one who kept the Arabic language alive in the family. “I spoke the language and also taught Mohamed’s family Arabic. I started a school in the mosque’s basement for children who wanted to learn. Families used to drive three-and-a-half hours to get to the mosque just to socialize with other Muslim kids and to take Arabic lessons,” recalls Fatima. “We used to have potlucks every Friday and invited our neighbours and the larger community to it. People are still in awe when they learn about Islam and what it means to be a Muslim; I just sit there and cry because it warms my heart.”
When they are not farming, you will find the Hattums heavily invested in their local community. This includes having garage sales to renovate the mosque, renovating and cleaning the mosque and planning social gatherings where they invite everyone to the mosque. They also enjoy encouraging and educating people to learn about Islam. As Fatima wittingly puts it, “We are here and we are here to stay.”