'A big void': Beloved caretaker of Jami Mosque, dubbed Toronto's oldest, dies after contracting COVID-19

·2 min read
'A big void': Beloved caretaker of Jami Mosque, dubbed Toronto's oldest, dies after contracting COVID-19
Amjed Syed, 77, was the caretaker at Jami Mosque in the High Park neighbourhood. He died Monday after contracting COVID-19. (Submitted by Jami Mosque - image credit)
Amjed Syed, 77, was the caretaker at Jami Mosque in the High Park neighbourhood. He died Monday after contracting COVID-19. (Submitted by Jami Mosque - image credit)

Amjed Syed spent the last four decades of his life serving his community, whether it was as caretaker for Toronto's Jami Mosque, or as a friend and problem solver to those around him.

"He loved everybody in the community," said Imam Hamdy Abdelghaffar, who leads the mosque today.

"For 40 years, every single day, he used to serve the masjid [mosque] and the community — it's not an easy task."

Syed died on Monday at the age of 77, after being diagnosed with COVID-19. On Wednesday, due to safety regulations, only a small group of family and friends could gather at two funerals in Mississauga and Toronto to remember him, though Abdelghaffar said many more wished they could have been there.

Syed lived across the street from the Jami Mosque, located on Boustead Avenue in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood. The Mosque is dubbed Toronto's oldest, founded 52 years ago. Ten years later, Syed joined as a member.

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"Today, we lost one of our longest-serving and most loved members of our Muslim community," said a tweet by Jami Mosque on the day Syed died.

"Over these years, he was instrumental in keeping the mosque running on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, come rain or shine," it continued.

"He was exemplary in his temperament and service. He was diligent and conscientious and gave service with a deep sense of responsibility. He was always there to greet people with his gentle and warm demeanour."

Nabeel Mirza, chair of Islamic Society of North America said it wasn't just the Islamic and Muslim community who were touched by Syed's hard work and generosity.

"Whenever there was a problem anywhere in the community, people who weren't even coming to the mosque, he would say, 'Don't worry, it will be solved,'" Mirza remembered.

Two days after his death, there are questions from mosque members about whether Jami Mosque will have to close — something Mirza said won't happen, but he said it is an understandable fear since replacing Syed will be difficult.

"It's a big void," said Mirza. "He touched almost everyone … the community is, I'll just say they're speechless."

Syed was laid to rest at Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton.