In May 2010, he was inside one of two Ahmadi Muslim mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, that were brutally attacked.
That day, 94 people were killed at the mosques. Among them were Mahmood's father, two uncles and a cousin. Another 120 were injured.
"We grew up with this concept that we're not safe, anybody can actually come and attack us," Mahmood said.
"So at that moment in the mosque I was going through that same feeling that we were thinking about — it's the time we are actually facing it."
The shooting was spurred on by hate and legislation against a particular sect of Islam, called Ahmadi.
Pakistan's constitution declares Ahmadiyya followers as non-Muslims.
They can be jailed for years for simply calling themselves Muslim or performing the Muslim call to prayer, said Franz Volker Greifenhagen, a religious studies professor at the University of Regina.
"You're really always disqualified, discounted and although officially there's no policy of violent oppression, it gives permission," Greifenhagen said.
He said many Ahmadi have also been targeted and killed by fellow citizens who accuse them of blasphemy.
Mahmood found his father's body the evening of the attack. He said the same pressure and feeling of insecurity continued for his family in the days that followed.
"We were left with no other option but to escape from the country."
Who are Sask.'s asylum seekers?
Mahmood and his family were among many who made the trek to Canada as asylum seekers.