Illuminating Peace in CrawleyNo Comments | March 2014
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Guest Speeches prior to Keynote Address
“Assalamo Alaikum! First of all I would like to thank you for this kind invitation to me and to the Mayoress to attend today. It is a pleasure, an honour and a delight to attend this most auspicious occasion of the inauguration of the first Ahmadiyya Mosque to be built in West Sussex. It’s yet another example of where Crawley leads, the rest will surely follow. It’s also an honour for me to represent the people of Crawley here this evening at this momentous event, and also to welcome to Crawley, the Khalifah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. I trust Sir, that you enjoy your stay here and I do hope you will be able to visit again in the future. When my wife Brenda was Mayor of Crawley four years ago, she met His Holiness in London, and she invited him to come to Crawley and today he has fulfilled that invitation, so thank you Sir. To mark the occasion of His Holiness’ visit, I would like to present in a moment, a small gift to His Holiness, but I want to talk about you, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Your saying is ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’, and surely this is a philosophy that we could all learn from and all adopt in our own lives. As we all know and read in the newspapers, we see on the television, we hear on the radio, there are many, many conflicts across the globe. Surely things would be far better if people were able to respect each other, and sit down together. A focus on humility would not go amiss; a focus on respect for others would not go amiss; a focus on peace would not go amiss. If the people were to love all and hate none, the world would be a far better place. There is another saying about love, which says that love conquers all. I believe this place is going to be called ‘Masjid Noor’. Noor means spiritual light and I hope that this place will act as a spiritual light and help to illuminate peace in Crawley. That is its aim and that is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly echo. Finally I would like to wish the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community every success in all that they do in the future. Thank You!”
Mayor of Crawley- Councilor Bob Burgess
“Assalamo Alaikum!… What an amazing honour this night is for West Sussex, Crawley and my neighbourhood of Langley Green! This must be the most prestigious gathering that we have had the honour to host and it is all because of this wonderful building that we are gathered here tonight. I have used the word ‘Community’ but how do we use and define ‘Community?’ Not by the value of the properties, the beauty of the buildings or the status of the cars in the drives, but by the contribution of every individual and organisation who live, meet or work within an area. This building has been transformed into the beautiful place we are now in but it is not just the paint or the decoration that make it so special, it is the people whose dreams it fulfils. The journey to this evening has been long and stressful and I don’t mean the weather and the floods! The Ahmadiyya Community has been living, working, and growing here in Crawley for years and I have been proud to be associated with them for almost 15 years…
… We are truly blessed in Langley Green to have a richly diverse community of cultures, faiths and beliefs, who are tolerant out-reaching and welcoming to their neighbours. Noor Masjid certainly has found the right place to settle. In the short time since the Ahmadiyya Community moved into our Old Ealing Church building, they have displayed all of these qualities. Tonight is a wonderful evening which I’m certain we will enjoy and remember for years to come. I am certain that this is the start of even greater times for the Ahmadiyya community and us all, as I know they will continue to promote their faith and beliefs as they work in this and the wider West Sussex community to bring love, peace and tolerance to all. Thank You.”
Labour Councillor for Langley Green – Brenda Smith
“…On behalf of the Lord Leftenant and through her, Her Majesty the Queen, may I congratulate you and your community on the progress which you have made, on the work that you are doing, on the beautiful building which you have provided and wish you all the very best for the future in your work in Crawley. Thank you very much.”
Dr John Godfried – Deputy Lord Leftenant of West Sussex
“Your Holiness, Deputy Leftenant, Mr Mayor, County Chairman, distinguished guests, as I look around the Marquee this evening I see many people who represent all of the political parties across local government, many different local government areas here in West Sussex, and most pleasing of all, I see friends and representatives from different faith groups who represent communities across this great borough of Crawley and West Sussex as well. And I think it is very telling that those who have been invited here this evening, to celebrate together the auspicious occasion of this official opening of the Masjid Noor Mosque, that it is an inclusive event and not exclusive. Much has been said already in the remarks so far of the quite correct maxim of the Ahmadiyya Community of “Love for All, Hatred for none” and indeed as speakers have said so far, that it is something that we can all fully support but it causes me to reflect on particularly the journey that the Ahmadiyya Community has been through and has suffered, if we are being honest, for over a century and regrettably into recent times. And with suffering, with persecution, there are huge challenges but one of the things that has struck and inspired me is the sense of forgiveness and not having slights and persecution against the Ahmadiyya community, prevent that community from reaching out to the rest of the world…I would like to just close, again by reflecting on comments that some of our other distinguished speakers have made this evening and that of course, is the name Noor meaning light. I have passed this Mosque as it has been developing over the previous months many times and indeed even yesterday in the torrential rain, as I passed here, I could see people busily working away, preparing for today’s opening. But this evening, as I arrived I noticed something new, and that was a light coming from the minaret, that this Mosque is fortunate to have and I think that is very fitting as a beacon to not only the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, but indeed a beacon and a welcoming light for all communities here in Langly Green, in Crawley and in West Sussex. And thank you for your generous hospitality this evening.”
Henry Smith – Member of Parliament for Crawley
After reciting Tashhahud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, His Holiness said:
“All distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our guests who have come here tonight to attend the inauguration of our new mosque in Crawley. It is of utmost importance for a true Muslim to express sentiments of gratitude whenever and wherever another person benefits him or expresses his solidarity, friendship and good will. Further, I would also like to thank all members of the local council and the mayor, who have permitted us to construct this mosque despite the widespread misconceptions that exist regarding Islam. In today’s world there are certain fears and reservations about our religion and so quite naturally the local officials may have been concerned that the construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque could harm the peace of the local society. And I am very grateful to them for granting us permission to build this mosque.
I am also extremely grateful to our neighbours, who out of neighbourly values and kind consideration have permitted the local Ahmadi Muslims to build a mosque in this area, despite all hidden fears. It should always be remembered that one of the closest possible relationships is the one that exists between neighbours. And so now that this mosque has been built our neighbours are deserving of great rights from the mosque itself and from the people who enter it. In true Islamic teachings the rights of a neighbour have been catered for to such an extent that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa said that Allah had emphasised the rights of neighbours so strongly and so repeatedly that he thought he might be commanded to include neighbours amongst a person’s rightful inheritors. Indeed, the Qur’an very specifically commands Muslims to fulfil the rights of their neighbours. And our ‘neighbours’ do not only include ‘next-door neighbours,’ but in fact also comprises of all people who live nearby from one door to the next, and so in this way the circle of neighbours extends very far and wide.
The Ahmadis who will come to use this mosque do not reside in just one small area, but are actually spread quite far and so the neighbours of our mosque are also spread over quite some distance. Naturally therefore, more and more people will be introduced to our Community through this mosque and so the responsibilities of the Ahmadis towards them will continue to increase and we will be duty-bound to fulfil the rights of all people around us. Mutual relationships will be created, whereby we will get to know people we did not know before, and they will get to know us, and in this way the rights and scope of our neighbours will become ever stronger and will continue to expand day by day. As this spirit and relationship develops, and the rights of neighbours are fulfilled, it will give birth to a bond of such love, unity and brotherhood, which normally only exists amongst blood relatives. And so in light of this, it is certainly the absolute right of all of our neighbours that I extend my feelings of heartfelt gratitude to all of you for permitting us to build a place where we can worship God Almighty. Certainly this is proof of your neighbourly values and open hearts. And now, even more than before, it is our responsibility to treat and consider all of you with great love and as if you are our own blood relatives and part of our family. I am confident that this will be the way the Ahmadi Muslims living in this area will consider all of you.
As I mentioned before there may exist certain fears or reservations in the hearts of some people about whether the construction of this mosque will negatively affect the peace of this area. I have already clarified that it is our duty to maintain and protect the peace of the area and to fulfil the due rights of our neighbours. Secondly, it should also be clear that a mosque or the place of worship of any religion should always project an image of being a ‘House of God.’ Certainly, Allah the Almighty has deemed a mosque to be a ‘House of God’ and so every true Muslim considers a mosque to be so and in reality it is. One thing to always keep in view is that if anyone enters a home and seeks to spread evil and disorder within it, whereas the owner of the house desires to spread only love and brotherhood, then no doubt the owner of the house will expel such people from his home. And so the objectives underpinning a House of God are those very objectives that God desires from mankind.
What does God Almighty desire from us? Allah has very clearly commanded that when you enter a mosque or when you enter any House of God, your purpose should be to worship Him and to bow down with sincerity before Him. When you enter a mosque, not only should you pray for your own success and betterment, but also for the benefit and progress of the society in which you live and for others. If there is a need for any worldly activity in a mosque it is only to consider and to search for ways to serve the Creation of Allah the Almighty and to devise plans for this.
A mosque should never be used for spreading evil and for developing ways to hurt any of God’s creation or seeking revenge from others. Within the four walls of a mosque it is completely forbidden to make any plan that could hurt any individual, any community or any group. Allah the Almighty has strictly prohibited such hateful activities in the strongest possible terms. Thus, the objective of every Ahmadi Muslim who will come to offer his prayers in this mosque, and [the objective of] the Ahmadiyya Community itself, will always remain to submit to God Almighty and enter the domain of His protection and to protect society from every type of evil and anxiety. Those who enter this mosque will not only seek to protect the local people, but will seek to help them and benefit them in every possible respect. These are the great objectives for which mosques are built and to fulfil these objectives the Ahmadiyya Community will make every possible effort in this area also.
Wherever the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community builds mosques it is these paramount objectives that we keep at the forefront of our minds. Certainly, a glance at our history proves that only a message of love, affection and brotherhood echoes in every direction from our mosques. And from the minarets of our mosques only a bright light shines forth spreading love, compassion and humanity throughout the area, the town, the city and indeed in all directions.
This mosque has been called the ‘Noor Mosque.’ I am delighted to know that quite a number of our honourable speakers are aware of its meaning; however I will further explain it. This literally means a mosque from which light emanates. It means it is that mosque which is itself illuminated and which will illuminate others so that the darkness of the world can be transformed into a shining bright light of peace and prosperity. In the world there are various types of darkness that exist. There is for example, the visible darkness of the night, which we are able to physically see with our eyes. There is darkness of the heart, which is called ‘spiritual darkness.’ There also exists ‘emotional darkness’ borne out of frustration, felt by people because of the injustices of the world or because of the tough conditions and circumstances that they endure and which lead to depression and devastation. We also find that there is darkness resulting from the environment in which one lives, whereby those who wish to create disorder in the world cause restlessness to develop amongst the people. This can be classified as the ‘darkness of anguish and unrest.’ Thus, it is the job of a true Muslim to dispel all forms of darkness from the world. We believe the best way to achieve this is for mankind to recognise and remember its Creator and to follow His teachings.
God is He who sent numerous Prophets throughout the world and so many different religions were established during different eras. Some religions were for a specific and limited region and some prophets came only to reform the people of their nation. Other prophets came to rejuvenate a previous teaching, whilst some prophets brought new laws; but all of them came with the same core message of bringing mankind closer to its Creator and to draw the attention of fulfilling the rights of one another. Every Messenger of God taught to worship of God and to be compassionate to His Creation. No religion has ever taught to spread disorder and strife in the world. In terms of our religion, we believe Islam to be a perfect and complete teaching. Indeed, in the Qur’an, Allah said to the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa that he had been given a complete teaching and it was his duty to propagate this universal religion to all parts of the world. How could it be that a religion deemed to be perfect and for the entire world could convey a message of hate, rather than a message of love and kindness? How could such a religion be spread through force rather than through compassion? In fact the Holy Prophetsa has been declared the ‘mercy for all of mankind’ by Allah the Almighty, that is the person whose mercy and compassion extends to the entire world, who spreads Allah’s blessings to all people, who loves all others, cares for their feelings and develops the love of God in their hearts.
And so these are the very teachings that we seek to impart to the world and that we strive to follow and act upon ourselves. It is this message that I always convey to Ahmadis, that only if they spread Islam’s true message of love and peace will they be enabled to dispel darkness from the world and replace it with spiritual light. Only then will they be able to remove every form of darkness, whether it is spiritual darkness or the darkness borne out of frustrations in which people feel there is no escape from their dire circumstances and because of which they become depressed, restless and even suicidal. We must remove all such people from their darkness. We must solve the problems of others and heal their distress and help those whose rights have been usurped.
It is also the task of Ahmadi Muslims to remove the darkness and hatred caused by certain individuals and groups and which is causing suffering in the world. Sadly, certain Muslim groups are associating their extremist ways with the teachings of Islam and so rather than spreading Islam’s light they are consuming the world into a bitter pit of darkness. Our community, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is continually working at all levels to remove the darkness of such hatreds and evils from the world and to instead spread light in all directions. Allah the Almighty has said in the Qur’an that He is the light of the heavens and the earth. Thus it is only by forming a close union with God that a person can free himself from all forms of darkness and desperation.
For this it is necessary to recognise your Creator and to understand what He desires from us. Thus, any person who is involved in terrorism and who seeks to justify his acts by attributing them to Allah can never become deserving of His pleasure and rewards, because such a person spreads only darkness, rather than light. The truth is that those who commit cruelties in God’s name are unjust and wrongdoers and according to our beliefs they will be subject to God’s wrath and punishment.
It is our claim and belief that Allah’s Light encompasses the entire world and is for everybody, and it is this teaching that we ourselves follow and which we advocate to others. It is impossible for a person to be a true believer in God, to worship Him sincerely and perceive His true light and yet at the same time be a means of spreading darkness and cruelty. Such people have either been unable to understand God’s teachings, or are motivated by vested interests or do not really believe in God and rather are just using God’s name to perpetrate immense cruelties in the world.
We, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, seek to remove the pain and suffering of God’s Creation and we always endeavor to do this to the best of our abilities within our limited resources. However much we can help and assist others, however much we can benefit society and however much we can spread love and affection we do so and will continue to do so. If a Muslim does not act in this way, he or she is not following the teachings of God Almighty.
Consequently, for such people to offer their prayers or to worship in mosques is entirely worthless. As I said before, the purpose for any real mosque is to be a place where people can come together to fulfil the rights of Allah’s worship and to follow His teachings. Today, we the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, claim that we build our mosques to fulfil these great and noble objectives and so we seek to serve humanity at every opportunity.
We are ever ready to serve mankind and to help those who are distressed – whether they are spiritually distressed, whether they are in pain due to their environment or whether they are grief-stricken because of circumstances. No matter what type of suffering, we desire and seek only to help and remove the pain of the people of the world and to fulfill their needs without any discrimination of cast and religion. We seek to give peace of mind to those who are restless. It is for these reasons that, with the Grace of God, wherever natural disasters strike the Ahmadiyya Community immediately helps and assists those who have been affected. Similarly, in the developing world and in particular in a number of African countries we are, within our limited resources, running humanitarian projects to help alleviate the suffering of the local people and to help them develop.
We are providing education and healthcare and we are engaged in various schemes to help the local people stand on their own two feet. In their remote villages we are physically providing facilities to give light. We are installing solar panels which are lighting up their streets and homes. We are also undertaking various social and economic projects to fulfil their basic requirements so that they can live in comfort, in peace and in happiness.
Thus, these are the great and noble teachings and high morals that Muslims have been given and which the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community seeks to practically implement in all parts of the world. Whatever we do is motivated entirely by the teachings given to us by Allah in the Holy Qur’an. It is because of these teachings that we consider the pain of the world to be our pain. We seek to alleviate the suffering and anguish of mankind as though their problems are our problems and their grief is our grief. This is the teaching that compels me and every Ahmadi Muslim to raise slogans of love and compassion loud and clear throughout the world and to remove all forms of hatred. And we do not limit our efforts to mere words or slogans but we practically seek to help and assist others in all possible ways and to spread love, affection and brotherhood to every corner of the world.
I have therefore explained the objectives of a true mosque and so here in Crawley the Ahmadiyya Community will also seek to fulfil these noble objectives to the best of its abilities. With these words I hope that if there were any reservations in the hearts of our guests or neighbours they will have been removed.
We care for our friends and neighbours so much that if we ever find out that an Ahmadi has, God forbid, caused any problem for them we take appropriate action. And so please rest assured that this mosque will never be a source of creating disorder or strife. Rather, this mosque will become a beacon of light illuminating its surroundings and the society at large. This mosque will be a means of eliminating all forms of darkness. With these few words I would like to once again thank all of you for enlightening tonight’s event with your presence. Thank you very much.”