A Mosque of Security and PeaceNo Comments | January 2017
*The photos used in this article were not used in the original publication, but have been added to our serialisation by The Review of Religions to help illustrate the subject matter. The Review of Religions takes full responsibility for any errors in depiction.*
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, 5th Successor to the Promised Messiah, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said:
“Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem – in the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
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 joined us here this afternoon on the occasion of the inauguration of our new mosque. Today’s event is neither a political or worldly event and nor has it been arranged in order to discuss and analyse world affairs; rather, it is a purely religious event organised to mark the opening of a religious place of worship – the Baitul Amman Mosque – built by an Islamic community.
As we gather here today, it is an undeniable fact that we are passing through troubled times and the future of the world is becoming increasingly uncertain. Conflicts continue to spread and escalate in various countries and in particular in certain Muslim nations. Anyone who has even a slight interest in current affairs may well hold a negative impression of Muslims and mosques, and view them with an element of fear and suspicion. In almost every news bulletin there are reports of bloodshed and violence, wherein governments are fighting local rebel groups and the hostilities have developed into full-fledged civil wars, in which thousands upon thousands of innocent people are being targeted and killed. The brutalities taking place are horrific and a source of shame on humanity.
Rather than small-scale, low-grade weapons, we are seeing formidable and terrifying missiles being fired and heavy bombardment and airstrikes taking place as a matter of routine. Towns and cities are being ravaged and left in ruin. Rivers of blood flow through the streets and countless people are being left bereaved and displaced. The news media is providing constant global coverage of such atrocities and so it is not surprising that misgivings and a fear of Islam has developed within some non-Muslims. Such reservations are now further escalating in some countries with hatred and intolerance of Muslims rising to the surface.
Given all of this, the fact that you have come to attend a mosque inauguration, which is a purely Islamic event, is a sign of extraordinary courage on your part. It is also a sign that you are not amongst those people who have fallen prey to the false belief that Islam is a religion of violence or extremism; rather you have understood that the discord and lack of peace in Muslim countries is not linked to Islam’s teachings. It shows that you appreciate that the conflicts are actually a result of the local governments and rebel elements, senselessly seeking to assert their dominance over one another and prioritising their own vested interests above everything else. Conversely, through your contact with Ahmadi Muslims, you will have seen that our beliefs and practices are in complete contrast to the violence and injustice being perpetrated in the Muslim world.
Every Ahmadi Muslim in every town, city and nation, rejects all forms of extremism and feels immense grief and heartache at the carnage and disorder being perpetrated in some Muslim countries. Similarly, we feel extreme pain and devastation when we witness suicide bombings and other brutal terrorist attacks taking place not only in Muslim countries, but also increasingly in the Western world. We wholeheartedly condemn such atrocities and consider them to be a complete affront to Islam’s true teachings.
Nevertheless, despite the peaceful and tolerant nature of Ahmadi Muslims, there may still be a few people here or in the local community, who hold reservations about the opening of this mosque. This is quite understandable given the current state of the world and so I say again that your participation today is an extremely brave act and a sign of your open hearts and broad minds. For your kind and praiseworthy gesture, I thank you. My thankfulness is not expressed merely as an empty gesture or out of polite courtesy, rather it is offered with sincerity and in accordance with my faith and my religion. This is because the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, said that a person who does not show gratitude to his fellow man is not grateful to Allah the Almighty.
The Prophet of Islamsa taught that thanking others was a means of reaching Allah the Almighty and so professing gratitude is actually a principle of great significance for a true Muslim and a beautiful example of Islam’s peaceful and inclusive teachings. Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa did not say that Muslims should limit their appreciation to other Muslims, rather he instructed that they should exhibit gratitude to all people, regardless of their faith or beliefs. Hence, where my expression of thanks to you is heartfelt, it is also a religious obligation upon me.
With these words of introduction, I would now like to briefly speak to you about mosques themselves and their true objectives. The Arabic word for mosque is ‘masjid’ and this word literally means a place for people to congregate in complete humility and submission in order to worship God Almighty. If a person enters a mosque with this meek spirit, considering himself to be worthless, he can never wish any type of harm on others or be the cause of discord or animosity. A Muslim who offers his prayers with humility is a person who is kind, caring and merciful and who strives to stay away from immorality, illegal activity and all forms of evil.
Rather than promoting disorder or division, mosques are a means of bringing people together in humility for the worship of their Creator. Hence, in chapter 5, verse 3 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty states:
“And let not the enmity of a people that they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque, incite you to transgress. And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah, surely Allah is severe in punishment.”
This verse establishes the duty of a Muslim to act peacefully at all times and in all places. Here Allah the Almighty prohibited those early Muslims who had been mercilessly persecuted from responding unjustly or from transgressing against their oppressors, even though they had sought to prevent them from entering the Holy Ka’abah, the Sacred Mosque, which is the most revered place in Islam. Consequently, the Holy Qur’an has laid down an unprecedented standard of tolerance, justice and forbearance for Muslims to abide by, wherein they are duty-bound to act righteously, with grace and fairness, even to those who seek to deny them their religious freedom.
Rather than revenge or reprisal, the Holy Qur’an calls on Muslims to display nobility and to uphold the highest possible moral values, even in the most trying of circumstances. Therefore, let it be clear that there is no need to fear true mosques, because they are not places of vengeance or hatred, but are abodes of peace, harmony and unity built for the sake of worshipping God Almighty. Furthermore, in chapter 4, verse 37 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty says:
“And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour who is a kinsman and the neighbour who is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those who your right hands possess. Surely Allah loves not the proud and the boastful.”
In this verse, Allah the Almighty has instructed Muslims to display the very best values and morals at all times and amongst all people. It requires Muslims to lovingly serve mankind, irrespective of colour, caste or creed, starting from one’s inner circle, comprising a person’s parents, family and friends, to much further afield including the poor and needy, orphans and other vulnerable members of society. Likewise, Muslims have been taught to love, protect and honour their neighbours. And according to the teachings of Islam, the scope of one’s neighbours is extremely vast and far-reaching. Neighbours do not only include those who live nearby, but also many other people, including one’s work colleagues and travel companions. Thus, the sphere of love in Islam is limitless and so how could a true Muslim ever seek to harm others or be the cause of disorder in society? Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has stated that Muslims must never fall prey to arrogance or pride, but should be humble and meek.
This is the way of Islam. This is the way of true Muslims. In essence, Islam requires a Muslim to show love and compassion to all of humanity. It obliges Muslims to share in the happiness of others and to consider the pain and grief of others as though it is their own. In short, a true Muslim is a person who is merciful and compassionate and a true mosque is a centre of peace and security for all mankind.
In light of such benevolent and inclusive teachings, how could a mosque be considered a place of danger or something to be feared? Certainly, wherever and whenever Ahmadi Muslims build mosques, they are built with the dual objectives of fulfilling the rights of God Almighty and also fulfilling the rights of mankind.
Our mosques are built with the purpose of bringing people together and serving our neighbours and the local society. Our mosques are beacons of light radiating peace, love and humanity. Wherever we have built mosques, or we have established Ahmadi communities, we seek to alleviate the suffering of the local people because Allah the Almighty has linked the fulfillment of His rights with the fulfillment of the rights of humanity. Our faith teaches us that our worship and our prayers are worthless if we fail to love, support and cherish those around us. In light of this teaching, we strive to provide a better future to the most vulnerable and impoverished members of society.
For example, in Africa and other parts of the world, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community constantly reaches out to serve the local people and endeavours to fulfil their needs, irrespective of religion, faith or background. We are providing healthcare and education by building hospitals and schools in the most deprived parts of the world. We are also working to provide clean and portable drinking water to people. Here in the Western world it is difficult to comprehend the true value of water because our taps and showers are constantly flowing. It is only when you visit the most isolated parts of Africa and you see with your own eyes young children walking many kilometres each day in searing heat, in order to fill water vessels balanced on their heads, that you realise just what a precious commodity water really is. And even that water, for which so much gruelling effort is made, is rarely clean, but is normally contaminated and a source of disease.
Thus, we seek to alleviate the hardship of such people by installing water wells and water pumps that provide clean drinking water at their doorsteps. The sheer joy on the faces of such deprived people upon seeing clean water for the first time is indescribable. Instead of carrying earthen vessels upon their heads for hours on end, those children are now being educated in schools that our community has established. We are seeking to free them from the bondage of their poverty and help them stand upon their own feet so that they can grow to serve not only their families but also their nations. Upon providing such service, we Ahmadi Muslims are filled with joy and delight in the knowledge that we have been able to serve our neighbours and those in need, and in this way have been able to follow the teachings of our religion. We consider it to be our good fortune to remove the heavy weight of desperation from the shoulders of such disadvantaged people.
This is true Islam, wherein apart from worshipping God Almighty, Muslims strive earnestly to provide comfort to others. In the limited time available, I have only been able to briefly introduce Islam’s true teachings to you, however I am confident that having heard my words you will have been reassured. If anyone previously did hold any reservations about this mosque, I hope they will now have been removed. Certainly, I believe that, God Willing, you will come to see for yourselves that this is not just a place of worship for Ahmadi Muslims but is a centre of peace for all of mankind. You will witness first-hand that the Ahmadi Muslims living in this area will seek to serve their neighbours and their society ever more than before.
Found across all the continents of the world, Humanity First is the charity organisation run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which helps anyone su ering from hardships, irrespective of race, social class or religion. This sel ess service for humanity is a core principle of Islam.
I pray that our neighbours and indeed all members of the society come to see and witness for themselves the highest standards of benevolence, care and consideration from the local Ahmadi Muslims. And I pray that we are never a cause of pain or concern for anyone. I am confident that the local Ahmadi Muslims will act upon this and will strive to serve humanity with selflessness and open hearts. May Allah enable them to do so.
With these words, I would like to once again thank you all for joining us this afternoon. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much.”