The following is the address by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V delivered at the reception held on the inauguration of Baitul Afiyyat (Sheffield) on 8 November 2008.
All the honourable guests, peace and blessings of God be upon you all.
First of all, I would like to thank all our respected guests, who have come here on the auspicious occasion of the inauguration of this mosque.
By doing so you have all shown your friendship, illustrated great courage and given proof of your care for humanity. What the world requires most of all is tolerance. As the world draws closer and a global village begins to emerge, there is a need to replace hatred and malice with love, affection and forbearance. One should be sensitive to the feelings of others and there should be respect and reverence for each other’s faith. Attention needs to be drawn towards discharging the rights of each other.
If these qualities do not emerge, then despite the world coming together, it will be further divided and its drawing closer will prove to be a curse rather than being a source of pride. Therefore, it is very praiseworthy that you have respected our feelings by participating today. These are the avenues that will lead to love, kindness and tolerance and take us all the way up to the pinnacle of humanity.
My prayer is that this function today offers a means of consolidating love, affection and tolerance and proves to be a milestone for the development of these qualities. As for how far we understand this concept and adhere to these principles, permit me, please, to clarify.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, has taught us that there were two purposes of his coming.
One was to bring man closer to God, the Creator, and the other was to draw the attention of mankind towards discharging the rights of God’s Creation. He said that discharging the rights of others selflessly was a very difficult task. However, he further stated that after joining his community it is obligatory upon Ahmadis to fulfil these duties.
Our slogan of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ is based on this teaching, namely, that if malice and hatred are present then due rights cannot be upheld. So while this mosque, which, by the way, is called Bait-ul-’Aafiyat, as I have mentioned earlier, that is a house of peace, tranquillity and safety, draws our attention towards the worship of Allah, it also continues to impress upon us the obligation to serve and safeguard the rights of His Creation. As a result of observing these rights, love, affection and peace will further develop.
We, therefore, try to live within these parameters, whose outer boundaries are guarded against those who usurp the rights of others and spread hatred. This discipline is supervised by the Khalifa of the time. Whosoever tries to exceed the limits causes himself harm.
We claim that everything we do is for the sake of God Almighty. And God Almighty is very kind to His Creation. The majority of the world does not fulfil the rights of its Creator, but even so God Almighty does not seek revenge. This does not mean that God does not exist, as it is said by some schools of thoughts. Nor does it lead to the question, which is: If someone does not exist, how can he take revenge? Allah says in the Holy Quran that if He starts punishing people immediately, they go astray, then not only man but all living creatures in the universe will be eliminated. The following verse throws more light on it. The Qur’an says:
And if Allah were to punish men for their wrongdoing, He would not leave thereon a living creature, but He gives them respite till an appointed term… (Ch.16: V.62)
So we believe in that God Who does not punish the moment a wrong is committed. Were He to punish instantly, He could easily terminate or withdraw the resources upon which we are dependant.
Upon reflection we will realise that our lives and what we eat are dependent upon a wide array of things, ranging from small bacteria to livestock, even the total life in the earth.
If these did not exist then we could not obtain vegetables or crops, nor would we get milk to drink. According to our beliefs, some persons are punished in this world, whilst others are punished in the Hereafter. But God’s Mercy encompasses all things. (Ch.7: V.157)
When Allah the Almighty is so merciful towards His Creation then what right do people have not to show mercy to their fellow beings and not treat them with kindness? It is our duty to try and bring man closer to God. But as for those who do not accept these teachings, we should not erect walls of hatred between them and us, for that is not our purpose.
In the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty has instructed us that There should be no compulsion in religion. (Ch.2: V.257) When each person is free to adopt any religion, there can be no reason for any hatred.
It is our duty to mention the beauties of Islam and spread this message far and wide because this too is one of the duties owed to man, that is to say, that whatever you find good for yourself, you should try and invite others to join you in the same. Nevertheless, if anyone does not accept your invitation, relations should continue as before. This is the beautiful teaching that we try to spread.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who we believe to be the Promised Messiah (peace be on him) and who, according to our belief and faith, was sent to gather all religions under the name of one God, says:
‘Our Community should become exemplary. Whosoever in our Community shows a poor example or displays weakness in his deeds and beliefs is cruel.”
We must always demonstrate such examples that are liked both by God Almighty and by the holy persons who are sent by Him. Therefore, if a thought arises in anyone’s mind that because of this Muslim mosque the peace in this area will be destroyed, he or she should not worry. From this mosque, God Willing, a beacon of light will shine forth, from which, according to the Commandments of God, love and peace will spread.
God Almighty says in the Qur’an:
Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed. (Ch.16: V.91)
In this verse we have been commanded to adopt three values and to abstain from three evils. If we ponder over them, we will find that these are the qualities that lead to love and affection and that prevent chaos and disorder in society. Every just person will surely accept that the comprehensiveness of this verse is unparalleled elsewhere.
The first point a true Muslim has been enjoined to act upon, is justice. Justice is not limited to one’s family and friends, nor is it limited to one’s fellow country-men, nor to those of a like faith. We have been commanded to act with justice even towards an enemy who has been most cruel.
If you look at the early history of Islam you discover that many Muslims were killed; some were even tied to two camels that were then driven in opposite directions, thereby rending their bodies apart.
This cruel treatment was inflicted on both men and women. Furthermore, Muslims were prevented from even worshipping in the Ka’abah, the most sacred House of Allah. Indeed, so many cruelties and tortures were inflicted upon the Muslims by the non-believers of Makkah that there is no time to recount all of the incidents here.
In spite of all this, when the Muslims rose to power they were commanded not to let a people’s enmity incite them to act otherwise than with justice because justice was the preferred way of God Almighty. If today some Muslims do not rise up to these standards, it is not the fault of the teachings of Islam but a folly on the part of such Muslims.
Because they have accepted the Imam of the age, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community strive to attain these high standards. Our community strives towards a justice that removes misunderstandings and grudges, and draws attention to the importance of preserving the rights of one another.
Another quality (mentioned in the verse I just quoted) is to not only act with justice but to do good unto others. Justice requires that punishment should always be proportionate to the crime. If a criminal has shown enmity towards you, you should not cause his retribution to be excessive. In any case where someone has caused you injury, and you think that by not punishing the individual you would be able to reform him, then you should forgive, for that would be better. The real objective is reformation, rather than seeking revenge, for, after all, the true purpose is that the person should recognise his mistake and should not repeat it in the future.
How did the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) do good to others? Well, he not only forgave those who were extremely cruel but he went so far as to assist them in their businesses and trade. For instance, some were given thousands of sheep, and that was not because they had become Muslim; on the contrary, they were given the assistance whilst they were still non-Muslims.
This is the standard of good works that can establish peace in society and can end enmities. And this becomes apparent from the next commandment, which is ‘giving like kindred’.
When somebody does good to someone else he should not follow it up by reminding him of his past favours. Furthermore, treating the cruel as though they were your kindred is even more virtuous than the doing of good alone.
The best example of how to treat one’s kindred, is the example of how a mother treats her child. A good mother serves her child continuously but never reminds her child of her favours. When she cares for her children, she is not doing it with the intention that when the children grow up she will force them to look after her by reminding them of how much or what she did for them during their childhood. In fact, she cares out of love and compassion.
No matter what race, religion or nationality a mother belongs to, she continues to bear the same feelings of love for her children. Hence, this is the relation one man should have with others and this is the feeling one must hold for others. Only then will enmities be converted into friendship. Only then will peace and security in societies prevail. And only then will the world be saved from a catastrophic war.
God Almighty widens the circle of His Mercy for such people who have this love for their fellow human beings and they are saved from natural and seasonal disasters.
Having mentioned these three good deeds, God Almighty has pointed out three evils. The three good deeds can only be developed when a person abstains from the three evils. The first of the three evils mentioned is ‘fahshaa’. This is an Arabic word. The meaning of this word is an evil that is known only to he who commits it.
If we reflect, then we will see that there are many evils that man commits that he alone knows about whilst he continues to appear pure in the sight of others. However, we have been commanded that in order to maintain peace to a high standard we should save our-selves from such evils that only we ourselves know about.
The second evil that we have been warned against is ‘munkar’, which means an evil that outwardly causes no harm but upsets people. And the third evil is ‘baghyi’ which means an evil that is both internally and externally manifest and that causes harm and grief to people. So unless these three evils are removed, a person cannot perform the good deeds required to establish peace and love in society.
This, in brief, is the teaching which I said is to be expected from a true Muslim. This mosque of ours has been built for the worship of One God and to perpetuate these principles amongst Ahmadi Muslims, so that the people around us come to know the true teachings of Islam. And when Ahmadis raise the slogan of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ it is raised in this spirit. I assure all of you that my words are echoed by each and every true Ahmadi. To try and make the world become a haven of peace is our duty. It is our responsibility to make the world recognise its Creator. The purpose of our creation is the worship of God. The world can have no fear from those who hold such an objective.
At the end of the verse which I presented before you, it is stated ‘that you may take heed’ and these words mean that a person must always remember that he owes an obligation to God Almighty and to God’s creatures as well.
You must acquire the good deeds that I mentioned earlier and abandon the evils pointed out and strive to discharge these rights. Only then will you be known as rightly guided. Only then will you be considered to be true servants of God and to be amongst those who understand the purpose of their creation.
If today man really wants to be successful in establishing peace, then instead of finding fault with others he should try to control the Satan within. By removing his own evils, a person should present a wonderful example of justice, of doing good and of giving like kindred. He should discharge the rights of others and only then can trust be developed amongst others.
As a result, true peace will be established. There can never be a guarantee of lasting peace if every person considers himself to be correct, constantly finding fault with others and hurting their sentiments. Nor can it be established if the followers of one faith mock and ridicule another religion, its founder and his teachings. And nor can peace be guaranteed if people outwardly express positive attitudes but bear hatred within their hearts.
Today, when we talk of the global village and of wanting to save the world from destruction, we have to strive more than ever before.
The current situation prevailing in the world indicates that despite the fact that we understand that if there is another world war, the entire world will be affected by its fallout, we are, nevertheless, slowly moving towards it – that is the message I gave to our Parliamentarians as it is mentioned by one of our honourable Members of Parliament. My prayer is: May God Almighty enable man to discharge his duties to Him and His Creation so that the world can be saved from this horrific destruction that looms over us.
Finally, I would like to say, once again, that I am very grateful to all of you who have taken the time to listen to me.
May Allah reward you for this.
Thank you very much.