Sarmad Naveed, Canada
The storied history behind the new Fath-e-Azeem mosque in Zion, Illinois is truly captivating. More than a century after Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah was victorious in his prayer duel with John Alexander Dowie, the Promised Messiah’s (as) Fifth Successor inaugurated a mosque in the very town where this prayer duel was set.
The mosque’s majestic glow pierces the night sky, yet there is nothing brighter than the blessed countenance of His Holiness, the Fifth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), for whose visit thousands had flocked to the city of Zion.
Amongst the crowd were also those who call Zion home, like Dhiya and Abu Bakr, who have lived in Zion for decades.
It’s interesting, in speaking to them both, to hear them talk about the profound impact that the Ahmadiyya Caliphate has had on their lives. Just as the Promised Messiah’s (as) message reached Zion and shook it’s very foundations, even now, his successors continue to impact the lives of those residing in Zion today.
For Abu Bakr, the very reason he’s living in Zion is due to his obedience to the guidance he received from the Third Caliph (rh).
‘The blessings are in Khilafat [Caliphate], in obedience, because since I moved to Zion, I’ve been receiving blessings after blessings in Zion. If I had opposed that [instruction of the third Caliph], I don’t know what the consequences would have been. By following the guidance of the Khalifa, being obedient, and through your prayers, Allah will take care of you.’
His wife, Dhiya Bakr, who converted to Islam Ahmadiyyat at 24 years old, attributes the Caliphate as being a driving and guiding force in her life.
‘I believe and I can see that Allah put me on this course and my relationships with the two Khalifas during my time has been like a personal relationship…I just saw the light that kept me on the right course and allowed me to have a relationship [with Khilafat].
Today, she serves as the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Auxiliary Organisation in USA, a leadership role that comes with great responsibility. It can certainly be a daunting task, but she credits the Caliph of the time as being her guiding light every step of the way.
‘I just feel like his hand is holding me and guiding me. The letters that he sends to me when I’m seeking his prayers has always been very motivational particularly, if you can imagine, the burden that you have in these positions. But he prays and he gives me words of wisdom and advice. I couldn’t do the job that I’m doing without that assistance and support.’
As the Promised Messiah’s (as) legacy continues to impact the people of Zion through his successors, it also lives on through the newly built mosque in Zion, aptly named The Mosque of the Grand Victory. It’s been a long time coming for the residents of Zion. But even in the process of building the mosque, when obstacles arose, it was the prayers of the Caliph that opened paths for it to come to fruition, as Abu Bakr tells us,
‘I wrote to Huzoor [His Holiness] when I felt that our project was in trouble and he wrote back and said may Allah remove all the obstacles that may come in your way. One of the first obstacles we ran into was the purchasing of the property. We had three months to raise a hundred and seventy something thousand dollars and by the grace of Allah we were able to do that. Not only were we able to do that, but we got what’s called an extension for a five year building extension. Usually when you buy property, they want you to build in the next three months, but they gave us five years to build. There were a lot of obstacles that were removed that allowed us to get to where we are today.’
Indeed, the beautiful mosque represents a culmination of prayers, beginning from the Promised Messiah (as) all the way to his Fifth Successor (aba) today. Now that the mosque has been inaugurated, Dhiya reflects on the momentous significance it holds,
‘I’ve lived in Zion for 22 years. We’ve been waiting for this moment where Allah blessed us with a mosque in commemoration of the Promised Messiah (as). So that’s the number one grand milestone that we’ve experienced.’
The prayer duel may be over a century old, but the impact of the Promised Messiah’s (as) prayers has left an indelible mark on Zion. When His Holiness, the Fifth Caliph (aba) removed the curtain to unveil the plaque for the new mosque, it was truly a full circle moment – a time for the residents of Zion and indeed all Ahmadi Muslims to rejoice over the great victory of the Promised Messiah (as). As a result, today, Zion and it’s residents have an inseparable bond of obedience, guidance and love with the Ahmadiyya Caliphate.
About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’