Keynote Address by the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the Inauguration of the Baitul Ikram Mosque in Dallas, Texas on 8th October 2022
On 8th October 2022, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) delivered the keynote address at a special reception held to commemorate the opening of the Baitul Ikram Mosque (the House of Honour) in Allen, Texas, located in the Dallas chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. His Holiness had officially inaugurated the Mosque a day earlier with his weekly Friday Sermon. The reception was attended by around 140 guests, including politicians, faith leaders, and local residents. The keynote address delivered by His Holiness on this occasion is presented below:
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:
‘Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem – in the name of Allah, the Gracious, Ever-Merciful.
All the distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu–peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
I would like to firstly take this opportunity to thank all our guests for accepting our invitation and joining us today. This reception to mark the opening of our new mosque which will serve as a place of Muslims to worship Allah the Almighty, is a purely religious event hosted by an Islamic community. Given that most of you are not Muslim, or members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, your attendance reflects your open heartedness, grace and tolerant attitudes for which I must commend you.
These words of appreciation are not a mere attempt to be polite, rather, they are heartfelt and indeed, it is incumbent upon me to express my sincere gratitude to all of you because the Prophet of Islam (sa) said that a person who is not grateful to other people could not be thankful to God Almighty. As Muslims, we believe that Allah the Almighty has granted us the ability and means to build this mosque. Therefore, we must express our gratitude to Him and, in reality, genuine gratitude to Allah is only possible when we are also grateful and appreciative to His creation. From this perspective, to thank and honour all the guests is a religious obligation for me as a Muslim. Similarly, I must express my earnest gratitude to all people who have assisted or supported this project in any way.
The principle objectives underlying any mosque built by our Community are always the same. Firstly, our mosques serve as a place for our members to congregate to fulfil their religious duties of worshiping God Almighty. Secondly, our mosques enable us to serve God’s creation and to propagate Islam’s teachings. It is a source of immense sadness and regret that in this era, Islam is considered by many to be an extremist and intolerant religion. Quite possibly, some of the local people in this city may harbour concerns or fear about the opening of this mosque. Indeed, when we have built mosques in other places, some people have expressed their fears or reservations that the new mosque and the increased presence of Muslims might be to the detriment of the peace and security of their town or city.
If anyone holds such concerns, I wish to immediately reassure them that a sincere Muslim who understands and values Islam’s teachings can never act in a way that defames or misrepresents Islam and can never be a cause of grief or distress for non-Muslims. Accordingly, let me very clearly state that this mosque will never cause you or your fellow citizens any harm or distress. Rather than sowing seeds of discord and disharmony in society, this mosque will serve as a unifying force for good. This mosque’s very purpose and objective is, and will always remain, God-willing, to be a source of everlasting peace and a means to foster love and mutual respect amongst the people of all faiths and beliefs. This is our commitment not just here, but wherever and whenever we build a mosque in any part of the world.
For all Muslims, the most revered and honoured place of worship is the Holy Ka’bah, the Sacred House of Allah in Makkah. Indeed, it is in the direction of the Ka’bah that Muslims worldwide turn to worship and pray. The Ka’bah was founded and built on the instruction of Allah the Almighty to convey a universal message of peace and security for people from all walks of life and nations. Whilst mosques are built to face the Ka’bah, it is not just in terms of physical direction that they should follow the Ka’bah, rather, every mosque and those who worship within them must strive to emulate and faithfully represent the objectives of the Sacred House. Alongside worshiping Allah, the other key objective of the Ka’bah and therefore of every mosque is to be home to those people who are open-hearted, gracious, benevolent and who convey a message of peace, reconciliation, and goodwill for all mankind through their words and deeds.
In chapter 3, verse 98 of the Holy Qur’an, which is the holiest and most sacred book for all Muslims, Allah the Almighty states regarding the Ka’bah that ‘whoso enters it, enters peace’. It does not mean that merely visiting the Ka’bah or offering a prayer in its vicinity will guarantee a person a life of peace and prosperity. This verse actually stipulates that a true Muslim is he or she who seeks to fulfil the purpose for which the Ka’bah was built by striving to abide by Islam’s teachings at all times. Fundamentally, the words, ‘whoso enters it, enters peace’ demand true worshippers of Allah the Almighty to pay great attention to fulfilling the rights of other people and to afford peace and security to all humanity. In this way, they not only attain peace, but also become a guarantor for the peace of others.
Most regrettably, it is alleged by the opponents of Islam that it is an extremist religion that promotes violence and warfare. Nothing could be further from the truth. Islam’s teachings do not permit Muslims to engage in warfare or resort to the use of force except in the most extreme circumstances where war is waged unjustly against them and there is a direct attempt to destroy and eliminate Islam.
In early Islam, the conditions were so grave that Allah the Almighty permitted the Muslims to defend themselves to uphold and defend the principle of universal religious freedom. Even then, Islam lay down stringent rules of engagement, wherein any forceful response was to remain proportionate to the cruelty inflicted and every possible opportunity for peace was to be grasped no matter how remote the opportunity. The purpose of a defensive war according to Islam is never to inflict retribution or revenge. Instead, its only purpose is to bring an end to oppression, cruelty and injustice. As soon as the persecution or brutalities cease, the command of Allah is to immediately halt whatever forceful measures were taken and to act with justice and mercy. Thus, where the early Muslims, who were the victims of sustained persecution were permitted to defend themselves, it was only to establish religious freedom and to enshrine the golden principle of freedom of belief.
Regarding the Holy Ka’bah, in chapter 2, verse 126 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty states that He built the Sacred House as a refuge from evil and as an abode of peace and security for all mankind to join together. This verse reiterates the duty of Muslims to live in peace and harmony with all members of society and to bestow peace and security to others. Consequently, if a person fails to be source of peace for others, he or she cannot call themselves a true Muslim.
To maintain peace, the Holy Qur’an, in chapter 25, verse 64, instructs Muslims on how to respond to ignorant or hostile people who taunt or speak unkindly to them. Rather than reacting indignantly, Allah the Almighty instructs Muslims to keep their dignity in the face of provocation, to remain patient and to respond by saying ‘peace be upon you’ and to take leave of the situation. The Qur’an teaches that rather than confront aggression and provocation in a like fashion, Muslims should set aside their pride and respond to conveying a message of peace and avoid all forms of conflict and quarrel.
Moreover, Allah the Almighty begins the Holy Qur’an by declaring that He is the Provider and Sustainer for the people of all beliefs, faiths and races. Allah the Almighty has made it clear that He is not just the Provider for people of certain religions or eras, rather, He is Creator and Nourisher of the people of all nations, of all beliefs and for all times. These words are of unparalleled beauty and wisdom, wherein they have enshrined the principle of universal human equality as an inviolable right and make it clear that Allah’s blessings and favours are not limited to a particular race or ethnicity, but rather are bestowed indiscriminately.
When the One God Who Muslims worship is the Lord of all mankind; Christians Jews, Hindus, Sikhs or the people of other religions and the people who have no faith, then how could it be that a Muslim would ever cause trouble or be a source of grief for others. Rather, a sincere Muslim would always desire to bestow comfort, to be a source of peace and to establish love and harmony with all other people, rather than be a person who causes humanity grief or suffering. A true Muslim is one who shoulders the burden of others and feels their pain and sorrow as though it was their own. So it is with this spirit of sympathy for all mankind and an understanding that Allah the Almighty’s grace and mercy is universal that we build mosques.
Based on the command of Allah the Almighty, we deem it essential to not just worship Him but to strive to fulfil the rights of all humanity, regardless of a person’s caste, creed or colour. Inspired by our faith, apart from building mosques, our community constructs hospitals and medical clinics in some of the most impoverished nations and regions that provide health care services to those people who otherwise could never afford or access it. Similarly, we build and administer schools in some of the poorest regions of the world, so that the local children have the opportunity to be educated. It is our prayer and ambition that the children educated in our schools can use their education to escape the shackles of poverty in which their families have been mired for generations and that they then serve their nations and help their communities grow and develop.
We have also established a water for life programme to provide clean drinking water in some of the most remote parts of the world. Having the means to pour a clean glass of water is something we take for granted. But for millions of people in the developing world, it is a life changing and revolutionary experience. In a similar vein, we are running a multitude of other humanitarian projects through which we seek to serve humanity on a constant basis. Furthermore, we send humanitarian relief teams to those places afflicted by natural disasters who provide humanitarian aid, supplies and medical treatment to assist those suffering. All such services and help are rendered irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, religion or belief. We seek no reward, as our only objective and heartfelt desire is to alleviate the suffering of mankind. Serving humanity is our mission and purpose because Islam has taught us that we must not only fulfil the rights of God Almighty, but also the rights of His creation.
In addition, we consider it our responsibility to convey Islam’s message of peace and security to the entire world and to play a foremost role as Ahmadi Muslims in cultivating peace and harmony in the world. Indeed, it was to establish peace and spread a message of love and affection that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was sent by God Almighty in this era, bestowed with the title of the Promised Messiah. He was sent by God according to a grand prophecy made by the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) in which he stated that after centuries of spiritual and moral decay, Allah the Almighty would send his faithful servant as the Messiah of the Latter Days. Rather than brandishing a sword, the Promised Messiah (as) declared an end to all religious warfare and propagated a message of peace, love and unity. He explained that Islam was no longer being physically attacked, nor were attempts being made to eliminate it, as in the time of early Islam. As a result, there was no justification for religious wars in this era.
Hence, the local people in Dallas have no need to fear this mosque. So, I urge anyone who has any doubt or fears to breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that this new mosque built by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will only ever represent and reflect Islam’s enlightened teachings of peace, respect and tolerance. Our teaching is not to confront those who have different beliefs to us, but to embrace them. Our teaching is not to attack our opponents, but to defend them and their rights. Rest assured, this mosque will radiate nothing but love, compassion and sympathy for mankind.
Those who enter this mosque shall be those who seek to contribute to, and serve society in the best possible way. They will be those who proclaim before the entire world that the means for true prosperity is to come together to fulfil the rights of God and mankind. They will be those who appeal to mankind to unite irrespective of differences of belief, focused upon the common aspiration of establishing peace in the world.
Unquestionably, today the world teeters on the brink of disaster as nations around the world are engulfed by a ferocious storm of political, economic and social unrest. The war in Ukraine has been raging for months and dark clouds indicating even greater turmoil and warfare are hovering ominously above us. Opposing political blocs and alliances have become progressively entrenched as the world becomes increasingly polarised. The result is that the peace and security of the world is unraveling by the day.
Until recently, threatening to unleash nuclear weapons was considered unthinkable, but now, such threats are uttered on an almost daily basis. Upon observing how the conditions of the world were deteriorating, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has, for many years, strived to highlight the volatility of today’s world. We called on world leaders, governments and ordinary members of the public to set aside any differences that exist for the greater good, for the sake of establishing peace and harmony in the world.
I have always sought to make people understand the true value of peace and to make them aware of the risks of divisive and unjust policies that serve only to ferment unrest and lead to frustrations that are bound to erupt and boil over eventually. We must urge our leaders and politicians to step back from the precipice because there is no doubt that if a global war erupts, it will be unlike anything the world has ever seen. Surely, its catastrophic and devastating consequences are far beyond our comprehension.
Many countries have acquired state of the art weapons that have the deadly capacity to kill thousands upon thousands of people with just one strike. It will not just be us who endure the pain and who grieve, rather, our children and future generation will suffer for our sins and their lives will be destroyed through no fault of their own. For example, the toxic effects of radiation exposure are such that if a nuclear bomb is ever used, generation after generation of children could be born with severe genetic or physical defects. They would be prone to life threatening diseases and shorter life spans. Undoubtedly, those innocent souls will look back at us with contempt. They will lament, why their forefathers let their egos and selfish ways drive them toward destructive wars that left their future generations physically, emotionally and economically crippled.
So my ardent request and message to the world is that we must set aside our differences and work tirelessly to foster peace in society so that we may save our future generations, rather than, God-forbid, sentencing them to lives filled with nothing except misery and despair. Each of us has a role to play in the cause of peace. Wherever there is cruelty or injustice, we must condemn it; we must urge our political leaders that instead of propelling our nations towards war and rather than raising the temperature through threats of retribution and violence, they should endeavour to cool the tensions that exist both at an international level and within nations through diplomacy and wisdom. They must ensure that the peace and security of the world remains their paramount objective.
In this effort for peace, Muslims, Christians, Jews Hindus, Sikhs should play their role. Those who do not believe in God or subscribe to any faith play their role. Rather than isolating ourselves and being fearful of one another, we must come together for the sake of humanity. Religious people should ardently pray according to their respective ways, seeking God’s help and mercy for true and lasting peace in the world to emerge.
From the depth of my heart, I pray that the world is saved from all forms of destruction and devastation. I pray that the long shadows of war and bloodshed that hover above us give way to everlasting blue skies of peace and security. May God Almighty have mercy upon the world.
At the end, I pray that our new mosque here in Dallas forever serves as an abode of peace and prosperity for all mankind. May its spiritual light illuminate its surroundings and eternally shine forth as a symbol of peace and humanity. Ameen.
With these words, I once again thank you all for joining us this evening. I also thank the Congressman, the Mayor and the council of this city for their presentations. Thank you very much.’