His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community recently gave an address at the inauguration of the Nasir Mosque in the German town of Waiblingen. Here’s how the local guests reacted to the event and to the words spoken by His Holiness:
“Positively radiant.” — Elsa, Schorndorf
I am Elsa Sachs, and I am from Schorndorf. I am happy to be invited. It was very beautiful.
How did you feel, seeing our Caliph for the first time?
Very good. I was so happy when he entered, it instantly became warm. It was so beautiful. I was constantly looking at him.
How did you like his speech?
Superb, superb. Very calm. And his way of speaking was radiant. Positively radiant. I don’t know. I am just really content. I would like to visit again if he comes.
What are you taking with you from today?
That everything was good, that I am happy and that I will come again. Soon there will be the inauguration of a mosque too, which I will also attend. I am excited, because my granddaughter will be there. She is married. Her husband is named Josef. We are happy that we got such a son-in-law. He is always respectful to us, which is very good. We are very happy about this. The food was also very tasty as well. I wanted to say this as well. Also, the service was very nice. All the people were so nice and friendly.
“I felt that he brought so much warmth into the room.” — Lily, Schorndorf
My name is Lily Herlitz. I am from Schorndorf.
How did you feel meeting our Caliph for the first time?
I saw him for the second time. I had already seen him on Saturday. Today, I was very happy to see him. I felt that he brought so much warmth into the room. I don’t know, it just felt something like relief.
How did you like his speech?
The speech was very very good, because a lot of people misunderstand Islam. So I liked how he explained everything. Even regarding women, the speech I listened to on Saturday, he explained everything nicely. I think he explained very well what his religion stands for. I really liked it.
“I was very impressed with his words.” — Martina, Schweigheim
My name is Martina Lanpharter, I am from Schweigheim and I was invited to today’s mosque inauguration.
How did you like today’s speech of His Holiness.
I was very impressed with his words. Until now, I didn’t know much about your community. I was very impressed about the things he said regarding education and peace. I liked it very much.
How did you feel, seeing him for the first time?
Well, I got to know that he is similar to our pope. Like a person of an elevated status. Therefore, it is an honour to have met him.
What are you taking with you from today?
Well, what he said, especially regarding the education of women. I really liked it. Also that human beings should live in peace with each other. I think it is very beautiful that your belief is influenced by this. Furthermore, I was very impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of everybody I met here.
“. . . He is a very special human being.” — Peter, Rems-Murr
My name is Doctor Peter Zaar, and I am the First Official of the District, which means the deputy head of the District Authority in the District Rems-Murr.
You had the opportunity to meet His Holiness today. How was your experience?
Well, he has a very strong charisma. One notices that he is a very special human being. Even if one meets him for the first time and one is not part of your community. Therefore, it was a very beautiful day for me as well. Especially listening to his speech, which was being translated into German. Good words. I really liked it and felt good.
What will you especially take with you from the speech?
Well, that speech addressed us a lot. He really addressed each and every guest. It was also my first time to understand every word of a Muslim speech. As he said, one realizes that commonalities of our monotheistic religions, which shows us that we are more related than apart.
Have you also met the community? What do you think about the community, especially regarding its work here in Waiblingen and its surroundings?
In this regard, all speakers were united. All mentioned the huge social commitment, which really is outstanding. Your community has over 400 members here in the district of Rems-Murr. But still almost every citizen knows about some social activity of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Obviously, this is something outstanding. Thank you very much.
“It was very pleasant.” — Karl, Winnenden
My name is Karl Braungard. I am an evangelical pastor in Winnenden. I received an invitation. I am representing the general evangelical church of Winneden to also show our appreciation for the Ahmadiyya Community.
You had the opportunity to meet his Holiness the Caliph today, what was your experience meeting him?
It was very pleasant. Also, what he said content wise was very open minded, even to us as Christians. Regarding social activities and for peace. He opened up perspectives too. I really liked it, because until now I haven’t had much contact with the Ahmadiyya Community. But this was a very good beginning, I think.
You just mentioned the speech of His Holiness. What impression did it have?
As I said, I really like it. He referred to each of the speakers before him. He appreciated them. I also heard his appreciation for us Christians and that working and living together is very much possible through the belief in God, despite the differences but due to the many commonalities.
His Holiness also spoke for example about women’s rights, a topic which has caused a lot of debates and discussion. What did you think about this? What aspects did you like regarding this, for example?
I really liked that he talked about it. I don’t really know much about this, regarding the practice of it. I don’t know this. Maybe I need to get to know this first. However, I found it very good that he talked about it and that women have an important role. I think that is important.
“It was very interesting for me to meet and see him.”
How did you feel when you saw our Caliph for the first time?
It was not my first time. I have always been in contact with the Caliph through my Pakistani family. They have been to England to visit their relatives. So obviously they brought with them pictures of the Caliph, where he lives and his surroundings. So that’s why today wasn’t my first contact. Only now it was from a proximity, direct.
How was it for you?
Well, it was very interesting for me to meet and see him. Also talking to him and seeing the calm demeanour he emanates. But most importantly his opinion, that despite all of us believing in one God, to take the freedom to think about and do something different, but to still act in unity and treat each other with respect.
“Wow, this should be preached much more to the world.” — Petra, Waiblingen
My name is Petra Hafner. I am a member of parliament of the constituency from the party Die Grunen. I am also chief of the Education Board of the constituency Parliament.
You had the chance to meet His Holiness. How was your experience?
Well, it was definitely very special. Nothing one experiences every day. I was very impressed by the preparations also from his presence. But I was even more impressed by the things he said in his speech. I also wrote down some sentences on my flash cards, which I had brought along for my own speech, because there were some which I really liked and felt they were important.
You mentioned the speech. What did you like especially about it?
I found it remarkable that we can all only live together in peace. That we all have equal rights regardless of where we are from. And also, the sentence that all the different skin colours are there so that we get to know each other . . . This deeply impressed me. I thought “wow this should be preached much more to the world.” Because this is the foundation of belief. If all religions would live after this basic principle, we would have more peace on earth.
His Holiness also spoke about the role of women in Islam, a topic which ignites repeated debates. What did you take from this? Was there something new or how do you classify this?
I picked up something. Respectively the example which he gave, that if a father educated his three daughters well, so that they can become self-reliant, he will receive paradise. This is an essential basic principle of equal rights. That this is also a fundamental principle of the belief . . .
“. . . People like him are a chance for a better world” — Benedikt, Kernen im Remstal
My name is Benedikt Paulowitsch, I am the mayor of Kernen im Remstal, and we had the big pleasure today that the Caliph visited us here.
You had today the chance to meet His Holiness, how was that meeting for you?
Something very special, I think he’s a person with a deep understanding of our times and a deep understanding of what people need, especially people who need help, like poor people, people who are disabled, and that was a really special event for me also.
You also had the chance to listen to His Holiness’ speech. Which impact did the speech have on you?
I have the feeling that people like him have the chance to build bridges between people within a society and between societies, and that was my deep feeling that people like him are a chance for a better world, for peace between different groups and religious freedom.
He also spoke about the role of women in Islam, which is sometimes controversial in discussions and debates, what impact did that have on you?
Well, I welcome that the Caliph emphasized the women and that they need education as well. I think that this is a very important message for all Muslims in the world, but also Christians. For us as humanity, women are equal, and women need education.
You had the opportunity to meet His Holiness. If you would describe His Holiness’ personality to someone who hasn’t met him, how would you describe him?
First of all, one naturally has huge respect. But once you meet him, you see that he is a very warm-hearted personality, who also has a sense of humour. It was very nice talking to him. He is very open and interested in his fellow human beings. And the special mixture of his spiritual charisma on one hand and on the other hand his beautiful treatment of his fellow humans turns a meeting with him into something outstanding.
“He was radiating dignity” — Matias, Waiblingen
My name is Matias Wanzeck. I’m a Lutheran reverend here in the church community. I was invited by the Ahmadiyya Community for this ceremony, and it was a very pleasant afternoon, and I learned a lot about the Ahmadiyya Community, about your beliefs, about your way of life, and I had very fine talks with people at the table.
You had a chance to listen to His Holiness’ speech, which impact did the speech have on you?
It was very interesting and very hopeful, what he said, and I think he’s preparing a common ground for the people here in the country and all over the world, to live together in peace. This was my impression, that it’s interesting. For me it was good news, a good message, and I think this is the ground where we can work together, Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims. It was a message of hope.
What did you think of His Holiness?
He was radiating dignity, and looking at all the Ahmadis, you could tell how valuable of a moment this is to experience His Holiness’ presence. That was very impressive. Then I had the opportunity to listen to his address; I found it very interesting that he didn’t read off a prepared address, but he responded to each previous speaker and adapted his message to what had been conveyed. I thought that was very nice and also very dignifying and appreciative towards the conversational partners. And I think he was able to familiarise us with the important points of the Ahmadiyya message and give insight. To me it is an important point for the coexistence for different religions to say that you need to care for your neighbours and to care about the wellbeing of the entire society and to not worry too much about your own.
“. . . Very warm, very grounded, very human.” — Volker, Backnang
My name is Volkuer Schad, I’m 58 years old, and I live near Backnang.
You had the chance to be here today in the presence of His Holiness, to listen to his speech. What impact did you have from the session today?
Well, all the encounters with his Holiness and with all the people here, gave me a sense of kindness, being welcome, and being appreciated as a member of the human family, I would say.
How was the meeting with his Holiness, and also the speech which he delivered?
Well, I never had any contact with your religious community, so it was very interesting to hear something that I have never heard basically from any other religious leader. It was very warm, very grounded, very human, and I think it’s great to have a community like you contributing to the society.
His Holiness also spoke about the role of women in Islam, a controversial theme which is also discussed in public. What impact did this have, did you learn anything new?
That was totally surprising to me because traditionally the way Islam is portrayed in its relationship to women is the opposite. So, there was a big emphasis on a human connection, on eye level, that women are encouraged to be educated, to be active as contributors and be treated with respect and with dignity. So, it’s the opposite of the black and white image that you get fed by the mainstream media in Germany. It was very, very eye-opening.
We saw and heard His Holiness. What did you think of this encounter?
Inspiring. I think it’s beautiful when a religious leader, who has responsibilities in the whole world takes time for personally meeting the communities he’s responsible for. I wish for the same closeness and openness from other leaders who have responsibilities worldwide, because I found this very impressive.