His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community recently gave an address at the inauguration of the Noor Mosque in the German town of Frankenthal. Here’s how the local guests reacted to the event and to the words spoken by His Holiness:
“Very impressive personality. Very authentic.”
What Impression did the Caliph leave on you and what are you taking with you from his speech?
I think he is a very impressive personality. Very authentic. And I believe that described and expressed the efforts of Muslims for peace and peaceful cohabitation very well.
To me, it sounded very well-reasoned and well-founded.
What additional value do you think the mosque will add to the city of Frankenthal?
In the speeches of the communal representatives we heard that they play a role regarding social issues and different activities. I think they will have a good role, which I believe is very much appreciated and respected.
“I really liked it.” — Kurt
My name is Kurt Lauer, I am the municipal councillor of Worms, and a friend of Muhammad Islamuddin, with whom I am here.
What impression did the Caliph leave on you and what are you taking with you from his speech especially?
The speech was very similar to the one I once heard in Karlsruhe. There I attended the convention. I think that he always finds the right words and he has world affairs in sight, as well as the community and small persons. I really liked it.
Could you maybe say something about his personality? How did his personality affect you personally?
Your Caliph has a charismatic personality. One can notice it already. He is a calm human being. A human who radiated knowledge, calm, but also a lot of dignity.
What additional value do you think the mosque will add to the city of Frankenthal?
I can’t answer that. All associations, all cultural encounters have additional value. And I also think that the mosque of Frankenthal will become such a place. The neighbours are happy already.
“I felt hope” — Wilhelm
Hello, my name is Wilhelm Hanger. I’m from Frankenthal, and I’m a pastor of a Christian church.
What impression did the Caliph have on you?
I had two impressions. One was that, from the content, I felt hope; I agree with the ethics as I am a pastor with the Mennonite denomination, which is also very peaceful-minded, justice-minded, and neighbourhood focused.
Second impression was that I wondered why he, like the other people who spoke there, did not speak with pathos, just very calm, everything.
Did the event change your image about Islam?
No, because I visited the church before and I know a little bit about it, but what questions stayed with me, so why do the other Islamic people do not agree with this teaching of the Qur’an?
“I really enjoyed the evening here.” — Christine
My name is Christine Schops and I am a protestant pastor at a hospital. I really enjoyed the evening here. It was a friendly invitation which was connected to a lot of information. It was also an experience to see with you, how your representative spoke to all the people here . . .
You met the Caliph for the first time. What impression did his personality have on you?
I found him speaking empathetically to the people. I think he also puts in a lot of effort into speaking about the current situation and to motivate people to be united.
“I was impressed by his focused listening . . .” — Arvin
My name is Arvin Schops. I am a pastor and I work at a vocational school in Ludwigshafen.
What impression did today’s speech of His Holiness leave on you?
I was impressed by his focused listening during the greetings of the different representatives and as my wife already said, he responded to a lot of those greetings. Especially the aspect of peace or tolerance of the city of Frankenthal, where religious refugees have always played a big part. And we now heard that the Ahmadiyya also, especially in Pakistan, is facing persecution.
“. . . His aura was immensely strong and affectionate.” — Andrea
My name is Andrea Silva and I am from Schifferstadt.
What impression did the Caliph leave on you?
A very, very deep impression. Very impressive. And I had the luck to sit on the side where His Holiness walked by, and his aura was immensely strong and affectionate.
What can you comment regarding his speech? What impression did it have on you?
Very vast, very deep, very much catering to all. Very understanding but also very serious and lasting.
Would you say that today’s event changed your opinion about Islam?
My view has always been positive, because I think there are many, many sides, and I am immensely happy that you sought the conversation, and that we could speak so openly, especially at our table. We could also ask some uncomfortable questions and received very sincere answers.
Which point of the speech would you highlight, which are you taking with you or would like to share with others?
The urgency of peace and the urgency that all religions have to be treated equally.
“He is someone who is trustworthy.” — Andreas
My name is Andreas Stellmann, deacon of the parish Holy Trinity here in Frankenthal.
What impression did His Holiness leave on you?
The speech was very interesting to me. Especially the representation of the different churches, the tasks of the AMD-community and the cooperation of different communities.
Which point of the speech remained in your mind?
Especially the keyword peace. That all churches are there to create peace, to live together in peace, to show unity in peace.
Could you share your impression about His Holiness’ personality?
I met him for the first time today. Prior to this, I had read articles about him. He is someone who is trustworthy. Someone who can bring across a message.
Where do you see similarities between their messages, speeches, or some points?
The Pope is the head of our church. And with his messages he gives us a direction for our church, and this would be similar with you Caliph, that he unifies the community worldwide through his work, just like our pope unifies the Catholic Church, irrespective of Latin America, Asia, or Europe, with all the difference of such countries.
“We really liked that and it was a very beautiful event.” — Antje
My name is Antje Wechsler. I am from Mannheim.
I was just told that you sat very close to, on the front. What was the impression of His Holiness on you?
Very, very attentive. Everything that was said earlier from Malu Dreyer or the Mayor or the city secretary was part of his speech. That was very remarkable, how he responded to it. And how he tied that to his statements. I was very impressed.
His Holiness spoke about different aspects, about neighbours’ rights as well, which point stuck with you?
The term tolerance stuck in my memory which also convinced me that these are very modern people who have congregated here today and invited us. We really liked that and it was a very beautiful event.
Had you already known of the Caliph?
Yes, I had kindly been invited to the laying of the foundational stone a few years ago, and last year the mosque was inaugurated which I was also invited to. And each time I was very keen on the atmosphere and the great conversations.
For both of you as non-Muslims and who aren’t part of the Ahmadiyya Community, what impression did His Holiness as a person leave on you?
[Husband of the speaker] A very open teaching, I have to say, when it comes to Islam as it is tainted with prejudice. Especially when it comes to Christians. And that is refuted by him through his addresses. It was new to me that such an open Islamic exegesis exists, and I found that great.
“I am delighted.” — Karsten
My name is Karsten Seifert, I am 61 years old, and I attended today’s event.
How did you come across our community?
I was written to, I think it came through the CDU but I’m not sure. In any case, I received an invitation.
What effect did the Caliph have on you?
Very positive. I was very impressed by His Holiness, also by the way he conveyed the Qur’an. I have to say, he made me ponder. I am delighted. I am truly delighted and I will definitely visit your mosque in Frankenthal as well.
You just mentioned that he made you ponder. Was there anything special he said during his address that made you ponder?
I think that between the religion we have and your faith, there are no major differences. There are many parallels. And I think there is plenty of room for elucidation regarding your religion, because we only have a huge half-knowledge about it [we only know half the story]. And I have to say that for me, this event was very useful. I think it’s great that you did this.
The Caliph mentioned different points like the love to the Fatherland, love towards one’s neighbours, the danger of a war. What is your analysis of it? Can you see, as a Christian, similarities in the speech, or is it different?
We have the same basic beliefs! We don’t want war. The neighbourhood, also here “love your neighbour”. Actually, there is no big difference. We have the same fundamental beliefs.
Was there any prejudice, which got debunked by the speech?
I would say, openness towards your religion and also have a look into your house, your mosque. Also, prior to this I never really looked into your belief. That also has to be mentioned. Instead, one hears mostly “Oh God, the Muslims” or such things. No, it is useful to get to know your religion, which is actually not really different from ours. That’s how it is.
“He radiates great calmness.” — Mehmet
My name is Mehmet Yalsin, I am a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist. I was invited as a guest today and I feel very honoured by that.
What effect did His Holiness as a person have on you, aside from his speech?
He radiates great calmness. Naturally, you notice the burden of his position, but he also radiates great respect and dignity. And he has a very calming effect on his surroundings and the people around him. Whenever he enters the room, everyone quiets down and peace settles over the people and inside them; a respect which we then feel, and that is a very pleasant atmosphere.
What effect did his address have on you?
The speech reflected what’s at the heart of the Islamic teachings. It emphasized peace specifically. It reminded people about the roles we carry in society. I really liked the aspect that we as people integrate ourselves into the society while staying who we are, and being aware that it is a religious duty to be a part of society and to serve one’s community and to be there for people. You’re supposed to see beyond your own nose and not only see yourself or your own community members, but to look further at neighbours, to check how they are doing and what is going on with them and what their needs are. [He also discussed] What are the important issues in our society?
And how can we contribute to a reality in which all people can coexist? And that is a very beautiful message.
Before today, did you know about the Caliph? Had you found out anything about him or read about him?
I had not read about him. For a year now, I have been close friends with members of the community. Of course, we exchanged views. And last week, we were also invited to the Jalsa Salana and heard him speak and experienced his presence there as well, and it’s very beautiful and very pleasant.
How would you describe or analyze him as a voice for Islam?
He represents or reflects the universality of Islamic teachings. That we don’t only address the Muslim population, because religion was sent for the entirety of mankind, without emphasizing the nationality or social status, but all people, be they slaves, rich people, merchants, regardless of skin colour, origin and status.
And this universality, applying to all people around the world, which demands peace being brought along, is something I think was reflected beautifully and is represented in this community.
“. . . I was particularly impressed by his message.” — Thomas
My name is Thomas Niederburger, I’m from the Protestant church, and I’m the appointee for religious education.
What effect did His Holiness have on you?
I was very impressed regarding his presence, namely the sacred element that was perceptible in the hall. And I was particularly impressed by his message. I felt a strong attachment to what is the essence of our faith in Christianity… the message of a close relationship with God and the resulting duty to create humanity, peace, and justice among the people through one’s own actions. And one thing that has been coming up short in our time, in Germany as well, is that we speak a lot about the individual, about individualism, about personal happiness, but if we don’t think about the fact that together we constitute a community, we will not be capable of peace, and today was a huge experience for me in that direction.
“We have heard words of great wisdom and spirituality today” — Martin
Martin Hebich, Mayor of Frankenthal
What did you think of the Caliph’s speech today?
I was very impressed by it. We have heard words of great wisdom and spirituality today, and his message is peace and to serve his country, the city, and freedom and peace in the world.
What stood out about his speech in particular?
It’s important that we all work together for peace, that we care about the situation today. Our duty is towards freedom and peace, and today peace is in danger.
What added value does the mosque add to the city?
It’s important that the mosque here is a centre and a community, and part of our society. The mosque belongs to our city, our society, and that is important.