His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community recently gave an address at the inauguration of the Sadiq Mosque in the German town of Karben. Here’s how the local guests reacted to the event and to the words spoken by His Holiness:
“Very spiritual, very respectful.” — Gerna
My name is Gerna Kargi, I’m from Greece and for many years, I’ve been a member of the Foreigner’s Council in Karben. I have known the Ahmadiyya Community for many years, since the Community was still located on Rathaus Street, and we have good connections. I know many women from the Ahmadiyya Community, and I feel very comfortable when I’m around the community. For example, I really liked today’s event, and I knew the head of the Community, the Caliph, from previous mosque inaugurations. I particularly like the atmosphere. The people are very interesting, and I think the members are very open-minded and intelligent. They present themselves to others. They do not hide away within the community. They are very educated, of course, and I really like that.
Can you tell us what impression His Holiness has left on you?
Very spiritual, very respectful. I had the pleasure of getting to know him personally. At one point I had a conversation with him.
What is something that you will take away from today’s event?
On the 18th, I have a session with our Foreigners Council. This event is on the agenda, and I will report on it. I have taken notes today about everything His Holiness spoke about, including the mayor, and I will report that back. This session will be protocolled in the city of Karben, and everyone will be able to read about it.
“. . . I am totally ecstatic” — Steffi
My name is Steffi Pers, I’m from Karben. I also live and work here. I work at the city administration, i.e., in this very building. That is where I received an invitation to this wonderful evening, as well as from my neighbours, from whom I receive good food at the very least, on behalf of your community. Today, I could finally attend this event and I am totally ecstatic. I think, this evening we all have a broad smile on our faces, having had the opportunity to experience this. I’ve already said that I have not seen the pope, but I have had the pleasure of getting to know His Holiness.
Can you tell us what impression he has left on you?
A lot of kindness I would say. But also, calmness, kindness, knowledge, and he is humble, really. I think he does not want to be the center of attention and I feel like to him, It’s all about love.
I really like how he wanted to clarify that this is about showing what the real Islam is.
What is something you will take along with you from today?
That all of us, no matter what religion we ascribe to, are motivated to foster togetherness, to keep our doors and gates open, and to also go to a mosque sometime, or a church, or a synagogue, or wherever – that it is all about the big picture. It was very beautiful.
“This is an honour for the people of Karben” — Mario
My name is Mario Beck, I am involved in the community politics of Karben as the parliamentary party leader in a voluntary capacity.
What did you think of the event?
Very beautiful. There are many events that take place in this hall, even city council meetings, but I have never seen it in such a ceremonial and festive state. All of this was prepared by volunteers of the Ahmadiyya Community, and they did a great job. The way all of this was organized, the delicious food, the atmosphere, it all sets a beautiful frame. It’s also very nice to see that so many people from the population and institutions of Karben have come here today. I am glad you liked it.
What impressions did His Holiness leave on you and what will you take along with you?
It was very exciting to me to experience this, as I have never experienced the world leader of any community speaking to us. This is an honour for the people of Karben and something very special. I’d almost say he appeared very normal to me – that is, a person from among us. I was particularly pleased by the way he responded to the previous speakers. You could tell that at least in some parts, it was a very spontaneous speech in which he responded to what the representative and mayor said. He especially emphasized how important it is to him that the Ahmadiyya Community of Karben is integrated at the center of Karben. And I think he found beautiful words for those who were initially skeptical about the construction of the mosque, but who have come to realize, through living with the community and working with them, that they are peaceful people who want to live out their religion and who contribute to society. For that reason, people have emerged, even from among these critics, who might not support the Community, but who live together peacefully with the Ahmadiyya Community as neighbours.
. . .
“I learned a lot and I am happy to have been a part of this.” — Korinna
My name is Korinna Probst, and I am the headmistress of the musical school of Bad Vilbel and Karben.
What did you think about this event?
I found this event very impressive, both regarding the arrangements as well as the contents. I learned a lot and I am happy to have been a part of this.
You mentioned you learned a lot. What impression did His Holiness leave on you?
I think he spoke in a very harmonious manner. I did not know him before, but he seemed very approachable and to be someone who advocates for tolerance and peace. That impressed me.
I have a question regarding the mosque. What do you think about a mosque having been built in your city?
I think that in terms of religious freedom, it is a given that everyone can live out their religion, and a mosque is part of that.
“I had very nice conversations at the table” — Johann
My name is Johann Suller and I am a representative of Diakonie Hessen [Christian Welfare Organization] and was invited on behalf of the state government.
I really liked it; I was welcomed very pleasantly. I had very nice conversations at the table with members of the Community. It was beautiful hearing the welcoming address and of course the speech by the Caliph.
What impression did His Holiness leave on you? What is something you will take away from his speech?
He left a very good impression on me. He has a good presence. Regarding his speech, I found it very impressive how much he emphasized the good cooperation of religions, the appreciation for each other, and of course the motto of the Ahmadiyya Community of peace for all and good cooperation. I think that is a good message, especially in today’s time and age.
What do you think about the mosque in your city?
One can only support that. If there is a Muslim Community that wants to build a place of worship, and also, as is the case with your community, that integrates itself into society, then that is only a win for the city, the community, for everyone.
I have known the Ahmadiyya Community for a long time, including from my work as a parish priest. So, I had an idea. Of course, in the media you hear about the Islamic world and also about Muslims. Also, the negative aspects. So, where you hear about suicide attacks, persecution of people of other faiths. That is, of course, what predominates in the media.
In this respect it was a nice antithesis here. What I liked the most: the friendly and great conversation at the table, about faith and religion, which was a real exchange – at eye level, being interested in each other – and as I said, it was also nice to get to know the Caliph for once.
“. . . You can feel that there is a very special spirit” — Taber
My name is Taber Johnson, I have been living in Germany for the past 12 years but originally came from the United States.
What was your image of Islam and what have you learnt today?
I learnt how important peace is within the Islamic religion, that especially, and that it’s peace that binds us, no matter what religion it is, it binds us together, the desire for peace with each other.
How did you perceive his Holiness, how did he affect you?
It’s very, you can feel that there is a very special spirit, and you can see it also in the eyes and faces of those who have known him for a long time and are so happy to see him here in person, and I can feel a little bit of that joy as well.
What did you take away from his speech here today?
I’m excited to get to understand a little bit more about the Islamic Religion. My neighbour invited me, so I’m excited to know more about how he practices his religion! I see him every day, I like him, I love his family, I can tell that they are a loving family, and I want to understand more about how his religion helps him to have a happy family.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Just that it was such a privilege to be able to be here tonight, I’m grateful that I was invited, I feel honoured to be here. Thank you very much.
“I feel much more comfortable and familiar with Islam.” — Rebecca
I’m Rebecca Johnson. I’m from Karben, and I live near the school.
What was your image of Islam and what have you learned here today?
I think my image of Islam was just from a distance, today I feel much more comfortable and familiar with Islam.
What impression did His Holiness leave on you?
I perceived, first of all, that he’s well-loved by everybody here, and I think he must be worthy of that love and respect. I think respect, and rights were the words I heard most often from him, that we all should respect and wish the best for everyone.
What do you take away, and what did you like the most?
I really enjoyed seeing such a mixture. The mayor also said that it’s apparent that there are so many from Karben, and we are together, so it was good to be all together.
“His Holiness. That was a charisma that really impressed me. ” — Sabine
My name is Sabine Felsentrager, I live here in Karben, and I work for a non-profit association.
What did you think of the event?
I was surprised, very surprised. Also, about the friendliness, the whole organization of all the trappings. We felt very comfortable.
What impressed me the most, is actually your saying ‘love for all, hatred for none”. For me, that is what I am taking with me tonight. And that should be out in the world.
Question about the mosque.
I think that’s only right. Everyone should have a place. And I always used to say “live and let live”. And I didn’t understand why Evangelicals and Catholics fought each other. Completely incomprehensible. For me, everybody belongs here.
His Holiness. That was a charisma that really impressed me.
“It was wonderful to hear him speak.” — Astrid
My name is Astrid Bergmann-Hadel, I am from the party “Freie Wahler” from Hanau. And I am this year’s direct candidate for the state election in the Main-Kinzig district.
I have to thank you, because it was a wonderful and memorable experience. The organization was wonderful, the people are polite, friendly, and approachable. So, it was a really wonderful event from start to finish.
What do I take with me? So as a woman, it is very clear that Islam respects women. And that really touched me. And otherwise, he is a person who is at peace with himself. It was wonderful to hear him speak and hear his voice in the original.
I was talking to a very nice man at the table, who belongs to the Community. And I have to say quite clearly, that my experiences from childhood and youth – I come from the Ruhr area – were of course very different. Of course, that has also formed my life. In preparation for the day here, of course, I also did some research. And that has now simply been confirmed, how open and friendly everything was here.
What did you like the best?
The friendliness and openness. I have to be honest, it was a wonderful event and, as I said, for coming inside to leaving.