Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih inaugurated Bait ul Amaan, a new mosque in the city of Manchester, UK and gave a discourse on the ideal spirit of building and populating mosques. He began by citing the following Quranic verses:
‘And remember the time when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House, praying, ‘Our Lord, accept this from us; for Thou art All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
‘Our Lord, make us submissive to Thee and make of our offspring a people submissive to Thee. And show us our ways of worship, and turn to us with mercy; for Thou art Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful.
‘And, our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger from among themselves, who may recite to them Thy Signs and teach them the Book and Wisdom and may purify them; surely, Thou art the Mighty, the Wise.’ (Surah Al Baqarah, verses 128 – 130)
These verses mention a great model which illustrates high standards of humility, meekness, sacrifice, prayer for one’s progeny to remain connected to God and prayer to become servant of God. The first verse depicts the great sacrifice of Hadhrat Ibrahim and Hadhrat Ishmael (peace be on them). Each stone with which that they constructed the House of God bore witness that the father and the son and their generation to follow was going to settle around it. They both had conviction of belief that one day the House would become the centre of faith but they had no idea when that would be. At the time, all they were aware of was to make their sacrifice. In spite of their great sacrifice they expressed the greatest of humility when they prayed to God and acknowledged that it was all due to His grace. There was no sense of importance in their expressions, they did not expect any reward, prompt or otherwise. Rather, they prayed to the All-Hearing, All-Knowing God to accept their prayers that they had made sacrifice and pledged to do so in the future. They submitted to God that He was aware that what they said and what they did was to seek the pleasure of God. They prayed for the place to become House of God and for it to be populated by virtue of being House of God. They realised for it to be truly populated was dependant on God’s grace, so they prayed for the insight and vision which takes one to God.
This is the spirit in which mosques of Muslims are built, indeed it is the spirit in which they should be built, otherwise a beautiful building in itself is nothing. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) said there should be no decoration or embellishment in mosques but monarchs and the wealthy have made ornate mosques, some of these mosques even have gold-plated embellishments. But the beauty of mosques is in how they are populated, that is populated purely to seek the pleasure of God.
Hadhrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) once related that on a visit to a Middle Eastern country he went to see a beautiful mosque where he observed that a handful of worshippers were offering Salat in a corner. The Imam of the mosque explained that because people did not come for Salat, he was embarrassed to lead from the Mihrab, so they offered Salat in a corner of the mosque so that no one would know that it was the main congregation. Then, there are mosques which are populated but it is done with empty hearts and worldly matters are at the forefront during the time spent there.
We should be mindful that when we build mosques it should be to seek the pleasure of God. Rather than feel pride we should be grateful to God for any sacrifice that we are enabled to make for this. Any sacrifice we make is not even a fraction of the sacrifice made by Hadhrat Ishmael (on whom be peace). Our sacrifice is limited to financial sacrifice and that too is mostly within our means. Certainly, in the materialistic world of today it is a big way of giving and building of mosques is a commendable act and people who do this have their reward from God. With the grace of God our Jama’at is greatly drawn to building mosques in the Western countries. This has changed the preferences of some people to the extent that they put themselves in difficulties but contribute towards building of mosques. Yet, we should always remember not to display any sense of pride for this.
The cost of building of Baitul Amaan was £1.2 million and 75% of the promises/pledges have been paid. Members of the Jama’at have made tremendous sacrifices for this. Individual contributions of up to £84,000 and £78,000 have been made as well as contributions of £15,000 to £30,000. The pledges of around eleven people total more than £300,000. These are huge sacrifices in this day and age, but they should incline us towards humility because the model God has put before us is that our sacrifice is naught and is truly beneficial when a mosque is populated. The place where once the House of God was built was desolate and deprived of inhabitants and from a spiritual perspective the West is also a barren land and we have to make it spiritually verdant. It is with this viewpoint that we build mosques in Europe. Mosques should not be populated only on Fridays, rather we should pray ‘Our Lord, accept this from us; for Thou art All-Hearing, All-Knowing’ and supplicate for spiritual advancement. We should pray to be enabled to keep mosques populated and pray that may people who advance in spirituality inhabit the area. May God accept our sacrifice and take us to the spiritual station of His nearness and make us the recipients of His Paradise.
Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that on the Day of Judgement God will state that those gathered will know who the esteemed and the honoured will be. These will be people who held assemblies for remembrance of God in mosques. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also said that a person who goes to the mosque each morning and night, God will prepare hospitality for him in Paradise.
May those who will populate our mosque too be those whom God likes and those who seek His pleasure. Fortunate are those who build mosques with this intention and indeed come to mosques with this intention. Not only do they attain paradise in this world, they are also given Paradise in the Hereafter for they seek them both. Often on the inside of the domes of our mosques the Quranic verse ‘… and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah…’ (13:29) is inscribed. It is also inscribed in the new mosque, Baitul Amaan. What greater paradise is there for those whose hearts are comforted? Those who remember God, endure difficulties for the sake of God. They make these difficulties a source of seeking pleasure of God and in turn a source of inner peace. Meanwhile, due to failure to withstand grief, hundreds of people daily commit suicide in the world. Some suffer from fatal heart attack when faced with grief or shock. Recently due to extreme weather conditions in Pakistan a farmer’s crop was completely destroyed. When he went to the see the damage, the shock of it proved fatal and he died of a heart attack. People of God do not let worldly grief influence them. Each episode of grief inspires them towards love of God and they come in the lap of God where their hearts are comforted. The Qur’an states: ‘But for him who is awed by the lofty station of his Lord, there are two gardens.’ (55:47) The garden/paradise of this world is granted for being an Abd e Rahman (servant of the Gracious God) which goes on to also make one a recipient of the Paradise of the Hereafter.
The second verse recited at the start of the sermon is a prayer by Hadhrat Ibrahim and Hadhrat Ishmael (peace be on them) that may we become good people of God. The humility expressed here is noteworthy in that in spite of the sacrifice they made and in spite being sent by God they still prayed to be good. Although Hadhrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) left his wife and child in a desolate land, he still prayed to God to be a submissive servant of His and the son too, in spite of agreeing to the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of God, prayed to God to be completely obedient to Him.
This is the station that a believer should try to attain. One should never be proud or reliant on any good one does. One should always submit to God that without His grace one’s deeds are naught and it is only with His blessing that one becomes a servant of the Gracious God. Our supplication should be to stay firm on good and be sincere, not just for ourselves but also for our next generation, as stated: ‘and make of our offspring a people submissive to Thee’. After building a house of God our concern to populate it should not be limited to our own lifetime, rather, we should pray that the spiritual beneficence is passed on and such people continue to born among our future generation. Only the elderly and those with time on hand should not be associated with the mosque. Those who are busy should also take time out of their engagements and the enthusiasm for worship of God should be passed on to our youngsters and children. While practical endeavour is required in this regard, prayer is a tremendous source to attain it. God is aware of what is in our hearts and we should pray with the view that the seed of piety is passed on from generation to generation. If we are indolent about these matters, our next generation is also indolent.
The prayer of Hadhrat Ibrahim and Hadhrat Ishmael ‘And show us our ways of worship, and turn to us with mercy;’ draws attention to our own reformation as well as that of our children, it signifies worship of God as well as all other commandments that should be carried out. And once these obligations are fulfilled one should not presume to have done something great, for the verse/prayer goes on to say: ‘and turn to us with mercy’, that is, accept our repentance and forgive us our minor errors. The objective of building mosques is fulfilled when regular prayer is made in this vein. It also inspires to make effort to keep our children on this path.
Such prayer will bring about that supreme beneficence which came to pass in acceptance of the prayer of Hadhrat Ibrahim and Hadhrat Ishmael (on whom be peace). It brought about a great revolutionary change through which the [spiritually] dead came to life and it established unprecedentedly high standards of worship of God. It brought about the advent of that great Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who was superlative in every sense of the word. God then made the Seal of all the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) declare: ‘Say, ‘My Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’ (6:163). Here, in God’s eyes lofty standards of worship, sacrifice and every other deed were established which had never been seen or heard before. This high station was granted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be on him) by God Who made him declare that God’s love could only be attained by following this noble Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Many attained first hand, direct beneficence from his power of holiness and multitudes of sincere worshippers of God were created who worshipped God through the night and during the day presented themselves to serve religion to the great Prophet who had come for till the end of time and for all people and all times.
His beneficence and his model are luminous today as ever and his great teaching is still resplendent. In this age, his true and ardent devotee came and through him, once again God’s signs were recited and wisdom was imparted. Followers of his true and ardent devotee too tried to adapt themselves in these ways and the opponents were forced to acknowledge that they presented a model of the Islamic ways.
Today, this remains our greatest objective and this is the way to silence the world. We have to convince the world with our practices. We have to worship God and supplicate Him with utter tenderness and pathos so that we may absorb God’s grace. We need to connect our children with the mosque, and then alone will we fulfil the object of the building of the mosque and will be able to say that we have fulfilled the rightful due of the Bai’at of the Imam of the age. In true obedience of the beloved of God, the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) will we also attain God’s love and be the recipient of fulfilment in this world and the Hereafter.
With the building of this mosque, those who are spiritually weak should modify/improve their ways; ways that lead to love of God. Those who are drawn to worship of God should endeavour to attain higher levels. The new mosque should bring about a revolutionary transformation in the local Jama’at.
It is reported that the men’s Prayer hall of the new mosque accommodates 760 worshippers and the ladies Prayer hall accommodates 560 worshipers, although the capacity can be increased and if required 2000 worshippers can offer Salat in the mosque. The phrase that 2000 worshippers ‘can offer’ Salat here should be transformed into ‘do offer’ Salat here as soon as possible. May God enable to do so.
In the UK as well as in Europe, the Jama’at is drawn to building of mosques, but the beauty of mosques is only with worshippers. Since 2003 when Baitul Futuh was inaugurated, the UK Jama’at is enabled to construct 14 purpose-built mosques, six of which have been built this year. There were 13 mosques in [mainland] Europe and in the last seven to eight years there has been an increase of 44 and the number now is 57 with one nearing completion. Most of these mosques are in Germany. Again, the beauty of mosques is not in simply building them but is with worshippers. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih said that his message to Ahmadis of Europe was that our pride is not in simply building these mosques. Our objective will be fulfilled when each of these mosques is so populated that it becomes constricted for the worshippers. May God enable us so.
Next a few incidents of some companions of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) were related. These incidents illustrated their complete devotion to and absorption in Prayer.
Hadhrat Jan Muhammad sahib (may Allah be pleased with him): He recounted how in spite of the apparent distraction of some musicians nearby he and others were totally absorbed in their Salat.
Hadhrat Hakim Ali sahib (may Allah be pleased with him): He recounted that he had a small mosque built next to his house and spent long hours there in worship of God. His intensive worship was rewarded with prompt reply to prayers he made.
Hadhrat Mir Mehdi Hussein sahib(may Allah be pleased with him): He recounted how once he missed his meal to offer Salat on time although the person serving food had told him if he did not eat then, he would not get any food later.
Hakeem Fazlur Rahman recounted on behalf of his father, Hadhrat Hafiz Nabi Bakhsh sahib (may Allah be pleased with him) about his devoutness in fasting. He also wrote how his father was diligent in the Tarbiyyat of his children and would always make time to teach them about religious matters.
This was a model to follow for parents today. In these [Western] countries people are distancing from religion and some of our children are also influenced by this trend. Therefore there is a greater need to not only maintain our levels but to enhance them. If grown-ups, people in their forties, stayed up watching TV or on the internet till late in the night as it is also sometimes mentioned by wives who complain, how can they manage Tarbiyyat of children? This is a challenge of Ahmadis living in these countries in particular and all over the world in general. Satan is exceeding all limits these days and we have to contend with this and this cannot be done without God’s help and God’s help can be sought through worship.
Hadhrat Shaikh Nur ud din sahib (may Allah be pleased with him): He recounted a dream in which he saw that his body goes through burial rites and is eventually buried and the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) reminds him of his obligations. He recounted that this dream had a great impact on him and he reformed his worship of God.
Following is an example for women. At times some women present excuses not to offer Salat on time, while there are other women who excel men in offering Salat.
Hadhrat Ma’i Kako sahiba (may Allah be pleased with her): She recounted that once she went to see the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) with a few other ladies and asked that some women said that at times due to work etc. they offered their Maghrib Salat with Isha. What were they to do? The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) replied that he did not think delay could be caused if all effort was made. However, he said if due to some reason this was the case, Isha should be offered with Maghrib, because angels descend at Maghrib as they descend in the morning. Therefore it was better to combine them at the time of Maghrib.
Next, a few extracts from the writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) were read. These illustrated that we can fulfil our great wishes by turning to God and supplicating. One who turns to God with true fervour and sincerity is never wasted. If a man undertakes something but sees no result, he should examine his practices and see what it is that is wrong. In terms of worship of God, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said we should offer our worship as if we can see God and He is watching us. We should repent profusely and purify ourselves.
May we be enabled to understand this message and may God enable us to worship Him in the true sense and make us those who seek His pleasure.