Introduction: On 1st October 2019, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifah (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) inaugurated the Baitul Afiyat Mosque (The House of Peace and Security) in Almere, Holland. Upon arrival, His Holiness officially inaugurated the mosque by unveiling a commemorative plaque and offering a silent prayer in thanks to God Almighty. His Holiness led the Zuhr and Asr prayers at the mosque and also fielded questions from various media outlets in a press conference. Later, a special reception, attended by around 80 dignitaries and guests, was held to mark the opening of the mosque. Before the address by His Holiness, the attendees heard from the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Holland, Hibbatunoer Verhagen. Several guest speakers also delivered brief remarks including Member of Almere City Council, Mr Ton van den Berg, Chairman of the Respect Party in Almere City Council, Mr Rene Eekhuis, a representative of the Sikh Community, Sardar Bhupindar Singh and the Deputy Mayor of Almere, Mr J. Zoetekouw. The highlight of the event was the keynote address delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) during which he explained the true purposes of mosques. The official transcript of the address delivered by His Holiness on this occasion is presented below.
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said:
‘All distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu– peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you for accepting our invitation and joining us at the opening of our new Mosque here in Almere.
In today’s world, many people living in the Western world harbour suspicions about Islam and Muslims.
In fact, it is no exaggeration to suggest that many people fear the religion of Islam and its followers.
Hence, the fact that you have accepted our invitation, proves that you are open-hearted people and aspire to forge bonds of friendship between the people of different communities and beliefs.
It illustrates your desire for inter-faith dialogue and shows you recognise the importance of upholding human values.
I sincerely appreciate your gesture, and, I assure you that our faith teaches us that religion is a matter of the heart and it is for each individual to determine his or her own path, free from any form of coercion.
In this regard, the Holy Quran explicitly states that there should be no compulsion in matters of religion.
The inauguration of a mosque is a purely Islamic function and it will be of no surprise to you that we, Ahmadi Muslims, have an emotional connection and deep affiliation to our mosques.
Consequently, it is a cause of sincere joy and profound emotion for us that Allah the Almighty has enabled us to build this mosque here in this city, where we can join together for the worship of the One God, in the way that He has taught us.
However, all of you, who are our guests, have no such emotional bond to this mosque, but have still made the effort to participate in today’s event and this proves that you are kind, generous and tolerant people.
In addition, it shows that you want to increase your knowledge about Islam and learn about the objectives and reasons for which we have built this mosque.
For this, I also commend you – because taking the time to learn about the faiths and beliefs of others is a crucial way of knocking down the barriers that divide us and exposing those myths that often cultivate unnecessary anxiety and trepidation.
Certainly, it is a cause of extreme regret to me and to all peace-loving Muslims, that in non-Muslim countries, there is widespread fear of Islam and many people believe that Muslims and mosques are good for nothing, apart from causing problems and undermining the peace and security of society.
However, the reality is the opposite and so to alleviate any apprehensions that may exist amongst the local community, I shall now briefly mention the core purposes of mosques, so that you can all better understand what this new mosque represents.
A primary objective of a mosque is the worship of the One God and so mosques are a place where Muslims join together to bow down and prostrate before God Almighty.
A second crucial purpose of a mosque is to be a place for Muslims to strengthen their mutual relations and to develop unity amongst the community members.
The third pivotal objective for any mosque is to be a means of introducing non-Muslims to the teachings of Islam and to fulfil the rights of the wider society.
It is to provide a platform and venue from which Muslims can join together to fulfil the rights of their neighbours and the wider society, regardless of creed, caste or colour.
Let it be clear that any mosque, which does not serve as a beacon of peace and sympathy for mankind and from where, neither the rights of God Almighty or His creation are fulfilled, is nothing but a hollow and empty shell. Even a cursory glance of Islamic history proves this to be true.
During the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a so-called mosque was erected with the intention of causing mischief and sowing seeds of division within society.
It was built to ignite the flames of hatred amongst Muslims and also to trigger hostilities between Muslims and other communities, notably the Jewish community.
As a result, it is recorded in the Holy Quran that Allah the Almighty instructed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to demolish the mosque, because it had been built with ill-intent. Therefore, the mosque was razed to the ground.
As I said, this incident has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and so will forever serve as a solemn warning and reminder for Muslims.
It illustrates that if a mosque does not serve as a centre of peace, where people join to fulfil the rights of their fellow beings and instead serves as a breeding ground for extremism or inciting dissent, it can never fulfil its real purpose or be deemed a true mosque.
A mosque’s objectives can only be fulfilled when the worshippers enter the mosque with a firm intention to worship Allah the Almighty and to work for the betterment of humanity.
A mosque’s purpose can only be fulfilled when the worshippers are infused with a spirit of selflessness, humility and true sympathy and love for all mankind.
Another thing I wish to make clear is that a mosque is a purely religious and spiritual house of worship and should remain free from materialism and clear of anything through which the peace of society is jeopardised.
All such activities are utterly prohibited by Islam and the Founder of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) expressed hatred for such things.
It is only permitted to hold those events or gatherings within mosques that encourage the worship of the One God or which peacefully convey Islam’s teachings or which serve to fulfil the needs of humanity.
Thus, when we build mosques, where we join together for the worship of God Almighty five times a day, and where we hold religious events to enhance our moral and spiritual development, we also hold regular events and establish schemes to serve our neighbours and the wider society.
We devise plans through which we can help the poor and needy and fulfil the rights of orphans and provide aid and assistance to the vulnerable and deprived members of society.
With the Grace of Allah, to further such efforts, we have established an international charity, Humanity First and from a community level, we hold various charity events across the world throughout the year.
For example, in Africa, when we build mosques, apart from introducing the teachings of Islam to others, we strive to help the local people, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
We build hospitals, clinics and schools, where all people are welcome.
In reality, the majority of the students and patients who attend our schools and hospitals are not members of our community.
Also for the sake of serving humanity, and with the sole objective of helping those who are under-privileged, we have established a humanitarian relief project providing water in remote villages and towns of Africa.
Our engineers dig boreholes and install water pumps, which provide clean and portable drinking water to the local people.
You cannot imagine, until you see it with your own eyes, how the local people, who had no concept of clean water, are overcome with emotion and unbridled joy when they see it flowing from their taps for the very first time.
The innocent children, who have been born into destitution and extreme poverty, cannot contain their excitement and wonder.
For generations, the local people were forced to travel miles on a daily basis, with vessels or buckets rested on their heads, in order to acquire pond-water for their domestic use.
Even that water, for which they had to struggle so much, was invariably contaminated and the cause of many diseases and illnesses.
Given this, when those desperate people see fresh and clean water it is as if they have attained all the treasures of the world.
Accordingly, we believe that if a Muslim desires to fulfil the rights of the worship of God Almighty and fulfil the rights of a mosque then he or she must fulfil the rights of mankind.
For Muslims, serving God and serving His creation are intrinsically linked.
If a Muslim, God forbid, causes pain or distress to other people and fails to show compassion, then, even if they are regular in the worship of God, their prayers and supplications are futile and utterly worthless.
Indeed, in chapter 107, verses 3-7 of the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty states:
‘…the one who drives away the orphan, and urges not the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayers. They only like to be seen of men.’
Because they are not discharging their duties towards mankind, their prayers are not accepted. Here, Allah the Almighty has cursed those who pray to him, but fail to fulfil the rights of the weak and needy and He has declared that their prayers will never be accepted.
Their worship and entry into a mosque is nothing but a sham and an empty gesture.
The Holy Quran is very clear that their prayers are meaningless and their hypocritical ways will lead only to their humiliation and despair.
Consequently, a mosque not only draws our attention to fulfilling the rights of God, but also of fulfilling the rights of mankind and the importance of serving humanity.
When these are the core objectives of true mosques, there should be no reason for any of you to fear this mosque.
Time and time again, Islam has laid great stress upon caring for one’s neighbours and fulfilling their rights.
For example, where chapter 4, verse 37 of the Holy Quran calls on Muslims to show love and compassion to their parents and families, it also calls on them to fulfil the needs of the vulnerable members of society and special mention is made towards fulfilling the rights of one’s neighbours.
Muslims are taught to love and protect their neighbours, whether they have personal relations with them or not, and to be ever ready to help them in their times of need.
Furthermore, the definition of a neighbour in Islam is extremely vast.
It includes a person’s work colleagues, subordinates and travel companions.
It includes not only those people who live in the immediate vicinity but comprises the entire neighbourhood.
Indeed, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that a person’s neighbours include at least the forty houses around him.
Thus, it can be said that all the people of this city are the neighbours of this mosque or of people who worship at this mosque.
Regardless of whether our neighbours are Muslims or non-Muslims, it is our religious duty to care for them, to fulfil their rights and to ensure we do not cause any problems or difficulties for them.
This is not a favour on our part but our basic religious duty.
In fact, the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that Allah the Almighty had emphasised the importance of discharging the rights of one’s neighbours so fervently to him that he began to think that perhaps they would be included amongst a person’s rightful inheritors.
In short, now this mosque has been built, our obligation to worship God Almighty has not only increased but, in parallel, our responsibility to serve the local community and to contribute positively to the local society has increased manifold.
The local Ahmadi Muslims will consider all the people in this city as their neighbours and recognise that they have many rights over them and will strive to fulfil them to the best of their abilities.
Whenever any of you require our help, we pledge to be there to aid and assist, in whatever way we can.
I am confident that the local Ahmadi Muslims will take extremely seriously their obligations towards the local society and will always strive to contribute positively to this city and to be faithful and loyal citizens, who care passionately about their local community.
In light of this, I would also take this opportunity to remind the local Ahmadi Muslims that they must always display the highest moral standards and follow the true teachings of Islam and serve their local community.
Through their piety and heartfelt concern for their fellow beings, they should remove any lingering fears or misconceptions of Islam that may exist amongst some members of the local society.
God Willing, I am sure that now this mosque has opened the relations between our community and the wider public will become ever closer and the ties of friendship between us will continue to strengthen forevermore.
I am sure that a spirit of love and mutual affection will continue to grow and you will come to see this mosque as a symbol of peace and goodwill for all mankind.
At this time, more than ever before, it is incumbent upon all of us – whether Muslim or non-Muslim – to work together for the cause of peace and to set aside our religious differences and unite in the name of humanity and work towards the betterment of our nation and strive to bring peace in the world.
May Allah the Almighty grant humanity the ability and wisdom to do so.
At the end, I pray that this mosque proves to be an everlasting beacon of light radiating peace, love and humanity in all directions – Ameen.
With these words, I would like to thank you all once again for joining us on this auspicious occasion. Thank you very much.’
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