On 7th November 2008, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V inaugurated the Al-Mahdi Mosque in Bradford, UK. A VIP reception of local dignatories was held in the evening and we present below the address given by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
All the distinguished and honourable guests, peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all, I would like to thank all our respected guests who have given their precious time and have come to attend the inauguration of this mosque which has been named as Masjid Al-Mahdi. May Allah reward all of you who have accepted our hand of friendship and especially those who have come here despite differences of religion or schools of thought for the sake of promoting peace in society. I expect that this mosque in which we are all gathered today will be a great addition to the beauty of the city for all- some of the respected guests had already mentioned it. And I also expect that after some time the behaviour, love and message of peace displayed by the users of this mosque will further beautify the city.
According to the reports that I have received, the construction of this mosque has caused anxiety in certain Muslim circles and also amongst some non-Muslim groups as well. Perhaps such sentiments may be present here today.
As a Community, we have, of course, faced some opposition – for example, there have been attempts to cause some damage – but we continued to tolerate all such incidents, because our message of peace, love and affection is something that we cannot sacrifice for the sake of such minor opposition. The work of seeking the pleasure of God Almighty that we have begun must be accomplished without incurring the hatred of anyone.
I wish to make it clear to you that the sole purpose of building of this mosque is to worship the One God. Now, to even contemplate doing harm to God’s Creation in an edifice which has been built only for God, is in itself a sin. Many of you will think that we do not practise what we preach and that everybody says these words but they do not act upon them.
Alas, I have no instrument that could truly inform you of what is in my heart. I can only assure all of you who do not belong to the Ahmadiyya Community that, God Willing, time will prove whatever I am saying to be true and that all sincere Ahmadis speak with the same voice. Therefore, upon the building of this mosque, if even the slightest suspicion is harboured by you that there is a risk that the peace around you will be affected, I urge you to discard such fear.
Those who are well-acquainted with us will certainly bear witness that the Ahmadiyya Jama’at as a Community always spreads the message of peace, love and tenderness. Wherever they build their mosques, they build them for the sake of the worship of God. And that is the real purpose of the building of this mosque.
It is our claim that we continually endeavour to achieve the purpose of our creation, which we have been taught in the Holy Qur’an. And by the Grace of Allah, the institution of Khilafat (known in the West as the Caliphate) that exists in the Ahmadiyya Community guides all Ahmadis towards achieving this purpose.
Now, what is the purpose of our Creation? It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:
And I have not created the Jinn and men but that they may worship me.(Ch.51:V.57).
The term ‘Jinn’ refers here to rich people, whilst the term ‘men’ refers to the common man. Therefore, our mosques call all people to Prayers, so that they can all gather at one place and worship their Creator. Clearly, when wealthy and less wealthy persons come together for worship, it creates a mutual respect for each other’s rights. This equality leads to parity in all matters – and when a person’s attention is drawn towards equality, it results in greater affection and compassion for each other. Moreover, when compassion increases, it leads to new avenues which establish love and affection. When these new avenues are followed, they guarantee the peace of society. Therefore, if the world’s richer people and nations and the world’s poorer people and nations realise this principle, then, for the sake of their Creator, they will become instrumental in greater love for each other and benevolence in the world.
Now tell me: is it possible that the followers of these teachings and those who hold such convictions could ever destroy the peace of society by means of their mosques? Certainly, all our esteemed guests will agree that it is not possible. So, let us come together and discharge the rights of our Creator and let us endeavour to discharge the rights of His Creation.
Groups which entertain reservations about each other must try to eliminate them. As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is concerned, we do not bear any grudge in our hearts against anyone, because we have been taught that if we bear grudges, our prayers cannot be accepted. The Reformer of the Age has strictly warned us about this fact. So we do not wish, by exhibiting enmity, to have our prayers left unanswered.
Ahmadi Muslims give special respect to the teachings of the Founder of their Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), because he was sent as the Promised Messiah by God Almighty. The prophecy of his advent was made by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). In keeping with our beliefs, we always strive to accept and act upon his teachings. The Promised Messiah(as) has himself informed us about the purpose of his advent, saying that, firstly, it is to bring mankind closer to God, so that they worship Him. Secondly, to draw a person’s attention towards respecting the rights of others so that love increases within society and so that peace can be established.
Following the Holy Founder of our community, the institution of Khilafat continues to further pursue this purpose. That is why you see teachings of peace and love in the Ahmadiyya Community; indeed, these teachings will always be manifest in our community.
Even today, some people allege that religion is the cause of insecurity in the world. This is an utterly false allegation. No prophet, of any religion, has brought a teaching that disturbs the peace of the world. As far as the Holy Qur’an is concerned, it has gone so far as to state:
…And let not the enmity of a people, that they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque, incite you to transgress. And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah…(Ch.5:V.3)
So here is a teaching that tells us that we must not do wrong. This verse was referring to those people who prevented the Holy Prophet(saw) and his followers from entering the Ka’abah (the first House for the worship of God Almighty). They not only prevented them from entering it, but went so far in their hatred that they martyred many Muslims and reached extreme heights of cruelty and torture. But even so, to maintain peace in society, the instruction was that after victory, the victor must not inflict such cruelty and torture out of revenge for previous cruelties inflicted upon them. Rather, Allah’s pleasure lies in encouraging the doing of more good works and improving in righteousness.
Do good, even to the cruel. Perhaps because of this, their hearts will soften and as a result of this, they might think to improve their relations with the Muslims. And in this way, peace in society can flourish.
To forgive a cruel enemy is no doubt very difficult; but God Almighty says that a true Muslim is expected, and indeed instructed, to see to it that transgression is not committed. If a person is deemed a criminal by the laws of the land, then the Government of the time may of course punish him. But as for an individual, he is not allowed to take the law in his hands and avenge any cruelty done to him. Indeed, history bears testimony that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) forgave all the non-believers of Makkah when he entered this Holy City.
It is then commanded that the enmity of a people should not incite us to act unjustly. We are told: “…Act justly, as this is closest to righteousness, and fear Allah.” (Ch.5:V.9) In the presence of these beautiful teachings, to allege that Islam is a religion that teaches cruelty and transgression and that it is a religion that destroys peace in society, is in itself a cruel indictment upon these beautiful precepts.
Regarding justice, the Holy Qur’an has repeatedly taught us that a true Muslim can never even think of acting unjustly. If a few people or group of people propagate teachings contrary to this and act in a discriminatory fashion, then the blame for this cannot be laid upon the beautiful teachings of Islam. Obviously, this disturbance is not due to the religion itself but is a cruel act committed against the holy name of religion. A few centuries ago, this same allegation was laid at the doorstep of Christianity, and history bears testimony to this. However, this does not mean that cruelty exists in Christian teachings. The teachings of Jesus Christ, on whom be peace, are filled with meekness and kindness.
So, therefore, to maintain peace in society it is necessary for one to eliminate all sentiments of hostility from one’s heart. It is necessary to save oneself from counter accusations and allegations. It is necessary to increase one’s levels of tolerance. There is a need to stand in defence of the respect and reverence of each other’s Prophets.
The bitterness towards Islam amongst some non-Muslims has blinded them to such an extent that societies which are otherwise known to be extremely well-read and civilised, have made false and baseless allegations against the Holy Founder of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad(saw). As a result, certain Muslim groups have reacted improperly and so animosities have continued to multiply.
We are the humble servants of the Holy Prophet(saw), and so we are deeply grieved and saddened by the attacks on our Holy Prophet(saw); but our reaction is to show his noble qualities even more than before. Besides, in response to such allegations, we disclose even more beautiful teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
So I wish to say that if the current society claims to be civilised, and it talks of integration with each other, then everyone’s religious traditions and Founders should be respected. This would be helpful in establishing peace in society.
Islam teaches us to respect the prophets of all religions. In fact, it is essential for a Muslim to believe in all of the prophets who are mentioned in the Holy Bible or in the Holy Qur’an, until and including Jesus Christ(as). In addition, we also believe that there was a prophet sent to every nation on earth, and we believe in all of them. Furthermore, as they were all sent by God as prophets, they are all equal.
Observe to what extent the teachings of the Holy Qur’an urge respect for other religions.
When God Almighty gave the permission to fight it was only so that cruelty could be ended. However, this permission was not limited to the defence of Islam but was also a means to protect and respect all religions. The Holy Qur’an states:
Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged – and Allah indeed has power to help them – those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ – And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty. (Ch.22: V.40-41)
So this is the beautiful teaching, the objective of which is to prevent all forms of transgression and to arrest the hand that attacks others; because, if the attacking hand is not arrested, then irrespective of which religion a person belongs to, religious opposition will spread to such a degree that it will eventually destroy the believers of all religions. So here is the need of the hour that instead of slinging mud at each others religions and prophets, we should join together as believers in One God. And we should try to bring those who do not believe in God or religion nearer to Him, so that a beautiful society can emerge, in which people respect each other and become the means of guaranteeing the peace of the world.
I assure you that we will be ever ready to co-operate by all means in this call towards the Creator of the Heaven and the Earth. And our mosques will always remain open to the public for the worship of the Creator, our Lord, as long as they comply with the rules of the administration so that the sanctity of the mosques can be upheld. According to us, the association of the Mosque with the worship of God and the peace of society is most important. Hence, if anybody erects a building for some other purpose, then whether it is called a mosque or otherwise, it is our belief that such a place can never be a mosque or a House of God.
Even in the time of the Holy Prophet(saw) such a mosque was built in which conspiracies were hatched by hypocrites. Those who built it were not fearful of God. That mosque was built to destroy the peace of society. And thus, regarding this mosque, Allah the Almighty said that this mosque was not worthy of the worship of God Almighty and it was better to demolish it, (Ch.9:V.107-110)
So, I wish to make it clear that according to the commandments of Allah, whichever mosque does not guarantee the peace of society and the worship of God cannot rightfully be called a mosque. Mosques are those beacons of light that draw attention towards fulfilling the rights of Allah and of His creation. They draw attention towards increasing the level of tolerance vis-à-vis other religions and towards enhancing the service of humanity.
This is the reason why every Ahmadi makes plans for the fulfilment of each and every person’s needs irrespective of his religion or beliefs.
When our Community conducts charity walks to help those in need, we also support local charities so that they are able to fulfil the healthcare and other needs of the poor and orphans. We help underprivileged people in Africa and we also provide food, clothing, medical care and shelter relief for those afflicted by disaster. We provide clean drinking water on a permanent basis to deprived countries. Through Humanity First, a charity registered in the United Kingdom, we are serving mankind all over the world and we do not ask for anything in return. Our beneficiaries are mostly non-Ahmadis. We do not take advantage of their poverty by coercing them to become Ahmadis as a condition of receiving our assistance. We have many schools in Africa in which 90% of the students are not Ahmadis. They have never been asked to change their faith. We do all of this only because we worship God and we seek His happiness, as He has commanded us to serve mankind without seeking any benefit or return.
It is God Almighty Who has taught us that there should be no compulsion in religion.(Ch.2:V.257) Every person is free to choose any faith. So, therefore, non-Muslims and non-Ahmadis should always remem-ber that if they have any reservations in their hearts about this mosque then they should remove them. This mosque will always be a lighthouse of good deeds. We can never consider even for an instant that from our mosques flames of hatred, malice or enmity could ever burn. On the contrary, calls of love, affection, reconciliation and reformation will be made from here; for we hope thereby that God will be pleased with us and will accept our prayers.
As for those of our friends who know us well, I request them that they too should help us. They should always express their good opinion amongst those whom they meet so that the resentment within the hearts of people can be removed, so that such feelings can be replaced with an atmosphere of love and affection forever.
Today, it is once again necessary that the world pay attention towards the establishment of global peace. If attention is not paid towards this then in view of the speed at which the walls of hatred are currently being erected, it is apparent that a great disaster looms ahead. It is the duty of every wise person to take practical steps to save the world from self-destruction. For this, the most important factor is for people to recognise their Creator, the Lord God.
On behalf of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community I assure all citizens of Bradford that every Ahmadi will do his utmost to co-operate in the development of peace in this city and this area and that this mosque will be a symbol of peace and security, Insha’Allah (God Willing).
Finally, I would like to once again thank our respected guests for having listened to me patiently.
Thank you very much.