Address delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, at the opening of the Baitun Nur Mosque in Calgary, the largest mosque in Canada.
By the Grace of Allah we all know we are gathered here today for the opening of the Mosque in Calgary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Before I say something about the importance and purposes of a Mosque according to Islam, I wish to thank all distinguished guests who have taken the time to participate in this function. Your attendance is proof of your openheartedness. It is a fitting example of all religions trying to live together harmoniously. May these efforts enable us to enhance and widen our relationships with each other. You will certainly agree with me that that the Ahmadiyya Community has been persistent in developing such relations ands as a result of which many different groups are gathered here today and people of various colours, race and social and religious backgrounds have joined together. By respecting the sentiments and feelings of each other we have gathered in the name of humanity in such a function, notwithstanding that by reference to a mosque, it is a religious event exclusively.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have united at the name and hand of their Founder, the Promised Messiah(as), whose rallying cry of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ was in any case going to be practically expressed in their attitudes. But my heart is filled with gratitude to all of you who, despite all of the differences that I have just mentioned, have accepted our invitation. May God Almighty reward you for this.
I wish now to set out the purpose of a mosque.
Our mosques are in reality modelled on the Sacred Mosque of Allah, the Almighty, which was the first House of God in Makkah (in Arabia), the foundations of which were raised once again by the Patriarch Abraham(as) along with his son Ishmael(as) as set out in the Holy Qur’an the Sacred Book of Muslims:
And remember the time when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundations of the House, praying, Our Lord, accept this from us; for you are All-Hearing, All-Knowing. Our Lord, make us submissive to You and make of our offspring a people submissive to You. And show us our ways of worship and turn to us with mercy; for You are Oft-Returning with compassion, and Merciful. (Ch.2:Vs.128-129)
The first thing said here is: O Lord, please accept this service, for it is not for any worldly purpose. Its only purpose is to glorify the name of the One and Only God. Secondly, our generations will remain submissive and obedient to Your Command. May our worship please Allah and may He continue to guide us. This, therefore, is that basic principle for which mosques are constructed.
During the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), a mosque was built by the hypocrites, apparently in the name of God, but in reality was for the purpose of creating mischief, disorder and disunity. However, God Almighty is the Lord of the Seen and Unseen. He informed the Holy Prophet(saw) of what was happening. Indeed, this incident is also recorded in the Holy Qur’an, where it is mentioned that the mosque referred to was built to create disbelief and cause a division amongst the believers; it was not based on righteousness. (Ch.9:V.107)
This is why the Holy Prophet(saw) was commanded that there could be no question of offering Prayer in that mosque and he was asked to demolish it so that mischief and unrest should cease. This incident proves that mosques are only for glorifying the name of God and for His worship. Those who worship God cannot imagine that they will do anything that will displease Him. This is why there is the quote in the Holy Qur’an where it is said that we are building this House of God, so that through it we and our progeny may remain submissive to God.
Because of the actions of extremist Muslim clerics, an impression has arisen in the Western world that mosques are, God forbid, places of evil or where extremists and terrorists are nurtured and the purpose of which is to destroy the peace of society. However, this image is completely false. In Islam, so much importance is given to religious reconciliation and harmony, to the respecting of feelings of each other and to respecting all places of worship, that whilst force is permitted to stop cruelty and end unrest, it is not confined to the protection and security of the places of worship of only the Muslims.
In fact, it is said that if you do not stop cruelty, not only will mosques be destroyed but the places of worship of other religions will also be destroyed. The opponents of religion will never allow the followers of any religion to live in peace. Permission was therefore granted to secure the places of worship of not only Muslims but also of non-Muslims.
God Almighty says:
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 and Mighty. (Ch.22:V.41)
So in this verse, God Almighty has not only drawn attention to the security of Muslims but to the security of other religions as well. How can it be possible that God Almighty should command the Muslims on the one hand to raise arms to defend their places of worship and their faith and also the places of worship of other religions, whilst on the other hand He should command the annihilation of other religions and the spreading of Islam by force? Thus, respect has been inculcated in the heart of a Muslim for the sanctity not only of mosques but also of cloisters, churches, synagogues and the places of worship of other religions. Therefore, should the question arise in anyone’s mind that now that this mosque has been built in our city, God protect us for we know not whether our peace will or will not remain, then he should remove this thought from his heart.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community works purely to please God Almighty. Therefore, if any church or other place of worship stands in need of protection, they will find us standing shoulder to shoulder with them. If any sound comes from our mosques it will be that Allah is Great and that we bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Him and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And it will be: Pay attention to worship, recognise the One God and come towards success and salvation.
The ways of prosperity and salvation are certainly good deeds that are liked and commanded by Allah, the Almighty. And what are those good deeds that He has commanded us to do?
Allah, the Almighty, says that those people who speak of good things for the reformation of others, attain His nearness. Which is the best way to achieve the prosperity of mankind, and for the restoration of peace? God Almighty says:
You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil… (Ch.3:V. 111)
So Muslims are not only instructed to help their fellow Muslims but have been reminded as well that they have been created for the benefit of all of mankind. Their purpose should be to establish good works and prevent evil. How could it be that those who have been instructed to be of benefit to the entire mankind should in fact disturb the peace?
Then, God Almighty commands:
Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He has admonished you, that you may take heed. (Ch.16:V.91)
In this verse, we have been reminded of three good deeds and of three evils. The verse says at the end that if a person adopts these good deeds and shuns evil ones, then he can rank amongst those who are guided.
The first good deed mentioned is to act according to justice. In connection with justice the Holy Qur’an explains the required standard. God Almighty says that when a person says something or gives evidence, then even if it concerns a friend or relative, he must satisfy the requirements of justice and give true evidence, even if he must give evidence against himself. This is the justice which will bring him nearer to God Almighty; this is the justice that will fulfil the purpose of his worship.
The next requirement is to do good to others, irrespective of what others have done to you. If by doing good unto others and performing good works, peace in society can be established, then one ought to forget the excesses and wrongs done to one by others. We are told to do good to others in order to promote love and affection, as this will result in the ending of enmities between one another. A peaceful and just society will thus take root.
Finally, a good deed of great significance and high value has been stated as giving like kindred, and this means: Do not deal with kindness towards others so that they may treat you well; in fact, the good deed ought to be performed as an integral part of one’s nature. A true Muslim can never consider doing evil to anyone. And so in a society where the thinking is such, justice, equity and peace will prevail and a believer will attain the pleasure of Allah, the Almighty.
Next, certain evils have been highlighted. We are told: Refrain from indecency, as it is merely a means of worldly gratification and joy. Whosoever pursues such worldly pleasures can never remember God. Look at the nightclubs and casinos that entrap man in evil, all in the name of pastime and entertainment. The one who does not remember God can have no bond with a mosque.
The Qur’an then says to refrain from manifest evil. In other words, to refrain not only from open indecencies, but in fact from all dislikeable matters, such as telling lies, usurping the rights of others, failing to respect the feelings of others, speaking ill of someone and failing to respect the elders of others. All these are matters that erect walls of hatred in society. If a person is engaged in such evils and yet claims that he worships Allah, the Almighty, and goes to the mosque for the worship of God, cannot attain the love of Allah.
Then, God Almighty says that diseases and evils that destroy peace within society are rebellion, failing to respect the laws of the land, failing to discharge the rights of love and allegiance to one’s country, and being the cause of discredit to one’s country.
In a narrative in the Holy Prophet’s traditions, it is stated that love of one’s country is part of a Muslim’s faith. This is the teaching that the Holy Qur’an has given us; and it is not possible to act upon it until there is recognition of God Almighty. His recognition only arises when man worships with the fear of God in his heart. The purpose of a mosque is to worship Allah, the Almighty, and to discharge the rights owed to His Creatures. Therefore, if in anyone’s heart the thought arises that by building this mosque in this area, the Muslims may perchance destroy peace, they should remain at ease. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the flag-bearer of that true Islam which strictly discharges these two rights, that is the rights of God and the rights of His Creatures.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whom we accept as the Promised Messiah and Reformer, came to end religious wars, in accordance with the prophecies made by the Holy Prophet (saw). There can be no kind of fear associated with a mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The minarets of our mosques are built to call people towards the Creator; the minarets of our mosques are built to spread the light of peace and love and this is indeed the only purpose of the minarets of this mosque. Our Mosques are open to whoever wishes to worship the One God. We act upon the true example that was set by the Holy Prophet(saw) himself. Once, a Christian delegation of Najran was permitted to worship in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. Our teaching is one of peace. Our teaching is one of love and this is the true teaching that has been given to us by the Holy Qur’an, and that the world has unfortunately forgotten. The Founder of our Community has enlightened us with this beautiful teaching.
I set out a few examples of this wonderful teaching so that it may become clear to you. He says:
“There are only two perfect parts of the faith. One is to love God and the other is to love His Creatures so much that you consider their pain to be your own, and to pray for them.”
In other words when a true Muslim comes to worship in a mosque he should not only pray for himself, his wife, children and relatives but should pray for others as well. He should be anxious and have a great zeal for removing the difficulties of others. Can anyone say that a person who prays for others can have any malice, spite or hatred in his heart? No! This can never be so! A heart that comes to the mosque for prayers will be proclaiming that this House of God has caused a change within him as a result of which he has begun to love God’s Creation as well.
Then the Promised Messiah(as) says:
“To show compassion and kindness to mankind is a great form of worship and is a potent source of winning the pleasure of God Almighty.”
Then he adds:
“Remember that, according to me, the circle of those to whom kindness must be shown, is vast. No people or individuals should be excluded. I do not tell you, like the ignorant people of this age, to confine your kindness to Muslims.’ No! I say that you must be kind to all of Allah’s Creatures, whoever or whatever it may be, be it a Hindu or a Muslim or anyone else. I never like the discourse of such people who seek to confine kindness to their own. I repeatedly admonish you that you should never ever restrict your circle of kindness.”
Then he says:
“The purpose of the advent of all prophets (peace be upon them all) is shared by them all, and it is to establish the true and real love of God Almighty and to create a special bond of love amongst mankind and one’s brethren and [to honour their] rights. As long as this is not so, all dealings will be mere rituals.”
This is a charming teaching and uncountable examples of this teaching can be given that have been revealed to us by the Holy Qur’an and that were clearly presented by the Messiah of the Age before us. So all of you should be able to decide whether the people who believe in this beautiful teaching would have malice and spite in their hearts, or whether they would raise slogans of love, peace and affection. Those who are familiar with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will most certainly say that they have found nothing else but peace and security in this Community. This is the beautiful interpretation made by the Messiah of Muhammad(saw) of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, and who has given us the slogan of ‘Love for All, Hatred for None.’ Furthermore, this message is not something that has appeared in the last three or four decades; indeed, the 120 year life of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community bears witness to the fact that the minarets of our mosques are beacons of light that radiate love, peace and security. So, today, I open this mosque and I announce that this message of love, peace and security will last till the end of time.
The Ahmadiyya Community, that knows how to stand united under one hand through Khilafat, and that practises the true Islam due to its bond with the Messiah of Muhammad(saw), will never let this message die. This mosque of ours – and any mosques that we will build in the future in this country – will emerge as a sign of peace and security. We are the people who respect the prophets and messengers of every religion; and we respect mankind. This is because we believe in each and every prophet.
We are certain that prophets came to every nation of the world; and as we have seen from the excerpts of the writings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that I read before, all the prophets came to establish the rights of Allah the Almighty and of His people; and this is indeed what the Qur’an has taught us. And it is this that has been presented before us in the personal example set by the Holy Prophet(saw).
Therefore, if the deeds of a few have presented a false image of Islam, it does not mean that the fault lies with the teachings. I take the opportunity to request our distinguished guests to come forward and to help us create an atmosphere of love so that we can save this world from destruction and so that we can save and improve the future of our generations. Let us save them from the conflagration of war.
Today, the world sits on the precipice of destruction in this age of nuclear weapons. If these weapons of mass destruction explode, many future generations will never forgive us for having inflicted permanent disabilities upon them. Today, there is still time to pay attention to the rights of the Creator and of His Creatures. May Allah enable us to do so.
I again thank all guests who have come here and who have participated in this inauguration and who have responded to our love with their own love. Our thanks are not a mere custom, but come from the core of our hearts. It is in accordance with the magnificent teachings of the Holy Prophet (saw), according to which, he who does not thank man, fails to thank God Almighty. And as I have said, the purpose of every task of a true Ahmadi Muslim is to earn the pleasure of Allah, the Almighty. And so, these thanks are also given for the sake of Allah. Allah has great love for all of His people. Therefore, our love for His Creation is without ties or any vested interest and is simply expressed to earn the pleasure of God Almighty. May God enable us and all of you to always maintain this atmosphere of love and affection. Amin.
Thank you again.