Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community says that first “Charter for the Protection of Religion and Religious Rights” found in the Qur’an
The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at and Fifth Khalifah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), addressed a special reception held to celebrate the opening of the Baitur Rahman Mosque in Vancouver, Canada on 18th May 2013. During his address, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) reassured the audience that they had no reason to fear Ahmadiyya Mosques because they were built only for the worship of God and for the sake of serving humanity. The Khalifah also addressed the issue of Jihad by explaining that when permission for defensive war was given to the early Muslims, it was given as a means to protect all religions and all places of worship.
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifahtul Masih V(aba)said:
“All distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
I would like to firstly thank all of you who have accepted our invitation and joined us today as we celebrate the opening our new Mosque here in Vancouver.
In worldly relationships, people regularly invite others to social or civic events. Normally those who are invited accept such invitations, except when they have a particular reason or genuine excuse not to. Indeed, it is quite common for people of all races, nations and religions to attend such events. However, for non-Muslims to attend an Islamic religious function is clear proof of a very tolerant attitude and illustrates your keen desire to become acquainted with others and to establish ties of friendship.
Today’s function is a purely religious event where we are gathered together for the inauguration of our Mosque. This is the first purpose-built Mosque we have constructed in this Province and so its inauguration is a cause of great joy and happiness for us. The fact that you have all come to share to join in our happiness makes us even more grateful to you than would be the case if you were to attend a regular secular or social function.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that alongside the building of this Mosque, our good relations and friendships with the people of this area continue to ever increase and strengthen. I hope and pray that the doubts and reservations that some non-Muslims hold about Islam will also be removed and that all of you will come to see the true and loving picture of our religion.
With these few words I would now like to briefly tell you about the meaning and purpose of a mosque. The word “Masjid” is an Arabic word which in English is translated as “Mosque.” However, the word “Mosque” does not convey or do justice to the full meaning and purpose of the word “Masjid,” which is why I would like to explain its true meanings.
‘Masjid’ literally means a ‘place of worship’. It means a place where people bow down before God. In the Qur’an, God has said that mosques belong to Him, meaning they are under His ownership. It may be that mosques are physically constructed by human beings, but the doors to a true mosque, that is, a mosque built purely for the sake of Allah, remains open for all people who guarantee peace and security and who desire to enter for the sake of worshipping the Omnipotent God.
We find the practical example of this teaching from our master, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa). Once a delegation of Christians from the city of Najran came to Madinah. As time approached for their worship, they became extremely anxious to find a place where they could pray. The Holy Prophet(sa), having seen their worry, told them to not worry and said that they could worship in his Mosque in Madinah.
Today, a significant section of people in the non-Muslim world direct allegations against the Holy Prophet(sa) [and say] that, God forbid, he adopted an extremist approach towards other religions. So much false propaganda has been levelled against Islam and its Founder(sa). At one level, Islam’s opponents are afraid of the religion, whilst on the other side, they level the most profane, vulgar and hate-filled allegations to attack its Holy Founder(sa). They do this because they do not know the real history and nor are they acquainted with the truthful and immaculate teachings of Islam.
There is no doubt that the extremist acts of a certain group of Muslims have caused this state of fear and hatred to develop. Yet, let it also be clear that the so-called Muslims perform these acts because they have moved far away from the teachings of Holy Qur’an and from the blessed practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa). I have already cited the compassionate example of the Holy Prophet(sa) in relation to the arrangement he made for the Christian delegation that came from Najran.
I shall now present to you what the Qur’an says about the establishment of peace. In Chapter 2, Verse 115 of the Qur’an, Allah says that there can be no one who is more unjust than a person who stops the name of God being proclaimed and who prevents worship in His mosques. This is a very clear instruction that the doors of a true mosque shall remain open for all people who desire to worship the One God. Therefore, a true Muslim can never be so cruel as to stop someone from worshipping God Almighty. If we assess the majestic teachings of Islam, then the beautiful aspects of its teachings continue to illuminate and spread light.
Whenever I have introduced the authentic and beautiful teachings of Islam to people unacquainted with it, they have always become astonished upon learning the truth. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, there is no doubt that there is a section of Muslims, who due to their entirely wrong acts are developing a fear of Islam, instead of displaying Islam’s true glory and beauty. What they are doing is to be entirely condemned. Islamic teachings are of love, affection and peace. These are not mere words, but are in fact a reality.
Let me make it absolutely clear that those who tarnish the name of Islam through their evil acts are motivated solely by their own personal and selfish interests. And let me also make it absolutely clear that Islam has no link to extremism, terrorism or severity. If, on certain occasions, there are some teachings of firmness in the Qur’an, then their reasons and justifications have been clearly explained. Where there are such teachings, they are given only as a means of establishing the permanent objective of peace and security in the world.
When the Qur’an gave permission to the Muslims to use force to defend themselves, it was given as a means to protect all religions and all people and history serves witness to this truth. It is in Chapter 22, Verse 40 of the Holy Qur’an that Muslims were first given permission to fight back to defend themselves from the barbaric onslaughts of their opponents. The verse states:
“Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed, has power to help them.”
We should understand the context behind this permission and the state of affairs at that time. The Muslims had made every effort and every sacrifice to try and establish peace. They had endured the most merciless forms of bitter persecution and brutality. War had been waged against them and they had been driven out of their homes. Thus, in every possible respect the cruelty and the barbarity of the opponents of Islam had exceeded all limits.
It was at that critical point that Allah granted permission for a defensive war, and alongside it, He guaranteed that His Help would be with the Muslims. Despite the fact that in worldly terms, the Muslims were much weaker and were helpless in comparison to their opponents, Allah Who possesses all powers, promised to provide His Help and to lead them to victory. History testifies that this is indeed what transpired. Whilst the disbelievers of Makkah possessed a huge and powerful army, fully equipped with large stockpiles of weapons and artillery, the Muslim army was one-third in size and possessed hardly any weaponry. Despite the huge gulf that lay between them, the Muslims were able to inflict a great and truly miraculous defeat on their opponents. Because they were fighting for the cause of truth, to establish peace and to stop cruelty, it was permitted and God’s Help was with them.
In the very next verse, Allah has explained that if the cruelty was not stopped, then every religion would become a target for the cruelty of the disbelievers. The Qur’an 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 people 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:41)
This verse clearly indicates that if God Almighty had not given permission for a defensive war then no religion would remain safe and nor would any place of worship remain secure. Neither temples, churches, synagogues or mosques would be free from danger, rather the opponents would strive to destroy and shatter them so that no trace of any religion would be left behind. God Almighty has stated that to target anyone on the basis of their religion is an extremely grave and dangerous crime and is something that hugely displeases Him. This is why in extreme circumstances it is permissible to stop such cruel people with force.
One point that should be noted is that in the verse I have quoted, Allah did not command that force should be used to protect mosques alone. In fact the names of other places of worship have been mentioned first and after that mosques are mentioned. Thus, once again I should make it clear that when permission to fight back against the disbelievers was given to the Muslims, it was not just to defend and protect Islam, but was given as a means to protect and defend all places of worship and all religions. In essence, it can be said that the first ever “Charter for the Protection of Religion and Religious Rights” is found in the Holy Qur’an and it has been associated directly with a mosque. In other words, whenever a new mosque is built, a new chapter for religious freedom is opened. It does not only give religious freedom, but it orders to protect all the religions.
Here, I would like to also mention that Canada is one of the very few countries – it may be the second or third country – that has opened a designated Office of Religious Freedom. In my view, the Government deserves praise and congratulations for taking this worthy step. I say this because through this endeavour Canada is seeking to establish something, both here in Canada and abroad, which pleases the Creator of the heavens and the earth. We, Ahmadi Muslims, believe that the Founder of our Community(as) was the Imam of the Age, who came to revive the true teachings of Islam, and because of this belief, we claim that we act upon the true teachings of Islam and the Qur’an. We try our utmost to enlighten the people of the world about Islam’s pure and noble teachings. And so, we fully support the Government of Canada in this endeavour. We will fully cooperate with them in every possible effort to establish religious freedom throughout the world. There can be no doubt that we practice exactly what we preach and have already demonstrated this by the fact that the Office of Religious Freedom was inaugurated from our centre in Peace Village in Ontario. I would also like to say that I am very pleased that Dr. Andrew Bennett, who we are fortunate enough to have sitting here today, has been appointed as the first Ambassador for the Office of Religious Freedom. I recently met with him when he travelled to London to attend our National Peace Symposium that we organise each year.
Apart from coming across as very friendly and open-hearted, I also found him to be full of resolve and determination to carry out his responsibilities in an excellent fashion. May Allah enable this determination to always remain. It is also my prayer that Canada’s Government and its people come to adopt all activities that are preferred and liked by God Almighty. I pray that that they save themselves from those acts that displease God so that His Blessings can rain down on this great nation.
I would now like to speak again with reference to this Mosque. As I said before, the people of this area, this city and indeed this country should entirely remove any fears, doubts or worries that may have developed in their hearts and minds. There is no need to fear this Mosque – because from this building only a message of love, affection and brotherhood will shine forth. And this building will prove to be a guarantee for peace and harmony.
This Mosque has been named “Baitur Rahman.” The word Rahman is one of the names of Allah and is one of His attributes. It means that God is gracious, merciful and compassionate to all forms of creation and all people, irrespective of nationality, race or religion. It is because of the grace and kindness of God that in today’s materialistic world, where the vast majority of people do not fulfil the rights owed to God, He continues to bestow and provide for all of His creation. Muslims have been instructed to adopt and inculcate God’s attributes and so it is essential for true Muslims to also be merciful and compassionate towards God’s creation. A Muslim should help his fellow men and women, rather than causing them difficulty or sorrow. Only by acting in a compassionate and sympathetic way can a Muslim become a recipient of God’s blessings and mercy. Clearly, therefore it is impossible for a true Muslim to partake in cruelty against other people or to cause disorder. It is impossible for a true Muslim to turn a mosque into a place of fear and hatred and to turn people away from it.
On the contrary, because the worship of God takes place within a mosque and because it gives a message of peace and security, a mosque is a place which draws people towards it like a magnet. And so upon the inauguration of this Mosque, I would like to proclaim and declare that this Mosque will prove to be a source of spreading love, affection, peace and brotherhood for all people irrespective of whether they are Ahmadi or non-Ahmadis or whether they are Muslim or non-Muslims. The doors of our Mosque will always be open to the people of all religions, because this Mosque is a means of manifesting God’s grace, mercy, love and compassion for mankind. I should also say that with the construction of this Mosque, the responsibilities and duties laid upon every Ahmadi Muslim towards the wider society increases. More than before, the local Ahmadis must be ever-ready to protect every church, every synagogue and every other place of worship. It should and, God Willing, will be the case that non-Ahmadis will come to witness and realise for themselves that whenever they are in any form of need or assistance, it is the Ahmadis who are at the forefront of helping them and protecting the places of worship of all people. It is my hope and prayer that you will have been reassured by what I have said and that the beauty of Islam’s true teachings will have become apparent. Certainly it is this Islam, which is a beacon of light for all mankind, which is practiced by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at.
Today, the world stands in great need for people of all religions, and even those who do not believe in religion, to come together. There is an urgent need for people of all races, nationalities and ethnicities to unite to a common purpose to save the world from destruction. All peace-loving people must join together to firmly stop all forms of cruelty wherever they occur. Everyone should remove all hostility, hatred and malice from their hearts, otherwise such enmities will ignite and cause the destruction of this world. The signs of a world war are rapidly appearing on the horizon and there is only one way to save ourselves from its devastating consequences and that is to beseech the One God, Who is compassionate to His creation, for His Mercy. It is my prayer that the world becomes inclined towards this – Ameen.
At the end I would like to once again express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for taking the time and effort to join in our happiness today. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much.”
Guest Remarks before Keynote Address
Before His Holiness addressed the gathering, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Associate Minister for Defence, read out a message on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulating the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at on the opening of the new Mosque.
Dr. Andrew Bennett, Ambassador of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom said he was amazed “by the message of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at and its commitment to Love for All, Hatred for None.”
Lois Jackson, Mayor of the Corporation of Delta said the Mosque had become “an instant landmark.” She said it was “a great honour to have Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad in the city.”
Mobina Jaffer, Senator from British Columbia read out a message from Justin Trudeau, leader of Canada’s Liberal Party in which he called the Mosque “a welcome addition” to British Colombia and Canada at large.
Judy Sgro, Member of Parliament, said the fact that so many dignitaries were in attendance illustrated “the love and respect we all hold for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.” She said the Ahmadiyya Community was “an example for the entire world.
Jinny Sims, Member of Parliament, said that if the Ahmadi motto of “Love for All, Hatred for None” was adopted by all “the world will be a better place”.
Jim Karygiannis, Member of Parliament, said that the persecution faced by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at “should not be forgotten.” He said it was imperative that all parties worked together to ensure religious freedom for all people.
Rob Norris, Member of Legislative Assembly, said he was “humbled and honoured to take part in the celebration.” He said that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at “enriches our entire country.”
Manmeet Bhullar, Member of Legislative Assembly, said meeting Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) marked a “profound moment” in his life. In a message to the Ahmadiyya Community he said “we are with you, just as you are with us.”
Marilyn Iafrate, Councillor, City of Vaughan, said the local community was “very blessed” to have Ahmadi Muslims amongst them. She said the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at was “totally devoted to giving back to their community.”
Ron Starr, Councillor, City of Mississauga, announced that his Council had decided to recognise May 18 as “Ahmadiyya Day.” He said that in Ahmadi Mosques there is “peace, hope and a recognition that by working together will make the world a better place.”
Prior to the event, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), answered questions during a 30-minute press conference. Amongst the media outlets included were CBC, CTV, Global TV as well as The Province and Vancouver Sun newspapers.