Address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V on 16th October 2008 at the opening of the first Ahmadiyya Mosque in Berlin.
All the honourable and respected guests. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.
Firstly, I would like to thank all of the respected guests who have come here to participate in this function despite their busy lives. In particular I am grateful because today is a working day and not a weekend. And many of you will no doubt be tired due to your busy day’s work. Moreover I have even greater feelings of respect and gratitude in my heart towards all of you because you have come despite objection towards this Mosque in this area. Open protests have been made by our opponents; nevertheless you have displayed great courage in supporting us and taking the trouble to attend here and specially I thank Mayor of this area. This is an expression of the fact that if on the one hand some Germans have expressed their hatred and anger towards Islam, then on the other hand there are some extremely enlightened people, no doubt in the majority, who do not care for this unjustified opposition. They express their humanity and kindness in their search for the truth.
The Ahmadiyya Community is grateful to the German Government and its people because this country has not only accepted those people who were treated as aliens in their own country but has welcomed them with open hearts. Those people were tortured mentally and physically to such an extent that they were left with no option but to migrate from their homes. We Ahmadis are neither ungrateful nor do we fail to value this fact. So we could never say anything in opposition to this country or the local German people which would lead to the destruction of the national peace and harmony. We are not even against those who protest against us. We try and also we pray that Allah the Almighty removes their misunderstandings. This question was asked today even by one of the journalist, media man, and I replied the same answer. May they come to recognise Ahmadis who are living in Germany as true German citizens. As for those of you who have come here to get to know and see our Community, may any misunderstandings that you hold regarding Islam be removed through this first meeting.
Our youth and young children, whose parents migrated to this country a long time ago, are very sincere Ahmadi Muslims, but being Ahmadi Muslims does not prevent them from integrating with the German society. Those indigenous Germans amongst you who have known us for a long time are aware that Ahmadi Muslims are very loyal towards Germany and towards its people. Indeed the Ahmadi children have now become an integral part of the country, to such an extent that they have even forgotten their mother tongue and speak German within their homes. I should say even dream in German language. This is the reason why quite a number of German men and women have become Ahmadis. A prime example of how we have assimilated amongst the people is that the National President (Amir) of our Community is a German. His appointment is not based upon any political necessity that a German should be made our President (Amir) or that we wish to receive any benefit from the German Government. It is merely due to his extreme sincerity, devotion and goodness that he has merited this status within the Community, which is an elected appointment: the Amir or the President. Among other Ahmadi German men and women is a very pious Ahmadi and devout Ahmadi and also a scholarly person who has written so many books within the community and some others also, and has been writing articles in papers and he is Hadayyatullah Hubsh Sahib. All have quickly excelled in their sincerity and devotion because they have realised that the truth which they have embraced has distanced them from the pursuit of the world and brought them closer to God Almighty.
Each Ahmadi no matter from which country he has come from tries as far as possible to live his life in the way that God wants him to do so. The sole purpose of every Ahmadi is to excel in good works, to remember God at all times and to remember the principle of love for all, hatred for none that defines our faith. This is what we endeavour to practice and this is our message to the entire world.
After listening to me, some of you may think that what I say sounds good but it does not reflect the true picture of Islam as shown by majority of Muslims. The world only knows Islam as a religion of extremism and terrorism. It sees Islam as a faith which is spread by force; this is what the Muslims did in the past and what they continue to do today, that is what the world thinks. People, therefore, may think that the Ahmadiyya Community is presenting Islam as a religion of love, affection and goodness simply to save itself in this day and age from the opposition of the world. But I assure you that the Islam which the Ahmadiyya Community presents is the true Islam: the Islam which does not need power or sword. That is why the Ahmadiyya Community is facing opposition and hardship in many Muslim countries.
When I came here to lay the foundation stone of this Mosque, one group was greatly opposed and also marched in protest and they were still doing or at least up to the near past they were doing it. There was a great deal of hue and cry. And in all this clamour I said a few words to the distinguished guests and at that time I recalled and realised that the history of the Ahmadiyya Community was in fact filled with incidents of opposition. We are not afraid of such oppositions but nonetheless we are pleased that the noble people of this town did participate in that function and the presence of the police outside was the further proof of justice and fairness of the Government.
However, as I was saying, when various Muslim sects, who are in the majority, display differing points of view then you may wonder as to how can you accept that the Islam presented by Ahmadis is the true Islam? To remove this misunderstanding, I would now like to say something. In the brief time available I cannot shed light on this subject in detail but will present a summary.
As for Islam being an extremist religion, justice requires that its teachings about the spread of its faith, be viewed from its sacred Book, the Holy Qur’an and the practice of the Holy Prophet(saw).
God Almighty says very clearly in the Holy Qur’an that “there should no compulsion in religion” (Ch.2:V.257). However critics allege that this commandment was given at a time when the Muslims had no power and were suffering severe persecution from the non-believers of Makkah. But this is wrong because all evidence testifies to the fact that the chapter in which this verse is contained was revealed in Madinah, by which time the Islamic State had already been firmly established. The fact that it was revealed at that time shows clearly that Allah the Almighty does not like any compulsion in matters of faith.
It is true that it is the duty of Prophets to convey God’s message. According to our beliefs the prophets who came to each peoples delivered the message. When God Almighty sends a person, who worships Him and who loves Him and His Creation, as a prophet, that person conveys the message that he believes to be a Divine message. He is sent to convey the message that God Almighty enjoins to the world. From the core of his heart he desires that people accept him. This is what Moses(as) did when he stood firm against the Pharaoh in his own court and conveyed his message with great courage. Jesus Christ(as) bore all hardships inflicted by the rulers of the age for the sole reason of conveying the message of God.
According to our belief the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) is the final law bearing Prophet of Allah the Almighty. And so when he was sent by God it was his ardent desire that God’s message reach his own people, the Arab world and in fact the entire world, so that God’s bounties could also be derived by the entire world. For this he remained anxious, concerned and restless and he used to pray fervently. He was so anxious that Allah the Almighty said in the Holy Qur’an:
Thou wilt grieve thyself to death for sorrow after them if they believe not in this discourse. (Ch.18:v.7)
This was the passion of the Holy Prophet(saw).
A person who wishes to spread faith by the sword and who wants to forcefully subjugate another, will become angered when he is unable to achieve his goal, but he will not grieve. Only he will grieve who feels sympathy for mankind and understands that what he possesses should be shared by others. In any case the reason Allah the Almighty says: ‘Thou will grieve thyself to death for sorrow after them if they believe not in this discourse,’ is because it is Allah’s task alone to make a person’s heart accept whichever faith He likes. Even though the message brought by prophets is a true message, man is free to accept or not accept it, although if he does accept it is better for him. However, if he fails to accept then that is his right. We Ahmadi Muslims believe that such a person’s matter lies with God.
On one occasion, upon seeing the condition of the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw), God Almighty said in the Holy Qur’an:
And if thy Lord had enforced His will, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers? (Ch.10:V.100)
Here God Almighty has said that it is His task to guide people towards the faith. He says that it is His desire that people believe and perform good works and that they only worship Him and improve spiritually. But Allah says, I leave it to man to distinguish between right and wrong, and make his own choice. God Almighty has said to the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), when He has given this choice then how can you compel them to believe? This categorically clarifies the role of a Prophet as one in which he is simply to convey and propagate God’s message. It is Allah’s task to bring about a change in a person’s heart. There is no question of converting somebody by force. (Swords can win terrorities but not hearts, force can bend heads but not minds). This is because compulsion can not change a heart and when one’s heart is not inclined then such a person is not of benefit but is in fact a source of loss for the Community. It is very obvious, therefore, that when there is no compulsion in changing one’s belief, then neither can any form of extremism exist.
And this is also made clear from the blessed example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). Prisoners of war were neither enslaved by force nor were they forcefully converted to Islam by the Holy Prophet(saw). In fact according to the prevailing custom, the prisoners of war were set free after obtaining a ransom. How the prisoners of the Battle of Badr were treated is borne out by history and fair minded Orientalists accept it as well. The Battle of Badr was the first battle fought between the Muslims and the non-believers of Makkah. There were some prisoners of war captured by the Muslims who were unable to obtain a ransom and who happened to be literate so the Holy Prophet(saw) told them to teach Muslim children to read and write and that if they did so they would be set free. Look at this example, an invading enemy who initiated the battle wanted to crush the ill-equipped Muslims, but when they were defeated many of them became imprisoned. And contrary to the prevailing customs and leaving aside the question of the prisoners being forced to become Muslims, they were not even enslaved. They were in fact set free by providing simple education to the young. What could be a greater example of elegance and of the Qur’anic teaching in practice? This is but a brief answer about compulsion and extremism.
Next, what is the Islamic teaching about establishing and maintaining peace? Regarding this the Holy Qur’an says:
O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do. (Ch.5:V.9)
So this teaching is that if you are a true Muslim then act justly because it is only through justice that peace can be established which in turn leads to the improvement of mutual rela-tions. The establishment of justice removes all forms of suspicion. Suspicion is a major cause of destroying peace in the world. Some people who cause disorder do so by laying suspicion in the hearts of others. In any case it is the commandment of Allah the Almighty to a true Muslim that he should practise justice to such an extent that he does not transgress against even an enemy nation that has caused him great harm, because that would be far away from righteousness.
On the one hand it is claimed that we act for the sake of Allah the Almighty and yet on the other hand God’s Creation is treated unfairly. In fact true justice requires that if you have enmity or war with someone then it must remain limited to the battlefield. You are not acting with justice if you treat enemies unfairly and harass them unnecessarily. So avoid it. A Muslim must always remember that if he has complete trust in God then he should always keep in mind that Allah the Almighty is watching everything that he does and He is well aware of it. God Almighty cannot be deceived. Since, God cannot be deceived justice must be administered as God Almighty wills.
An incident about Hazrat Umar(ra), the second Caliph of Islam, has been preserved in history and indeed there are many other such incidents. Once he saw an old non-Muslim who was begging. He asked him why he was doing so. He replied ‘What can I do? Umar has imposed the Jizya (a tax imposed upon non-Muslim citizens. A kind of tax. Muslims and non-Muslims all were paying taxes). The old man said, I cannot work, I am old and there is no exemption from this tax’. Upon hearing this, Hazrat Umar(ra) immediately instructed the relevant department that no tax was to be taken from this man but rather the upkeep of all such persons was to be borne by the Treasury. This was the standard of justice of that era despite the lack of resources. In spite of being a non-Muslim he was given his due rights and in this way Hazrat Umar(ra) fulfilled the requirements of justice. And this is what caused peace to be established in the country. It is obvious from this and other examples that the allegation that Islam was spread by force is also wrong.
In view of the constraints of time I would now like to say something about the inauguration of the Mosque itself. As I said earlier, when the foundation stone for the mosque was laid, indeed even before then when the Community was planning to build the mosque in this city, one group vehemently displayed its opposition by stating that the mosque should not be built here. However, a faction supported its construction and now this mosque is before you. I am very thankful to those people who consented in our favour.
The biggest objection of our opponents was that this religion of Islam taught extremism at every step and that its attitude towards non-Muslims was not at all tolerant and amiable and also that its members failed to integrate. I have already responded to the allegation of extremism and the destruction of peace. Now I would like to speak about the question which arises in the minds of non-Muslims in connection with terrorism and which has led to objections in relation to the construction of this Mosque.
It is not even the fault of those who make such allegations. I do not hesitate in accepting the fact that some groups with vested interests have committed shameless acts which have no link to the teachings of Islam and have given Islam a bad name. They have positioned the world in conflict and have distanced it from Islam.
Some of the terrorists were brought up in mosques and religious schools in certain Muslim countries. They have destroyed the peace of the world. However, as I have already said Ahmadis practise the true teachings of Islam. That is the teachings of justice and of peace. The mosques that we build are built for the worship of One God. There is no other purpose except this. However, in the Western world Mosques are linked to concepts of Jihadi organisations. This is regrettable, because in the Holy Qur’an where permission is granted to fight, it is granted only against those who prevented the worship of God. The reason this permission was granted was that if such attacks were not prevented then the disbelievers, who stopped people from worshipping the One God, would destroy the peace of the world and would prevent the worship of God by members of every religion. In the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty says
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:Vs.40-41)
If you are familiar with the early history of Muslims then you will know that the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw) and his companions were subjected to severe persecution. The Muslims were branded and marked with burning hot irons and were made to lie on burning sand under the scorching heat, whilst heavy blazing stones were placed on their chests. They were tied to pairs of camels who were then ridden in opposite directions and consequently person would be torn into two separate parts the body of the. This is how those cruel persons tortured and killed the Muslims. Due to the boycott imposed by the people of Makkah the Holy Prophet(saw) was himself besieged in a valley with his companions for two and a half years. Restrictions on food and water meant they were forced to tolerate severe hunger and thirst.
Under the command of Allah the Almighty the Muslims were allowed to migrate to Madinah from Makkah but then the non-believers of Makkah attacked them there as well. Thereupon, God Almighty commanded them to respond. And they were instructed to respond because, were they not to do so then the cloisters, synagogues, churches and the mosques would all be destroyed. So in this one commandment we have been given the teaching that if one does not prevent the oppressors then surely cruelty will prevail. Therefore, in such extreme circumstances permission is granted to fight as a means to end the cruelty and to establish peace and justice in the world.
You can see that the battles and the wars that are being fought today are justified on the very argument that they are being fought for the establishment of peace. To what extent this is true, only God knows. But in the Holy Qur’an God permits Jihad (permission to fight) so that those who prevent the worship of God are themselves halted and so that peace and justice may be established.
When peace is established then Islam teaches its followers not to find excuses thereafter to continue the fight. We Ahmadis follow this teaching that permission for Jihad is only to establish peace and justice. And such Jihad is the task of the governments and not any individual group or Jihadi organisation. Such organisations who take the law into their own hands destroy the peace of the world in the name of Jihad.
If the commandment of Allah the Almighty (which I have just quoted) is interpreted correctly then we see that if a Christian Church requires protection and an Ahmadi is called to help then he must help. If a Jewish Synagogue requires protection and an Ahmadi is called to help then he should be there. If a believer of any faith requires the help of an Ahmadi to establish justice then the Ahmadi should be there by his side. So, therefore, our opponents should not be unduly concerned due to their misunderstandings. This Mosque we have built has not been made for any Jihadi organisation or any terrorist activity but simply it has been built for the worship of Allah.
When the call is made about the greatness and Oneness of Allah and about Muhammad(saw) being Allah’s Messenger, attention is drawn towards the worship of that God Who wants to make paradise on this earth, that God Who wants your betterment and well-being. It is He who loves dearly His Creation and guides you towards love and affection.
From this Mosque of ours there will be no other call apart from love for humanity, affection, reconciliation, justice and peace. And you will observe and realise that what I have said were not mere words but were indeed acted upon. And time will, God willing, prove it to be so.
After the foundation stone laying ceremony a newspaper carried a headline of ‘Khilafat in Berlin’. As a result some Muslim opponents may have thought ‘what is going to happen to them?’ Very briefly let me say that today amongst the different sects of Islam it is only the Ahmadiyya Community which truly paints the true picture of Islam to the world. This is because we Ahmadis believe that the glad tiding given by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) about the advent of the Promised Messiah in this age has been fulfilled in the person of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian(as). He came and told us a true interpretation of Jihad. And said, when Muslims are not persecuted then there is no reason left for Jihad (Holy War) with sword. However, the internal struggle within one’s self should continue, so that each person can suitably worship the One God and discharge the rights owed to God and to His Creation. And this is the real and true Jihad.
The Promised Messiah(as) said that God Almighty has placed two burdens upon man. One is Rights of God and the other is Rights of God’s Creation. He went on to say that discharging the rights owed to God’s Creation was the most difficult and delicate challenge. On many occasions he said that God had sent him so that he could draw attention to the importance of discharging the rights owed to God and to His Creation.
The Ahmadiyya Khilafat is also here to perpetuate and continue the mission of the Messiah and the Mahdi and so there is absolutely no reason to fear the Khilafat. This Khilafat draws the attention of members of the Community towards fulfilling these two obligations. And that is why the members of the Ahmadiyya Community are motivated to discharge these rights because they have acquired the guidance of Khilafat. So, rest assured that our slogan is ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ and this is because all Ahmadis are gathered on one hand. The Khalifa always reminds the Community to love God and His Creation at all times so that the world becomes infused with peace and security.
With these words I take your leave and thank all of you once again. You are all greatly respected by all of us.
Thank you very much.