In today’s world, the building of a mosque often leads to fear and distrust in the local community. yet in actual fact, the building of mosques shouldn’t lead to fear or suspicion – rather, it should lead to hope and peace. Throughout history, mosques have been safe havens and safeguards for the sanctity of all religions.
This might sound surprising, but as Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), 5th successor to the Promised Messiah(as) and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, explained at the inauguration of Baitul Ahad, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s first mosque in Japan, one of the main missions of both mosques and Muslims is to defend believers of religion no matter what faith they profess.
Read on as His Holiness explains the true mission of mosques, and the vital importance of safeguarding the places of worship of all faiths.
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V said:
“All the distinguished guests, Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barkatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our guests who have joined us at today’s reception, where we are celebrating the inauguration of the Baitul Ahad Mosque – the House of the One God. Your attendance attests to the fact that you are extremely gracious and open-hearted people. I say this because you have accepted our invitation to what is a purely religious function, that is, the opening of a mosque, despite the fact that the majority of you are not Muslims yourselves.
Nonetheless despite your attendance, some of you may still harbour certain reservations about the opening of this mosque – or about Islam. You may believe that your personal Ahmadi contacts are good and peaceful people, but at the same time you may also be worried about the Ahmadi Muslims that you do not personally know. Or you may fear that this mosque will prove to be a place of disorder or a means of increasing tensions and division within society. Such fears are justified to an extent, because most regrettably, there are some so-called Muslims who are causing a great deal of pain and suffering in the world and who are perpetrating the most hateful acts in the name of Islam. However, let me make it crystal clear, that Islam’s teachings and the purposes of true mosques are entirely peaceful and a means of bringing society together.
Indeed, the basic objectives underpinning mosques are that they should be places for people to gather together to worship God and to spread love, compassion and goodwill throughout society. In Chapter 51, Verse 57 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has stated that the purpose of the creation of Man and Jinn, meaning all mankind whether rich or poor or mighty or weak, is so that they may worship Him.
Regrettably, in today’s world, mankind has moved away from religion whereby the majority of people have forgotten their Creator and an increasing number do not even believe in God. Sadly there are also those people who are people or groups who have distorted the teachings of the religion, to such an extent that they are presenting the most brutal and horrific picture of religion in the world. I readily admit that there are so-called Muslims who are presenting Islam in such a vile and appalling manner, whilst in comparison to other religions it can be said that there are currently more Muslims who claim to practise their religion and abide by its teachings. However it cannot be denied that terrorist groups and extremist elements that seek to hijack the religion have also developed within Islam.
Though such extremists seek to align themselves to the religion, the truth is that their acts and ideologies have no connection to the true teachings of Islam. The reality remains and always will remain that Islam is that religion whose teachings of peace are unmatched in the history of the world. Indeed, the focal point for all Muslims, and the direction in which they bow down and worship, is the House of Allah, the Holy Ka’bah, which Allah has proclaimed as a centre of peace and security. Thus in chapter 10, verse 26 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah has said that He calls mankind towards the abode of peace and security. Therefore, mosques are built to enable people to join together to worship Allah and to spread peace. In the Arabic lexicon, the worship in a mosque and the prayers that are offered are known as As-Salat. In essence, this term means compassion, benevolence, prosperity and blessings. Hence, those people who worship according to the true teachings of Islam will never be cruel nor merciless but will instead be compassionate, loving and those who desire the best for others and who prove to be a never ending source of blessings for mankind.
True worship is that which saves people from wrongdoing, mischief and evil and liberates mankind from the clutches of immorality and sin. True worship is the gateway to God’s favour, compassion and love. When a Muslim meets anyone, the first thing he says is “Assalamo Alaikum,” which means “May God’s peace and security be upon you.” It is a prayer invoking all types of peace and harmony. Let it be clear, therefore, that our mosques are built with the same intentions and same objectives as the Ka’bah was built – as beacons of peace for mankind and as places where men, women and children can join together to worship Allah the Almighty and to spread peace and compassion throughout the society. If every Muslim and indeed every person were to fulfil these principles then the entire outlook of the world would be at once transformed. All forms of hatred, conflicts and grievances would die away and be replaced by a spirit of love, sympathy and mutual understanding.
Where Islam has taught Muslims to build and protect mosques it also guarantees the safety and protection of the places of worship of all religions. Muslims are obligated to protect and respect other religions and their places of worship. Indeed universal freedom of religion is an indispensable and paramount tenet of Islam. This golden principle is enshrined in the Holy Qur’an. For ten years the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), and his followers were persecuted in the most brutal and merciless fashion by the disbelievers of Makkah.
The Holy Prophet(sa) was forced to leave his homeland and so he and his followers migrated to the city of Madinah in the hope that they would finally be able to live in peace and security. However the disbelievers of Makkah did not leave the Muslims alone, but continued to pursue them aggressively. They raised an extremely formidable and well-equipped army and waged war against the Muslims with the intention of finishing Islam once and for all. It was then that the Almighty Allah commanded the Holy Prophet(sa) to engage in a defensive war. In chapter 22, verse 41 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty said that the oppressors did not only seek to destroy Islam, but sought to destroy all religions and that if they were not forcibly stopped then every church, synagogue, temple and the places of worship of all other people would be at grave risk forevermore. Thus, where Allah granted Muslims permission to defend themselves it was not given only to protect Islam, but to protect the institution of religion itself. Bearing all of this in mind those people who fear Islam or who believe that the Muslims may be a cause of increasing disorder, should remove all such concerns from their minds. Rest assured that true Muslims will not pose any risk or danger whatsoever; rather they will always seek to join hands with the people of other beliefs in an effort to unite society under a banner of peace, harmony and humanity.
And it is to fulfil such noble and pious objectives that true mosques are built. However some of you may wonder that if mosques really are peaceful then why do we see so much disturbance and conflict in the Muslim world, given that there are so many mosques present where Muslims are able to worship Allah. To answer this question, we must look at the history of religion itself. With the passage of time all religions and their teachings have been corrupted and distorted following the demise of their founders. In the same way over a long period of time the majority of Muslims also moved away from Islam’s original teachings.
Actually, the decline of Islam was bound to happen because the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) himself prophesied that after a period of time Muslims would enter into an age of spiritual darkness and their conduct would be far removed from the teachings of the Qur’an.
He said that at such a time Allah the Almighty would send a person as the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi(as) (the Guided One) to re-establish the true teachings of Islam in the world. We, Ahmadi Muslims, believe that in fulfilment of this great prophecy, Allah the Almighty sent the Founder of our Community as the Promised Messiah(as) and Imam Mahdi (the Guided One) to enlighten the world of the true Islam. The Promised Messiah(as) exhorted humanity to recognise their Creator and to submit before Him. He called on mankind to end all cruelties and injustices and to live in harmony with one another and to fulfil each other’s due rights. He affirmed that the Holy Prophet(sa) was a source of mercy for all humanity and he declared that, according to the Qur’an, there should be no compulsion in matters of religion. Having accepted our Founder as the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi(as), we Ahmadi Muslims are acting upon these noble and exalted teachings.
Today as a missionary organisation we are continuing to propagate the message of the Promised Messiah(as) to all parts of the world. We seek to spread Islam not by force or compulsion, but through love and compassion. Our Community and our mosque fulfil those purposes for which the Holy Ka’bah was built – to spread peace in the world. Our mosques are beacons of light that illuminate their surroundings. We follow the magnificent teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa), who in his farewell address to the Muslims, proclaimed that a white person could not claim superiority over a black person and nor would a black person claim superiority over a white person. Nor could an Arab exert superiority over a non-Arab or vice versa and nor could a rich man claim superiority over a poor one. He said a person’s status was not dependent upon their background, wealth or race, but upon their connection with God Almighty and their efforts to fulfil His commands. And so we believe that all people are born equal and we are against all forms of discrimination based on caste, creed or colour. Where on the one hand we are spreading the message of Islam we are also fulfilling the rights of mankind and seeking to bring comfort and ease to all those who are in any type of need.
In Africa and Asia and in other developing parts of the world we are serving humanity to the best of our abilities, including even here in Japan, as you have heard from some of the speakers.
Indeed our mosques and we as a Community are recognised far and wide for our selfless commitment to serving others. We are running schools and hospitals which provide education and healthcare in the most remote parts of the world, to those who are in need – irrespective of religion or background. We seek to wipe away the tears of those who are in pain. We seek to remove their grief, desperation and heartache.
We seek to fulfil their needs and to help them stand upon their own two feet. And so wherever in the world our mosques are built or wherever the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is established the local people soon come to realise that we practise and preach nothing except peace, harmony and tolerance. We believe that in this era true Jihad is not the Jihad of the sword or arms, but is the Jihad of self-struggle towards betterment. It is the Jihad of developing righteous changes within ourselves. And it is the Jihad of spreading the true and peaceful teachings of Islam to the corners of the world.
We are doing this in Africa, in Europe, in Asia, in America, in Australia and indeed in all parts of the world. And this is also our purpose here in Japan to apprise the people of this esteemed nation of the true teachings of Islam. We seek to inform the Japanese people that Islam is that religion which calls upon us to recognise our Creator, to attach ourselves to Him and to serve mankind. God Willing from today this mosque, which is our first mosque in Japan, will forever spread this message both in this city and across the nation.
Its minarets will proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace, security and love, and a religion of fulfilling the rights of God and of one another. I am also confident that now this mosque has been built, God Willing, the local Ahmadis will manifest Islam’s immaculate teachings more than ever before and will enlighten all of you to its reality. The local Ahmadi Muslims will be those who practise and preach the true Islam. They will remove all fears or suspicions of those who believe Islam to be an extremist religion. Certainly more than ever the world needs peace and reconciliation
Thus let us all join hands in friendship and work towards this. It is only by fulfilling the rights of God Almighty and by fulfilling the rights of one another that we can come to witness a world of peace and harmony. Only then can we live together as one. No matter where in the world people live, if they show sincerity with one another and seek to build bridges then the world as we see it today, filled with war, conflict, and bloodshed, can be transformed into a world of peace, tolerance and harmony.
May Allah enable all of us to act upon this. Finally, I wish to also make it clear that all people are welcome to our mosque. The doors to this mosque will forever remain open to the people of all beliefs who wish to worship the One God. I pray that Allah enables all of us to walk upon those paths which please Him, and which lead to His rewards and bounties and that the entire world can become recipients of His blessings. May we come to witness true and everlasting peace in the world – Ameen. With these words I would like to once again thank all of you for attending today’s event – thank you very much.”