On 19th April 2017, the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) laid the foundation stone for the first Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque in the German university town of Marburg. In his keynote address, His Holiness explained Islamic teachings in relation to integration and building a harmonious society. Explaining the concept of heaven, he said that we can experience heaven in this very world when we manifest peace and morality. He also spoke about the great significance Islam attaches to the education of women for the betterment and progress of society. This speech has been translated from the Urdu, and The Review of Religions takes responsibility for all errors in translation.
After reciting Tashahhud, Taawwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said:
‘Firstly, I would like to extend the greetings of Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barkaatohu (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you) to all our guests and give them the gift of peace, harmony, love and affection. I can see that a large number of our local neighbours are in attendance today. The fact that you have accepted this invitation testifies that you are warm and open-hearted people and no matter how much one extends the gift of love, peace and affection to such open-hearted people, it is simply not enough. In actuality, it is only when we are open-hearted, when we understand one another and listen to each other’s views and opinions that we can establish peace and harmony in society.
Therefore, not only do I extend the greetings of peace to you all, but I would also like commend you for this quality of yours, that you desire to listen to what other people have to say and it is because of this that you are here today.
Your attendance here proves that you wish to understand something more of Islam, especially since this is mostly a religious function for a Muslim community gathering to lay the foundation for their mosque. Your coming here, then, cannot be for any worldly purpose.
Surely many of you will be thinking, ‘‘We have known Ahmadis for a very long time and have good relationships with them and are well-acquainted with them and their activities. But although we know this, we should also attend this function in which the foundation stone of their own mosque is to be laid and see what they do and say at their own events.’’
His Holiness addresses the audience at the foundation stone ceremony for the first Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque in the university town of Marburg, Germany. Over 150 guests and dignitaries attended the event.
Therefore, in this respect, you are certainly worthy of praise. I am also very happy with the local Ahmadis who live here, because having come here, they have strengthened their relationships with their neighbours. And it is because of these relationships with Ahmadis and their integration among you that you have accepted their invitation and graced our event.
As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is concerned, wherever we go, we spread the message of love, affection, peace and harmony and this is the teaching of Islam. The National President [of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Germany] mentioned that we serve the community here by volunteering at old people’s homes and similarly by working with various other charities. Serving the creation of God is a duty of every person; it is the duty of every man to help his fellow brother, irrespective of his faith. As humans, we must try and learn to understand one another, to be of assistance to one another and also to fulfil the needs of one another. This is extremely important and if this does not happen then there is no benefit to one’s worship either. This is why the Holy Qur’an has clearly stated that those who come to the mosque and offer their prayers but then hurt people, do not help others, do not care for orphans, do not serve the elderly or help the poor and fail to serve others and do not spread peace, love, affection and harmony, their prayers will not be accepted. In fact, their prayers essentially become their sins. Thus, the Holy Qur’an goes to such lengths in regards to the injunction of serving others. It is for this reason that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – which follows the true teachings of Islam – strives to excel in serving and helping others.
The Lord Mayor in his address mentioned the university. As far as education is concerned, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is playing a huge role in trying to spread education in the poorer countries of the world. But before I discuss how the Ahmadiyya Community is working to widen access to education, let me make an interesting point in regards to women, as I can see that there are many women present among the guests, and that is that women are far more educated in comparison to the men in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. These include university students and also those who are acquiring further education in various professions and disciplines. This is because when a woman attains an education, her education is not just limited to her. Certainly, when men and women seek higher education and then spread it further, then in some way or another they serve their country and nation through their education. However, in this instance, women have an added significance over men because after a woman completes her education, she nurtures and raises her children. And this is why the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), the founder of Islam, stated that paradise lies beneath the feet of the mother. Paradise lies beneath her feet because after acquiring education, she then imparts that education to her children and thereby makes them worthy citizens and valuable assets of the country and its people. Thus, she becomes a means of leading them into heaven. The concept of heaven in Islam is of two types; there is one heaven that is experienced in this life and one in the hereafter. And the heaven in this world begins when a person becomes exemplary in his character and possesses high morals, and so, where he worships God Almighty, he also treats his fellow brothers and humans with love and affection and promotes peace, harmony and tranquillity. Surely a person who spreads and promotes peace, harmony and tranquillity will not only protect himself as if he is in a state of heaven but will also become a means of creating a heaven for others in this world.
His Holiness lays the rst brick of the foundation of the future mosque. With the construction of this mosque, His Holiness urged the Ahmadis of Marburg to become even better neighbours than before, and to focus on serving humanity.
On the one hand we see that there are extremists who are carrying out terrorist acts: going to a club and killing innocent civilians, or killing people through suicide bombs or by creating chaos or disorder in other places. We also find that in the Muslim countries that Muslims are killing one another and are also killing people here in the West too. Consequently, these people have turned the world, which God Almighty had created as a heaven, into a hell, and for that reason, they will never be worthy of praise.
On the other hand, there are also good Muslims and other good people, whether they be Christians, Jews or followers of other religions, who strive to spread peace, harmony and love and thus in other words they have transformed this world into a heaven. Those who help others and so create a heaven in this world, as I mentioned earlier, will have their prayers accepted by Allah the Almighty, and it is these very prayers that enable one to enter heaven in the hereafter.
As I have already mentioned, one’s worship cannot be truly performed unless one also serves his fellow beings. The acts of worship of a person who is devoid of sympathy, compassion and love are of no benefit. Therefore, only those people who are peace-loving and spread love and affection will be truly able to experience the life of heaven in this world and only those will be able to experience the heaven of the hereafter and lead others to it as well. The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said that he has come in order to fulfil two grand objectives. Firstly, to have mankind recognise God Almighty and to worship Him and to fulfil the rights He has over us. Secondly, for mankind to respect and honour one another and also to fulfil the rights they owe to each other. Someone once asked me how peace and harmony could be established in the world. I told him that if you truly want to establish peace and harmony then it is imperative that instead of seeking the rights owed to us, we should instead seek to fulfil the rights we owe to others. We can only spread love and affection when we are striving to fulfil the rights of others. Thus, this is the view of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community regarding worship and service to mankind.
His Holiness addresses the audience as local dignitaries listen to the keynote address. In his speech, His Holiness emphasized how important education is for women, since they train the citizens of the next generation, and noted that in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, women are even more educated than the men.
The Member of Parliament also came and spoke about tolerance and certainly, tolerance is something that is extremely important and as I have also previously mentioned, it is only through tolerance that we can help one another and can live in harmony with one another. There are various religions in the world – there are Muslims, Christians and Jews – and we, who are true Muslims, firmly believe that all of the religions have been originally sent from God Almighty and we also firmly believe that the founders and prophets of every religion were truthful people. We believe in all the prophets and the holy founders of all religions from Prophet Adam(as) to the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) and this is the true teaching of Islam. And this is the teaching that promotes tolerance. No true Muslim can ever say that he does not believe in a particular religion, or that its holy founder is false or is able to speak ill of it. In fact, Allah the Almighty has gone as far as to say in the Holy Qur’an that one should not speak ill even of the idols of the idolaters, because in response they may speak harshly about your God, and if they do, then this will cause you to feel malicious towards them and subsequently this will then lead to disorder and for you to scheme against one another and cause harm to others. And so, instead of love, hatred will grow.
Therefore, it is the duty of a true Muslim that while he respects the followers of all religions and affirms his belief in all the prophets and messengers, he should also remember not to speak ill against even idols, which people associate with the divine status of God Almighty, because this can potentially cause conflict. Thus, these are the standards of spreading peace, harmony, love and affection which Islam has taught us. There are different religions and different customs. But Allah the Almighty has said in the Holy Qur’an that there is no compulsion in religion, even though we believe that Islam is the final religion and that all the good qualities of other religions can be found in Islam. A true Muslim follows all of these teachings. As I mentioned previously, Allah the Almighty has stated very clearly in the Holy Qur’an that one should believe in all the prophets. Thus, when we firmly believe in and adhere to these principles, different traditions and religions can never create any kind of feeling of hate for anyone in us.
People claim that Islam is a religion of extremism, a religion of terrorism. But this is not the reality of what Islam teaches. Those who perpetrate such acts have never understood Islam and nor have they ever practised it. In fact, last year a French journalist travelled to the area occupied by Daesh and he asked some of their members whether all the cruelty and injustices they had been perpetrating were part of the teachings of Islam. Many of them replied that they had never read the Holy Qur’an and were ignorant of its teachings. They said, ‘all we know is that we must do whatever our leaders say.’ The beheadings, murder, violence and the killing of innocent civilians have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam and are simply their own personal actions which they carry out because of their leaders.
Thus it is not possible for Islam to teach such things. After enduring a long period of persecution, the Holy Prophet(sa) was compelled to migrate from Makkah to Madinah and, according to authentic historical accounts, the non-believers attacked him there as well, and it was then that Allah the Almighty granted permission for the Muslims to take part in battle. However, it is also stated in the Holy Qur’an very clearly that if the oppressors were not stopped, then they were in fact the enemies of faith in general. It has been written in a verse of the Holy Qur’an that if the hand of the oppressors was not stopped then no church, no synagogue, no temple and no mosque would have remained wherein the name of God would be oft commemorated and people would gather for the purpose of worship.
Therefore, this is the true teaching of Islam on tolerance and living with others who share different religions and faiths. And, this is the reason that wherever we build our mosques, we strive more than ever to spread the true teachings of Islam.
I have often said that this verse of the Holy Qur’an – which talks about how, if the enemies of the faith are not stopped, they will try to eliminate religion altogether – draws our attention to the fact that Ahmadis are obligated to protect not only their mosques, but also to protect churches, synagogues, and the houses of worship of other faiths.
Therefore, we build our mosques based on this beautiful teaching and concept of Islam. And just as it becomes incumbent upon us to protect our mosque, keep it clean, and create a pure atmosphere around it, it is also our duty to protect the other places of worship around us which belong to other faiths, and to create a pure atmosphere around them as well.
The speaker from the National Assembly also expressed his thoughts. Regarding this, I would also like to say that it is a very great thing that all the speakers have expressed that the members of the Ahmadiyya Community have become a vital part of this nation and have fully integrated into society. This is an attribute which every Ahmadi should have and if they do not, then it means that they are not following the true teachings of Islam.
After acquiring German citizenship, Ahmadis are bound through their faith to be loyal to Germany, regardless of their country of origin. The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa has said that loyalty to one’s country is part of one’s faith. (Photo from pixabay)
After acquiring German citizenship, then, whether an Ahmadi has originally come from Pakistan, Africa or some other country, since he is now a German citizen, it is his duty to be loyal to his country. His previous citizenship has ended and now he is a German citizen. Those who have migrated from Pakistan are now German citizens and they are obligated [to be loyal to their country] because the founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), has stated that the love of one’s nation is part of one’s faith. Therefore, this is a prerequisite of our faith that whichever country an Ahmadi resides in, he must love that country and strive for its betterment and also to spread and propagate the message of love, peace and affection to its people.
If one practises this, then it is not possible for anyone to have any reservations about the teachings of Islam. And we Ahmadis strive to follow this teaching and also inform the world that this is the true teaching [of Islam] and that they will not find anything but love, affection and tolerance from us. After building the mosque, God willing, you will find that the Ahmadis living in this area will strive to fulfil the rights of others even more than before because the founder of Islam(sa) and the Holy Qur’an have both stated that your neighbours have certain rights over you – and neighbours include those who live next to your house, your work colleagues and those who are on a journey with you. Every day, people commute to work for many miles on buses and trains and so they also are considered to be your neighbours, whether you are acquainted with them or not. The founder of Islam(sa) stated that Allah the Almighty had exhorted him so strongly towards the kind treatment of neighbours that he thought that they may also be included among the heirs of one’s inheritance. Thus, this is the status of the neighbour in Islam and it is our duty to fulfil the rights of our neighbours, and we must fulfil this right.
I hope that when this mosque has been built then the neighbours of our mosque and also the neighbours of all those who come to worship in their respective places of worship will receive the message of peace, harmony, love and affection even more than before. And, God willing, we will not only express this message of love and affection through our words alone, we will also practically demonstrate this through our conduct; otherwise, there is no benefit to be found in either religion or education. If, having graduated from universities, we are to commit acts of extremism, then our education is worthless. If we are to believe in a religion while committing acts of terror, then that religion is useless. True religion is one that spreads love and affection and this is found in the teachings of Islam and I am certain that after this mosque has been built, you will receive the message of love, affection, sympathy and brotherhood from the Ahmadis here, God willing.