Friday Sermon delivered at Masjid Mubarak, Islamabad, Tilford, UK
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that recently, he visited the United States of America and by the grace of Allah this tour went well.
His Holiness(aba) said members received news through MTA and other electronic media, including various other news outlets as well. The blessings of Allah the Almighty were seen at every turn during this tour, bringing a positive impact not only on Ahmadis, but others as well. There was a youngster who told his friend that he was having some doubts regarding Ahmadiyyat and Khilafat which were completely removed due to this tour. His Holiness(aba) said that there were many similar examples like this.
His Holiness(aba) said that in Zion, Dallas and Baitur Rahman, Maryland there would be large numbers of men, women and children gathered for the prayers. The emotions and sentiments they expressed as His Holiness(aba) walked to and from the mosque clearly indicated that they have true love for Khilafat in their hearts. People would line up for hours just to get into the mosque for prayers. This clearly indicates that by the grace of Allah these people have love for their faith and Khilafat. Children would stand in line for five to six hours as there would also be various checks, yet no one complained. A guest in Zion even commented how smoothly everything was running and despite the various checks in place, no one complained.
His Holiness(aba) said that the parents of an 11 or 12 year old told him that their son would line up hours before prayers, whereas he never paid such close attention to his prayers before. His Holiness(aba) said that he saw the great love and sincerity for Khilafat in the children as well. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may this fervour for prayers which was evident remain constant and may these mosques always remain populated.
His Holiness(aba) said that in a worldly place like America, people may think that there is no attention paid towards faith, however His Holiness(aba) said that he saw the opposite in the Ahmadis he saw during this tour. At every stop there would be more people present than expected. In fact, at Baitur Rahman in Maryland, sometimes the numbers exceeded even that of the Annual Convention (Jalsa Salana). His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah continue to increase the sincerity and devotion in the hearts of all Ahmadis.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would present the sentiments of various non-Ahmadi guests from this tour.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the mayor of Zion who said that it was his honour to welcome His Holiness(aba) to Zion. He said that the motto of Zion is ‘historic past and dynamic future’ and the Zion mosque is the perfect example of that. He said that with the inauguration of this new mosque, he has great hopes for the future of this city that are associated with this mosque and the Ahmadiyya Community. The mayor then also presented the key of the city to His Holiness. He also expressed that His Holiness(aba) left him speechless.
His Holiness(aba) said that Member of Illinois Assembly Hon. Joyce Mason said Alexander Dowie sought to establish a theocratic society, however today, Zion is home to people from diverse backgrounds epitomised by this new mosque. She congratulated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for this great victory.
His Holiness(aba) quoted Katrina Lantos who said it was astonishing to hear how much attention the prayer duel garnered despite the fact that electronic media did not exist at the time. She said that the establishment of this mosque clearly shows who was victorious in the prayer duel, however this was not just a victory for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community but for all of humanity.
His Holiness(aba) quoted Dr Craig Considine – a Christian professor who has written about the Holy Prophet(sa) – who said that he was honoured to have met His Holiness(aba) and that he learned a great deal about Islam from His Holiness’(aba) speech. He said that the manner in which His Holiness(aba) spoke on the topic of Islam was easy to understand for every person. He was also present to listen to His Holiness’(aba) Friday Sermon and said that he had never heard a sermon like this before.
His Holiness(aba) presented the sentiments of various other guests from Zion, including elected officials, teachers, emergency service workers and others who expressed their awe of His Holiness(aba) and the message he presented, the unity and harmony which he promoted and the manner in which he presented the history of Zion and the teachings of Islam.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Baitul Ikram mosque was inaugurated in Dallas and the inauguration was attended by 140 guests. Member of the City Council of Allen, Carl Clemencich presented the key of the city to His Holiness(aba) and expressed his appreciation for the humanitarian work done by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He said that the city of Allen was fortunate that such a peaceful and humanitarian community has established itself in this city.
His Holiness(aba) quoted Prof Dr Robert Hunt, Director of the Global Theological Department at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, who thanked the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for inviting him and his colleagues. He appreciated His Holiness(aba) for promoting religious freedom and inter-religious dialogue.
His Holiness(aba) quoted Republican Congressman Hon Michael McCaul who said that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community shows how the Abrahamic faiths can live together harmoniously. He said he was in the process of reading the book Jesus in India and would conduct further research. He said that a lot can be learned from the Ahmadiyy Muslim Community about peace, kindness and love. He appreciated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s efforts to spread peace, establish unity, and end extremism and poverty.
His Holiness(aba) quoted a guest from the North Presbytarian Church who said that she’s never seen anyone strive as much as His Holiness(aba) for the establishment of global peace. She said that if people were to listen to this speech rather than usurping the rights of their neighbours and their fellow beings then peace could certainly be established.
His Holiness(aba) presented the comments and sentiments of various other guests from Dallas who expressed their appreciation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s peace-loving efforts and the inspiring impact of His Holiness’(aba) address which showed how true peace, unity and mutual love can be established.
His Holiness(aba) said that a complex was also inaugurated in Fort Worth, Texas where it is planned to build a dome and two minarets in order to turn it into a mosque. His Holiness(aba) said that it is a good building where one day he led the evening prayers.
His Holiness(aba) quoted the sentiments of a guest from Fort Worth who said that His Holiness(aba) presented an excellent message and particularly appreciated His Holiness’(aba) warning that anyone who partook in a global war would certainly be ruined.
His Holiness(aba) said that there was an exhibition in Zion pertaining to the prayer duel. His Holiness(aba) said that the Promised Messiah(as) mentioned that he knew of 32 newspapers which mentioned the prayer duel, but said that he was certain that there were many more. After further research, the Community in the USA found 128 more news clippings from the time of the Promised Messiah(as) bringing the total to 160.
His Holiness(aba) said that the American media also covered the inauguration of the Zion mosque, including the Associated Press who wrote an article titled Two prophets and a century-old prayer duel inspires Zion mosque. According to their website its readership is about half the world’s population. This article was published in 412 outlets across 13 countries, including Washington Post, ABC News, Toronto Star, The Hill and many other prominent newspapers.
His Holiness(aba) said that 9 prominent newspapers, 6 online publications and radio stations in Canada also covered the mosque inauguration in Zion. This inauguration was also covered in the UK, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam.
His Holiness(aba) said that MTA Africa also provided live coverage for the addresses by His Holiness(aba) from Zion and Dallas. Various news reports were also prepared for local channels in different parts of Africa. A new convert to Ahmadiyyat from Sierra Leone said that had he learned of the prayer duel with Alexander Dowie and the subsequent victory of the Promised Messiah(as), then he may have converted 20 years ago.
His Holiness(aba) also mentioned his meetings with new Ahmadis and spoke of some of the struggles and opposition they have faced. Upon the request of a new convert, there was an initiation ceremony that also took place.
His Holiness(aba) said that by the grace of Allah, this tour was showered with His blessings and prayed that may Allah’s blessings continue to rain down.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions
After reciting the tashahud, ta’awuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) stated:
As you may all know that recently I was on tour, visiting some of the jamaats in the USA and you were receiving news of this through MTA and the through the electronic media platforms of the Community. By the grace of God Almighty it was a very successful tour.
Moreover, many secular channels also gave a lot of coverage [of the tour]. We have witnessed the blessings of Allah the Almighty in every aspect. This tour had a virtuous impact on both the members of the Jamaat as well as the non-Ahmadis. One Khadim told his friend that he had developed some reservations about the Jamaat and Khilafat, but now, after this tour, they have been completely removed. There are many positive sentiments like this. Moreover, there are countless passionate sentiments of children, women and men which they expressed after their mulaqat [private audience]. You will also have read them in the reports which were published.
In Zion, Dallas and in Baitur Rahman in Maryland, there was a large attendance of women, children and men for the prayers. The manner in which they would express their emotions upon seeing me as I would go past them, clearly showed that their hearts are filled with love, sincerity and devotion for Khilafat.
Well-educated people, affluent individuals as well as those who lead busy lives in the worldly sense, would queue up for hours in order to get a space in the mosque for prayers. It wasn’t the case that only those who had free time came. This transformation within them and their attitude proves that by the grace of Allah the Almighty, the love for religion and the Jamaat is present in their hearts. Their hearts are connected to Khilafat. 11 or 12 year old children would queue up for five or six hours as the security checking and Covid testing were time consuming. However, not a single, individual complained about this be they guests or members of the Community. In fact, the members of the Jamaat showed an example of complete obedience to the organisers and utmost sincerity.
As a matter of fact, an individual in Zion observed this and said, “I observed how smoothly everything was running. There was a formal checking in place. It was time consuming, however, no one complained.”
The parents of an 11 or 12 year old child said to me, “Since you have arrived, our son has been queuing up for five or six hours in order to enter the mosque and is not concerned with anything else, whereas he has previously never attended prayers with such attention.”
Nevertheless, I have observed a sense of joy and happiness in all the children, boys and girls alike. This is a favour of Allah the Almighty on the Jamaat. At every place, the attendance for prayers was far greater than the expectations of the organisers. May Allah the Almighty make this attachment of theirs to the mosque and their concern for worship an everlasting one and may the mosque remain populated forever. May the sincerity and devotion, which the members of the Jamaat demonstrated, remain ever-established in them. People think that in a country like America, people tend to forget religion. However, I have observed that most of the members were focused and concerned in this regard. Even those that are weak in making financial sacrifices made special requests for prayers for themselves and for their offspring to remain attached to their faith and Khilafat. May Allah the Almighty continue to increase the sincerity and devotion of the members of the Jamaat in the USA.
Similarly, the Lajna, Khuddam, Ansar and even children carried out their duties over this period with great diligence. Women and men have stayed up several nights and made preparations. As I said, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, the attendance everywhere was quite high; in the thousands. In Baitur Rahman, their attendance was even greater than the attendance at their Jalsa. Nevertheless, they managed their affairs in a very organised manner. May Allah the Almighty continue to increase this standard of sincerity and loyalty expressed by the members of the USA Jamaat. May this not just be a temporary change in their condition, but one that forever remains in them.
At present, I will mention some of the impressions of the non-Ahmadis. Allah the Almighty has caused the hearts of the non-Ahmadis to be impacted in an extraordinary manner. May Allah the Almighty open their hearts even further and may they become those, who recognise the truth. Nevertheless, I will present some impressions.
A mosque was built in Zion, the Fath-e-Azeem mosque. I will mention some details in relation to the function that was held there. 161 non-Muslim and non-Ahmadi guests attended the event, including congressmen, congresswomen, mayors, doctors, professors, teachers, lawyers, engineers, representatives of the security department as well as people of all walks of life.
The mayor of the city of Zion, Hon. Billy McKinney, said the following in his remarks:
“It is an absolute honour and privilege for me to welcome His Holiness, the World Leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, to the city of Zion for the inauguration of the Fath-e-Azeem mosque.” Following this, he said, “Here in Zion, our motto is, ‘historic past and dynamic future’. This beautiful mosque in the heart of our city exemplifies that motto.” He further said, “It is my wish and my prayer that this house of worship will serve as a bridge between our past and our future. Knowing that this mosque is here, filled with worshippers from such an outstanding faith community, it fills me with hope for the future of the city of Zion. […] When I look at the message that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has brought to our city, I am deeply gratified.” This is what non-Ahmadis expect from us as well. Following this, he said, “This is a community that reveres the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad(sa), who made a covenant with Christians. […]” He further said, “It is with deep gratitude to the outstanding services rendered by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to the city of Zion and your commitment to furthering the development of the city and improving the wellbeing of its people that we present the key to the city of Zion to His Holiness.” Following this, he presented the key to the city.
The mayor of the city of Zion gave his impressions. He says, “I have been living here since 1962, this event is historic for both the city of Zion and for the [Ahmadiyya Muslim] Community.” He also told me in a very emotional manner, “Today you have left me speechless, and that it felt wonderful for me to be present there.”
Expressing her sentiments, Member of the Illinois General Assembly Hon. Joyce Mason said, “It is an honour to be part of this historic event, the inauguration of the Fath-e-Azeem Mosque here in Zion, a place of great historical significance for the Ahmadi Muslim Community. This is truly a special day for this city. Zion was a place founded at the beginning of the last century by Alexander Dowie, who wanted it to be a theocratic city, closed to all except who followed him. Today the city of Zion is home to people of all faiths. This mosque is the sign of a victory of the prayers of the faithful over the prejudice of bigots. I congratulate the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on this tremendous achievement.” Now even others have become well acquainted with this prayer duel. She then says, “His Holiness is a leading Muslim figure for promoting peace.” She then said, “He has spoken to lawmakers and other leaders around the world, emphasising peaceful co-existence.” She went on to say, “The city of Zion is fortunate that such a peace-loving and service-orientated community has decided to settle down here and build such a beautiful mosque. It is my fervent wish that this mosque become a beacon of hope, not just for this city, but for all around. I am introducing a house resolution congratulating the community on the inauguration of the new mosque.”
Dr Katrina Lantos, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice says, “I find that every time I am with the members of the [Ahmadiyya Muslim] Community my spirits are lifted to a higher plane.” She says, “When I heard the story of the prayer duel that took place here in Zion, one of the things that I found so fascinating about this story was that in a time long before everybody had their handheld devices and their cell phones and their computers, this prayer duel went viral. One vision, that of Dr John Dowie was in simple terms based on hate, and based on division, and based on bigotry and prejudice. The other vision, that of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad [as], was one of respect and tolerance, and a kind of security that came from someone who was willing to leave the ultimate outcome to God, to Allah. And of course we know who prevailed in this extraordinary prayer duel. And indeed this beautiful mosque which is now being inaugurated, is in fact called the Fath-e-Azeem Mosque which means a great victory, because the victory in that prayer duel went to the Ahmadis, to the Founder and Leader of the Ahmadiyya Community, but really I think we have to say that the victory went not only to the Ahmadiyya Community, but to humanity as well. This is because it was a victory for respect, for love and for tolerance that we now see embodied in this marvellous community.” She then says, “Now we are sitting here tonight in a beautiful setting, in a peaceful place, but I don’t think we can let this evening go by without remembering an Ahmadi Community in Pakistan that daily faces unimaginable persecution, and hatred and violence on account of their faith, who find themselves alone in the face of the current government.”
The former commissioner of Zion, Amos Monk expressed his sentiments. He says, “In my opinion your teachings encompass everything and I feel that it should be something that the world at large should be more aware of. I think this is the best-kept secret in the world at this point in time. I’m looking at this brochure that was on all the tables, which sends the message of equity, justice, sincerity and love. That is what’s needed throughout the universe; no hatred and we could be a dynamic world. I think this message should be heard by the world, and that is the only way we can cure the ills of the world.”
Professor Craig Considine, who has written a book on the life of the Holy Prophet(sa) and is a devout Christian says, “I was emotional to see the Caliph meet me like an old friend. I greatly enjoyed His Holiness’ speech, it increased my knowledge of Islam. When I receive the transcript of this speech I will be sure to use it in my next book.” He continues, “His Holiness spoke beautifully and in simple terms that could be understood by all types of people with ease.” He then says, “I especially appreciate his message of drawing attention towards adopting universal human values, mutual respect, tolerance, dignity and honour.” He further states, “You are calling us all towards mutual love.” He also listened to the Friday Sermon and remained seated for the entire hour. He later said to me as well that he had never heard such a sermon before.
A guest from Illinois, Melody Hall says, “I am a product development manager. I found this event to be very interesting and I enjoyed it a great deal. His Holiness’ message that there is no room in society for people with prejudice was excellent. Seeing him and listening to him was unique and a good feeling. I truly enjoyed it and I really liked when His Holiness said that our only weapon is prayer.”
Another guest named Jeff Fender said, “I am a certified public accountant and also work in real estate. This was my first experience [at the mosque] and I have been touched. Coming to this mosque inauguration was a precious moment in my life.” Then, with regards to the address he said, “I have been moved by it and I have learned a lot of new things about you.” He then said, “the prayer duel was new for me and I will do further research into it.” This is also how avenues for tabligh are opened.
There was also a high school teacher present named Matt Render. He says, “I really liked His Holiness’ message and the way in which he presented it. Many people like me can easily understand this message.”
Mary Lou Hildebrand from the emergency services also attended the programme; she says, “I was very moved, your message was sincere without any ceremoniousness. Your demeanour was sincere and upstanding. From this, everyone can discern your day to day lives.”
Dr Jesse Rodriguez also attended this programme. He is the school superintendent in the Benton area. He says, “His Holiness’ address revolved around unity; it was an excellent message. He said that all religions are important and we can all remain united. It was excellent.”
Then, Zach Livingstone, the principal of a local high school says, “His Holiness’ words bear within them a certain type of attraction. In particular, his efforts to fulfil the rights of humanity and to serve humanity are very impactful. Your motto, ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ reverberates in all nations, faiths and especially throughout the city of Zion. There is a vital need for this message. After the pandemic, there has been an emotional and societal decline in our families and our students and we desperately need this message in order to recover from this.”
There was another guest in attendance who also among those who laid a foundation stone for the Zion mosque. He says, “Today was a beautiful day. I was able to be part of the foundation laying for this mosque a year ago and I was eager to see it completed. Your mosque is a source of hope and friendship for our community.”
The Zion Police Chief, Mr Eric says, “This was a very good programme. It was nice to see such love and sincerity all around. The message that it doesn’t matter who you are, but what matters is how you treat others is an excellent message.”
Another guest, Jennifer says, “As far as the principles of your community are concerned, they are the best. When you step into Zion the motto ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ is visible upon the old building and it echoes alongside you. This voice remains with you and this is the true spirit of the city of Zion.”
Another guest, Cheri Neal who is the Supervisor of the Township of Zion says, “I am astonished at the organisation. I’m pleased that you were able to achieve your purpose.”
Then, another guest said, “I was very pleased to learn that there are guides like you among us who represents millions and unites people together. He speaks on the subject that we are all one and each religion holds significance. This is a very good and impactful message.”
Another guest, Ms Gloria says, “Zion has quite a detailed past. Despite living here, there were many things about this place that I did not know.”
Then, another guest said, “I enjoyed this event a great deal and this message has truly moved me. I knew about your motto ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ but after seeing you I have only been further convinced. Many things left an impact on me.” And then he says, “It was new for me to hear His Holiness say that the Holy Quran is the book which protects all faiths; this is something new that I learned which I did not know about before.”
Then, there was an Indian professor, Shobana Shankar who also met with me. She is a professor at the State University of New York. She has also conducted research at the Abdus Salam Research Centre in Italy and she lived in Ghana for some time as well. She expressed that I used to be in Ghana but my work there still lives on – she brought this up in her conversation with me. The professor said that she has spoken to many other professors in Africa who have studied from the Ahmadiyya Girls School. These are excellent schools for girls. She wishes to bring to light the community’s educational services and history and wishes to write a book on Ahmadis in West Africa. The professor said that she would need the community’s help in benefitting from translators in the local languages. I told her that whatever area she requires help in, we will provide it, God-willing. In fact I also advised her that aside from Ghana she should include other countries as well.
Then, there was also the inauguration of the Baitul Ikram Mosque in Dallas. 140 non-Muslim and non-Ahmadi guests participated in that event, which included politicians, doctors, professors, teachers, lawyers, engineers, representatives from security institutions and people from all walks of life. Whilst expressing his sentiments, Carl Clemencich, a member of the City Council of Allen – who also granted the key to the city – said, “It is truly an honour to be part of this historic event, the inauguration of the Baitul Ikram Mosque. On behalf of the mayor and the rest of the City Council of Allen, I congratulate the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on this tremendous achievement.”
The mayor came to the mosque two days prior and met me. He expressed his regret that he was going to be traveling abroad and would not be able to attend, hence he would be sending a representative. He was a very pleasant and friendly person. The representative of the mayor further stated, “We commend the services rendered by the Ahmadiyya Community, which include the distribution of food to the poor, collecting clothing for those in need, and offering help to the residents of this area on numerous occasions.” He further stated, “The city of Allen is fortunate that such a peace-loving and service-oriented community has decided to settle down here and build such a beautiful mosque. It is my wish that this mosque becomes a beacon of hope, not just for the city but for all those around it.” Allen is a city directly adjacent to Dallas and has practically become a part of it. At the end, on behalf of the mayor and City Council, he also granted the key to the city.
Professor Dr Robert Hunt, the director of the Department of Global Theology at the Southern Methodist University Perkin School of Theology, was also present at the event. He remarked, “I want to thank the Ahmadiyya Community for inviting me and other representatives of Perkin School of Theology and Southern Methodist University for this historic event. It is a great honour.” He further states, “His Holiness has been dedicated to the promotion of two closely related virtues: Religious freedom and inter-religious dialogue. The two go hand-in-hand, because without mutual understanding and respect between and within religions, the forces for exclusion and division grow ever stronger. I say this as one who, for more than half of my adult life, lived as a member of a religious minority in other lands.” He further stated, “The Ahmadiyya Community positively responding to its own history of being oppressed and marginalised has been a leader in the efforts towards promoting religious freedom, because only when we treat one another with respect with an open mind that we will be able to overcome sectarianism and rid society of ill thoughts.”
Moving on, the Honourable Michael McCaul, Congressman for the Republicans, also expressed his thoughts. He said, “The three major religions link back to Abraham; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” He then addressed me and said, “His Holiness believes extensively that these three Abrahamic faiths can all live peacefully. And no one knows that better than the Ahmadiyya Community.” He further stated, “His Holiness and I talked about the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of Ahmadiyyat, the New Testament and the Gospels.” We spoke at length, and he also had the book Jesus in India in his possession. He said, “I have read half of it and am currently reading it. It is very interesting and I will have to do further research.” He said that he was learning many new things about Jesus(as) from this book. He is a well-educated man and holds interest in religion. Nonetheless, he stated, “We had the opportunity to speak about the New Testament and the Gospels. I think we can learn a lot from the Ahmadis about peace and forgiveness and love, because that’s what I was taught as a Catholic. I am now the chairman of the Ahmadiyya Caucus in the congress.” He is the chairman of the committee of individuals who speak in favour and support of the Community. He further said, “I especially commend you for promoting global peace and international harmony, condemning extremism and fanaticism, alleviating poverty and advocating for economic equality, international human rights and international religious freedom.” He further stated, “Many Ahmadis have been targeted and killed. Despite the continuance of such cruelties, the Imam of the Community forbade retaliating in aggression against others – an extraordinary feat.” He then said, “The Imam of the Community has repeatedly reminded world leaders that justice is necessary to establish true and lasting peace.” He spoke out for oppressed nations. These were his sentiments that he articulated, and he spoke extensively.
A guest by the name of Tom Berry said, “I would like to thank the Imam of the Community. His message, hospitality, mutual understanding – just everything – was excellent. No doubt, it is a blessing that work is being done for the betterment of one another, irrespective of one’s beliefs and faith. Life should be cherished and life should be loved. Everyone should be respected and everyone should be loved. This proves that the accountability of society does not fall upon one individual, rather everyone should work together. This was the message of the Caliph. This is such a message that should be revisited every day before going to sleep and after waking up in the morning; it is the very message that should be propagated. We should inculcate this message within our children because after we have passed, they will keep this message alive. I thank you once again.”
Furthermore, there was a Muslim guest by the name of Sultan Chaudhary. He said, “In my opinion, the message of peace for the world given by the Imam of the Community is an excellent message. I believe it is very important to remove this stigma that Muslims seek to take over. He [Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aa)] has made it clear that because there is no scheme being made in an effort to destroy all Muslims, Muslims are not permitted to wage war.”
Mrs Beverly McCord, a guest from the North Presbyterian Church was in attendance; she says, “Having seen the Caliph and listened to his words I felt contentment. I have not seen anyone strive to achieve world peace like him. I felt really good. If people abandoned their selfish agendas, or trying to subdue their neighbour or trying to occupy someone else’s land and instead listened to this message, then peace can be established in the world. I wish we could listen to more speeches which promote the message of peace and remind the people that we must always work and strive for peace at all times.”
Mr LeRoy from the Collin County Police department also attended the event. He says, “This was an outstanding event, and I learnt a lot from it. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has done something truly remarkable.”
A Muslim guest, Dr Haleem-ur-Rahman was present and stated, “This was an unbelievable event. I loved the ceremony, the organisation, the hospitality and the hall.” He further says, “I was not worthy of the respect I was shown by the organisers. Upon seeing all of this and the honour you extended to me brought tears to my eyes. I had the opportunity to spend time with the most wonderful people, who were a true representation of the teachings of Islam.”
People sitting here in the west can make such comments, but if they go to Pakistan, the mulla [clerics] will not let them live in peace.
Ms Abby Kirkendall says, “I have seen a religious community, who although differ in the way they offer their worship, but our values are the same. This was an extraordinary experience for me. It was an honour for me to be able to listen to the values presented by the Imam of the [Ahmadiyya] Community, who is a religious leader, and all communities should adopt this message.” She then says, “Having come here, I could feel the presence of God, and where one can feel the presence of God, irrespective of their beliefs, they experience peace and contentment; this was something felt by all attendees here, irrespective of their religion, nation and country. This is exactly what every community needs.”
Ms Victoria says, “The highlight of the event was the speech of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community and how he explained that despite our religious differences or differing viewpoints, we are all connected together. In my opinion, this is one thing which is missing these days from our interreligious dialogues. It was truly pleasing to listen to someone explain with such wisdom and insight that despite our religious differences, all of humanity is interconnected, and explain how we ought to live by caring for the sentiments of others.”
Another guest, Ms Mary McDermott, who is a neighbour of the Dallas mosque and has a large area of land; she also gave us space for parking, said, “I have never received so much delight from this soil filled land than when I offered it for your programme.” She is a very honourable and respectable lady. She gave her land [to use] and in fact, cleaned it and levelled it before giving it.
Another guest, Ms Beverly McCord says, “I always enjoy listening to international religious leaders, who remind their people about the importance of peace, eschewing one’s differences and calling each other towards love. I always feel elated when I listen to such a message. I personally have no fear of this community and do not understand why anyone would have any fear, because this is such a loving community and one that looks out for the sentiments of others and renders service to mankind. If someone did harbour any fear of this community, then upon seeing their services for humanity and their welfare projects, this fear would dissipate instantly.”
Another guest by the name of Joshua said:
“I, along with various other senior priests, was invited to this inauguration event. I had the opportunity to converse with other people. I commend the manner in which the subject of peace, unity and justice was spoken about with such wisdom. I also came to realise that there are such people, who have a different culture and way of life than us, but they also promote the existence of God in our lives and instil compassion for one another. Our actions have an impact upon others and therefore to sit, eat together and to speak to one another in this manner is very important.”
He further said, “I told my wife that the hospitality here was excellent and everything was very well organised from the moment we arrived here.”
We also travelled to Fort Worth which is around 50-55 miles from Dallas where a property has been purchased [by the Jamaat]. The area is around 3.5 acres and it also has a large building, but it does not have a mosque. Only a building was purchased there. In fact, the total area is not 3.5 acres, it is 4.75 acres and it also has a 13,000 sq. ft. building which includes multipurpose halls, offices and lobbies. They plan to build a dome and two minarets in order to add the features of a mosque to it. It is a very good property and the members of the Jamaat offer their prayers there. I also had the opportunity to lead the Maghrib and Isha prayers there.
Another guest, Abby Kirkendall, who lives in Fort Worth and attended the inauguration of the mosque in Dallas, said, “The Head of the Ahmadiyya Community delivered the message of working with one another with mutual cooperation in accordance with the will of God in a truly excellent manner. The message of peace and saving the world from nuclear war was particularly significant for me. His message that whoever partakes in this war would face utter destruction was indeed a very powerful message.”
Another guest in attendance at the event in Dallas was a member of the First United Methodist Church. She said, “This was a remarkable message. Everyone needs to listen to this clear message of the Caliph. The Khalifa delivered his message in an excellent manner. I took great pleasure in listening to his address and I wish to listen to him speak again.”
Another guest was a teacher at a High School Ministry, she said, “There were two points mentioned by the Caliph which particularly had an impact upon me. Firstly, he acknowledged the fact that people within our societies indeed have reservations against Islam. As a teacher, I occasionally notice these things amongst my students. The second point which I highly commended was that the Caliph warned against the use of nuclear weapons. It was good to hear a message full of wisdom.”
These were some of the comments of the people. Now, I shall mention some other information and details in relation to the tour. As you would have seen on MTA as well that there was an exhibition setup in the mosque in Zion in relation to the prayer duel with Dowie. It also displayed the newspaper cuttings which covered this story. In Majmu’ah Ishtiharat Vol. 3, the Promised Messiah(as) wrote the names of 32 newspapers and also wrote, “these newspapers are only those which we have received. From the sheer number of these it seems that this was mentioned in hundreds of other newspapers.”
And so, the USA Jamaat conducted further research into this and found more newspapers. Apart from the 32 newspapers which the Promised Messiah(as) mentioned, they found another 128 newspapers which mentioned the challenge of the prayer duel given to Dowie. And thus, the total number of newspapers which published this news in the USA in the time of the Promised Messiah(as) is 160. All of these newspapers have been displayed in a digital format in the exhibition which has been setup next to the Fath-e-Azeem Mosque. People also came and visited this as well. The news of the inauguration of the mosque in Zion was covered by media outlets from around the world. The Associated Press, which is an American news agency, published an article about my tour and the inauguration of the Fath-e-Azeem mosque. The title was, “Two prophets, century-old prayer duel inspire Zion mosque.”
According to the website of this media outlet, its readership is approximately half of the world’s population. This article was published in 13 countries and across 412 different media outlets and newspapers, including The Washington Post, ABC News, Toronto Star, The Hill and various other prominent newspapers. This was also ranked among the top ten articles of the Associated Press. It was not the case that people didn’t pay any attention to it, in fact it was ranked among the top ten. The article mentioned that “a holy miracle happened in Zion 115 years ago. Or so millions of Ahmadi Muslims around the world believe.
The Ahmadis view this small-sized city, 40 miles north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, as a place of special religious significance. Their reverence for the community began more than a century ago – with a prayer duel and a prophecy. Zion was founded in 1900 as a Christian theocracy by John Alexander Dowie, an evangelical and early Pentecostal preacher. The Ahmadis believe their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, defended the faith from Dowie’s verbal attacks against Islam, and defeated him in a sensational face-off armed only with prayers. Most current residents may not have an inkling of that high-stakes holy fight of a bygone era. But, for the Ahmadis, it is one that has created an eternal bond with the city of Zion. Thousands of Ahmadi Muslims from around the world have congregated in the city to celebrate that century-old miracle and a significant milestone in the life of Zion and of their faith: The building of the city’s first mosque.”
The article also published a lot of historical information about Dowie.
It further stated, “Ahmadis believe that their founder, who was born in 1835, was the promised reformer the Prophet Muhammed predicted and the metaphorical second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Apart from this, the visit to Zion and the inauguration of the Fath-e-Azeem Mosque was given a wide-scale coverage in Canada. By the grace of Allah, the tour of Zion was covered by nine major newspapers, six online publications and one radio station. The message of the Jama’at was conveyed to 871,000. Apart from the USA and Canada, the online newspapers of UK, Greece, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam also gave coverage.
The article published by Associated Press, which is the American news agency that I mentioned earlier, was published in 200 newspapers in the USA and 176 online newspapers.
Apart from this, MTA Africa also gave live coverage of this function. The addresses delivered in Zion and Dallas were aired live on the national TV of The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Senegal. This was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. They mentioned that 30 minutes prior to the event held for the inauguration of the Fath-e-Azeem mosque, these studios went live on air and gave the historical context of the Prophecy of the Promised Messiah(as) about Alexander Dowie in their local languages. Coverage was given throughout Africa through various news reports published on TV, radio and newspapers. News reports were shown on five channels in Uganda and also the TV channels of Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
Amir Sahib of Sierra Leone writes that a friend he knew for the last 20 years had only done the Bai’at [pledge of allegiance] this year on the occasion of the Jalsa Salana UK. When he saw the programme in Zion, he said, “The night I did the Bai’at, I felt a deep sense of pity that it took me so long to do the Bai’at. However, if truth be told, the day I watched the programme about the mosque in Zion, I said to myself that if Amir Sahib had informed me about the incident related to Alexander Dowie earlier, then perhaps I would have done the Bai’at twenty years ago. I have never been as convinced by any other religious event as I have been by the prophecy about Zion. I have witnessed the biggest challenge of this era, most of all, this event took place under the full scrutiny of the Western media. Hazrat Imam Mahdi(as) prophesied about the future in such a manner as if he was present where God reveals His decrees.” He further said, “In my view, when we preach to non-Ahmadis, we should certainly mention this prophecy because it is a very impressive prophecy and argument. The day I did Bai’at, that very night I was satisfied that I had made the right decision. However, after learning about the prophecy about Zion, I breathed a sigh of relief and was convinced that my 20 years of search for the truth did not go in vain. I certainly took the right decision.”
Apart from this, there were various other activities which included speaking to the ambassadors of Ghana and Sierra Leone in the mosque in Washington, Maryland and we discussed the conditions of their countries. The meeting went really well with them. There was also a meeting with the new converts. There were around 45 new converts who attended. I also told [the Jamaat] to search for the Ahmadis who had converted a long time ago and they managed to get into contact a few of them. Those who recently accepted Ahmadiyyat have faced opposition as well, however they have remained steadfast.
One of the new converts mentioned that when his family learnt of his Bai’at, they opposed him a lot and left him. Then, another Ahmadi from Bangladesh, stated, “the missionary spent a lot of time in order to explain things to me and did so with great patience. And now, I have understood.” He then very passionately said to the other new converts present, “now I have understood Islam Ahmadiyyat, and I am telling you that this is the true Islam, therefore never move away from this.”
Another new convert, Christopher, who accepted Ahmadiyyat from Christianity, he requested to do the Bai’at. And so, a Bai’at ceremony was also held and this had a very positive impact on everyone. Those who have been Ahmadi for some time and also many Ahmadis from Pakistan, who have recently arrived as refugees from various countries also had the opportunity to do the Bai’at and it was a very emotional moment for them.
In any case, Allah the Almighty bestowed His blessings in every respect and may Allah the Almighty continue to do so in the future as well.
(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 11 November 2022, pp. 5-10. Translated by The Review of Religions)