Dispelling the Misconceptions of a Mosque
Keynote Address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Khalifatul Masih V and worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on 2nd November 2013 at a special reception to mark the inauguration of the Baitul Muqeet Mosque in Auckland, New Zealand. The event was attended by more than 50 Non-Ahmadi dignitaries and guests, including Judith Collins, Minister of Justice and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and David Rutherford, New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner.
Guest Speeches prior to Keynote Address
“It is a pleasure to be here today for the opening and the celebrations around New Zealand for the first Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Mosque. It’s a great achievement for the community, especially as you celebrate your 25th anniversary in New Zealand, so congratulations to you. It is also very fitting that today is the public launch of the Te Reo Mauri version of the Holy Qur’an. This is in itself an example of how the Islamic faith and its followers are finding a home here in New Zealand…Your values of peace and respect are clear in all the ways in which you embrace New Zealand culture and observe many other religious events and cultural celebrations. By doing this you also contribute to the social harmony and diversity which makes our country New Zealand so very special…I congratulate the Ahmadiyya Community on your very first mosque here in New Zealand, the organistaion’s 25th anniversary in New Zealand and the launch of the Te Reo Mauri version of the Holy Qur’an, which as we have heard has been quite a long time in the making and obviously a tremendous amount of work has gone into it. These are achievements that you can be very much proud of. Thank you for inviting me again and I’d like to acknowledge, again, Your Holiness for your presence here in New Zealand and trust that you enjoy the rest of your visit to New Zealand; the best little country on earth! Thank you. Kia ora”
Hon Judith Collins – Minister for Ethnic Affairs and Minister of Justice
“Assalmo Alaikum. Tena Koutou! Warm Pacific greetings. Firstly thank you for your invitation to speak and join you in the celebrations here today and it’s fantastic to be here to celebrate the opening of the new mosque and the translation of the Holy Qur’an into, now known in Maori as Kuranu Tapu and I’ve been privileged to see it and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. This translation is a wonderful gift to New Zealand. It will not have been the first or the last time Maori have crossed the paths with the people and the words of Islam. And welcome, Your Holiness, the King, the Minister and the members of the Ahmadiyya community today. We live in a country based on a treaty, which in many ways says Fo ka pona hia te ranga tahi ‘We believe that together we grow.’ It’s a promise of two peoples to take the best possible care of each other and that has not always happened here but it is happening now more than ever and there’s a great deal more to do, to make than great vision real of two peoples living and growing together, and to make things even more fun we now have the gift of many peoples wanting to live and grow together in Aotearoa, in New Zealand. The translation of the Holy Qur’an is a manifestation of the desire to grow together and it is a way to grow together…We must adequately discharge our responsibilities to defend freedom and democratic way of life every day, everywhere. If we do, our mountains will forever be freedom’s ramparts on the sea. People of every creed and race will live in peace in this place. There will be no strife and war here and New Zealand’s praises will be heard afar. I can think of no better statement of what it will take for there to be peace and the statement at the back of this hall; His Holiness’s statement of ‘Love for all, Hatred for None.’ We never want to fight a war like we fought before or send out young people so far away. And Maori and Muslim were bound then and should be bound now together in that task and all of us should be. Thank you!”
David Ruthford – Chief Human Rights Commissioner
“Tena Koutou. Assalmo Alaikum! Your Holiness welcome to Aotearo, greetings to you all and I bring the greetings from my own particular Christian community and also the wider Christian community and offer our congratulations on this very auspicious occasion of the launch of the Kuranu Tapu and of the inauguration of the beautiful Mosque outside this place…”
Reverend Bruce Keeley – Baptist priest
“Your Holiness, the Maori King, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, this is an utterly unexpected surprise for me but a great privilege to be here in a setting such as this and reflective of huge contribution which this community has made in the building of a mosque which I’m sure will be a centerpiece of this community. I’ve listened with great interest to the speeches which have been made by those before me. I fully endorse the comments which are made. I think all of us here will support this mosque, this community and the growth of the Islamic religion and culture in this country. Thank you very much for the privilege of allowing me to speak for a short time.”
Dr. Hon Richard Worth – Honorary Consul of Monaco
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba said:
“All distinguished guests – Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
Today is a day of great joy for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in New Zealand, as they are inaugurating their first mosque.
Before I go on to speak about the purposes of mosques and their importance to Muslims, I consider it essential to first of all thank all of the guests for accepting our invitation. The fact you have come to attend the mosque opening, despite holding differences of religion, demonstrates your enlightened minds and broad vision. Indeed, it proves that you desire for New Zealand to be a country where all religions can stand side by side and flourish. And you desire that regardless of a person’s religion, he is treated as an equal citizen of the country.
It is a universal truth that religion is a matter of the heart and no-one’s heart can be forced to believe in a particular religion. It is for this very reason that the Holy Qur’an says that there should be no compulsion in matters of religion. Furthermore, addressing the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa in the Holy Qur’an, Allah said that his task was merely to convey the message of Islam. Thereafter, whoever wished to accept his message was free to do so and whoever wished to reject it was also free to do so.
Furthermore, after his migration to Madinah, the Holy Prophetsa was chosen as the leader of the government. In this capacity he formed a covenant with the Jews, whereby they were allowed to live their lives in Madinah, being governed in accordance with their religious laws. And so the judicial decisions made regarding the Jews were in accordance with Jewish religious laws, rather than Islamic laws.
Let me present another example of the Holy Prophet’ssa absolute commitment to the freedom of religion. Upon returning victoriously to his hometown of Makkah, the city where for thirteen years he and his companions faced the most brutal and sustained persecution, the Holy Prophet’ssa example was truly exemplary. Not only did he forgive all of those disbelievers who had inflicted such cruelties, but it was also the case that despite his victory, he said that though the people would now live under an Islamic state, no person would be forced or compelled in any way to become a Muslim. In fact, some of the non-Muslim chiefs of Makkah had said that if living in Makkah meant that they would have to accept Islam, they would leave the city. The Holy Prophetsa responded by announcing that they were free to continue to practise their own religions and they would not be placed under any pressure or compelled in any way. Thus, there was absolutely no compulsion in religious matters, although of course, certain laws were created for the civic and administrative running of the state and all people were equally bound by them.
And so today, I would like to thank the people of New Zealand, its government and all of you here today, for giving us the opportunity and permission to build this mosque and for sharing in our happiness. These feelings of gratitude are truly heartfelt, and this thankfulness becomes even more significant to me, given that my master, the Holy Prophetsa, said that a person who is not grateful to man cannot be grateful to God.
We believe this mosque to be a “House of God.” It is a place to gather together in congregation to worship Him. And so when we enter it with this objective, we will not only be thankful to God Almighty for granting us the ability to build this mosque, we will also feel great appreciation in our hearts for the people of this area. They are deserving of our thanks because they have allowed this mosque to be built, even in an age where the acts of certain extremist Muslim groups has instilled a great fear of Muslims in much of the world. The fear of Islam has developed because some non-Muslims are not familiar with Islam’s true teachings and so their views are strongly influenced by the heavily publicised hate-filled acts of extremist Muslim groups. And so perhaps they believe that a mosque built in the area will become a centre of disorder and of a lack of peace.
Let me very clearly state that this concept of a mosque is absolutely wrong. The word Masjid is an Arabic word, which in English is translated as “mosque.” Masjid literally means a place where people bow down – meaning they submit before God. To bow down before God, requires that He is worshipped and that all of His commands are acted upon.
The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Communityas, who we believe to be the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (the Guided One), was sent by God in this era in order to fulfil the objective of reviving the true Islam, in accordance with a prophecy of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. The Promised Messiahas came to shine a light on the true and original teachings of Islam, which had become corrupted and distorted with the passage of time. The Promised Messiahas clearly explained that the purpose of his advent was to remove the distance that had developed in the relationship between man and God. He came to show mankind the path towards God Almighty.
The Promised Messiahas also said another purpose of his advent was to end all religious wars. He was sent to inculcate amongst the people of all religions mutual understanding, so that they could live side by side together with a spirit of love and affection. The Founder of our Community also said that one of his most significant objectives was to draw the attention of mankind towards fulfilling the rights of one another. Indeed, he said he came to strive for a society where all people discharged each other’s due rights. Therefore, these were the objectives for which the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established.
It is to achieve these ambitions that the Ahmadiyya Community builds mosques. Ahmadis desire and believe that by worshipping in the mosque, they can grow closer to God and be those who follow His commands. Certainly, fulfilling the rights of mankind is one of the most significant and important commands of Allah. And so I shall now present a few examples of the Qur’an’s teachings in this regard. Islam or the Qur’an says that after God Almighty, it is your parents who have favoured and nurtured you the most and so you must treat them in the very best and most loving way. When they become elderly it is the duty of their children to take care of them and cater for their needs. Islam further teaches that if your parents are elderly, and as a result of their frailty and illness they speak to you in a harsh manner, you should not reproach them in any way. Nor should you give even the slightest indication of displeasure.
God Almighty has further drawn the attention of Muslims towards fulfilling the rights of mankind by stating in the Qur’an that those who are hungry and thirsty should be fed and watered. The Qur’an further counsels Muslims to care for and support orphans and the under-privileged members of society.
It is because of these teachings that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community sends volunteers to aid and assist disaster relief efforts in countries where natural disasters have occurred. In fact, in some of the poorer nations, we have permanent arrangements for humanitarian services. But our efforts are not only limited to the developing world, but also exist in the developed world. Thus, even in the United States we provide food and drink to the people living in poor and deprived areas. We take care of orphans without any distinction of religion or background. We are carrying out many such services to help those from poor and deprived backgrounds in Africa. Further, the Qur’an teaches that there are two types of poor people. One category comprises those who beg or ask for help, whilst the second are those poor people who remain silent, despite their suffering. The Qur’an has taught that both categories of people should be assisted and their due rights ought to be fulfilled.
It is for this reason that in various poor countries the Ahmadiyya Community has initiated projects to assist and to provide the under-privileged with education and healthcare. Under such schemes every person in need is helped irrespective of his religion or background. In the Qur’an, Allah has said that the worship of people who shun orphans and who neglect to feed starving people and who do not assist those mired in poverty will be entirely worthless.1 Furthermore, the Holy Qur’an condemns slavery in absolute terms and says that slaves should be freed and that to free them from their bondage is a great act of virtue.2 Thus, the allegation that Islam advocates slavery is entirely wrong. As I said, Islam teaches that slavery should be abolished. In the past, the horrific tradition of slavery was widespread and it was the influence of Islam which led to its gradual eradication.
In this era, slavery continues, but its form and nature has changed. Islam has also taught the means to free oneself from this modern type of slavery. As I said, today there are still individuals and nations who are shackled by subjugation. People and weaker nations are being financially enslaved, whereby those in desperate need are forced to take loans with unjust conditions attached, which enchain them in a cycle of despair. The unjust conditions include forcing weaker countries to abide by certain policies or forcing upon them political deals that are not in their long-term interests. Further, whilst it is claimed that economic aid, assistance and providing technical skills and expertise to financially dependent countries is given to help them, often it only proves to be a means of shackling them. This is because these are all ways through which the rich countries constrain the poorer and weaker countries and oblige them to obey them in worldly matters.
The economic aid, assistance and technical expertise is only provided when the country in need agrees to accept the demands and conditions laid down. The conditions are utterly unjust, whereby the country claiming to help, in fact takes advantage of the natural resources of the poor country. And so the deprived nation ends up reaping less benefit from its own wealth than the assisting country. Islam entirely condemns and rejects this type of slavery and bondage. Islam says that a true worshipper of God, who fulfils His rights, must also always fulfil the rights of man. Where on the one hand a Muslim comes to the mosque to fulfil the rights of worship, he should also enter the mosque to consider and devise ways of how he can express his love and sympathy for mankind.
It is for this reason that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community undertakes various charitable activities, including charity walks and supports the work of a number of external charities. Within our mosques, financial appeals are regularly made in which the Ahmadis are asked to make financial sacrifices for the sake of helping orphans and poor people in desperate need. If a mosque fulfils this objective of serving mankind, only then will it be fulfilling the rights of the mosque itself. However if it fails in this task, then the Qur’an deems such mosques as devoid of righteousness. One such mosque that proved to be a source of disorder and corruption is mentioned in the Qur’an. Those who built it and who entered it were those who spread disorder and strife in the world and for this reason God instructed the Holy Prophetsa to demolish that mosque.
I have thus explained the purpose and importance of a mosque briefly to all of you. The 125-year history of the Ahmadiyya Community proves that wherever in the world our mosques are built, they are used only for good and pious objectives. Never from any of our mosques has any disorder or corruption come forth and neither has a voice ever been raised showing disloyalty to the nation. It is impossible for a true Muslim, who gathers in a mosque to worship God, to ever show disloyalty to his nation, because the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa taught that love for one’s nation is an essential part of faith.
And so this mosque, which has been built due to the large financial sacrifices made by a small number of Ahmadi Muslims living here, has been built with a number of objectives in mind. It has been built so the Ahmadis can gather together to worship God. It has been built so they can join together to devise plans to fulfil the rights of man and to serve humanity. And it has been built so they can supplicate before God praying that they increase in their standards of love and loyalty to their nation.
With these words, I would now like speak in light of the current world situation. Today, there is a huge risk of a world war and this is a direct result of the fact that some countries and governments are not fulfilling the rights of their people, whilst conversely the people are not fulfilling the rights of their leaders and governments. Neither are the major powers making decisions at an international level that keep in view justice, and nor are the smaller countries realising their own responsibilities. Thus at every level and at every stage, rather than fulfilling each other’s rights, the rights of one another are being usurped and seized and this is a huge threat to the world.
Accordingly, I request all of you that within your circles of influence, you should draw the attention of your politicians and leaders. Those politicians sitting here should themselves also realise, that the urgent need of establishing peace is very important in today’s world so that the world can be saved from an unimaginable destruction.
It is my prayer that the world comes to recognise its Creator, and instead of incurring His Wrath and Punishment, comes to obtain His Mercy and Compassion. At the end, I would like to once again thank all of you who have taken the time to join us today. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much.”
The Holy Qur’an, Ch.107:Vs.3-5.
2. The Holy Qur’an, Ch.90:Vs. 12-14.