New Mosque Opens in South London, UK as a Symbol of Peace
On 11th February 2012, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, inaugurated the new Tahir Mosque in Catford, London. An official reception marking the opening of the mosque was held in the evening, which was attended by various dignitaries, professionals, guests and local residents. Heidi Alexander MP congratulated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (Community) on the opening of the mosque and said that she looked forward to working with the community in the future. Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, congratulated the Jama’at and said that having a home for any community was very important and was a means for its growth.
Both Heidi Alexander MP and Sir Steve Bullock also thanked the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at for making donations to their local nominated charities as a further means to mark the opening of the mosque. Also in attendance were: Mercy Addo from the charity Youth Aid Lewisham, who was presented a cheque and gift by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), and Chief Inspector Simon Davis of Lewisham Police Station. The function was concluded with the keynote address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba). The transcript of this address is presented below:
After reciting Tashhahud, Ta’awwudh and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) said:
“All our guests, Assalamo ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
We are all gathered here today for the inauguration of our new, Tahir Mosque, in this part of London.
The Ahmadi Muslims who live in the surrounding area have had a long standing and deeply held desire for an Ahmadi mosque and centre to be built here in this area. This is because they wanted to have a place where they could join together to worship God Almighty and where their spiritual and religious well-being could be facilitated. Therefore, for the Ahmadi Muslims who live in this area, certainly this mosque is of great significance and holds great value. Here I should mention that the construction of this mosque would not have been possible without the help and support given to us by the local council, the local authorities and the local people themselves.
For this reason, I would like to take this opportunity to first of all thank all of the people who have fully co-operated and assisted with the building of this mosque, despite not being members of the Ahmadiyya community.
At the outset, I would also like to thank all of you, our distinguished guests, for attending the opening of the mosque today.
Through this kind gesture you have made it quite apparent that although you do not share the same religious beliefs as the Ahmadiyya community, you are willing to set aside such differences, because you have such high regard for the importance of human values and for the need to care for and respect the feelings of others. You are people who share in both the happiness and in the grief of others.
These are the core values, which elevate the status of mankind. It is these qualities, which are essential for the spread of love and affection in today’s world.
The teachings of Islam on religion are very clear. We, Muslims, are commanded that every person’s religion is a matter strictly between him and God Almighty.
Our Holy Book, the Holy Qur’an, is very clear that there should be no compulsion in religion (Ch.2:V.257).
Nevertheless, putting religion to one side, it is absolutely essential for each and every person to fulfil the rights owed to his fellow man because this is the only way that an atmosphere of peace, reconciliation and harmony can be developed.
A question that is often asked is how should people who are not religious be treated? We believe that this will be determined by God Almighty in the Hereafter and is a matter for God alone to decide. However, on the other hand there are people who continually destroy the peace of society because as they fail to discharge the due rights of other people. Such people will face God’s punishment in the next world, but apart from this they are normally brought to justice in this world also. In His Holy Book, the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty has started with the following words:
This translates as:
‘All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the Worlds’.
These words thus teach us that God is that Being, Who is the Lord of all the Worlds, and it is He who nurtures and sustains the entire Universe. The Arabic word –‘Aalam’ – used here includes all nations of the world, and entails different eras and time periods also. These few words are repeated by Muslims in every prayer, indeed not just in every prayer but at the start of every single Unit (called Rakat) of every prayer.
Thus, for every true Muslim there is an extremely important lesson contained in these words, which is that man should always remember that he is the Creation of God and that God Almighty is always watching him. It is He alone Who we worship, because God is the Lord of All the Worlds, Who has Created everything and sustains it.
The Holy Qur’an has further taught that humans are the very best of God’s Creation. The sun, air, water and countless other things, both in the earth and in the atmosphere, have been commissioned to serve God’s creation. Because mankind is the best of Creation, humans have been given superiority in comparison to other life forms, and so other forms of living beings have been made subservient to man.
They have essentially been designed to serve mankind to ensure the continuing sustenance of human beings in the most excellent manner. Some of these facilities and blessings are granted equally to all of mankind without discrimination and are not dependent upon a person’s religion, or whether he even believes in the existence of God. Thus God Almighty, in his Grace, has designated many blessings equally to all people regardless of their religion, caste, creed or faith and from these blessings all humans derive benefit. Nonetheless, certain people have a special relationship or association with God Almighty.
Who are these people?
It is those people who show gratitude to God and who bow down before Him because of all the blessings and favours that He has granted them. Such people truly believe Him to be their Lord and have accepted all of His prophets. These are the people who are recipients of His special favours. The results of this mutual relationship and bond are witnessed in this world on a daily basis. Then upon death, such people are granted special treatment by God Almighty again.
Therefore, another reason that Muslims repeatedly recite the prayer ‘Lord of All the Worlds’ is so that they realise that within their own circle of influence, Muslims should seek to adopt the Attributes of God to whatever extent they are capable. That is why we recite this prayer again and again, and this is why we start every unit of our prayer with this supplication, repeating it in our prayers at least thirty-two times each day.
Keeping this in view, it is essential that a Muslim should never usurp the rights of others and instead he should cast aside all differences of religion, nationality or ethnicity and seek to become the means of support and love for all others. A Muslim should seek to utilise all of his faculties and abilities to help and serve his fellow man. Each Muslim should try his utmost to provide all other people with their due rights.
In every prayer a Muslim offers, he is also reminded that God is both ‘Gracious’ and ‘Merciful’. ‘Gracious’ means that God continually bestows His Creation with favours out of His own love, and even without being requested. By ‘Merciful’ it means that God is also He who responds to the prayers and requests of His Creation. As I just mentioned, God Almighty has instructed a true Muslim to try and come to reflect God’s own Attributes. Hence, it is the duty of a Muslim to show mercy to his fellow man and indeed all other forms of Creation.
For this reason, if someone comes to a Muslim for help, it is the duty of the Muslim to try and fulfil that need. Bearing all of this in mind, can a true Muslim, who believes in God and who worships Him in the proper way, ever contemplate usurping the rights of another? How can this be possible when he knows that he will be liable to punishment for failing to follow God’s Commands?
On the one hand God Almighty has provided so many provisions for the well being and sustenance of His Creation. Then how, on the other hand, can it be possible that a true Muslim, who claims to believe in God, should then try to destroy the lives of God’s Creation? As I said, it is impossible for a true Muslim to act in this way because such acts are contrary to God’s Laws.
We, Ahmadi Muslims, claim to have accepted the Imam of this era, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, who we believe to be the Promised Messiah. It was he who founded our community and he shined a light on the true teachings of Islam. Having accepted him, we act upon the real teachings that a true Muslim ought to. That is why we, who are his followers, use all our resources and capabilities to provide provisions to people in need, irrespective of differences of nationality or religion. In addition, we are also providing health and educational services in various parts of the world.
Our goal is to serve humanity wherever we can. We do so not due to any vested interests, but only out of our desire to seek God’s Pleasure and Nearness. When Ahmadi Muslims enter mosques, their primary purpose is the worship of God. Apart from this the only other point of discussion is trying to find ways and means to help and serve humanity. Or perhaps, the Ahmadi Muslims will be involved in deep reflection, that as our Khalifa has launched such and such scheme for the betterment of mankind, how can we contribute towards this project?
Therefore, where on the one hand our mosques unite people for the worship of God, they are also a place where we collectively endeavour to join together in an effort to serve humanity. In summary, we truly believe that mosques have two overarching purposes. First is the worship of God Almighty, and second is to be a place where projects are launched to help God’s Creation. Both of these purposes are essential and should be undertaken with the aim of seeking only God’s pleasure. We certainly believe that any mosque devoid of these two aspects is not fulfilling its true purpose. Having heard all of this, I am sure that you will agree with me that if these are the true and real purposes of a mosque, then there should be a mosque in every area.
We often find that upon just hearing the word ‘mosque’ or upon hearing that planning permission for a mosque has been submitted to the local council, the local non-Muslims become worried, and indeed frightened. They become anxious that if a mosque is built in their area then the peace of the town could be destroyed. They, therefore, try their utmost to prevent permission for the mosque or centre to be built. If truth be told then this fearful frame of mind is justified, because some Muslim groups are undoubtedly destroying the peace of the world. However, the acts of a few people should not be classed as the norm. Indeed, the actions of just a handful of misguided people should not be used as a pretext to raise objections against our religion and to hurt the sentiments of the sincere and innocent Muslims of the world.
Peace in society is a two-way process and can only be established if all parties work together towards mutual reconciliation. This is why every individual in a society, irrespective of his background, has a role to play towards achieving this goal. We believe in the Founders and Prophets of all religions and because of this, a true Muslim can never mock or ridicule any religious leader or religion itself. In fact, the Holy Qur’an teaches that a Muslim must protect the places of worship of all religions, be they churches, synagogues, temples or any other place of worship. Without any doubt, the true teachings of Islam are peaceful and beautiful and so when they are ridiculed it can only lead to the feelings of Muslims being hurt. Hurting the feelings of innocent people, I am sure one will agree, is unjust and wrong. When sentiments are deeply wounded then even decent and sincere people can display an inappropriate or negative reaction, through which the peace of society will be harmed. The people who display the wrong reaction are certainly in error but those who provoke them are just as responsible for the breakdown in peace.
Today we, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, are trying to bring peace in the world. We are playing our role and trying to fulfil our responsibilities in this regard. Thus, I would request all of you to join us in this task. Human values and mutual love can be developed even where differences of belief exist, as long as we all co-operate and respect each other. Today, the world stands in need of peace because the sparks of war can be seen all around the world. If these sparks ever truly explode then we will be witness to the Third World War, which is a truly frightening and horrific thought.
Thus, in every direction and at every level we must try our best to extinguish the flames of hatred. If we are successful in this task, only then will we be able to guarantee the bright futures of our coming generations.
So today we must set aside our own personal desires and instead be concerned for the future existence and well-being of our next generations. We must adopt selflessness rather than selfishness.
When we all join together and come to respect each other’s feelings and sentiments then, and only then, will an atmosphere of mutual love develop. It is then that we will truly see the beautiful society that all peaceful people desire.
Alongside all of this, to safeguard our future generations it is essential that we remember that it is God who has created us. It is He who loves His Creation and it is He who desires its prosperity and success. It is due to all of this that He has granted us countless favours and blessings, through His eternal Grace.
It is my sincere prayer that each and every one of us becomes a good and sincere person, Amin.
In the end I would like to once again express my gratitude to all of the guests who have sacrificed their time to be with us today, and whose presence has enlightened this event. May Allah reward all of you for this abundantly.