The Inauguration of the Tahir Hall in Peace Village, Canada
Keynote Address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, on 11th July 2012 at the Inauguration of the Tahir Hall in Peace Village, which is located in Maple, Ontario, Canada.
On 11th July 2012, the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Hazrat Mirza Masrooraba Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V (fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah) officially inaugurated the Tahir Hall, a three-storey complex built by the Ahmadiyya Community on land adjacent to the Baitul Islam Mosque in Peace Village. More than 550 people attended the event including over 150 non-Ahmadi guests. The event began as Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba unveiled a plaque to officially mark the occasion. Lal Khan Malik, National Amir (President) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Canada gave a brief history of the Tahir Hall project. He explained that the building was multipurpose and would be used to educate, to encourage health and fitness and also for administrative purposes. He stated that all of the money for the project had been raised internally by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at. The audience was also informed that the building had been named after Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, Khalifatul Masih IV, the fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, who led the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at from 1982 until his demise in April 2003. Minister Julian Fantino MP said he brought greetings from Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He added:
“The inauguration of Tahir Hall represents yet another milestone resulting from your outstanding commitment to strengthening our community. This auspicious occasion is highlighted by the presence of His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Community.”
The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Bob Rae MP, said:
“It is a great pleasure and privilege to attend the event and to have Hazrat Mirza Masroor with us in Canada. We celebrate the commitment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at towards mutual understanding, love and religious tolerance. We are very proud of our relationship with the Community and we will always stand up for its members who are denied their rights.”
Kyle Seeback MP said that the Jama’at was a “model and beacon for all Canadians.” Judy Sgro MP said it was a “truly special day.” She added that the building was a source of pride for all.
Dr. Kirsty Duncan MP said that the Tahir Hall was “a gift to the community and to Canada.” She added that she had attended the Annual Convention a few days earlier and had been “truly inspired by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.”Others to take the stage and congratulate the Jama’at included Linda Jeffrey MPP, Eric Joliffe, Chief of York Regional Police, Councillor Marilyn Iafrate and Doug White, the Mayor of Bradford.
The Mayor of Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua, introduced Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba and invited him to deliver the keynote address. We deliver the full transcript of the address delivered by His Holiness here:
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaba said:
“All guests; Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all. First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you, who have kindly accepted our invitation, and joined us here today.
I should clarify, that where on the one hand this expression of thanks is a necessary moral courtesy, even more importantly for a true Muslim, it is an essential religious obligation to always display gratitude where it is due. This is because the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa has taught that a person should always express his appreciation for the acts of kindness or goodness of others towards him. He taught that a person who is not grateful to his fellow man, is actually ungrateful to God Almighty. Bearing in mind the significance of this, I am certainly obliged to express my heartfelt gratitude to you. Indeed, it would be a huge oversight on my part, if as the Head of a religious Community, I did not myself act upon the high moral standards, which I constantly remind members of our Community to uphold. This is because it is the display of moral qualities that are a means of becoming close to God Almighty. With these words of thanks to all of you, it is also essential for me to be hugely thankful to God Almighty, who has enabled our Community to build this beautiful new hall, which is called the ‘Tahir Hall,’ and where we are gathered today.
Indeed, it is a great blessing for us, that we have the honour of welcoming all of you, our distinguished guests, and have been given the opportunity to extend our hospitality to you. Upon observing how the members of our Community have, very quickly, given great personal sacrifices so that this building could be constructed, my sentiments of gratitude to God increase even more. Allah the Almighty has said that if a person is grateful to Him, then He shall bless that person even more. Thus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at expresses its gratitude and makes sacrifices with this spirit and desire. I am also very grateful to your Government as one of its Department’s kindly offered to make a significant financial contribution towards this project, and indeed, initially it did assist in this way. However, with a sense of deep appreciation for this kind gesture, we returned all of this money to the Government and resolved that the members of our Community would raise all funds and complete this project themselves. Indeed, this is how it transpired. By returning this money to the Government, it was our intention and hope that they could utilise these funds somewhere else, where there was a greater need. The underlying reasons for our decision were two-fold: First of all, it has always been our way and belief that the members of the Jama’at should themselves raise the necessary funds required for the various projects of the Community. However, alongside this, we truly and sincerely felt that we should not burden the State, but rather, we should try and save its money so that it can be used to help the nation progress in other projects that can help the country.
Canada truly represents the coming together of different people to form one unified nation. It is clearly apparent that despite the diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds of the citizens of Canada, they are all proud of being Canadian. People of different backgrounds and religions have been accepted amongst each other and they live together in great mutual harmony. Certainly, this is a huge distinction of this country. It was in view of such a harmonious society that my predecessor, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, the fourth Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Community, stated in admiration of Canada that he wished that, “the whole world becomes Canada and Canada becomes the whole world.” Thus, we find that the spirit of open-heartedness and desire to care for the feelings and sentiments of others is widely found here, and we also find that people of all backgrounds are fully accepted and absorbed into the society. In the Urdu language there is an idiom that is commonly used about water and earth, it is somehow an analogy. It means that where people are good, the water and earth must be good, but where people are bad, it must be that there are deficiencies in the quality of water and earth. Therefore, I say without hesitation, that the ‘water and earth’ of Canada certainly contains high moral values and loyalty. However, it is the duty of the citizens of this country to make sure that they never let these qualities and this distinction die away, because it is these very attributes that distinguish you from others. Certainly, in the future you will come to witness that these qualities will continue to benefit and bless you forever more.
I recall that when I first came to Canada in 2004, upon arriving at the airport there were many politicians and people associated with the Government who were present to welcome me to the country. When I saw this, I was extremely pleased, but also quite astonished. It felt as though I had come back to my own country and it was my own brothers and sisters who were there to greet me. Upon witnessing those scenes I was happily reassured that the Ahmadi Muslims here in Canada had made great efforts in building friendships and relationships with the people of this country, or I should say, with their fellow country people. It proved that the Ahmadis were not hidden away within their own Community, but in fact, had integrated and become a true part of Canadian society. It proved that the Ahmadis were in close contact with people of all backgrounds, religions and views. All of this illustrated that the Ahmadis who lived here had become an active part of Canadian society and were ever ready to help and support the nation to progress in every way. Through my various visits to Canada, I have been able to develop a strong personal bond and friendship with many people here. However, I should say that in terms of developing these strong relations it was the Canadian people who took the first initiative and steps.
Amongst all of my friends here, there is one person who deserves particular recognition, because he has always extended a deep and sincere hand of friendship towards me, and he is Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. Just over two years ago, on 28 May 2010, two of our Ahmadi Mosques were barbarically attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, during the Friday Prayers, by terrorists. On that day, 86 Ahmadi Muslims were brutally martyred and more than 200 other Ahmadis were injured. Some of them were seriously injured. At that time of deep grief, the very first person—amongst those with whom we are well acquainted—to send his condolences and to express his grief, was Jason Kenney. Indeed, a few days later he also telephoned me in London to express his heartfelt condolences. Both of these gestures were greatly appreciated by our Community. Then, when our new Mosque in Calgary was inaugurated by me in 2008, he once again demonstrated his ties of friendship.
I should also mention our gratitude and respect for Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, because he also spared his precious time to attend the opening of our Mosque in Calgary. The Prime Minister attended the event even though he was just about to leave for Japan to attend an International Conference. Such efforts and kindness prove that the fulfilment of high moral values and the ties of friendship are being displayed by those people who are at the highest ranks of the country. Similarly, there are quite a number of other politicians, who are not members of the ruling party, but who have also shown, and are showing the same gesture – and I hold them in high esteem, such as Judy Sgro, who is our long time friend; and the President of the Liberal Party, Bob Rae. They also have good and respectful relations with the Community. The total number of Ahmadi Muslims living in Canada is not all that large. Thus, these moral courtesies cannot have been shown in an effort to win votes or to gain political capital. Rather, they are being displayed purely out of a high regard for human values. In similar vein, I was also very impressed by the high moral qualities of Calgary’s former Mayor, David Thomas Bron-connier, during my visit in 2008. Most certainly he welcomed me with open arms and truly was a great host. I have also had the good fortune of meeting many members of the general public during my previous visits to Canada and having done so, I have come to the conclusion that this country’s high moral standards are found in every segment of society and at all levels.
Earlier this year, the Foreign Minister of Canada, John Baird, visited the UK and expressed a desire to meet with me. Therefore, he visited our headquarters in London and we held a meeting during which I was very pleased to learn from him that the Canadian Government was establishing an ‘Office for Religious Freedom.’ Certainly, this is a very significant and important matter, for which the world stands in crucial need of so that global peace can develop. The issue of religious freedom is not only important or significant to those people who hold a certain faith or religion. In fact, in order for world peace to be established and in order for high moral standards to develop, it is absolutely essential for all people to be concerned about this issue, even if they do not believe in any religion or the existence of God. When a religious follower expresses incorrect opinions or raises unfounded allegations in relation to other religions, it leads to the spread of restlessness and anxiety. Similarly, when people who do not believe in God or do not follow any religion make unjust criticisms about religion and even speak about banning religion or curtailing religious practices, then such activities also undermine the cohesion of society, because they are a means of spreading anxiety. Over time such fears and worries increase and so the peace of society is negatively affected and even destroyed. At this time, we should not be increasing the pain and turmoil of the world and we should not cause for anxieties and grudges to spread. On the contrary, it is a great need of the time that we make efforts to foster peace, love and reconciliation. We must strive to respect the feelings and sentiments of others.
How does Islam take care of the sentiments and feelings of people? In relation to this I shall briefly explain. However, before doing so I would like to clarify something, which will help you understand the real beauty of Islamic teachings. The very essence and foundation of Islamic teachings is the Oneness and Unity of God. This is the truly fundamental principle underpinning Islam. Indeed, Allah the Almighty has deemed a person who associates partners with Him to be a great sinner and wrongdoer. Idol worship has been strictly forbidden and is considered to be a grave sin. However, despite this, in the Holy Qur’an, Allah has instructed Muslims that they should not abuse or speak ill of the idols of other people. This is because if Muslims speak in abusive terms about what others believe to be divine, then it could provoke a reaction in them, whereby they may curse or speak ill of Allah the Almighty. Naturally, this would cause deep pain and resentment to Muslims and taking any revenge or showing a negative reaction would cause the peace of society to be destroyed. Thus, Muslims are advised that for the sake of the world’s harmony they should avoid all gatherings where hurtful and unjust things are being said. And so these are the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam.
I shall now mention another beautiful aspect of Islam. To propagate and spread the teachings of Islam is certainly the duty of every Muslim, however, the Holy Qur’an has instructed that when the message is conveyed it must be done gently and with kindness. Muslims must speak to others in a compassionate, loving and soft manner so that the feelings of all others are protected and never hurt. Allah the Almighty has also invited all religions towards a means of ending mutual conflicts by stating that people should join together to the common factor that lies between them, which is the worship of the One God. We, Ahmadi Muslims, believe that all religions are true and that all Prophets of God brought the same two fundamental teachings. Firstly, that mankind should worship God Almighty and secondly, that all people should live together with a spirit of mutual love and compassion. Therefore, all religious followers should keep these golden principles in mind whenever the opportunity arises to meet with one another. If these principles are adopted, then enmities and hatred will never increase.
God Almighty has very clearly addressed the Muslims in the Holy Qur’an and stated categorically that there should be no compulsion in religion. If there is no compulsion then there is nothing to stop every single person, regardless of their beliefs, to come together and establish good mutual relations based on high human values. These are just a few aspects of Islamic teachings that I have presented before you. Look and see just how perfectly the sentiments and feelings of all people have been protected by Islam: The importance of religion has been explained; the status of God has been explained and how to establish good mutual relations based on positive human values has also been described.
One further point that I wish to mention is certainly of extreme importance. I wish to remind you that the peace of society, of a country and indeed of the world is destroyed through injustice. This is why Allah the Almighty has said in the Qur’an that your enmity or dislike of any nation or people should never lead you to treat them unjustly. Rather, it is essential that you must act in a just way at all times, whatever the circumstances, because that is closer to righteousness and goodness. And to be righteous is something that God Almighty has ordained. What I have just described is an example of the highest form and level of developing peace in the world. This is because it is very easy to maintain peaceful and friendly relations with those people with whom you bear no grudge or enmity. However, Islam teaches that even if you do bear hatred or enmity towards someone, you must still fulfil their due rights without exception. This is because ultimately, such justice could lead to the hatred being transformed into love and friendship. Therefore, your fairness and equity will prove to be a means of developing peace in the world. It is precisely because of this very teaching that the Ahmadiyya Community raises the slogan and bears the motto of Love for All, Hatred for None. Thus, to even those who oppose us or show enmity towards us, we extend our hand of friendship.
With deep regret, I should hereby mention that I have heard that for some time, certain people or groups have been spreading hatred against the Ahmadis due to their own vested interests. Ahmadis are used to being targeted and so will always bear such cruelties with great patience and tolerance. However, at a wider level such behaviour could prove to be extremely dangerous for the future of the nation; although this occurs in very small and remote areas, but I have heard of some of the cases. In order to maintain the beauty of the high moral standards of this country, it is necessary that all parties must work together to safeguard against any decline.
I would like to draw your attention towards one matter in particular. The Government should be aware that it is quite possible for certain extremist elements to enter the country on the pretext of benefitting from the various investment opportunities or schemes of the Government. This risk should be kept in view by the policy makers when determining future immigration and investment policies. This is because we find that whenever there is a financial downturn or crisis it leads to a decline in moral standards, because of both the financial difficulties faced by the public and also as a result of the influence of those who immigrate into the country, either for work purposes or as investors. In particular, such investments that relate to inappropriate religious activities and practices are a cause for concern. The global financial crisis is affecting all parts of the world today and so Canada will also be affected to some degree. This is why I am drawing attention to this matter, because in such circumstances the Government must be vigilant and cautious. It should endeavour to remove the concerns and worries of its people. This is essential because such anxieties lead to restlessness, which in turn leads to thinking ill of others and making false allegations. If such ill-will is allowed to develop then there is no doubt it will disturb the peace of society.
Indeed, for “the entire world to become Canada” we must keep a vigilant eye on all forms of extremism and extremists. A close eye must be kept on those who try to enter the country on the pretext of business or investment. Within your own circles, I would urge all of you to convey this point to those who are in power and authority. Although Canada is at present far away from those parts of the world where there is currently major strife and disorder, however, Canada is a party to a range of international treaties and agreements and it is one of the major powers of the world that is actively striving to establish peace and harmony. Certainly, those who are determined to spread extremism can target and cause serious harm of all countries that are party to such international agreements. Remember, during the Second World War, Canada was not heavily involved, yet still around 45,000 Canadians were killed. However, in today’s world Canada is involved in global affairs to a much greater degree than at that time. Therefore, no doubt the eyes and glances of those who hold extremist ideologies are cast upon this country. It is not necessary that they will conduct a large-scale terrorist attack, but instead they may take a more subtle approach, whereby they will seek to gradually spread their hate-filled ideologies upon entering the country. Certainly, one common and relatively easy way of entering the country is on the pretext of business, trade and investment.
As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is concerned, we follow those teachings that are the real and true teachings of Islam. Some of these I have just spoken about. We believe in that Promised Messiah and Guided Oneas who came to clarify and manifest the reality of Islam’s teachings. The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadianas taught us that he had been sent to bring man closer to God and to make mankind worshippers of the One God. Further, the Promised Messiahas said that he had also come to bring an end to all religious wars and that the era in which wars were fought in the name of religion had now passed. The Promised Messiahas also explained that another major purpose of his advent was to make people fulfil each other’s mutual rights. He was sent to draw the attention of all people to the need of fulfilling the rights of one another and thus create an atmosphere of love, affection, compassion and brotherhood so that peace could be established in the world. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always tried to further this mission and endeavours to spread these teachings throughout the world. And this is something that we continue to do and God Willing always will. Indeed, members of the Community are regularly giving huge sacrifices towards this effort.
As a further means towards achieving these objectives, I recently wrote a letter to Pope Benedict. In the letter I reminded him that as a religious leader, he ought to make full efforts to establish peace in the world. Furthermore, I have also written to various world leaders including Israel’s Prime Minister, Iran’s President and also to Iran’s Spiritual Leader. I have also written to China’s President, to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to President Obama and also to your Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. I requested all of them to make a concerted effort to save the world from destruction by establishing the equal rights of all people and to lead their nations towards true justice. I urged them to help and assist the smaller and weaker nations. I called on them to try their utmost to remove the anxieties and fears of the people of the world so that everlasting peace could be established. If such efforts are not made, then neither the United Nations nor any alliance of powerful nations will be able to prevent that grave war which the world stands on the brink of.
If such a war does come to pass then it is not at all unlikely that nuclear weapons will be used and the horrific effects of such weapons will be truly devastating and will last for generations to come. During the Second World War, only the United States possessed nuclear weapons and so the vast majority of that war was fought with conventional weapons. Nevertheless, still between 75 and 80 million people lost their lives. We look at the world today and find that even small countries have come to possess nuclear weapons and other extremely dangerous weapons. This is a cause of great fear, particularly given that in some countries, such weapons are under the influence of extremists. Therefore, we face a truly terrifying and alarming state of affairs. May Allah safeguard the world from this destruction and may He protect Canada from the effects of all of this.
I pray that may the entire world come to recognise its Creator and may the people of the world come to be those who safeguard and fulfil the right of true human values and qualities – Amin.
At the end, I would like to once again thank all of you for attending this event today and listening to what I have said. May Allah bless you all. Thank you very much again.”
1. Holy Qur’an, Ch.5, V.9