The Philadelphia Mosque Inauguration
English translation of Urdu Friday Sermon delivered by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) on the 19th October 2018.
After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz, and Surah Al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) recited verse 18 of Surah at-Taubah and then stated: The translation of this verse is as follows:
“He alone can keep the Mosques of Allah in a good and flourishing condition who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and observes Prayer, and pays the Zakat, and fears none but Allah; so these it is who may be among those who reach the goal.”
Alhamdulillah [All Praise be to Allah.] Allah the Exalted has enabled us to construct the first mosque in this city and it is being officially inaugurated today. We construct a mosque with the intention to attain the pleasure of Allah the Exalted. In order to attain the pleasure of Allah the Exalted, it is incumbent to follow the commandments of Allah. The first and foremost among them is fulfilling the right of the worship of Allah and we must do so in the manner as prescribed by Him.
Allah the Exalted says that it is incumbent to demonstrate one’s belief in God through practical example. This can only take place when we show a practical example of iqamatus salat [observance of prayer]. What is iqamatus salat? Firstly, the observance of congregational prayers. Secondly, due diligence towards God Almighty. Thus, only those people truly observe prayers who are regular in the observance of congregational prayers; who observe prayers while purely focusing on Allah the Exalted; who observe prayers with supplications; istighfar [seeking forgiveness] and attentiveness.
We must self-reflect as to whether we are truly among those people who keep the mosque in a good and flourishing condition, who pay the Zakat [alms] and offer financial sacrifices for the sake of their religion and humanity, fear none but Allah the Exalted. They always remain mindful and act in accordance with the Divine guidance and commandments mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Hence, the responsibilities of believing Muslims are not small or insignificant.
Also, following the construction of this mosque, the responsibilities of those people who come here, or those who attribute themselves to this mosque has increased manifold. You will have to fulfil the rights of your worship as well as those of the creation of Allah the Exalted. Only then will you be counted among the guided ones in the sight of Allah the Exalted. Only then will you be counted among those upon whom Allah the Exalted showers His affection. In the verse preceding the one recited, Allah the Exalted mentioned that those who associate partners with God, their hearts are filled with the love of other gods and they can neither fulfil the rights of Allah the Exalted, nor the rights of His creation.
There are various forms of Shirk (associating partners with God). The Promised Messiah (as) has stated on one occasion that there are various forms of Shirk. The first form is the more common and correctly understood form in which a person, stones, lifeless objects, energies and imaginary gods and goddesses have been taken to be god. The Promised Messiah (as) further states that there is another form of Shirk, which is subtly poisoning the people and it is continuously increasing in this age. This refers to the fact that people do not put their faith in God the Exalted and have more trust and faith in other objects and means. Their employments, businesses and their worldly endeavours and undertakings take them away from God. This is the very reason people do not focus during their prayers and why they do not pay attention towards populating mosques. Hence, we should pray and humbly supplicate before Allah the Exalted that
‘O Lord! Make us believers in the true sense.’
The Promised Messiah (as) has mentioned one purpose of the construction of a mosque in the following words that you should construct a mosque wherever you wish to spread the true teaching and message of Islam. The mosque should be constructed with full sincerity and not for pretention. The Promised Messiah (as) states that it should merely be done for the sake of Allah. Thus, along with the construction and population of this mosque, another huge responsibility has been placed on the shoulders of the residents here and that is to make this mosque a means of spreading the true message of Islam and inform people about the true picture of the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam through this mosque.
Our history tells us that when Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib came to the United States as a missionary in 1920, he arrived at the harbour here in Philadelphia. However, he was not allowed to enter the country and was refused entry. He was imprisoned in a building alongside other prisoners. As a result of his preaching efforts, within two months fifteen of the prisoners accepted Islam. Alongside his preaching efforts, his practical example, his piety and his prayers were also key. In one of his reports Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahib writes
“In the few days this humble one spent in America, despite all the difficulties and hurdles from the prejudiced Christians, much success was attained. All praise belongs to Allah for this.”
He then writes
“At this moment in time, from my preaching endeavours, 29 men and women have entered into this true religion, whose names will be presented along with their new Islamic names.”
Nevertheless, as I have mentioned that God Almighty has enabled us to construct a beautiful mosque here in this city, therefore, now the community alongside the local missionary, must devise such plans for preaching in order for the beautiful teachings of Islam to spread in every direction, and for this area to become such an abode of peace and beauty that people strive to come and live here. In terms of population this is the sixth largest city in America. If the true message of Islam is conveyed here and in neighbouring areas, then God willing, from among these very people will be born those who are true worshippers and will fill the mosques, and they will be those who fear God Almighty and become rightly guided.
I have been informed that the expenditure of this mosque is 8.1 million [US] dollars. These 8.1 million dollars will only prove beneficial when we fulfil the purpose of this mosque. On one occasion, the Promised Messiah (as) says:
“The real beauty of a mosque does not lie in its outward appearance, rather it lies in those worshippers who offer their prayers with sincerity, otherwise all mosques are deserted.”
The Promised Messiah (as) then says:
“The mosque of the Holy Prophet (sa) was small; its roof was made from branches of date trees and when it rained the water would seep through, but ponder over the magnificent works that took place in that mosque….. The soul of a mosque is reliant upon its worshipers.”
He further adds:
“It is vital that mosques are constructed for the propagation of righteousness.”
Many people have come here from Pakistan having sought asylum or are here on a refugee status, they need to pay particular attention. The objective before every Ahmadi should not be simply to seek worldly pleasures and its attractions, rather they should have a deep concern for the hereafter because its rewards and fruits are everlasting. Thus, those who have become neglectful of fulfilling the due rights of God Almighty and His worship owing to their worldly endeavours should pay great focus towards this. They should asses their conditions in that is their practise in harmony with the pledge they have made in their Ba’at? As mentioned earlier, enhancing one’s practical faculties means to fulfil the due rights of God Almighty, of His worship and of His creation. Moreover, it is to propagate the message of Islam to world.
The Promised Messiah (as) further states,
“Thus, if you establish a connection with me then you must fulfil the purpose and aim for which I have come; and that is for one to show loyalty and faithfulness to God Almighty and act upon the teachings of the Holy Quran in the manner demonstrated by the Holy Prophet (sa) and his Companions. Ponder over the correct principles laid out in the Holy Quran and act upon them. … Remember, the community that God Almighty wishes to establish cannot survive without righteous deeds.”
Thus, this is not a small matter, rather it is one that requires great thought and contemplation. Always remember that worldly provisions or wealth can never guarantee our safety or the safety of our progeny. In fact, it is only the Grace and Blessings of God Almighty and only by forging a connection with Him and acting on His commandments that we can ensure our security. May Allah the Almighty enable every one of us to live our lives according to these teachings.
The land for the mosque was bought in 2007. Approximately six years later in 2013, the construction work started. During this time there were some hindrances, whether they were just or not, nonetheless, this year it has been completed. As I have mentioned the total cost of this mosque was 8.1 million [US] dollars; in which the local Jamaat of Philadelphia gave just over two million, four hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars; the other Jamaat’s in the United States donated just over one million, two hundred and forty thousand dollars. The national headquarters contribution was just over four million, four hundred and forty-seven thousand dollars. The national headquarters donated approximately more than half of the amount. The covered area of this building is 21,400 square feet. It is a three-story building; in the basement there is a commercial kitchen. On the middle level, an apartment for a missionary has been built and there is a library and offices on the top floor. The mosque area is divided into two parts; there is a hall for men and women, which is five thousand square feet. It has been divided into two using a partition and there is space for approximately 350 men and 350 women to offer prayers. There is a six thousand square feet multi-purpose hall which can accommodate seven hundred people and can also be used for sports. There are also offices of the Jama’at there. There is allotted car parking for forty-six cars and all together eighty-six cars can be parked.
May Allah enable all Ahmadis to fulfil the purpose of building a mosque laid out by Allah the Almighty, which I have just mentioned, and may this mosque be a milestone in spreading the true message of Islam in this area.