Good Mosques, Good Neighbours
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Bismillah, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Khalifatul Masih V said:
“All distinguished 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 thank all of you who have kindly accepted our invitation to the opening of our new mosque here in Leicester.
Your attendance proves that you are openhearted people who respect human values and who care for the feelings and sentiments of others. It is no exaggeration to say that these are values and qualities that the people of this city have displayed for many centuries.
Indeed for over a thousand years Leicester has been home to the people of various cultures and beliefs who realised the importance of uniting together and living in peace. If we look at the ancient history of this city we learn that there were some wars or conflicts between the Vikings and the Anglo Saxons.
However ultimately they understood that living together in peace and security and protecting the rights of one another was in the interest of all people and mutually beneficial. When I was recently reading about Leicester and its history, I learned that the city’s tradition of multiculturalism was not confined to the ancient past, but continues today. According to the 2011 census, Leicester remains one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse cities. Indeed, I read recently with regards to Narborough Road that the city’s history says that Narborough Road in Leicester was officially recognised as the most ethnically diverse road in the entire country. In my opinion this should be considered as a badge of honour for this city and it is evidence of Leicester’s successful model of integration and inclusiveness. These are qualities that should never be forsaken or disregarded.
As we are currently living in extremely precarious times wherein much of the world is increasingly consumed by disorder and injustice, it is the critical need of the time that we promote and spread the tolerant values that the city has epitomised for so long.
We must all work towards uniting society under the umbrella of humanity and seek to foster a spirit of mutual respect for each other’s values and beliefs. Drawing upon this city’s past history and experiences, it is imperative that the people understand that peace and security can only be achieved through love, tolerance and mutual respect.
Another quality of this city is that apart from the different cultures and ethnicities present, Leicester is also home to various religions and beliefs. I believe that this diversity is something that enriches your city and further increases its beauty and attraction. Indeed the fact that so many people of different backgrounds are attending the inauguration of our new mosque, further attests to the excellent morals and values of the people of Leicester. And so with these words of introduction, I would now like to speak briefly about the true purposes of mosques according to Islam.
It is said that there are already around 200 mosques or Islamic centres in Leicester and so the word mosque or the building itself will probably not be a new thing for the local people.
Nonetheless, we are extremely pleased that today, with the grace of Allah the Almighty, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been able to open its new mosque in Leicester. And I am sure that where it will provide our members with a place of worship, it will also prove to be a beautiful addition to the existing mosques and places of worship in this city. In terms of its purpose, a true mosque is a place for Muslims to congregate in order to worship the One God.
Furthermore, it is also a place for Muslims to gather together to fulfil the rights of God’s creation. Thus where this mosque provides us with a place to worship God Almighty, it also presents us with a place to join together to work for the betterment of society and to serve humanity.
In Islam, Allah the Almighty has drawn the attention of Muslims to fulfilling the rights of all other people in accordance with how closely linked they are and the degrees of their relationship. In this context I can say with certainty that the local Ahmadi Muslims will deem the neighbours of this mosque to be extremely close to them and we consider fulfilling their rights and needs to be of great importance.
I am confident that every Ahmadi Muslim who comes to worship here will not only seek to fulfil the rights owed to Allah the Almighty, but will also seek to fulfil the rights owed to the neighbours of this mosque and indeed the wider community. Thus there is no need to fear this mosque because only sentiments of love and compassion towards our neighbours will reverberate and echo in every direction from it.
Certainly you will see for yourselves that our motto of Love for All, Hatred for None is not just an empty proclamation or hollow slogan; rather it will become clear to you that we sincerely seek to live our lives according to this golden principle as this is what our religion teaches us. God Willing, each and every day you will come to appreciate the true beauty and magnificence of Islamic teachings.
As I mentioned earlier, this city has a rich history of absorbing people of different cultures and religions and is a city where people have long united for the greater good of society. Most surely Ahmadi Muslims will forever seek to uphold this noble tradition. In fact, rather than just uphold it, we will always seek to build upon those strong foundations and further develop these qualities of mutual tolerance and openheartedness. According to the teachings of Islam, we will love and care for our neighbours and fulfil their rights in the very best manner.
Islam has made it crystal clear to Muslims that their neighbours have great rights over them. Just as the Holy Qur’an stipulates the rights of a parent over their child, in the same way it designates that a neighbour has many rights. Muslims have been taught to love, protect and honour their neighbours. Indeed the Founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) once said that Allah the Almighty had admonished him so repeatedly about the rights of neighbours that it occurred to him that perhaps a person’s neighbours would be included among the rightful inheritors of a Muslim.
Furthermore, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) taught his followers to like for others what they like for themselves. I believe that this simple yet magnificent principle is the key to establishing true and long lasting peace in the world. This timeless proposition is as true today as it ever was in the past. Indeed when I reflect upon this point I realise that if I want others to treat me in a good way and with peace and security, then it is incumbent upon me to treat others in a like manner.
As a Muslim, it is necessary for me to desire true peace for my neighbours. It is necessary for me to desire true peace for those living in my town or city. It is necessary for me to desire true peace for my fellow citizens. In fact, it is necessary for me to desire true peace for every person in every part of the world. The Holy Qur’an’s definition of a neighbour is extremely vast and far-reaching and includes many categories of people, including travel companions and others. In essence the true spirit underpinning the definition requires a Muslim to consider all of mankind as his neighbour.
In chapter 4, verse 37 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Almighty has linked the rights owed to Him with the rights owed to mankind, by saying:
‘And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the arrogant and the boastful.’
Therefore, Allah the Almighty has enjoined treating other people with respect, love and kindness. This verse is all-encompassing and proves that a Muslim is duty-bound to serve humanity irrespective of colour, caste or creed. Indeed alongside a person’s relationship with Allah, every other possible relationship is included in this verse.
This is why I said that when Islam teaches Muslims to fulfil the rights of their neighbours and to fulfil the rights of their relations, it actually incorporates all of mankind. Indeed, the Qur’an does not merely require for different groups to live side-by-side, but rather it has actually established the rights of all people and all communities. Furthermore, contrary to the media’s portrayal, Islam is the standard bearer for universal freedom of religion and belief. Thus, where Allah the Almighty has established the rights of Muslims to worship, He has also established the rights of all other religions. This is also proved by chapter 22, verse 41, of the Holy Qur’an, where Allah has commanded Muslims to protect the places of worship of all religions.
By virtue of this commandment, the early Muslims were granted permission by Allah the Almighty to defend themselves after years of sustained and brutal persecution by the non-Muslims of Makkah; but this verse makes it abundantly clear that permission was granted in order to defend the institution of religion itself rather than just Islam. In short the verse states that permission to fight was granted because the opponents sought to destroy all the religions. Thus if the Muslims did not fight back, then no church, synagogue, temple, mosque or place of worship in which the name of God Almighty was commemorated would remain safe.
Consequently, based on Islam’s true teachings, I consider that mosques are not only places to worship Allah the Almighty, but are also a means of serving mankind and fulfilling the rights of one another. Therefore it is a duty of Muslims to live peacefully alongside others and rather than oppose other religions or to harm their places of worship, it is the duty of Muslims to protect them. I think most of you will agree with me that if these teachings were genuinely acted upon then we will come to see a world of peace and harmony. If these Islamic teachings were followed then those people who claim that God or religion are the root cause of disorder and violence in the world would come to see the error of their views.
Of course there are certain so-called Muslims who are defaming the name of Islam by perpetrating the most inhumane cruelties and injustices. Any peace-loving person can only be horrified when he or she sees such barbarities or ignorance. However let it be absolutely clear that such people are acting completely against the true teachings of Islam. Their actions are indefensible and entirely unjustified.
Anyways, I am confident that following the opening of this mosque, the Ahmadi Muslims living in this area will come to manifest true Islam more than ever before. Through their conduct they will shine a light on Islam’s peaceful teachings. They will prove that Allah draws the attention of Muslims to fulfil not only His rights of worship but of all His creation.
They will personally illustrate Islam’s beautiful and pious teachings. They will exhibit only love, compassion and sympathy for others. At a time when the world stands upon the precipice of disaster, the need for mankind to join together and to strive for peace is more urgent and critical than ever before. We must unite in our efforts to promote peace and mutual understanding so that the world can be saved from that horrific destruction, in the shape of a catastrophic world war, that seems to be drawing ever closer by the minute. In the past the people of this city came to learn the benefit of peace and tolerance after living through warfare and violence.
Thus I pray that the lessons of the past are enough for us to realise our responsibilities to safeguard our future. I pray that we recognise the needs of the time before it is too late and before we are once again engulfed by warfare and devastation. I pray that we come to understand the importance of striving for peace and the fact that our Creator, God Almighty, desires for all of humanity to live together and to fulfil each other’s rights.
At the end I also wish to say to the Ahmadi Muslims who are living here that they should seek to portray the true teachings of Islam at all times. Their conduct and character should always remain exemplary. They should always remember that if they fail in their duties to serve others, then their worship will neither please Allah, nor will it prove any benefit to them and nor will there have been any benefit to having built this mosque.
This mosque has been named as ‘Baitul Ikram’ – the House of Honour. And so where the people who enter this mosque will seek to show love, honour and respect to one another, they will also seek to spread love, honour and respect throughout the society at large.
God Willing, this mosque will come to be known as a beacon of light which illuminates its surrounding and will come to be known as a true symbol of peace in Leicester. May Allah enable the local Ahmadis to fulfil the true purposes for which this mosque has been built – Ameen. At the end I would like to once again thank all of our guests for accepting our invitation and joining us this evening. May God bless you all, thank you.”