By Shakirah Adunola
The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad has inaugurated a new mosque the ‘Baitul Aafiyat’ (House of Security) Mosque in Philadelphia, United States of America (USA) This was part of his activities for the tour of the country.
Ahmad said the mosque, “would prove a beacon of light and hope to all peace-loving people” The inauguration of the Mosque, which is the first purpose-built mosque in Philadelphia, was attended by over 175 dignitaries and guests attended the evening reception held in the new mosque.
The highlight of the event was the keynote address delivered by the group head during which he spoke of the true objectives of mosques and stated that freedom of belief is a core tenet of Islamic teachings.
During his address, Ahmad emphasised the importance of fostering unity and tolerance within society.
“Irrespective of differences of race, religion or social background, we are united as human beings and so it is vital that we interact with other people, rather than isolating ourselves or only mingling with members of our own particular community. For the advancement and evolution of society, and to foster an atmosphere of peace and togetherness, respectful discourse and discussion between people and amongst different communities is vital”, he said.
Ahmad added: “It is frequently alleged that Muslims do not respect other religions or their religious figures, nothing could be further from the truth. We firmly believe in the truth of all the prophets and believe they were sent to draw mankind towards God Almighty and to teach morality and to establish universal human values such as freedom of conscience, justice and human sympathy. Given this, how could it be possible for us to disrespect or dishonour other religions or their followers? Hence, we Ahmadi Muslims are sincere in our claim that we do not hate anyone.”
He said that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was ever ready to extend a hand of friendship to others.
He cited the example of Ahmadi Muslims living in Philadelphia who immediately offered their support to members of the Jewish community following an attack at a nearby Jewish cemetery.
“We seek no reward or gratitude for such things because we are merely following what our religion has taught us, which is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of other faiths and beliefs in their times of need or distress. We champion the right of all people to live their lives free from discrimination.
“Pluralism and broad-mindedness”, having always been core tenets of Islam and referred to the government and covenant established by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the religiously diverse city of Medina where everyone was able to freely practice their faith.
“Every individual should have the right to choose whatever path he or she wishes to walk upon. Belief is, and should always remain, a matter for one’s heart and one’s mind. At the same time, Islam teaches that, irrespective of differences of religion or belief, every citizen has a duty to remain peaceful and to ensure that he or she does not take any action that threatens the well-being of society.”
While explaining the true objective of mosques, he said that the primary objective is for Muslims to join together and worship the One God. He added that a Mosque’s major objective is to function as “a centre for serving mankind.
“Our Mosques increase our determination to spread peace and to cultivate bonds of brotherhood and mutual affection with people from all walks of life and to eliminate all forms of hatred, bigotry and division from society.
“This city is known as the ‘city of brotherly love’ and certainly, our new Mosque is a sign, and indeed a commitment from us, pledging to intensify our efforts to spread love, brotherhood and goodwill here and beyond,” Ahmad said.