The caliph of this Islamic sect persecuted in many countries of the Muslim world, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, appeals for international peace to avoid a nuclear conflict.Álvaro Escalonilla, desde Londres
Editor’s Note. The headline is misleading. The mosque was never closed. The opening ceremony refers to the Administrative and Public buildings (other than the actual mosque), which were damaged in a fire in 2015.
PHOTO/MFA – Baitul Futuh mosque complex, the largest mosque in Europe
The ground began to shake as soon as word spread that the Khalifa was leading the prayer. Dozens of worshippers stormed the haram of the Baitul Futuh (Arabic for ‘The House of Victories’) mosque, the largest mosque in Western Europe and the place of worship reserved for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Morden, a suburb of Merten in south-west London. Members of this minority sect of Islam came once again to perform their liturgy. But this time it was a special occasion, their leader was among them again.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad appeared earlier than expected. The Ahmadi Khalifa orchestrated the last prayer of the day before the start of the National Peace Symposium, a landmark event in the community’s calendar. “The event promotes a deeper understanding of Islam and other religions, and aims to inspire a concerted effort for lasting peace,” the organisation said of an event that had not been held for four years in the wake of the pandemic and was attended by more than half a thousand people on Saturday.
Ahmadis joined forces from London, where the Khalifa has lived since he was elected two decades ago as the community’s leader after the death of his predecessor, Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Continued pressure from the Pakistani regime of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s so-called Ordinance XX – which de facto stripped Ahmadis of the practice of Islam – forced Masroor and many others before him to leave the country, where persecution of the minority sect has been systematic. Their influence, however, has only grown in the meantime.
The occasion was all the more significant because the Ahmadiyya community was also inaugurating the administrative building surrounding the mosque. Adeeb Butt is one of hundreds of Ahmadi volunteers who dedicate their efforts to the community these days. The theology student, born in Germany but based in the UK capital, is on hand to show off the new facilities. “The design and construction started after the devastating fire in September 2015,” he tells visitors. In that event, apparently caused by a short circuit, there were no fatalities or injuries.
Adeeb, like many other young people, devotes seven years of his life exclusively to training for future positions of responsibility within the community. Commitment and discipline are non-negotiable here. So is selflessness. The project to rebuild the building cost £20 million, about 22.5 million euros at the exchange rate. 22.5 million. This was paid for entirely by the members through donations.
Khalifa calls for peace
A heavy security apparatus keeps a close eye on Masroor’s every step. The fifth Khalifa of the community founded in 1889 by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is used to addressing his followers. He does so every Friday from London, in speeches that are broadcast live on a global television network via the MTA International satellite network and followed in dozens of countries. This time, however, he is being listened to by many more people than usual. Not only members of the Ahmadiyya community, but also prominent personalities from civil society and politicians.
“A true Muslim lives peacefully,” said the Khalifa. “Islam has never promoted a conflict of aggression for geopolitical reasons. The Koran says that when two nations come into conflict, the international community must mediate to seek peace,” added Masroor, who did not hesitate to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, however, he urged “keeping open” the channels of communication with the Kremlin.
In his political speech, which was more that of a statesman than a spiritual leader, the Khalifa spoke out against imposing sanctions against Russia, which he saw as a “blockade” to development. He called on Western countries not to seek revenge. “Otherwise, what incentive will Russia have for peace?” he asked, before warning that the world is approaching the abyss because of the high probability of a nuclear war.
The former mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, spoke along the same lines. The Japanese, one of the recipients of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize, which recognises the contribution of organisations and individuals, warned of the consequences caused by the nuclear bomb in the city where he governed between 1999 and 2011. “We must not let it happen again,” he said, alluding to the atomic bomb from the rostrum, while showing the audience an image of the tragedy portrayed by the American journalist John Hersey.
Before the Khalifa’s speech, the most anticipated moment of the evening, a number of British political figures had been paraded in a ceremony introduced by the Ahmadiyya national foreign secretary, who read out a special message from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The first to do so was Sir Ed Davey MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recalled the humanitarian tragedies in other parts of the world, in particular the eight-year war in Yemen.
He was followed by the British Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology, Paul Sculley, who stressed the role of the Ahmadi Muslim community as a brake on Islamic radicalism, the same movement that has persecuted them for more than a century and a half in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. Lastly, Labour MP Fleur Anderson gave a speech, urging that the persecution to which Ahmadi Muslims are subjected by the rest of the sects of Islam, by which they are considered heretics, should be known and publicised. For Anderson, peace needs “to be built every day”.
Ahmadiyya community opens Europe’s biggest mosque in London | Atalayar – Las claves del mundo en tus manos
Categories: Ahmadis, Ahmadiyyat: True Islam, Europe, Europe and Australia, UK
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