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The Philadelphia Mosque Inauguration

Friday Sermon

19 October 2018

Delivered from Baitul Aafiyat Mosque, Philadelphia, USA

The Philadelphia Mosque Inauguration

 

 

After reciting the Tashahud, Ta‘awuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa 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.” 

Alhamdolillah [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. During inaugural ceremonies of buildings unrelated to religion, or buildings that are constructed for worldly benefits, according to the custom of the world – particularly in Western countries and generally throughout the world – there is much jubilation seen, and during their inauguration it is asserted that they will derive such and such worldly benefit from the building. However, when we inaugurate or construct a mosque, we do so with the intention to attain the pleasure of Allah the Exalted. Our only purpose and goal, which we must continue to maintain by inaugurating this House of God should be only to attain His pleasure. In order to attain the pleasure of Allah the Exalted, it is incumbent to follow His injunctions and commandments. The first and foremost among these is fulfilling the right of Allah’s worship and we must do so in the manner He has prescribed for us. 

In the verse which I recited earlier, and the translation of which has been read out, Allah the Exalted has told us as to what the goal of those constructing a mosque should be, and who are those people who fulfil the rights of constructing a mosque. These people are those that are concerned about keeping the mosque in good condition by ensuring that this house is filled with worshippers. They are those who believe in Allah the Exalted and the Day of Judgement. Everyone claims to believe in Allah the Exalted and the Day of Judgement, but Allah says that it is incumbent to demonstrate this through practical example. This can only take place when we show a practical example of iqamatus-Salat [observance of prayer]. What is iqamatus-Salat? How is it expressed or how can we physically manifest it? Firstly, its practical expression lies in the observance of congregational prayers. Secondly, it lies in being attentive towards God Almighty during prayers. This is what we find in the sayings and the commentary of the Quran by the Promised Messiahas. Thus, only those people truly observe prayers who are regular in the observance of congregational prayers. They observe prayers while purely focusing on Allah the Exalted. They observe prayers with humility, istighfar [seeking forgiveness] and attentiveness. If their attention is diverted elsewhere, they focus again on God Almighty. Every one of us can analyse as to what extent we are trying to reach this standard of iqamatus-Salat

The majority of people in this materialistic world do not pay heed towards offering prayers in congregation. Furthermore, even if they come to the mosque, they neither pay attention in the obligatory nor in the voluntary prayers as is their due right. Should this be the case, we ourselves are personally able to gauge our situation as to whether we are truly among those people whom Allah the Exalted has mentioned that construct mosques and fulfil its due rights. Allah then said that these people also pay the Zakat. They offer financial sacrifices for the sake of their religion and for the betterment of humanity. They fulfil the rights that are owed to their fellow men. Following this, Allah the Exalted says that they fear none but Him. They remain concerned lest Allah the Exalted becomes displeased with any of their deeds and lest they become deprived of His love. They always remain mindful and act in accordance with the guidance and commandments that Allah the Exalted has given to a true believer in the Holy Quran. Hence, the responsibilities of believing Muslims are not insignificant. 

Furthermore, following the construction of this mosque, the responsibilities of those people who come here, or those who attribute themselves to this mosque have increased manifold. They will have to fulfil the rights of both their worship as well as those of the creation of Allah the Exalted. Only then will they be counted among the guided ones in the sight of Allah the Exalted. Only then will they 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 have no right to construct or populate mosques, as their hearts are filled with the love of others besides God. Furthermore, a person whose heart is filled with the love of others besides God can neither fulfil the rights of Allah nor the rights of His creation.

There are various forms of Shirk [associating partners with God]. The Promised Messiahas stated on one occasion that there are various forms of Shirk. The first form of Shirk is the more apparent and common one in which a person, stone, lifeless objects, energies and imaginary gods and goddesses have been taken to be Gods. The Promised Messiahas states that even though this form of Shirk is present in the world today (and it is visible), people have started to view this form of Shirk with dislike as this is the age of reason and understanding. Even though this Shirk is present, knowledge has enabled people to use logic to reject the fact that these idols made out of stone can do anything for them. The Promised Messiahas 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 no longer have any trust and faith in God Almighty (Malfuzat, Vol.3, pp. 79-80). The Promised Messiahas elaborated on this fact in the following manner that in comparison to God Almighty, people have more trust and faith in other objects and means. They are more inclined towards their employments, their businesses and their worldly endeavours and undertakings. This is the very reason people do not focus during their prayers, and why they do not pay attention towards congregating in mosques for worship. Hence, we should pray and humbly supplicate before Allah the Exalted, “O Lord! Make us believers in the true sense.” 

Since becoming a believer is merely achievable through the blessings of Allah the Exalted, we can only attain this rank if we supplicate for it. We should not rejoice at the mere fact that we have constructed a very beautiful mosque in the city of Philadelphia. Rather, we should fulfil its rights and when we are presented before God Almighty, we should hear the words that these are the people who constructed a mosque for the sake of God Almighty and also tried to fulfil its rights. Hence, these people are counted among those guided ones and those people whom God Almighty is pleased and happy with.

Thus, we should strive to develop this thought within us. Once we have developed this thought and we strive to act accordingly, we will experience the blessings and bounties of this mosque in this world. Our children and offspring will remain attached to their religion. We will be among those who are spreading the message of Allah the Exalted in this area and city. We will be among those who establish the unity of God in the world and the ones waving the flag of the Holy Prophetsa throughout the world. 

The Promised Messiahas has mentioned that one purpose of the construction of a mosque is that if one wishes to spread the true teaching and message of Islam, they ought to construct a mosque in such an area. The Promised Messiahas states, “At present, our Community is in great need of mosques. This is a House of God. In whichever village or city a mosque of ours is constructed, you may consider that the foundation of the progress of the Community has been laid. If you wish to spread Islam in a village or city where few Muslims can be found, or there are no Muslims at all, you should build a mosque, and God will draw Muslims there Himself. However, this cannot be achieved by merely constructing a mosque.” 

The Promised Messiahas states, “The condition is that when constructing a mosque ones intention should be sincere.” The mosque should be constructed with full sincerity and not for pretention. The Promised Messiahas further states, “It should merely be done for the sake of Allah.” In other words, the mosque should merely be constructed for the sake of Allah the Exalted. “Personal interests or vices should not have anything to do with it. Only then does God shower His blessings.” (Malfuzat, Vol.7, p. 119) 

Hence, we should always be mindful of the fact that when we construct mosques and offer financial sacrifices for the construction of mosques, it should have no hint of ostentation. Rather, our intention should be that once the mosque is constructed, we will be able to fulfil the rights of worship and so will our future generations remain protected and attached with their religion.

Thus, along with the construction and congregation of the 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 in this city. It is said that across this city there are 47 mosques or prayer centres, however, this is the first purpose-built mosque. Hence, as this building has been constructed as a mosque, its purpose is not to tell people what the actual shape of a mosque is. Rather, it is to inform them that the true picture of the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam will be presented to the world through this mosque. We are the ones, who spread the true message of Islam in the world along with prayers and worship.  Now, we will continue this through our practical example to an even greater extent. By demonstrating a practical example of the teachings of Islam in this area, we also have to increase the population of Ahmadi Muslims in this vicinity. However, I have been told that apart from one or two families, our Ahmadi population generally lives at some distance from here. 

I was speaking to the National President [of the USA Community] and he mentioned the fact that the total area and plot of the mosque is quite vast, and they can obtain permission for construction within the premises. If flats or houses can be constructed here, or if Ahmadis are granted permission to do so, people can live near the mosque. In my opinion, this is a good suggestion and should be considered. If this suggestion can be implemented, you should certainly try to settle Ahmadi families here. Once there is an Ahmadi population here and they come here with the intention of increasing the congregation of the mosque, as well as spreading the beautiful message of Islam, then Allah the Exalted will bless this intention, and in turn it will also serve to increase the Ahmadi population of the area, Insha-Allah [God willing]. 

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 his fellow inmates accepted Islam (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, p. 250). Alongside his preaching efforts, his practical example, his piety and his prayers were also key. Hence, these attributes are vital alongside one’s tabligh activities. Furthermore, during his stay here it is said that approximately five or six thousand people accepted Ahmadiyyat. Hazrat Musleh Mau’udra at the time stated that if this is the amount of people entering the fold [of Ahmadiyyat], then within a few decades this figure could reach the hundreds of thousands (Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 19, p. 477). In any case this target was not achieved, due to whatever hindrance, circumstances or our own shortcomings. But now we have the opportunity to make this endeavour with resolve. In fact, the message reached here in the time of the Promised Messiahas which he has mentioned in his book Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya

Thus, he states, “Similarly, there are well-wishing people for this Community in English-speaking countries too who express their loyalty to it and sing its praises.” They are full of praise for the teachings of this Community and say that they are in complete agreement with them. The Promised Messiahas says, “…hence, Dr Baker, whose name is A George Baker, of 404 Susquehanna Avenue, Philadelphia, America, who having read my name and mention in The Review of Religions magazine wrote a note saying: (Mr Baker wrote an article and said) ‘I completely agree with the thoughts of your Imam. He has presented the true face of Islam to the world which was presented by the Holy Prophetsa.’” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part V, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 21, p.106)

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.” He then noted the details and wrote, “Number one and two are Dr George Baker Sahib and Mr Ahmad Anderson Sahib who have remained in contact with me through letters for a long time and have been Muslims for a while. They are devout Muslims and I deem it necessary for their names to be at the top of the list.” (Al Fazl, 22 July 1920, Vol. 8, No.4, p. 1) 

Furthermore, as I have already mentioned, there were other names on that list. Recently the grave of Dr Baker was located here in Philadelphia. He passed away in 1918 and was buried here. So in that time, approximately a hundred years ago, the message of Ahmadiyyat had reached here. 

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 true worshippers will be born who will fill the mosques, and they will be those who fear God Almighty and become rightly guided.   

Thus, every mosque that we construct presents us with a big challenge in that we must reform our conditions by forging a connection with God Almighty, and improve our practical conditions and also open up new avenues for tabligh. We should not be content with the fact that we have constructed a mosque or that in this age we have accepted the Ardent Devotee of the Holy Prophetsa – who was to revive the teachings of Islam. The Promised Messiahas was to remove all the misconceptions that people had towards Islam, irrespective of whether these misconceptions were a result of non-Muslim interference or the exegesis of so-called Muslim scholars. It is now our responsibility as those who have accepted the Promised Messiahas to strive to our utmost ability, and using all our faculties we must reform our conditions and raise the standards of our worship to the level that God Almighty wished for us to achieve and was repeatedly outlined to us by the Promised Messiahas

I have been informed that the expenditure of this mosque is $8.1 million [US]. One third of the amount was given by the [local] community, and some by the national headquarters, the details of which I will present later on. These $8.1 million will only prove beneficial when we fulfil the purpose of this mosque. Despite living far away, if for the time being there are not many people living nearby, whoever resides in this area should strive to congregate in this mosque five times a day [for prayers]. On one occasion, the Promised Messiahas said, “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.” 

In those days, mosques were desolate, but today, the erroneous slogans of so-called scholars have turned thriving mosques from an abode of peace into a place of turmoil.

The Promised Messiahas then says, “The mosque of the Holy Prophetsa 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 Promised Messiahas further says, “The glamour of a mosque is dependent upon its worshipers.” He further adds, “It is vital that mosques are constructed for the propagation of righteousness.” (Malfuzat, Vol.8, p. 170) 

Thus, if you populate this mosque by worshipping with sincerity and righteousness, then your worship will be accepted and you will also be able to spread the message of Islam to the non-Muslims in the correct manner. On one occasion the Holy Prophetsa said, “Whoever enters our mosques with the intention of learning virtuous deeds, they will be counted amongst those people who perform Jihad in the way of God Almighty.” (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 3, p.322, Hadith No. 8587, Aalimul Kutub, Beirut 1998) 

Hence, this is the purpose of a true Muslim. Today, the name of Islam is tarnished for the reason that it teaches Jihad, and the actions of some Muslims contribute to this slander. However, it is the responsibility of a true believer to learn virtuous deeds, to act on these virtues and then spread them. In essence, one will then be performing Jihad and it is our responsibility as Ahmadis to perform this Jihad.

The Promised Messiahas has repeatedly advised us to learn virtuous deeds, to act on them and also to make progress in righteousness. Thus, on one occasion the Promised Messiahas said, 

“Listen to this advice carefully. Those who enter this Community and forge a connection of devotion and subservience, it is so that they can scale the ultimate heights of virtue, piety and righteousness, and they become free from all form mischief, discord and immorality. They should observe the five daily prayers and refrain from falsehood. They should not cause anyone harm through their speech.” They should not cause any kind of distress. “They should not commit any kind of immoral act and should not entertain any kind of mischief, discord or act of cruelty even in their hearts.”

He further says, “In short, they should not commit any sort of evil or any vice that can be committed or uttered,” they should not commit any sin physically or verbally. “They should not exhibit any of these immoral practices and also abstain from all carnal desires or any excessive actions. They should become pure-hearted, harmless and humble servants of God, and no poisonous trait should be left within them. Their objective should be to show compassion for the whole of mankind and the fear of God. They should purify their tongues, hands and their thoughts from every evil, impurity, dishonesty and rebellious way. They should observe the five daily prayers with the utmost attention and abstain from every injustice, cruelty, fraud, corruption, failure to discharge one’s due rights and favouritism”. Showing excess favouritism is also incorrect and usurping the rights of others is also wrong. We should be extra mindful of this fact, “… and also abstain from evil company.” The youth should pay particular attention to this. These days there are different ways of keeping evil company, through some social media platforms or there are immoral things on other forums. All of these aspects are a form of evil company and we should refrain from them.

Many people have come here from Pakistan having sought asylum or are here on a refugee status, they need to pay particular attention to this. 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.  

The Promised Messiahas writes: 

“God Almighty prepares a form of ledger for each person on a daily basis, recording all their deeds.” One’s deeds are recorded on a daily basis. “Therefore, man should also prepare a daily log of all his deeds. He should assess all his good deeds as well as the ill deeds he commits, and also which acts of virtue he adhered to and which ones he failed to discharge.” 

The Promised Messiahas further states: 

“One should not simply just prepare this ledger, but rather should then reflect upon it; it is only then that one can strive towards performing virtuous deeds and be counted among the guided ones in the sight of God Almighty.” 

The Promised Messiahas states: 

“One should assess as to how much progress they have made in virtuous deeds. One’s today and tomorrow should never be the same. One who makes no progress in virtuous deeds and his today is the same as his tomorrow, consider him to be in great loss”; even if one’s today and tomorrow are the same it is great loss. “However, one who believes in God Almighty and has perfect belief in Him shall never perish.” (Majmuah Ishtiharaat, Vol. 3, pp. 46-47) 

Thus, greatly ponder over this. If God Almighty is bestowing His grace and blessings upon us, then it is incumbent for us to express our gratitude to Him.

Hence, 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 assess their conditions by asking themselves whether their practice is in harmony with the pledge they have made in their Bai‘at? Those who have recently come here should remember that immersing oneself into worldly pursuits is not a sign of progress, rather one’s destruction, and you should always be mindful of the fact that you are to give precedence to your faith over all worldly aspects. You should fulfil the due rights of the mosque and also the due rights of God Almighty’s worship. I shall present another extract from the writings of the Promised Messiahas, in which he states: 

“Remember that our Community is not simply for living a life like other normal worldly people. It is not enough to simply proclaim to be a Muslim and consider no need of any action, which unfortunately has become the state of the Muslims. If they are asked whether they are Muslim, they reply, ‘All praise to Allah’ and yet they do not offer their prayers, nor afford respect and honour to the holy and sacred institutions of God Almighty. Therefore, I do not desire from you to simply utter a proclamation from your tongues and practically demonstrate nothing. This is a futile condition to have and God Almighty is certainly not pleased with this and it was for the reformation of this very condition of the world that God Almighty has sent me. Thus, if despite forging a bond with me, one does not reform his condition and nor progresses in his practical faculties and instead considers the utterance from his tongue to be sufficient, then such actions of a person will signify that he does not consider my advent necessary.” 

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 Messiahas further states, 

“If, through your practice, you wish to demonstrate that there is no need of my advent, then what is the purpose of forming a bond with me? 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 Prophetsa and his Companions. Ponder over the correct principles laid out in the Holy Quran and act upon them. For God Almighty it will not be sufficient enough for one to merely profess verbal belief and then not follow up with improved actions and deeds. Remember, the Community that God Almighty wishes to establish cannot survive without righteous deeds”. Without actions, a community cannot survive. “This is that remarkable Community, the inception of which began from the time of Prophet Adamas. There is not a single prophet that appeared in this world who failed to make mention of this message. Therefore, cherish this message and one can only do that by proving through one’s actions that they are the ones who belong to this righteous community.” (Malfuzat, Vol.10, pp. 137-138)

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 with 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.

Usually, during the inauguration of mosques, I mention certain details of the mosque construction and I will present them today as well. The details are as follows: 

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], in which the local community of Philadelphia gave just over $2.435 million. The other community’s in the United States donated just over $1.243 million. The national headquarters contribution was just over $4.478 million. The national headquarters donated approximately more than half of the amount.  

Initially only two acres of land were obtained and later on, a further acre was obtained. Then in 2015, a non-Muslim, who was perhaps a Christian, gifted his property adjacent to the mosque. Whatever his intention was, whether it was worldly [or something else], he gave it to the Community as charity. At present, the total area of the land is four acres. As I mentioned before, housing schemes or flats can be built here. The covered area of this building is 21,400 square feet. It is a three-storey 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. In this part of the building, separate toilets have been made for men and woman as well as other necessities. 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 Community there. There is allotted car parking for forty-six cars. Altogether eighty-six cars can be parked with room for additional parking.

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. 

(Translated by The Review of Religions)

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