Faran Rabbani, USA Correspondent
Last Friday (7 October, 2022) saw Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa delivering his Friday sermon from the new Bait-ul-Ikram mosque in Dallas, Texas. The American members hailed from 59 different jamaats to be part of this historic Jumuah – it was the first time that a Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas was to deliver the Friday sermon from this part of Texas.
The queue to get a spot inside the mosque began several hours prior to Friday prayers. The attendance was exceptionally high due to the blessings of Khilafat. Around 2400 worshippers, including members on various duties, were able to perform Jumuah behind Huzooraa. These members travelled from different jamaats in North America. Some other countries that were represented were Pakistan, the UK, Germany, Bangladesh, Bolivia, India, Mexico and Palestine.
In the evening, Huzooraa travelled to the city of Fort Worth, which is in the western part of the Dallas Metro area, to inaugurate another mosque. The mosque belongs to the Fort Worth Jamaat and has been named Bait-ul-Qayyum by Huzooraa. The building, prior to being turned into a mosque, served the YMCA.
The members of the local Jamaat had congregated to welcome their beloved Imam. As soon as Huzooraa arrived, the nasirat and the atfal welcomed him with a beautiful choral poem. Huzooraa went around the mosque complex to meet everyone. Afterwards, Huzooraa unveiled the plaque and led all present in silent prayer.
Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa inspected the prayer halls, offices, a library, an on-premise gym and the tabligh room. He proceeded to the adjacent hall where the local members had gathered along with the local office-holders. The local sadr presented welcome remarks to Huzooraa and then Huzooraa asked local amila members about their respective departments and the progress that they had been making. Graciously, Huzooraa then gave the local members the opportunity to ask any questions or share their sentiments. The local members expressed their happiness and immense love for their beloved Khalifa. This programme lasted about 15 minutes. Afterwards, the local Jamaat amila and the local auxiliaries’ office-holders were able to have group photos taken with their Imam.
Inaugural reception of Bait-ul-Ikram – Saturday 8 October 2022
The official reception of Bait-ul-Ikram mosque was going to be held. By 4 pm, the guests started to arrive and the main marquee, where the reception was to be held soon, was filled.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa arrived at the reception and the programme began with a recitation from the Holy Quran presented with its English translation, followed by an introduction of the Jamaat and its beliefs by Secretary External Affairs, Amjad Mahmood Khan Sahib. Some of the dignitaries who had joined Huzooraa at the head table then presented their remarks. Honourable Carl Clemencich, a member of the City Council of Allen, Texas, also presented the key of the city to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
The United States Congressman, Mike McCaul also presented his remarks along with a resolution on behalf of the US Congress to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
After the comments of the dignitaries, Huzooraa presented his keynote address.
Some of the guests that were present, shared the following remarks about Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa and his speech.
Congressman Mike McCaul, a member of the US Congress from Texas, said:
“It was wonderful. You know, I had a resolution on behalf of the United States Congress honouring the Ahmadiyya Muslims and His Holiness. I’ve met with him on several occasions. He is the one countering radical ideas and extremism, whether it be in Pakistan or elsewhere. And he stands for the values of the House of Abraham. You know, [we can all live amicably] whether we are Jewish, or Christian — whether were are Muslim or Buddhist. And we all stand for peace, love, tolerance and forgiveness. He’s truly a holy man. Every time I talk to him, he impresses me. He has so much wisdom. And if we had more people like him in the world, it would be a more peaceful place.”
Vudhi Slabisak, a surgeon, said:
“I think the message of unity, the message of peace, the message of coming together is prescient, particularly in these troubling times that we live in. These are uncertain times. I believe the polarity of what’s happening not only in the United States but in the world is a shameful thing that’s occurring and I think we need strong leadership, religious leadership and political leadership to change that narrative to one of peace and harmony.
“I was surprised by the inclusiveness of his message, the tolerance for others. I appreciated his recognition of people that weren’t part of the mosque. The very fact that they showed up was a sign of our tolerance for other beliefs. So, I appreciate his ability to connect to people outside of his faith. So, I thought that was very kind and generous of him to do so. I think his message was relevant. We need to hear more of that message across the media, across the world stage.”
Cindy Walker, a close neighbour to the mosque, said:
“The event was not what I was anticipating and I found it to be a truly moving experience. I thought what was incredible is that His Holiness spoke about things that I don’t think I’ve ever spoken out loud or thought about in terms of what it might mean to a neighbourhood where a new mosque is being built. I have not ever thought about those things, but I recognise that I live in a community where those things are likely thought about by a lot of people. And I thought it was incredible that he wanted to ensure that he dispelled those misbeliefs and taught what the Ahmadi community believes. I feel like I have a much greater understanding of it and I thought it was incredible. I really did.
“I have seen nothing but love and respect and kindness from the community here in the years that I’ve lived here.”
Jayshree Mavankal, a local guest, said:
“It’s a beautiful event. That’s my first impression of it. It is well organised and everybody is working together so well. So, it’s very impressive the way you all managed this whole thing.
“I loved His Holiness’ speech. I liked his message of peace and how he’s concerned about the wars that are going on and how he wants everybody to work with each other, no matter what religion they may be. I like that fact because there are different people with different beliefs in this world. And for him to say that it is OK for everybody to work together and work for world peace, despite having whatever beliefs they have. So, I enjoyed it.”
Ashwini Bansod, a local guest, expressed:
“I really liked that every volunteer was very welcoming and the arrangements were up to the mark. So, I enjoyed the event. And I took one sentence. He said that religion and humanity are for everyone, and everybody should follow the path of peace and togetherness. So, I like that statement a lot and I was touched by that statement.
Atif Zahir, a local guest, said:
“It’s my pleasure to be here. I think this was a great event to bring everyone together. People of all faiths, people of all different ideas and thoughts. I think a masjid in this community would do this community a lot of good in general, just to promote cohesiveness in society. So, I came here with some of my friends and I’m happy I did come because this really gave me a little bit more insight into how the community is. And I got an opportunity to talk to the Khalifa himself, which was very nice, very productive, and in a very light-hearted environment. I was very fortunate to be part of that meeting.
“I think what he said is very pertinent to what’s happening right now because, you know, according to some analysis, we are at the brink of war. And it’s very unfortunate that we are still having to talk about nuclear weapons. And I think his message was not only resonant with the community of Texas, the local community here itself, but also globally with what’s happening in, you know, in the Near East and the West against the Russians and the Ukrainians and all that. So, I think it was very pertinent and I’m glad he said what he said because it resonates with the rest of the world really nicely.”
Beverly McCord, Richardson, Texas, expressed:
“I am always thrilled to hear a religious leader of worldwide status continually reminding people of the need for peace, to resolve differences, to love one another, and to find a way to work out our differences. So I’m always happy when someone gives that message. I myself am so far from fearing this community, I can’t imagine anyone being fearful because they are so loving, so giving, so outgoing and constantly volunteering for community services. If anybody has any fears, they’re quickly dispelled by just seeing the loving work that they do for the community.”
Katie Fiedler, Dallas, Texas, expressed:
“I really appreciate his emphasis on religious freedom. I work for Texas Health Allen, the hospital that is just down the street. We serve people of all communities and all faiths and health equity is incredibly important to us. And so, having someone in this community who supports all people and is a beacon of hope for everyone is incredibly important to the hospital.”
Damon Nahoolewa, McKinney, Texas, said:
“It was a great event. We all have one goal, to love one another and that was the message of His Holiness. If we would all come together and listen to His Holiness’ message, this world would be a better place.”
Marybeth Hardesty-Crouch, Allen, Texas, said:
“I am, of course, with His Holiness on what needs to happen for the pathway to peace. This message is something that we all can get behind. I am truly grateful to be invited to this event and am amazed at the similarity between the philosophies that His Holiness shared and what my religion also teaches.”
Amrita Raj, Plano, Texas, expressed:
“I am honestly blown away by the community and the people. First of all, the event was so beautifully organised and the views of His Holiness, whether political or religious, are pretty amazing. I am so happy to see that we all share the common agenda of doing good for the community. To hear this message here today was absolutely amazing. I understood the fear in the community that His Holiness spoke of. I believe we all need to come together to get rid of that fear in the community. I follow my Hindu religion, but I love my Muslim friends in the community and love being here tonight.”
Anthony Elia, a librarian from Dallas, Texas, said:
“His Holiness’ speech was wonderfully inspirational and community-minded in terms of bringing the global community together and embracing the key concepts of love, fellowship and peace in the world. The key takeaway for me was the reassurance that we all are here to do good by one another and take care of each other.”
Iro Omere said:
“This was a beautiful event and I had an amazing time. Being able to meet and listen to His Holiness was really inspiring. I also got the chance to look at things that His Holiness mentioned in his speech as the roadmap for world peace. And I believe these are the exact same things we ought to do in our country and throughout the world to make sure that we are able to live harmoniously, serving God in our own ways while building a strong world together.”
Jeff Williams, a local guest, said:
“I truly enjoyed his message of peace and humanity. I also understand he has a sense of community, which is the main reason the mosque is being built here. And although I do find it unfortunate, he has to mention that the mosque here poses no threat to us as a community. I am glad that he did it here. And I’m honoured to be a part of it and it’s certainly a beautiful place. Anyone who feels welcome can come here to worship and so that would be my biggest takeaway tonight. Well, probably the main thing was just the ability to turn out as many people as you had here from many different countries, different states and towns across the US. So, that alone was impressive to me, just the miles that people were willing to travel to hear His Holiness but also to bear witness to what we’re building here.”
Tommy Berry, a local guest, said:
“I just want to thank you and the community and Khalifatul Masih for the hospitality, the message, the sense of joy and the sense of community that tonight was all about. It was a blessing.
“It was one of those things where when you see what human beings are about, you see what joy people can bring. And when they respect life and love life and respect human beings and love human beings, regardless of their background, regardless of their faith or religion and work for the greater good. And it shows that no one individual or organisation has a monopoly. We should all work together.
“And I think the message for tonight that the Khalifa shared in that regard and reminding that that’s really a message we need to remember every night when we go to bed. A message we need to remember every morning when we wake up – what our mission is for each day. This is a message that we need to share with our kids and make sure they understand that message. So that way, when we’re not here, they can continue that message.”