Zion, Illinois, USA, 1 October 2022: Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, Khalifatul Masih V delivered the keynote address at the official inaugural reception of the Fath-e-Azeem mosque in the historic city of Zion, USA. Dignitaries, friends, locals and neighbours were present for the reception.
After Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa arrived for the inaugural reception, Hafiz Mubarik Kukoyi Sahib recited a portion from the Holy Quran – Surah as-Saff, Chapter 61, Verses 7-10; the translation was given by Nasrullah Ahmad Sahib. Thereafter, an introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was given by Amjad Mahmood Sahib.
The various dignitaries then spoke and presented their sentiments. The Mayor of Zion, Hon Billy McKinney, said how honoured he was by Huzoor’s arrival and he prayed and wished the new Fath-e-Azeem mosque would be a means of building bridges between all religions in Zion and was hopeful of this as Ahmadi Muslims brought the message, “Love for all, hatred for none” to the city. Mayor McKinney praised Islamic teachings towards other religions, including Christians.
Mayor Mckinney then presented the key to the city of Zion to Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
Hon Joice Mason, a member the Illinois General Assembly, was next to speak. She said the arrival of Huzooraa to inaugurate the mosque was a special moment “for the whole city of Zion” and highlighted how the vision of Alexander Dowie, to keep Zion as a theocratic state closed to those who did not follow him, was something that thankfully failed and now Zion celebrated representation from all kinds of faiths. She praised the efforts of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa toward world peace and women’s rights and prayed the mosque would continue to spread peaceful coexistence.
Hon Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the United States Congress, spoke next. He commended the event’s organisers for preparing for Huzoor’s arrival and the dignitaries who travelled to be part of the reception. Hon Krishnamoorthi spoke highly of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the USA, who “lived out and embodied” the values Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa preached to them.
Dr Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, then addressed the reception. She commended Ahmadi Muslims for practising what they preached. Dr Swett described the prayer-duel between Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and Alexander Dowie. Though the victory went to Ahmadis, Dr Swett highlighted that the victory of the pray-duel was for “humanity” as well, because it was a victory of respect, tolerance and peace that Hazrat Ahmadas embodied. Dr Swett quoted Prophet Joseph, who ultimately said to his brothers who had abandoned him, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” – she used this quote as a metaphor for the prayer-duel between Dowie and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas; Alexander Dowie meant it for evil, and Hazrat Ahmadas for good.
National Amir, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA, Mirza Maghfoor Ahmad Sahib then invited Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa to address the audience.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa conveyed his salaam to all the guests and thanked them for joining the Jamaat for the evening. “Rather than being a worldly event, this is purely a religious function hosted by an Islamic community and so your participation is a testament to your open hearts, tolerance and open-mindedness”, Huzooraa said.
Huzooraa said it was a matter of great happiness and significance for the Ahmadiyya Community to inaugurate the mosque.
“In terms of Islam, we believe that having a mosque affords two overarching benefits. Firstly, it enables Muslims to join together to worship God Almighty and to fulfil their religious duties and obligations to their faith. Islam instructs Muslims to worship five times daily. In addition, the second great benefit of building a mosque is that it serves to introduce Islam and its teachings to the wider community.
“If those who worship in the mosque earnestly strive to reflect and represent Islam’s teachings, it will naturally stir curiosity and interest in Islam amongst the local people. Their knowledge and understanding of Islam will increase and any fears or concerns they harbour will, God-willing, dissipate upon seeing Muslims living peacefully amongst them and contributing positively to society.”
It was to fulfil these objectives that the Jamaat built mosques worldwide. Huzooraa said some may wonder what distinguished Ahmadi Muslims from other Muslims. It was destined, according to a prophecy of Prophet Muhammadsa that the true essence of Islam would be lost and Muslims would go astray. At the same time, Allah and the Prophetsa gave the glad tiding that “at a time of such spiritual decay, God Almighty would send a Promised Reformer to revive and rejuvenate the original teachings of Islam and he would bear the title of ‘The Messiah of Muhammadsa’. That Messiah would proclaim that Islam’s teachings were of peace, love and harmony. He would urge all people to live together peacefully and to forge ties of ‘‘mutual love and affection”, no matter their religious beliefs.
Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa said Ahmadi Muslims firmly believed that Messiah was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas who conveyed the message of Islam in its pristine condition. “Indeed, the Promised Messiah proclaimed that he would convey the teachings of Islam whilst walking upon spiritual footsteps of the Messiah of Moses, the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. Thus, like Prophet Jesus, the Promised Messiahas exhibited sympathy and compassion for mankind. His every word and deed was for the sake of peace and to cultivate the spirit of reconciliation in society.
“He reminded his followers that the very meaning of Islam was peace and security.”
Huzooraa said the Holy Quran proved the early wars in Islam were entirely defensive in nature and never once in the blessed era of Prophet Muhammadsa or his Rightly Guided Khulafa were wars fought out of injustice.
“In the modern era, whilst geopolitical conflicts continued to wreak havoc and destruction in the world, the Promised Messiahas said that religious wars had ended. Hence, there was no justification for Muslims or the people of any faith to fight in the name of religion.
“Thus, let it be crystal clear that the objective of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is not to conquer lands, seize territories, overcome cities or vanquish nations. Nor, in those lands where our teachings and beliefs have been accepted in large numbers, have we asserted a desire to gain political power or worldly influence.
“Our only mission and sole aspiration is to win the hearts of mankind through love and to bring people closer to God Almighty […]
The Promised Messiahas wrote in a couplet:
“What can I have to do with any country,
“For my country is distinct from all others,
“What can I have to do with any crown,
“For my crown lies solely in the pleasure of my Beloved.”
Huzooraa said this couplet showed how the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community never desired worldly power or pomp as the Promised Messiahas showed in the couplet.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa said the Ahmadiyya Community would never resort to violence or oppression and its history proved this. This was based entirely on the original teachings of the Holy Quran.
Huzooraa alluded to King Charles’ respect for Islam and his desire to be the defender of ‘‘all faiths’’ and not just one faith (Christianity) – this desire of the King was commendable, Huzooraa said. Huzooraa also commended the United States government, which had now established the office of international religious freedom and also held a global summit for universal religious freedom.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa quoted the Holy Quran – Surah al-Hajj, chapter 22, verse 41 – where Allah spoke of those who were persecuted due to their religion:
“Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty —”
“Thus, the Holy Quran is the only divine scripture that not only grants absolute religious freedom to the people of all religions and beliefs but goes further by instructing Muslims and those who enter mosques, to protect the religious rights of non-Muslims.
“It is that heavenly scripture which is the protector and defender of all religions, faiths and beliefs. It is these pure and all-embracing Islamic teachings that we strive to propagate to all parts of the world.
The Prayer Duel between Hazrat Ahmadas and Dowie
Huzooraa spoke about the prayer-duel between the anti-Muslim Christian evangelist, Alexander Dowie and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas. Huzooraa said some may question the firm language Hazrat Ahmadas used towards Dowie and how this stayed with his claim of preaching love and compassion. However, it ought to be kept in mind that there was “absolutely no contradiction between the peaceful teachings of the Promised Messiahas and his response to Mr Dowie”
The Promised Messiahas never called for any sort of violence or extreme reaction and approached Dowie’s harshness with great wisdom so that further discord would not spread. On seeing Dowie’s hostility:
“The Promised Messiahas sought to reason with him respectfully and to persuade him to show restraint and to respect the sentiments of Muslims. Conversely, it was Mr Dowie who sought confrontation with Islam and was explicit in this desire. For example, Mr Dowie wrote, ‘I pray to God that Islam should soon disappear from the face of the earth, O God accept my prayer, O God destroy Islam.’ Furthermore, in his writing, Mr Dowie spoke with relish at the prospect of what he described as a ‘great war’ between Christianity and Islam.”
Mr Dowie wrote that if Muslims did not embrace Christianity they would face death and destruction. In response to such extreme rhetoric, The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in the face of this hatred, desired that millions of innocent people were not harmed and wanted to diffuse the situation– “which would have been the case if Mr Dowie’s desire for religious wars between Christians and Muslims was realised”. Therefore, the Promised Messiahas – to diffuse the situation – challenged him to a prayer duel.
“He said that rather than calling for the death or destruction of all Muslims, he and Mr Dowie should both engage in solemn prayers and pray to God that whichever of them was a liar, should die during the life of the other party.
“This was actually an act of compassion and a means to diffuse the situation. Rather than risk an all-out confrontation between Muslims and Christians, the Promised Messiahas asserted that he and Mr Dowie should resort to prayer and leave the matter in the hands of God Almighty.
“It was a fair and peaceful means to determine the truth. It is no exaggeration to state that it was a magnificent example of restraint in the face of immense provocation and hostility.”
“Upon receiving the challenge, Mr Dowie responded by describing the Promised Messiahas in the most offensive of terms. It is recorded Mr Dowie said, ‘In India, there is a Muhamaddan Messiah who keeps on writing to me. Do you think that I should answer such gnats and flies? If I were to put my foot on them, I would crush them to death.’”
The Promised Messiah’s challenge spread far and wide in the press and journalists compared the two: Mr Dowie was extremely wealthy and famous, while also enjoying better health and younger age than the Promised Messiahas. Yet despite these material odds he faced, the Promised Messiahas never stepped back and continued the challenge.
Ultimately, Dowie perished; he lost his supporters, wealth and physical and mental faculties. “He ultimately suffered what the US media described as a ‘pathetic end’.
“Indeed the US media of the time deserves credit because their journalists reported honestly on the outcome. For example, a famous Boston Herald headline declared that “Great is Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the Messiah.”
“In short, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community never sought to exert his views or values upon anyone forcefully […]
“For Ahmadi Muslims, this incident serves as a sign of the truth of our Founder and so, in this respect, the city of Zion holds a significant place in our history.”
Huzooraa said there was an exhibition at the mosque for people to learn more about this historic victory.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:
“It is the paramount objective of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community to direct mankind to the path of spiritual salvation and to ensure that all people, irrespective of their cast, creed and colour, live together with the spirit of goodwill and harmony and in true peace and security.
“From the depth of my heart, I pray that this mosque will, God-willing, always serve as a beacon of peace, tolerance and love for all mankind. I pray it proves to be a place where people congregate in all humility, to recognise their Creator, to bow before Him and to fulfil the rights of mankind, for we earnestly believe that we can only be successful and prosperous if we fulfil the rights of worship of God Almighty and the rights of humanity.”
Huzooraa thanked all the dignitaries, especially the Mayor of Zion, for giving him the keys of Zion and said that he was sure “the key of this town is now in safe hands”.
Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa led everyone in silent prayer and the reception came to a successful conclusion.