Asif M Basit, London
It is a beautiful spring morning, and that too in Ramadan. The landscape of Islamabad, with its lush green fields and blooming flowers, is picturesque as it is, and the anticipation of seeing Huzooraa is adding the most pleasant filter to it.
Filling my mind is the memory of yesterday’s Friday congregation at Baitul Futuh Mosque, where Huzooraa had delivered his Friday sermon and led the congregation in Jumuah prayers – after a long period of three years.
Ahmadi Londoners were over the moon, but nonetheless, so were all Ahmadis around the world. The Baitul Futuh Mosque, from its very inception, has been dear to all Ahmadis around the world – ever since Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh opened the donation scheme globally for this grand mosque. Ahmadis from all over the world have been very much a part of it, more so for having associated it with the Friday sermons of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa that he delivered from this mosque for a decade-and-a-half.
And now, the reconstruction of the Baitul Futuh complex is in its own right a sign of Allah’s grace and mercy on the Jamaat.
After Huzooraa moved to Islamabad in April 2019, he would lead the Friday prayers at Masjid Mubarak in Islamabad. But occasionally, he would travel to Baitul Futuh for the Friday prayers, which allowed a much larger congregation of Ahmadis to be part of it. The last occasion when this happened was on 6 March 2020, after which the Coronavirus swept ruthlessly across the entire planet, uprooting the routine life of the global human population.
For the weeks that followed – and months, and then years – Huzooraa delivered his Friday sermons from Masjid Mubarak, Islamabad.
The reconstruction project of Baitul Futuh remained on hold for several months but then commenced under strict Coronavirus safety rules. People of Morden, Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis alike, witnessed the steady rise of this majestic structure that was beginning to tower over the skyline. While the mighty structure of the building stood as a symbol of hope in the gloomy days of Coronavirus, it remained for the opponents of the Jamaat a reminder of their age-long jealousy and they remained loyal to it. They remained, with their bickering and mockery, before this building, a spineless pygmy trying to look way beyond its vision range.
While the building lay in ruins and ashes, a man of God had said that we would be blessed with an even better replacement by Allah, and we would then say “Masha-Allah” and “Subhan-Allah”. Allah heard these words of His beloved – both showing His glory and majesty – and remained jealous of them. Every stage of the reconstruction left the onlookers’ eyes wide open with sheer amazement.
During the phases of this rebuilding, which spanned over a couple of years, Huzooraa inspected the site on several occasions, including on 10 March 2020 and 23 November 2021. The dates are important in that on both occasions, Huzooraa led the Zuhr and Asr prayers in Baitul Futuh Mosque, but with the Coronavirus in full swing – as well as its safety restrictions – only a few people got the chance to be part of the limited congregation.
Then came the long-awaited moment when the building stood ready, with all its splendour and magnificence, the words “Masha-Allah” and “SubhanAllah” glowing from the tops of its corners.
Our opponents had rejoiced at the burning of this building, and here we had a much larger, much more purposeful, much more beautiful and way more majestic building ready to be opened and used for the noble motive that lay in its very foundations.
Huzooraa opened this building on 4 March 2023, addressing in its halls on the same evening, the flagship Peace Symposium, where dignitaries from all walks of life got a chance to listen to him. On this occasion, a greater number of Ahmadis got a chance to say the Maghrib and Isha prayers behind Huzooraa.
A few days after that came the month of Ramadan, and another few days later, a pleasant surprise: Huzooraa was to deliver his Friday sermon from Baitul Futuh on 7 April. The news had come only two days prior to the big day, and these two days of anticipation seemed like a very long period.
It was after 6 March 2020 – three long years – that Huzooraa was leading Friday prayers in Baitul Futuh. During these three years, I had very often travelled by train to Baitul Futuh – alighting at Morden South Station, which is right next to the mosque.
As the train approached Morden South, I would get up, stand at the door and look out at this complex. During this period of three years, I witnessed the various phases of its reconstruction. But yesterday, as I stood eagerly at the door, I looked out to see a very different scene: a vibrant and excited crowd of people walking peacefully into the Baitul Futuh Mosque complex. Worshippers, drenched in the love of Allah and his chosen one, were holding their ID cards up to show as they entered through the gates. It was no less than a day of Eid.
I walked out of the station and then made my way through the gates of Baitul Futuh, headed to my office in MTA. My route was not through the mosque’s main hall or the adjacent halls, but only through corridors and walkways. This limited preview of the situation made me guess that it must be a good four or five-thousand-strong congregation.
Now today, as I sat waiting to see Huzooraa for my mulaqat, I had this experience from yesterday’s Friday congregation still intoxicating my mind. Actually, not just yesterday but the period of eight long years hovered over my imagination when, through the train window, I had seen this building in ruins and ashes; then seen its foundations laid; then the rebuilding work in progress; and then, finally, its transformation into one of the most majestic mosques around.
As I walked into Huzoor’s office, seated myself before him, and said, “Huzoor, what a wonderful experience was yesterday’s Jumuah!”
Huzooraa said, “Yes, it was. Quite a lot of people attended.”
I expressed my emotions by saying, “It was just like Eid!”
And I received a very enlightening reply. Huzooraa said:
“It was like Eid indeed. The Holy Prophetsa has given Fridays the same blessed status as Eid, so it is good that people attended it like Eid. I had estimated that the main mosque might get full or the overflow to be accommodated in a part of one of the halls. But the turnout reached around ten thousand.
“I had mentioned the verse ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ in my sermon yesterday. It is said that a Jewish person said to Hazrat Umar that ‘had such a verse been revealed for our faith, we would celebrate that day like Eid’. Hazrat Umar told him that ‘this verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet on Friday, as he stood in the Ground of Arafat’.
“So we had a Friday congregation yesterday, which is as good as Eid. This verse, which was revealed on a Friday, got mentioned as well. So, quite like Eid it was!
“The attendance was great. When the mosque reached its capacity, people had to be seated in all the newly built halls; when the halls reached capacity, people sat in walkways and corridors to listen to the Friday sermon and say the prayer. All this by Allah’s grace!”
Huzooraa said this with his signature calm as he always says everything. This reminded me of the calmness I had observed on the very day that the mosque had caught fire.
I was standing outside the ablaze Baitul Futuh complex, amidst the helpless crowd, watching with great sorrow the thick, dark smoke that bellowed out of the building. I had received a call from the Private Secretary that Huzooraa had summoned me.
I had dashed off in my car to Fazl Mosque and presented myself. To my surprise, the first thing Huzooraa asked me was why I looked so confused and anxious. I had replied by stating how much of a shock it was to find out that the fire has swept into its folds the video library of MTA where all programmes of Khulafa were archived.
Huzoor’s response to my statement was something that changed my worldview altogether. He said:
“The most precious archive material of the Jamaat was the Promised Messiah’s voice recording which somehow got destroyed. What else could be more valuable? That did not halt the Jamaat’s progress and we have seen the Jamaat only progressing. Allah will show his grace and mercy. Such incidents cannot hinder nations from marching on towards success!”
Huzooraa had then given me a set of instructions, one of which was that the live programme that was scheduled for that day will happen from Fazl Mosque studios. Nothing will stop and go on as planned.
Huzooraa had instructed me to prepare a news bulletin to be read out on MTA so that people did not get too anxious through hearsay. There had to be an official announcement and update. When I had written the text of the announcement, Huzooraa had gone through it quite thoroughly and made changes.
While I was writing the bulletin, an update arrived from the London Fire Brigade that the fire had been taken control of. I included it in the bulletin as such: “The latest update is that the fire is now under control.”
Huzooraa added the words: “By the grace and mercy of Allah” to the clause about the fire being under control. I vividly remember how, as he added these words, he said to me:
“How can humans take control of something? It only happens by the grace of Allah!”
Today, when Huzooraa said “by the grace of Allah”, his words took me eight years back in time. It was awe-inspiring to link these words to the same words uttered at a time when the future of everything was too smoky and hazy on an autumn day in September 2015 – all in the very literal sense too. Today, we have seen how Allah has granted esteem to His chosen one through His “grace and mercy”.
That Allah shows immense grace and mercy for this chosen one – our Imam – is now evident to everyone!
الھم اید امامنا بروح القدس