Chaudhry Bilal Akbar, Missionary, Strasbourg, France
On 26 June 2022, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Strasbourg, France had the opportunity to organise its first open day at the Mahdi Mosque.
The aim was to open doors and welcome the wider community so they could be taught about the beautiful teachings of Islam and get to know each other better, and as a result remove misconceptions regarding Islam. During the event, guests had the opportunity to openly ask questions about Islam.
To promote this event, two banners were hung up on the front of the mosque which were visible from the roads around the mosque. Jamaat members also distributed leaflets in several villages around the mosque and invited their respective contacts to the event. The programme started at 10 am and finished around 7 pm.
Guests were guided by Khuddam through the mosque to visit different stalls prepared especially for this occasion. The tour began with an introduction to the building and a brief history of its construction. This was followed by a visit to the library with an exhibition of the Holy Quran – Quran translations in more than 20 languages were displayed.
The guests were then able to discover the mosque. The Khuddam gave detailed explanations about the interior architecture as well as the attributes of God and the prayers inscribed on the walls, the dome and the mihrab.
Three different stalls were set up within the mosque:
1. A video presentation of the history of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya
2. An exhibition on the physical and spiritual benefits of prayer, illustrated by photographs of different postures
3. A question and answer stall with the theme: “I am a Muslim. Ask me a question”
Following this, the guests were guided towards the hall where the following three stalls were prepared for them:
1. A stand dedicated to the humanitarian association of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community; Humanity First International. The regional manager of the charity explained different activities carried out at the local level for those people in need
2. A stall of Arabic calligraphy was also a great success. The guests were introduced to the Arabic alphabet and accents. The guests were also given the opportunity to write their first names in Arabic
3. Finally, Lajna Imaillah had prepared a stand that showcased their humanitarian activities such as charity walks, blood donations, visiting care homes, charity collections, sewing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, donations to hospitals, councils and neighbours, and making hygiene kits for the homeless and others in need. Moreover, the Lajna stand helped people understand the Islamic concept of purdah and FAQs and personal quotes of Ahmadi Muslim women on the topic of why they observed purdah were displayed. The stall also exhibited the rights of Muslim women in Islam; highlighting the difference between the pre-Islamic era and the Islamic era, and how the status of the mother, daughter and wife was elevated in the Islamic Era. Various articles written by French Ahmadi Muslim women on issues regarding women were also on display.
A regional daily French newspaper covering the Alsace region, Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) covered the event and published an article. It wrote:
“‘Love for all, hate for none’. More than a slogan, it is with these values of openness and fraternity that the community of the Mahdi mosque in Hurtigheim welcomed visitors during the open days last Sunday.”
The article mentioned how the Ahmadiyya Muslim community had taken pride in honouring the role of women in the community. Furthermore, it highlighted how the community builds mosques without state subsidies, rather financing them exclusively through donations of the faithful.
A total of 132 guests visited our mosque, including senior members of the national police as well as local elected officials.