The Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s new mosque in Ballybrit must become a symbol of peace for the city and be a place for promoting harmony among Galway’s different communities.
This is the view of Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who was in Galway last week.
The Khalifa, the supreme head of the Ahmadiyya community, was in the city last Friday to lay the foundation stone for the new mosque which is being built at The Cottages, Monivea Road, Ballybrit.
Later that evening he xaddressed a civic reception held in his honour in the Clayton Hotel.
The reception was attended by politicians, religious leaders, and Galway’s Ahmadiyyas. Members of the public, who have become friends of the Ahmadiyya community over the past number of years also attended.
In his address, the Khalifa condemned violence perpetrated in the name of religion and he called for greater understanding between people of different religious traditions.
“Any evil, no matter how small it might be, appears more prominent when it hurts others,” he said.
The new mosque in Ballybrit will be officially named Masjid Maryum, in honour of the Virgin Mary, and His Holiness said he hoped it would become “a symbol of love and peace” which will promote “an atmosphere of harmony” among different communities in Galway.
“Galway people will see the message of Islam and see that it is a religion which establishes human values,” he said, “and that the Ahmadiyya Muslims are a beacon for these values.”
He also addressed the recent controversy surrounding the proposed building of a mosque and Islamic centre on ‘ground zero’ in New York, where the Twin Towers formerly stood.
“It is contrary to the teachings of Islam to kill innocent people indiscriminately and September 11 was a grave cruelty,” he said. “If the mosque is to be built on ground zero then why construct only a mosque? Next to the mosque should be a church, a synagogue, and other places of worship so that all religions can build a relationship of unity and tolerance.”
He said the Ahmadiyya approach is one of “the belief in the peaceful solution to all matters” summed up in the community’s motto of “love for all, hatred for none”.
His Holiness also called for the separation of the State and religious institutions and said violence is not the way to solve issues of dispute and difference.
He said the conditions to justify a violent Jihad are “not present in this age” and he encouraged Muslims to undertake a “Jihad of the pen” and to fight battles using intellect and reason.
The Khalifa also addressed criticisms of religion raised by individuals such as Richard Dawkins, who argues that religion is a cause of strife and violence.
“People who oppose religion say it is a cause of division and war,” he said. “However when you look into the reasons for how wars start you will find the causes lie in political motivations, disputes over geographical boundaries, the desire to capture and benefit from the resources of a neighbouring country, and because of tribal/national conflicts.”
As well as calling on Muslims to do more to address negative perceptions of their faith, he also called on the West not to see all Muslims in terms of negative stereotypes.
“I request that before you form an opinion on any matter, judge it from every angle before you make a decision,” he said. “Those who want the truth will find it through research but it will take time and effort.”