Huzoor had only been in the United States for around 36 hours but his itinerary was such that the following morning, on 17 October 2018, Huzoor departed from Baitur Rahman and travelled to Philadelphia.
The Qafila departed at 11.20am and we drove straight to Philadelphia, through Maryland, then Delaware and finally into Pennsylvania.
I had been to Philadelphia earlier in the year, just for a few hours, when I had visited the United States with my son Mahid. At the time, I had seen only the city centre and some of the historical sites and my impression had been that Philadelphia was a very well maintained and affluent city.
It is hard to judge a city just from seeing the tourist areas and, as we approached the Mosque, I saw a completely different side to Philadelphia.
The Mosque was located in the inner city and whilst approaching it the signs of destitution, crime and poverty were all too apparent. It seemed like a completely different city to the one I had visited a few months earlier.
Amongst the signs of deprivation, suddenly, like a luminous bright light appearing in the dead of the night, was our beautiful new Mosque.
After many years of struggle, a glorious and stunning Mosque was finally ready for opening.
For several years, I had heard that the United States Jamaat was building a Mosque in Philadelphia but along the way several roadblocks had delayed the process.
Alhamdolillah, many Ahmadis had made significant sacrifices in the cause of Allah and now the Mosque was finally ready.
As he arrived, Huzoor was greeted by hundreds of Ahmadis, including many from amongst the African American community and, upon request of the local Jamaat, Huzoor immediately unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the Mosque and led a silent prayer.
I was confused as to whether that constituted the ‘official opening’ of the Mosque, as I was under the impression that the official opening would be on Friday with Jumma.
As my department had to prepare an official Press Release and report for MTA, I was unsure how we should report the plaque unveiling.
To ensure we did not misreport anything, I sought Huzoor’s guidance later in the day.
Clarifying how it should be reported, Huzoor said:
“Today was not the official opening. The Mosque will be opened with the Friday Sermon, Insha’Allah.”
It was thus clear that Huzoor did not consider the unveiling of the plaque as part of the Mosque opening. If Huzoor offers the Friday Prayers at a new mosque, it is that event which constitutes the inauguration.