Friday, Oct. 26, marked a notable day for Greater Houston-area Muslims as over a thousand devotees poured into the Baitus Samee Mosquee at 1333 Spears Road, Houston, to listen to a sermon delivered by an international Muslim leader.
The sermon was delivered by His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of Islam, as part of his U.S.-Guatemala tour. His Holiness is the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community—the world’s largest Muslim organization—and he regularly delivers sermons and campaigns to promote Islamic teachings, according to an AMC press kit.
The tour, which included stops in Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Virginia and Guatemala, is intended to convey the peaceful message of Islam, according to the press kit. Ahmad stayed in Houston from Oct. 21-22 and Oct. 25-27.
This was Ahmad’s first visit America in five years and his first visit to Texas, said Ahmad Chaudhry, a spokesperson for the AMC.
“The purpose of his visit here is primarily to be with the members of the community and to get an understanding … of what their concerns are and what their needs are,” Chaudhry said.
A significant concern in the Islamic community both locally and worldwide is declining spirituality amidst growing secularism and materialism, Chaudhry said. He added that His Holiness seeks to counter this trend by delivering messages of inclusion and peace.
“There has been a decline in religion in general, and his message has been to revive the spirituality in people,” Chaudhry said.
At the Oct. 26 sermon, Ahmad urged members of the Muslim community to take practical steps to revive their faith and establish spiritual responsibilities, among others.
Another focus for the AMC has been raising awareness of their religion and promoting community inclusion, particularly among non-Muslims, Chaudhry said. AMC runs a campaign nationwide, including at the Houston mosque, called “Coffee, Cake and True Islam,” for members of the community to come and ask questions regarding the Islamic faith.
“People have questions, but the worst thing is they don’t ask those questions because they are apprehensive or feel like they’re going to offend someone,” Chaudhry said.
Another key message from AMC is to reject any ties with terrorism and instead promote a welcoming and nonviolent environment, Chaudhry said.
“This [Houston] mosque has been here for well over a decade and it’s been a source of peace throughout the community,” he said. “I’d like the local residents to know it’s only going to be a message of peace coming out of this mosque and they are welcome here anytime.”