Notes and Comments: The Simla Municipality
The Young Islam, 1st October 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 9, p. 2)
The Secretary, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam, Simla, has published a statement in the vernacular press to the effect that their application for building a mosque has at last been turned down by the Simla Municipality. The Municipality has not been able to accede to their request because representations from various bodies have been made against the proposal. Particular mention is made in the letter from the Municipality of the strong protest lodged by 415 signatories who are Muslim residents of Simla. This is the plea on which the city-fathers of the Summer Capital of the Imperial Government have refused the sanction to build the proposed Mosque.
To believe in any faith, to act up to its teachings, and to erect houses of worship are such primary rights of people as are accepted by every civilized government of today. By far the greatest factor conducing to the stabilisation of the British Government in a country of multifarious faiths like India where religion has so powerful a hold on mass psychology, is its impartial and tolerant attitude towards all faiths and creeds. We are at a loss to understand how this fundamental right of the liberty of faith and its practice be denied to a section of its inhabitants by the Simla Municipality on the ground that some other people are opposed to a grant of the exercise of that right.
A mosque is neither a nuisance nor a centre of disturbance of public peace. The Ahmadiyya Community is renowned for its exclusive devotion to the peaceful task of disseminating the teachings of Islam. This it does not as a matter of policy or expediency but as a matter of faith and principle. For the Ahmadiyya Movement stands for the full manifestation of the gentler and beautiful aspect of Islamic teachings. The Ahmadiyya Movement has also declared that all nations and peoples had their prophets whom one should respect. It would certainly be the height of injustice to deny a people of so broad sympathies and so tolerant outlook the primary right to build a mosque, and this in a place which is the capital city of the Government of a country whose avowed policy is tolerance and impartiality towards all!
The task of erecting places of worship is so sacred that even persons of other faiths gladly volunteer to help in it. The French Government have built and are maintaining a beautiful mosque in Paris. In our own country the Maharaja of Kapurthala has in recent years built a mosque in his capital. We hear from our Baghdad correspondent that the Iraq Government have permitted the Arya Samaj to build a mandir [Hindu Temple] in that city and that all communities—Hindus, Sikhs as well as Muslims—are taking part in its construction.
It transpires all comprehension that forces of fanaticism and narrow-mindedness should be so rife in a place like Simla as to overwhelm the Municipal commissioners of the Imperial city. We hope that the Simla Municipality will lose no time in revising its decision thus saving time and trouble to higher authorities. The Muslim public, at least the sane and sober section of it, also owes a duty at this juncture. If they wish to convince non-Muslims of the tolerant and broadminded conception of Islam they must forthwith strongly protest against the entirely un-Islamic and bigoted action of the 415 Muslims of Simla who have opposed the proposal to build a mosque.