Speech by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the inauguration ceremony of the Bibiheybat mosque shrine complex – July 12, 1998

Dear sisters and brothers! Dear compatriots!

Dear Azerbaijanis and Muslims!

I congratulate you on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. I wish peace and happiness to the whole Azerbaijani people and the world Muslims.

Today, on this holiday, which is important for us, a historic event is taking place in life of our nation. We have assembled in a place which became a sanctuary in the 13th century - 700 years ago. This sacred site is a burial place of Hz. Hokume, daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazim, sister of Imam Ridha. This place has been sacred for Muslims. For centuries Muslims have visited this place, sought for hope, prayed God, demonstrated their loyalty to Islam.

We are proud that one of the sacred places in the Islamic world is situated in Azerbaijan. One of them is where we are gathering today – Hz. Hokume`s grave and the mosque erected upon this grave. Pious people established a mosque here in this site 700 years ago. This place has been an Islamic temple and shrine ever since. In the mosque, the Muslims and Azerbaijanis have prayed to God, fulfilled their moral duties and demonstrated their devotion to their religion and moral. Islam has always tried to create high moral in people.

Islam has the highest moral values. It is Allah`s command and Muhammed`s path to maintain these values and bring people up with them. I am proud to state that the Azerbaijani people, having gone through all hardships, difficulties and disasters, always remained loyal to its religion and moral values. No regime or person could eliminate these feelings.

The mosque once situated here was barbarously demolished 60 years ago. Our people`s moral values and religious feelings were badly hit. Roughly hit, wounded and hurt, our people, however, were not defeated and could stand those shocks, wounds and sufferings. Having suffered all hardships, our people have maintained their love to this holy place and never stopped visiting it. Even after the mosque and the grave of Hz. Hokume were ravaged here, people still considered this cite as a place of hope. This place has never lost its importance as a sanctuary. People have always visited this sanctuary, fulfilled their dreams, received moral support in order to dwell and create.

It is history of the Azerbaijani people. Our history has tragic pages along with glorious, famous and successful ones. It is all our history. We have been proud of our successes, victories over centuries. They have encouraged, advanced and developed our people. At the same time, we have endured painful, poignant, and tragic stages of our history. Our honorable, honest forefathers endured all those difficulties, but they never got broken or lost confidence, they lived with hope. We have inherited our moral Islamic values through generations. They are still the biggest moral wealth of our people.

We started renovation of this holy site and reconstruction of the demolished mosque a few years ago. Our people always wanted reconstruction of the mosque, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan gained its independence and our people obtained religious freedom. Today is a historic day for us since we could fulfill our dreams. Here in this sacred place we could erect a mosque which is worthy to this place, Islam and our people. It is a historical event. We have gathered here on the occasion of the reconstruction of this mosque. This is a double holiday for the Azerbaijani Muslims, probably also for the Islamic world. The inauguration of a grandiose mosque upon Hz. Hokume`s grave on Mawlid is the second holiday.

Dear brothers and sisters! I congratulate you, the Azerbaijani people and the Islamic world on this historical occasion. I hope this mosque will expand further and serve our people and Islam for good.

I feel happy when I see this building. There are great architectural monuments in Azerbaijan. They were created by persons who served their nation for centuries. Great and beautiful architectural monuments have been created in Baku and in other parts of Azerbaijan during recent decades. This mosque with its own meaning and purpose is a magnificent, valuable and beautiful monument of our people. It enriches the history of Azerbaijani culture and architecture. It has a great meaning. This is a sanctuary, a holy place, and a beautiful architectural monument. I hope future generations will estimate our historical deed, maintain this mosque and never let this sanctuary go through troubles as it had in the past.

At the same time, I consider the construction of this mosque nationwide deed of the Azerbaijani people, who respect and are loyal to Islam. We have gathered in front of this beautiful monument erected as a result of nationwide deed. Thus, everyone who contributed to this construction deserves respect.

I thank everyone. Especially, the executive power of Baku and its head Rafael Allahverdiyev have done a lot here. I appreciate their job and thank them. I highly estimate the deeds of Haji Hikmet, who is working here and tied to this place and exhibiting real patriotism and loyalty to his nation. Every time when I visit here, I witness Haji Hikmet`s connection to this site and his deeds. Therefore, I express my respect and gratitude to Haji Hikmet and to other people working here with him.

All what is done demonstrates the current state of Islam in Azerbaijan. At present, Islam holds a special place in our society, serving our nation as a source and carrier of moral values. I consider it is one of the biggest achievements of our people in recent time.

The Religious Council of the Caucasus and its chairman Haji Allahshukur Pashazade have contributed a lot to Islam to hold a unique place in Azerbaijan and to our people to carry out their religious duties. As President of Azerbaijan, using this opportunity, I express my respect and gratitude to the Religious Council of the Caucasus, its chairman Haji Allahshükür Pashazade and all religious figures around him for achievements in fulfilling all duties of Islam and granting people freedom of conscience, for their activity in strengthening and developing national solidarity in Azerbaijan. Dear brothers, I wish you successes in your future activity.

Everyone who participated in renovation of the sanctuary and reconstruction of the mosque served their nation and religion. Therefore, I thank everyone – architects, constructors, workers.

This marvelous monument you see today gladdens us. But it is only the first stage of our job, in my opinion. This construction must be finished within the framework of the project. I state today that the project on full reconstruction of the mosque complex will continue under my auspices. I will create all necessary conditions and contributions to its realization.

This holy site must have a worthy neighborhood. So I think renovation must be carried out in the neighborhood around the mosque. Perhaps this renovation could be related to replacements of some surrounding buildings. I think we must make this holy place worthy in every way. Because after the reconstruction of the mosque is completed and the special places of graves of Hz. Hokume and other saints are determined, this holy place will become a big sanctuary not only for the Azerbaijani Muslims, but for the Muslims from all over the world. The number of visitors will increase year by year.

Therefore, I think a large complex should be built around this mosque. If religious figures agree with my views, then I would like to be submitted a relevant project. I promise to fulfill such a project.

We are part of the Islamic world. There are a lot of holy sites and sanctuaries in the Islamic world. We should be proud that there are several holy sites and sanctuaries in Azerbaijan, too. This place is the most respected and dearest of them. Therefore, we should agitate and earn this sanctuary fame all over the world to enrich the Islamic world with the past and present of this place. Also, it is of great importance to have each holy site of the Islamic history included in history books. This job should be done. I think my proposals are necessary in order to carry out all these ideas. Do you agree?

(Remarks: yes, we do)

Dear sisters, brothers, friends!

We don’t have that many happy days in our life. It is too hard. But we should thank Allah today as we are having happy moments now. Assembling together, we are celebrating Mawlid along with a memorable occasion. It is great happiness.

I congratulate you on this occasion once again. I express my love to the entire Azerbaijani people. I assure you that Azerbaijan`s independence is the main guaranty for maintaining our national moral values. You can be sure that Azerbaijan`s independence is in reliable hands now. You can be sure that I and the government of Azerbaijan do and will do our best in order to strengthen Azerbaijan`s independence day by day. We will develop our nation and strengthen the worthy place of Azerbaijan among the world nations. We will call for world nations to respect our national, moral and religious values, and we will achieve that. We need a national solidarity for achieving these goals. We do have it today and I am sure this solidarity will steadily grow. I assure you that Azerbaijan`s independence will strengthen and become indestructible, eternal, and infinite.

I wish each of you sound health and happiness. I wish our people happy future, peace and prosperity. Thank you.

Translated from "Azerbaycan", July 14, 1998