The worldwide spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is visiting Washington D.C. this week. He made his first trip to Capitol Hill Wednesday to speak with Congress and urge legislators and world leaders to seek global peace.
Legislators, including Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hosted the bipartisan event to honor Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Also known as the "Khalifa of Islam," Ahmad is the leader of one of the largest followings of Muslims in the world. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the U.S., which is the oldest Muslim-American organization, was established in 1920.
The community claims to be the leading Muslim voice of peace, actively renouncing terrorism and war across the globe. This week, before a packed hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, Masroor Ahmad spoke about the peace initiatives he's urging world leaders to follow.
"All people should be granted equal rights without any discrimination or prejudice," said Masroor Ahmad. "This is the key and golden principle that lays the foundation for harmony between different groups and nations, and for the establishment for peace."
Despite their wide reach, the Ahmadi are often persecuted and prohibited from practicing their faith in many countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, and Egypt. At a reception in his honor, Pelosi acknowledged Masroor Ahmad's commitment to peace and global harmony in the face of repression.
"You have been persecuted for your beliefs, jailed for your faith, and exiled from your homeland, but you refuse to turn to bitterness or vengeance, and that is a very important lesson," Pelosi said.
Later, in his keynote address to more than 200 Muslims, legislators, and local leaders, Masroor Ahmad described what he says is the path to peace.
"It requires absolute justice, and it requires that the developed nations put aside their own vested interest and instead help and serve the less developed and poorer nations with a truly selfless attitude and sprit," Masroor Ahmad said. "If these factors are observed then true peace will be established."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), is the nation's first and only Muslim member of Congress.
"His holiness comes from a point of great credibility, not only because of his spiritual elevation, but also because the Ahmadi community has been persecuted around the world in ruthless ways," Ellison said Wednesday "So we need this message of religious tolerance."
Next week, Masroor Ahmad will attend the Ahmadiyya community 64th annual gathering in Harrisburg, Pa.