Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent
The impetus of the United States was but a handful of pilgrims fleeing from religious persecution. Since the founding of this great nation in 1776, freedom of religion has been etched into the fabric of our Constitution and impressed by our leaders. George Washington once said, “Every man … ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” This proclamation by our founding father wasn’t for the protection of every American but rather “every man.” It then is fitting that the United States, a nation formed for the protection of religious minorities, would fight for religious freedom throughout the world.
Just this past month, our representatives adhered to this call through the formation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus. A caucus is a group of congressional leaders who share and enact a common goal, and the common goal for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus is to ensure the protection of all religious minorities throughout the world. Even though partisan gridlock has hindered congressional progress, the protection of all religious minorities is so fundamental to our identity that Democrats and Republicans both support this caucus. California Democrat Representative Jackie Speier and Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf will cochair the Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus. Wolf stated, “The Ahmadiyya community is under threat in many parts of the world including in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. These human rights violations demand our attention. With the formation of this caucus, I look forward to continuing to shine a bright light on religious freedom abuses wherever they may occur.”
It is rather fitting for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be the catalyst for a goal so ingrained in our Constitution. After all, it was the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that erected the very first mosque in the United States in the 1920s under the guidance of Mufti Muhammad Sadiq. This is a community that created the Muslims for Life blood drive initiative in light of the 10-year memorial of 9/11 and collected enough blood bags to save over 30,000 American lives. This is the community that has led the Muslims for Peace campaign by utilizing the pen and rational discourse to elucidate on Islam’s true, peaceful message. These campaigns continue to this day. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is currently managing a blood drive campaign to save lives in remembrance of the Boston bombing tragedy.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Caucus is even more fitting when viewed in light of the Ahmadiyya community’s spiritual leadership. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Muslim community to be united by a single spiritual leader, the Khalifa of Islam, his Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. His Holiness has traveled across the world delivering an essential message: We all need to be at peace with each other and our Creator to attain world peace. Even though his followers are continuously persecuted in countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, he has never called for protest or violence but rather harkens to further prayers. In fact, just recently His Holiness led the Conference of World Religions and before that His Holiness wrote letters to all the world powers, entreating them to work toward peace and to warn of the possibility of another world war.
Indeed, our founding fathers in 1776 saw the importance of ensuring freedom of religion. These values hold strong today in 2014 and have been fortified through the efforts of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, under the guidance of the Khalifa of Islam.