Orignially published in Patheos
The last papal visit was a long seven years ago.
American Catholics feel elated that the Holy Father once again graces America with his presence. For them, Pope Francis coming to the United States and speaking to Congress is like the feeling you get when you introduce your friends from church to your friends from school and both groups get along. Catholic youth will be giddy with joy and share their excitement with their fellow classmates of all diverse backgrounds.
This is where we reach a fork in the road. Most religions do not have a global spiritual leader. As a result, many will not be able to share the joy because they will not have the ability to relate to this event’s significance. Some will look on, happy for Catholics, others will miss the event altogether, and still others will wish their faith had a leadership structure that kept themselves organized worldwide.
Muslim youth will especially be in a tizzy. They will go home and ask their parents why they don’t have a pope. Muslim parents will answer that Islam used to have Caliphs but that ended in the early 20th century. This statement is disheartening, and inaccurate, yet it persists.
Recently, Haroon Moghul all but buried any existing international Muslim leader in his CNN opinion piece. In that eulogy, he did not include Islam’s papal parallel, the Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad. In doing so, he unfairly left out historic moments, as when His Holiness addressed politicians, NGOs, and thought leaders at Capitol Hill in 2012. His Holiness Ahmad is the world’s single claimant to the Divinely appointed Caliphate. He is the Khalifa and spiritual leader for tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims in 207 nations. In other words, just as the pope leads the single largest Christian sect on earth, the Khalifa leads the single largest unified Muslim community on Earth.
American Ahmadi Muslims are excited for our Catholic friends that the pope will speak at Capitol Hill. After all, we know the feeling. We realize how important it is for faith leaders to have a conversation with political leaders. These conversations show both worshippers and citizenry that religious and secular entities can learn from each other.
During His Holiness’ lecture on Capitol Hill, the Khalifa Ahmad spoke about the path to peace and just relations between nations. I recall how a military officer exclaimed that His Holiness was completely accurate in the approach to peace and justice. Others stated that if we followed these guidelines, we would achieve the peace and justice we desperately need. It is in the meeting of these different minds that all can check their own views and see how their moral compass is set.
With this in mind, many look forward to what the pope will say to Congress. Regarding the current stark economic inequality, the pope previously stated “extreme poverty and unjust economic structures that cause great inequalities” violate human rights. The Khalifa Ahmad said at Capitol Hill, “[T]he requirements of justice are not being fulfilled. Therefore, there is an urgent need to try and end inequality, wherever and whenever it exists.”
The Iran Deal is also a hot button issue. After over a decade of war, it appears some Americans on the far right want to wage war on Iran. The pope will likely advise to stay away from war. If he does, he would advocate similarly to what the Khalifa said, “[G]overnments should not take advantage of other nations by making unjust trade deals or contracts. Similarly, on the basis of providing expertise or assistance, governments should not try to take control of the natural resources or assets of the developing nations.”
And ultimately, the pope may even address the Syrian refugee crisis and ask the United States to bring in more refugees. The Khalifa has also encouraged a global plan to allow for the resettlement of refugees. Both leaders follow their faith’s teachings of being kind to your neighbor. In this ever-shrinking global community, everyone is essentially everyone’s neighbor. Thus, humanity’s actions toward each other must reflect that kindness.
The pope’s words should have a real effect on Congress, just as the Khalifa’s words had effect in the audience’s hearts and minds. This is an exciting visit during a critical part in America’s history.
Hopefully, we can all benefit from it.