AHMAD: Khalifa of Islam's historic visit to the U.S.

At a time in history when the world and especially the Muslim world is aching with war, terrorism and chaos, I feel blessed and proud to be part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which is unified under a central leadership or Khalifa.

The Khalifa (Caliph) of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has been on a tour of United States for the past few days. Many Americans are unaware of his existence or the fact that he is followed by tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims in around 200 countries. Our community bears the motto, "Love for all, Hatred for None" and our leader requires us to abide by peace, loyalty, tolerance and service to mankind wherever we live in the world.

'Khilafat' is nothing new to Islam. The word 'Khilafat' means succession and we believe that the Khalifa is a successor of a prophet of God whose goal is to carry to completion the tasks of reformation and moral training seeded by the prophet of Islam.

Historically speaking, there have been four successors 'Khulfa' after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (Praise be upon him). This institution was re-established after the death of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community whom we believe to be the promised Messiah of the latter days.

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the fifth Khalifa of our community and has been serving the community since 2003. He resides in the United Kingdom with his family, which serves as the community's international headquarters.

This is his second visit to the U.S with the main objective being the meeting with community members spread in 71 Chapters all over the country and also to convey the message of peace to the people and government of United States. At an event in Washington, D.C., on June 27, he was scheduled to deliver a keynote address "The Path to Peace: Just Relations Between Nations." Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, Congressman Keith Ellison and Sen. John Kerry were to attend the event along with other dignitaries.

The governor of Illinois welcomed His Holiness with a letter on his arrival in Chicago from London. He then went to Zion because of its historic nature for our community. This town was established by John Alexander Dowie, to whom the Promised Messiah issued a challenge of a prayer duel in 1902 upon his repeated insults and false allegations about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Praise be upon him). Dowie never responded but died a sad and lonely death as prophesied by our community founder. This led to the memorable headline in the Sunday Herald of Boston on June 23, 1907:

"Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is Great -- The Messiah foretold pathetic end of Dowie."

After visiting the first Ahmadi Mosque in Chicago, as of June 22, His Holiness arrived at Bait-ur-Rahman mosque in Maryland, where about 2000 community members greeted him.

This mosque serves as our community's National Headquarter in the U.S.

In the next few days he was to meet more community members and leaders in addition to attending our annual convention in Harrisburg, PA from June 29 to July 1, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 followers from all over the U.S and the world.

To watch our leader on Muslim TV Ahmadiyya, our community's 24 hour TV channel, is one thing, but to be in his presence is an experience of a much elevated level. Many families, including my own from our GA Chapter, are traveling to attend the convention in Harrisburg in hopes of a life changing experience in addition to the feeling of unity that such a large-scale community event brings.

Saima Ahmad is a resident of Suwanee.