U.S. Muslims gather in Harrisburg to promote peace
With more than 6,000 delegates and guests, the nation's oldest Muslim peace conference wrapped up its annual summit on Sunday in Harrisburg with continuing calls to denounce terrorism and remain loyal to U.S. leaders.
Termed “Jalsa Salana,” the yearly conference of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center drew “several dozen” from Western Pennsylvania, according to Dr. Sohail Z. Husain, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of UPMC, who serves on the group's science panel.
“People like the Taliban in Afghanistan are militant Muslims who have made attempts to hijack the religion,” said Husain, 40, of Indiana. “They have gunned down women who have attempted to get an education. But we're building girls schools around the world. We promote science, and our faith isn't about politics. It's about divine mercy and love.”
Founded in 1889 by the Indian reformist Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Ahmadiyya Muslims are known worldwide for their moderation, belief in Jesus Christ as a prophet and a commitment to defusing political problems peacefully. With more than 10 million followers estimated globally, the faith has come under siege from increasingly radicalized Islamic rivals in Pakistan and Indonesia.
The community dates to 1920 in the United States, and on Sunday, Hazra Mirza Masoor Ahmad — the fifth Khalifa, a spiritual leader who descended from the founder — spoke to the conference from Germany through a live satellite feed about these and other issues.
“We believe in a civil dialogue with all faiths,” said Husain. “No one should insult another's leaders. That's why we come together — to become better people and better citizens of our country.”
Carl Prine is staff writer for the Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.