Historic Address at Captiol Hill
On 27th June 2012, a historic event took place at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, Fifth Successor to the Promised Messiah(as) and Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, addressed leading congressmen, senators, ambassadors, White House and State Department Staff, NGO leaders, religious leaders, professors, policy advisors, bureaucrats, members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of think-tanks and the Pentagon and journalists from the media. The meeting, the first of its kind, gave the opportunity to some of the most influential leaders in the United States, including Honourable Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, to hear first-hand Islam’s message on world peace. Following the event, His Holiness was given a tour of the Capitol Hill building, before being escorted to the House of Representatives where a Resolution was introduced in honour of his visit to the United States. The introductory paragraph of the Resolution stated:
“Welcoming His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide spiritual and administrative head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, to Washington, DC, and recognizing his commitment to world peace, justice, nonviolence, human rights, religious freedom and democracy.”
Senator Robert Casey (US-PA) welcomed His Holiness to the United States and said that he was greatly appreciative at having the opportunity to meet with him. He said: “Your Holiness, I want to thank you for your great leadership and your commitment to peace, tolerance and justice.”
The first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison (US MN-5) said that the United States was “honoured by the presence of His Holiness” and he said that under the leadership of its Khalifa, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at was proving to be a “true blessing for the people of the United States.”
Congressman Brad Sherman (US CA-27) said that he would be introducing the Congressional Resolution welcoming His Holiness to the United States in the House of Representatives immediately after the event. He also said that His Holiness was “a model of tolerance for the entire world.”
Katrina Lantos Swett, Chairwoman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that she felt the entire room was filled with a “special blessing and undoubtedly it is a reflection of the blessing His Holiness brings to the Capitol.” She went on to speak about and condemn the continued persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in various countries.
Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10) welcomed Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) to the United States and said that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at was ever ready to support all human rights efforts.
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15) spoke about his pleasure at meeting His Holiness privately the evening before at the Baitur Rahman Mosque. He said that he hoped that Ahmadis remained forever safe in the United States so that they could continue to propagate their message of peace.
Thereafter, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) presented a copy of the Special Congressional Resolution to His Holiness.
Democratic Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said she was proud that such a bipartisan welcome had been given to Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba). She said the leadership of Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad was characterised by “wisdom and compassion.” She further said that despite facing grave persecution, “His Holiness has refused to turn to bitterness or vengeance.” The full list of attendees at the Capitol Hill event reads as follows:
- U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Sr. (Democrat Pennsylvania)
- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (Republican Texas)
- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (Democrat Minnesota)
- U.S. Congressman Bradley Sherman (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (Republican Virginia)
- U.S. Congressman Michael Honda (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman Timothy Murphy (Republican Pennsylvania)
- U.S. Congresswoman Jeannette Schmidt (Republican Ohio)
- U.S. Congresswoman Janice Hahn (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky (Democrat Illinois)
- U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat Texas)
- U.S. Congressman Gary Peters (Democrat Michigan)
- U.S. Congressman Thomas Petri (Republican Wisconsin)
- U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano (Democrat Massachusetts)
- U.S. Congressman Howard Berman (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman André Carson (Democrat Indiana)
- U.S. Congresswoman Laura Richardson (Democrat California)
- U.S. Congressman Lloyd Poe (Republican Texas)
- U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (Democrat Massachusetts)
- U.S. Congressman. Bruce Braley (Democrat Iowa)
- U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat Ohio)
- U.S. Congressman Trent Franks (Republican Arizona)
- U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy (Democrat Connecticut)
- U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson (Democrat Georgia)
- U.S. Congressman James Clyburn (Democrat South Carolina)
- His Excellency Bockari Kortu Stevens, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the United States
- Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chairwoman, United States Commission on Inteternational Religious Freedom
- Hon. Tim Kaine, Former Governor of Virginia
- Amb. Susan Burk, Special Representative of President Barack Obama for Nuclear Nonproliferation
- Amb. Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
- Hon. Khaled Aljalahma, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States
- Rev. Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume, First Counselor (Deputy Chief of Mission), The Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States
- Ms. Sara Al-Ojaili, Public Affairs/Liaison Officer, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States
- Mr. Salim Al Kindie, First Secretary, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States
- Ms. Fozia Fayyaz, Embassy of Pakistan to the United States
- Hon. Saida Zaid, Counselor, Embassy of Morocco to the United States
- Hon. Nabeel Munir, Minister-IV (Security Council), Pakistan Permanent Mission to the United Nations
- Hon. Josef Renggli, Minister-Counselor, Embassy of Switzerland to the United States
- Hon. Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, U.S. Department of State
- Amb. Karl Inderfurth, Senior Adviser and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Hon. Donald A. Camp, Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Amb. Jackie Wolcott, Executive Director, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Mr. Isaiah Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery County, Maryland
- Ms. Victoria Alvarado, Director, Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
- Dr. Imad Dean Ahmad, Director, Minaret of Freedom Institute
- Dr. Zainab Alwani, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Howard University School of Divinity
- Ms. Deborah L. Benedict, Associate Counsel, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
- Ms. Lora Berg, Senior Adviser to Special Representative to Muslim Communities, U.S. Department of State
- Dr. Charles Butterworth, Professor (Emeritus) of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park
- Father John Crossin, Executive Director for Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Major (Ret.) Franz Gayl, Senior Science Adviser, U.S. Marine Corps.
- Dr. Sue Gurawadena-Vaughn, Director of International Religious Freedom and South East Asia Programs, Freedom House
- Mr. Frank Jannuzi, Head of Washington Office, Amnesty International USA
- Mr. T. Kumar, International Advocacy Director, Amnesty International USA
- George Leventhal, Member of the Montgomery County Council
- Mr. Amer Latif, Visiting Fellow, Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Mr. Tim Lenderking, Director of Pakistan Desk Office, U.S. State Department
- Mr. Jalal Malik, International Affairs Officer, U.S. Army National Guard
- Mr. Naveed Malik, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Ms. Dalia Mogahed, Senior Analyst and Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
- Mr. Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
- Major General David Quantock, United States Army Provost General
- Ms. Tina Ramirez, Director of International and Government Relations, The Becket Fund
- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism
- Chaplain, Brigadier General Alphonse Stephenson, Director of the National Guard Bureau Office of the Chaplain
- Mr. Knox Thames, Director of Policy and Research, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Mr. Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
- Dr. Hassan Abbas, Professor, Regional and Analytical Studies Department, National Defense University
- Mr. Malik Siraj Akbar, Reagan-Fascell Fellow, National Endowment of Democracy
- Mr. Matthew K. Asada, Congressional Fellow to Rep. Gary Peters
- Ms. Stacy Burdett, Director of Government and National Affairs, Anti-Defamation League
- Ms. Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director for Policy and Research, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Ms. Aimee Chiu, Director of Media, Communication, and Public Relations, American Islamic Congress
- Mr. Cornelius Cremin, Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Acting Deputy Director and Foreign Affairs Officer for Pakistan
- Mr. Sadanand Dhume, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
- Dr. Richard Gathro, Dean of Nyack College, Washington D.C.
- Mr. Joe Grieboski, Chairman, The Institute on Religion and Public Policy
- Ms. Sarah Grieboski, The Institute on Religion and Public Policy
- Dr. Max Gross, Adjunct Professor, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University
- Dr. Riaz Haider, Clinical Professor of Medicine, George Washington University
- Ms. Huma Haque, Assistant Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council
- Mr. Jay Kansara, Associate Director, Hindu American Foundation
- Mr. Hamid Khan, Senior Program Officer, Rule of Law Center, U.S. Institute for Peace
- Ms. Valerie Kirkpatrick, Associate for Refugees and U.S. Advocacy, Human Rights Watch
- Mr. Alex Kronemer, Unity Productions
- Mr. Paul Liben, Executive Writer, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Ms. Amy Lillis, Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Mr. Graham Mason, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Allyson Schwartz
- Ms. Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service
- Mr. Dan Merica, CNN.com
- Mr. Joseph V. Montville, Senior Associate, Merrimack College Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations
- Mr. Aaron Myers, Program Officer, Freedom House
- Ms. Attia Nasar, Regional Coordinating Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Ms. Melanie Nezer, Senior Director, US Policy and Advocacy, HIAS
- Dr. Elliott Parris, Bowie State University
- Mr. John Pinna, Director of Government and International Relations, American Islamic Congress
- Mr. Arif Rafiq, Adjunct Scholar, Middle East Institute
- Ms. Maya Rajaratnam, Amnesty International
- Ms. Rachel Sauer, Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Dr. Jerome Schiele, Dean of College of Professional Studies, Bowie State University
- Ms. Samantha Schnitzer, Staff, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Dr. Mary Hope Schwoebel, Senior Program Officer, Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute for Peace
- Ms. Sarah Schlesinger, International and Government Relations Associate, The Becket Fund
- Dr. Frank Sellin, Kyrgystan Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State
- Ms. Anna-Lee Stangl, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Ms. Kalinda Stephenson, Professional Staff, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
- Mr. Jordan Tama, Lead Democratic Staffer, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
- Mr. Shaun Tandon, AFP
- Dr. Wilhelmus Valkenberg, Professor of Religion and Culture, The Catholic University of America
- Mr. Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs, Baha’is of the United States
- Mr. Jihad Saleh Williams, Government Affairs Representative, Islamic Relief USA
- Ms. Amelia Wang, Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Judy Chu
- Ms. Moh Sharma, Legislative Fellow to Congresswoman Judy Chu
The keynote address was delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, at 10:40am. The transcript of this historic address is presented below:
Address by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. USA
“Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem – In the name of Allah, the Gracious, Ever Merciful.
All distinguished guests – Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahe Wa Barakatohu – Peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.
Before proceeding, I would like to first of all take this opportunity to thank you all for taking the time to come and listen to what I have to say. I have been requested to speak about a subject that is extremely vast and wide ranging. It has many different aspects and therefore, it is not possible for me to cover all of them in the short time available. The subject that I have been asked to speak about is the establishment of world peace. Certainly, this is the most vital and pressing issue facing the world today. However, as the time is limited, I will only briefly give the Islamic viewpoint on the establishment of peace through just and equal relations between nations.
The truth is that peace and justice are inseparable – you cannot have one without the other. Certainly, this principle is something that all wise and intelligent people understand. Leaving aside those people who are determined to create disorder in the world, no one can ever claim that in any society, country or even the entire world, that there can be disorder or a lack of peace where justice and fair dealing exist. Nevertheless, we find in many parts of the world that disorder and a lack of peace are prevalent. Such disorder is visible both internally within countries, and externally in terms of the relations between various nations. Such disorder and strife exists even though all governments claim to make policies that are based on justice. All claim that the establishment of peace is their primary objective. Yet, in general, there is little doubt that restlessness and anxiety is increasing in the world, and so disorder is spreading. This clearly proves that somewhere along the line, the requirements of justice are not being fulfilled. Therefore, there is an urgent need to try and end inequality, wherever and whenever it exists. Thus, as the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I would like to make a few observations about the need for, and the ways to achieve peace based on justice.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is purely a religious community. It is our firm belief that the Messiah and Reformer who was destined to appear in this age and enlighten the world as to Islam’s true teachings has indeed arrived. We believe that the Founder of our Community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian(as), was that very Promised Messiah and Reformer, and thus we have accepted him. He pressed upon his followers to act and propagate the real and true teachings of Islam that are based on the Holy Qur’an. Therefore, everything that I will say in relation to establishing peace, and in relation to conducting just international relations, will be based on Qur’anic teachings.
In relation to achieving world peace, all of you regularly express your opinions, and indeed make great efforts. Your creative and intelligent minds allow you to present great ideas, plans and indeed a vision of peace. Thus, this issue does not require me to speak from a worldly or political perspective, but instead my entire focus will be based on how to establish peace based on religion. For this purpose I shall, as I have earlier said, present some very important guidelines based on the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
It is important to always remember that human knowledge and intellect is not perfect, but is in fact limited. Thus, when making decisions or forming thoughts often certain factors enter human minds, which can cloud judgement and lead to a person trying to fulfil his own rights. Ultimately, this can lead to an unjust outcome and decision being made. God’s Law, however, is perfect and so no vested interests or unfair provisions exist. This is because God only desires for the good and betterment of His Creation and therefore, His Law is based entirely on justice. The day the people of the world come to recognise and understand this crucial point will be the day that the foundation for true and everlasting peace will be laid. Otherwise, we continue to find that although efforts are endlessly made to establish world peace, yet they are unable to provide any worthwhile results.
After the conclusion of the First World War, the leaders of certain countries desired for good and peaceful relations between all nations in future. Thus, in an effort to achieve world peace the League of Nations was formed. Its principal aim was to maintain world peace and to prevent future wars from breaking out. Unfortunately, the rules of the League and the resolutions it passed had certain flaws and weaknesses and so they did not properly protect the rights of all peoples and all nations equally. Consequently, as a result of the inequalities that existed, long-term peace could not prevail. The efforts of the League failed and this led directly to World War II.
We are all aware of the unparalleled destruction and devastation that ensued, where around 75 million people globally lost their lives, many of who were innocent civilians. That war should have been more than enough to open the eyes of the world. It should have been a means to developing wise policies that granted all parties their due rights, based on justice, and thus prove to be a means of establishing peace in the world. The world’s governments at the time did endeavour to some extent to try and establish peace, and hence the United Nations was established. However, it soon became quite apparent that the noble and overarching objective underpinning the United Nations could not be fulfilled. Indeed, today certain governments quite openly make statements that prove its failure.
What does Islam say in relation to international relations that are based on justice, and so a means of establishing peace? In the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty has made it clear that whilst our nationalities or ethnic backgrounds act as a means of identity, they do not entitle or validate any form of superiority of any kind.1
The Qur’an, thus, makes clear that all people are born equal. Furthermore, in the final sermon ever delivered by the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw), he instructed all Muslims to always remember that an Arab is not superior to a non-Arab and nor is a non-Arab superior to an Arab. He taught that a white person is not superior to a black person and nor is a black person superior to a white person. Thus, it is a clear teaching of Islam that the people of all nationalities and all races are equal. It is also made clear that all people should be granted equal rights without any discrimination or prejudice. This is the key and golden principle that lays the foundation for harmony between different groups and nations, and for the establishment of peace.
However, today we find that there is division and separation between powerful and weaker nations. For example, in the United Nations we find that there is a distinction made between certain countries. Thus, in the Security Council there are some permanent members and some non-permanent members. This division has proved to be an internal source of anxiety and frustration and thus we regularly hear reports of certain countries protesting against this inequality. Islam teaches absolute justice and equality in all matters and so we find another very crucial guideline in Chapter 5, Verse 3 of the Holy Qur’an. In this verse it states that to fully comply with the requirements of justice, it is necessary to treat even those people, who go beyond all limits in their hatred and enmity, with fairness and equity. The Qur’an teaches that wherever and whoever counsels you towards goodness and virtue, you should accept it, and wherever and whoever counsels you towards sinful or unjust behaviour, you should reject it.
A question that naturally arises is that what is the standard of justice required by Islam? In Chapter 4, Verse 136, the Holy Qur’an states that even if you have to testify against yourself, or your parents or your most loved ones, then you must do so in order to uphold justice and to uphold the truth. Powerful and rich countries should not usurp the rights of the poor and weaker countries in an effort to preserve their own rights, and nor should they deal with the poorer nations in an unjust fashion. On the other hand, the poor and weaker nations should not seek to inflict harm on the powerful or wealthy nations whenever the opportunity arises. Instead, both sides should endeavour to fully abide by the principles of justice. Indeed, this is a matter of crucial importance in maintaining peaceful relations between countries.
Another requirement for peace between nations based on justice is given in Chapter 15, Verse 89 of the Holy Qur’an where it states that no party should ever look enviously at the resources and wealth of others. Similarly, no country should seek to unjustly appropriate or take over the resources of another country on the false pretext of trying to assist or support them. Thus, on the basis of providing technical expertise, governments 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. Where less educated people or governments need to be taught how to properly utilise their natural resources, then this should be done.
Then, nations and governments should always seek to serve and help those less fortunate. However, such service should not be rendered with an aim of achieving national or political benefits or as a means to fulfil vested interests. We find that in the past six or seven decades the United Nations has launched many programmes or foundations aiming to help the poor countries to progress. Towards this effort they have explored the natural resources of the developing nations. However, despite these efforts, none of the poorer countries have reached the stage or level of the developed nations. One reason for this is certainly wide-ranging corruption by many of the governments of those under-developed countries. With regret though I must say that despite this, as a means to further their own interests, the developed nations have continued to deal with such governments. Trade deals, international aid and business contracts have continued to be processed. As a result, the frustrations and restlessness of the poor and deprived segments of society have continued to increase and this has led to rebellion and internal disorder within those countries. The poor people of the developing countries have become so frustrated that they have turned against not only their own leaders, but also the big powers as well. This has played into the hands of the extremist groups, who have taken advantage of the frustrations, and so have been able to encourage such people towards joining their groups and supporting their hate-filled ideology. The ultimate result of this has been that the peace of the world has been destroyed.
Thus, Islam has drawn our attention to various means for peace. It requires absolute justice. It requires truthful testimony to always be given. It requires that our glances are not cast enviously in the direction of the wealth of others. It requires that the developed nations put aside their vested interests, and instead help and serve the less developed and poorer nations with a truly selfless attitude and spirit. If all of these factors are observed, then true peace will be established.
If despite all these aforementioned measures any country transgresses all limits and attacks another country, and seeks to unjustly take control of its resources, then other countries should certainly take measures to stop such cruelty – but they should always act with justice when doing so.
The circumstances for taking action, based on Islamic teachings are detailed in the Qur’an, in Chapter 49.2 It teaches that when two nations are in dispute and this leads to war, then other governments should strongly counsel them towards dialogue and diplomacy so that they can come to an agreement and reconciliation on the basis of a negotiated settlement. If, however, one of the parties does not accept the terms of agreement and wages war, then other countries should unite together and fight to stop that aggressor. When the aggressive nation is defeated and agrees to mutual negotiation, then all parties should work towards an agreement that leads to long-standing peace and reconciliation. Harsh and unjust conditions should not be enforced that leads to the hands of any nation being tied, because in the long-term that will lead to restlessness, which will ferment and spread. The result of such restlessness will be further disorder.
In circumstances where a third-party government seeks to bring about reconciliation between two parties, then it should act with sincerity and total impartiality. This impartiality should remain even if one of the parties speaks against it. Therefore, the third-party should display no anger in such circumstances, it should seek no revenge, nor should it act in an unfair manner. All parties should be afforded their due rights.
Thus, for the requirements of justice to be fulfilled, it is essential that the countries that are negotiating a settlement should themselves not seek to fulfil their own personal interests, nor try to derive benefit unduly from either country. They should not interfere unjustly or pressure either of the parties unfairly. The natural resources of any country should not be taken advantage of. Unnecessary and unfair restrictions should not be placed upon such countries, because this is neither just and nor can it ever prove to be a source of improving relations between countries.
Due to time constraints, I have only very briefly mentioned these points. In short, if we desire for peace to be established in the world, then we must leave aside our personal and national interests for the greater good and instead we must establish mutual relations that are based entirely on justice. Otherwise, some of you might agree with me that due to alliances, blocs may be formed in future – or I can even say they have started forming – and it is not unlikely that disorder will continue to increase in the world, which will ultimately lead to a huge destruction. The effects of such devastation and warfare will surely last for many generations. Therefore, the United States, as the world’s largest power, should play its role in acting with true justice and with such good intentions, as I have described. If it does so then the world will always remember with great admiration your great efforts. It is my prayer that this becomes a reality. Thank you very much. Thank you again.
According our tradition, at the end of the function we normally perform a silent prayer. Thus, I will perform the silent prayer and the Ahmadis will follow me. All of you, our guests, can pray in your own way.”
1. The Holy Qur’an, Ch.49:V.14
2. The Holy Qur’an, Ch.49:V.10