ROCHESTER — The Ahmadi Muslim Community, the first Muslim community in America, will celebrate its centennial on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Ahmadiyyat is a sect of Islam founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India in 1889.

Ahmadi Muslims believe that Ahmad was the symbolic second coming of Jesus. Ahmad similarly preached that extremist violence and the use of force in religion is entirely un-Islamic. Ahmadi Muslims believe that jihad is essentially a moral struggle to get rid of sin and serve humanity through peace, justice, and charity.

The Ahmadi movement in Islam is rooted in missionary work. The first Ahmadi missionary, Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, arrived in the United States in February 1920. Ahmadi missionaries began producing and distributing Islamic literature in the English language, which was unprecedented in the West. A call for racial equality and justice in particular resonated with the racial and social atmosphere of the United States during this time. The Ahmadi Muslim community in America was a key influencer of the American Civil Rights Movement.

The Ahmadi Muslims are a persecuted sect of Islam and unfortunately face oppression in many Muslim countries. As a result, many Ahmadi Muslims sought refuge in the West and migrated to the United States for religious freedom.

In Rochester, the Ahmadi Muslim Community will be hosting a food and clothing drive for the needy to commemorate the centennial to give back to the community. The Ahmadi Muslim mosque is located on 1609 East Main St. in Rochester.

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