I am an American.
I have a full-time job in one of Greater Boston's renowned institutions as a medical professional. Yet, I just travelled out of the United States a few days ago to renew my pledge of allegiance to the caliphate. As a Muslim, I believe the best way to carry out my obligation of Jihad is with such an institution under a unified leader.
And I am not alone. Over thirty thousand other Muslims from all over the world are joining me here to take the pledge this weekend. And tens of millions of others are expected to join in through television and internet streaming world over.
No. I am not in Iraq. I am not in Syria either.
This Islamic Caliphate is flourishing on the Greenwich Line, right in the heart of London. And this Khalifa's name is Mirza Masroor Ahmad, commonly referred to as the Khalifa of Islam.
With missions in over 200 countries and adherents in the tens of millions, this caliphate leads the world's single largest Muslim community -- the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is the longest running Islamic caliphate in modern times, established over a hundred years ago in 1908. The Khalifa is a staunch advocate of world peace, universal justice and universal freedom of conscience. He has toured numerous countries spreading this message, and spoken at the Capitol Hill and the European Union Parliament (amongst other world forums), pressing on governments to work towards peace and justice and detailing the means to achieve it. He has led numerous interfaith conferences and international peace symposiums. On a recent visit to Canada, Prime Minister Harper introduced him as a 'courageous champion of peace.' British Prime Minister David Cameron has also commended him for his "commitment to tolerance, respect and support for charitable causes."
So how do I plan to wage my Jihad under the flag of this caliphate? And what exactly is Jihad?
Unlike what religious extremists will have you believe through the eyes of the western media, Jihad is not synonymous with violence. Jihad literally means to struggle, and refers to the battle against one's inner temptations. It appeals to the purification of the soul, in ridding oneself of corrupt and selfish desires, and spending one's energies towards selfless service. Prophet Muhammad described this spiritual fight as the Greater Jihad.
Under the Khalifa's guidance, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community undertakes this Jihad by leading humanitarian efforts throughout the world. The community runs schools to impart secular education, hospitals to treat the sick, and welfare projects to provide food, water and employment opportunities across the developing world. It has a whole organization -- Humanity First -- dedicated to its growing charity work, which caters to all humanity regardless of their religion.
At home in the United States, community members have collected over 30,000 bags of blood to honor 9/11 victims. This is enough blood to save almost a 100,000 lives. The community's youth association has led numerous campaigns to fight hunger across the nation, taking their fight to the U.S. Congress in recent years.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim caliphate also provides a forum for reform, and addresses issues that have unfortunately plagued parts of the Muslim world. The Khalifa condemns religious extremism -- in the name of Jihad -- loud and clear. He is vocal against all injustices and calls for an end to apostasy and blasphemy laws in certain Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This spiritual caliphate does not seek any political title. Far from it, it champions a complete separation of Church and State.
So what is this pledge of allegiance I am taking this weekend?
This Friday will mark the start of the three-day annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, UK. It is Britain's largest Muslim conference. Thousands of other Muslims are converging from all over the world to attend the gathering. The convention aims to provide Muslims with guidance in their personal spiritual Jihad, towards becoming better humans and more useful members of the societies we are already a part of. It also aims to strengthen the bond of brotherhood and community.
Such annual conventions, known as Jalsa Salanas, are held in numerous countries in all continents of the world. But this one is by far the most important because of its location at the heart of the caliphate.
So what do I do after renewing my pledge to the caliphate?
I will soon be returning back to continue my Jihad on home soil. My next mission is to shed blood -- my own. Look out for me at the blood drive at the Massachusetts State House in early October.