Over 100 years ago, a man named John Alexander Dowie, claiming to be “Elijah the Restorer,” amassed a large following as a faith healer and established a town north of Chicago along Lake Michigan and called it Zion. It was meant to be the “promised land” for all those who would subscribe to his teachings, and those who wouldn’t, he said, would be ruined.
A man on the other side of the world, from a small town called Qadian in northern India, learned of this claim and challenged Dowie, which was met with scornful derision and arrogant name-calling. As history records, Dowie would have an ignominious fate, while the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, established by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, now has hundreds of millions of followers worldwide. And last Saturday, the foundation stone of the community’s newest mosque was laid in the very city of Zion.
Ahmadi Muslims have been living in Zion for nearly half a century, establishing youth basketball tournaments, food kitchens and community outreach programs, in addition to conducting interfaith dialogues. With this new mosque, the Community hopes to establish a beacon of peace in a town which once was a symbol of hubris and exclusion over a century ago.
Ahsan M. Khan