Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley spoke at a mosque in Sterling, Virginia, Friday. Martin O'Malley campaign

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Friday became the first presidential candidate in the 2016 race to make a campaign stop at a mosque — and he wasted no time highlighting the differences between himself and some GOP presidential candidates, like Donald Trump, who have employed Muslim-bashing as a campaign tactic. O’Malley, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, stopped by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center Mosque in Sterling, Virginia, and addressed the Muslim congregants gathered after Friday prayers.

“Assalamo Alaikum,” said O’Malley, invoking the traditional Muslim greeting, which means “peace be with you.”

“I wanted to be here to be present with you, in solidarity in these challenging times,” he said. “I know that there have been many acts of violence. I know there are acts of ignorance that have been encouraged by some in our political discourse, but the larger arc of our history ... is the larger arc of love and generosity and respect for one another.”

O’Malley trails Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the race for his party's nomination. Both Clinton and Sanders have panned the rhetoric Trump and some other candidates employed about Muslims.

“I know that my Muslim neighbors make America strong,” O'Malley said.

He said most young Americans disdain the views of candidates like Trump. "But that sort of language that your hear from Donald Trump is not the language of America’s future. I know the language of America’s future," O'Malley said, adding he regularly speaks with people under 30 who rarely echo Trump’s opinions.

He referenced both the recent San Bernardino shooting and the shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this year to demonstrate neither are representative of the Islam or Christianity.

"I know that our young people understand that the tragic murders that took place in San Bernardino does not define Islam any more than that horrible murder that took place in Charleston defines Christianity," he said.

O’Malley concluded by invoking the Arabic term for “God willing.”

“Inshallah, we shall overcome these challenges," he said.