There are now only a few days till the event of the year, the special gathering of thousands of ahmadi Muslims and non-ahmadi guests, in the small village of Alton, Hampshire. Our annual convention, Jalsa Salana UK is almost here.
What started off as a small gathering of 75 people in 1891, in Qadian, India, has now extended to over 30,000 of participants from all over the world. One cannot fathom the amount of hard work and dedication required from volunteers to make the Jalsa a success; children, students, people who work full time, parents of small children, even elderly people all give up their time to assist in any way possible to make this blessed gathering smooth running in every way. Many departments and teams start preparing weeks and even months in advance.
MTA International begin working on promos and schedules many months ago, perfecting what will go on air when Jalsa comes, benefitting those who are unable to participate in person. MTA plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Ahmadis all around the world are blessed to also take the ba’ait (initiation) at the hand of our beloved imam, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (mabhh).
The Langar department begin their preparations well before Jalsa, feeding the hundreds of guests who come early and spend their time in the Fazl masjid or Baitul Futuh. The Nazima team also started preparing many months in advance, with more time being spent from June this year.
One of the team members, Uzma Khan, gave us some insight into part of the preparations: “The complete list of duty holders should be finalised in good time before Jalsa as the badges need to be printed. We started working on this in early June and the badges are now ready.” When thinking of the various responsibilities and duties that come with Jalsa, many do not realise the efforts of those participating in the programme, whether it be those reciting tilawat, nazms or giving speeches which enrich our hearts and minds with increased knowledge.
Over a month prior to Jalsa, a group of around 40 Nasirat, young and older Lajna and mothers with small children gather weekly to practice for the international Nazm presentation delivered after Huzoor’s speech at the ladies Jalsa Gah. Some ladies travel from as far as Birmingham and Sheffield to London for these practice sessions! Mrs Mateen Bhatti coordinates this group despite having additional security duties during Jalsa. This role comes with immense pressure in ensuring a good number of countries and languages are represented including Spain, Bangladesh, Mauritius and all the Pan African countries.
There is a strong will amongst all the participants to ensure perfect harmonies so that our beloved Huzoor and Jalsa participants may enjoy the presentation. Mrs Bhatti told us on behalf of the group: “We look forward to the Jalsa and reading in front of Huzoor. We are united; ladies and girls of different ages and ethnicities all become one. This is a great thing and a representation of our Ahmadiyya community as a whole.”
We also spoke to Mrs Shahida Boakye who reads as part of the Pan African group, who told us “it is a real honour and privilege to read in front of our beloved Huzoor. This responsibility comes with some pressure and we strive to do our best, by attending the weekly practice sessions which last for hours. It is all worthwhile when we see Huzoor enjoying our Nazms, the joy we feel in our heart is worth more than all the riches in the world.”
The thousands of volunteers who have been preparing for weeks will also volunteer during Jalsa itself, and assist in the days following the blessed event. There is a consensus amongst all the volunteers we spoke to: giving up their time is a sacrifice but they would not have it any other way. It is their pleasure to serve the Jamaat and to ensure the success of this blessed Jalsa. May Allah give strength to all the workers and help them prepare for this gathering to the best of their ability. Ameen.