I have been blessed with the opportunity of attending Jalsa Salana in several countries: Mauritius, France, Germany and Canada, but nothing compares to the International Jalsa Salana hosted in the United Kingdom. The size of the Jalsa site, the number of attendees, the atmosphere and the sense of brotherhood that reigns strong, makes our Jalsa truly unique. Despite this, my most special Jalsa memory was created in Canada in 2008.
As a gift for passing my first year at University, my father sent me to Canada with my Uncle to attend the Jalsa Salana. 2008 was a particularly special year, where we celebrated 100 years of Khilafat and Huzoor (aba) was attending the Jalsa which made it especially blessed.
I resided with relatives in Peace Village for a week and was able to read every single prayer behind Huzoor, including Fajr prayer. This was incredibly special for me as I live quite far from Fazl mosque and it is difficult to travel for Fair prayers behind Huzoor. Peace Village itself is quite distinctive, and Huzoor’s residence was only several doors down from where I was living. Every day, crowds would gather to catch a glimpse of our beloved Caliph, and they would raise slogans which could be heard across the village.
Peace Village was particularly beautiful at the time as all the residents had decorated their front yards leaving us with a stunning sea of flowers.
The Jalsa Salana was held in a huge conference centre, which was strange in itself. I was used to muddy fields in the English countryside and unpredictable weather, not this spacious, air conditioned setting. I enjoyed Huzoor’s speeches and the Jalsa programme prepared by the Canadian jama’at.
Despite a successful Jalsa, and the blessings of performing all my prayers behind Huzoor, I felt that something was missing. My Uncle had a particularly lovely mulaqat with Huzoor during a barbecue where Huzoor gave him a strawberry from his own hand to sample. He had a gleam of happiness in his eye when he relayed the incident and he spoke of his trip being complete after meeting Huzoor. I knew that was missing for me, I wanted to meet Huzoor.
That night, I woke for tahajjud prayers and prayed for the chance to meet Huzoor. I knew that there was a very slim chance that this would happen given that I had only one more day in the country. I also felt guilty that I wanted to meet Huzoor as I was lucky enough to reside in the same country as my beloved Caliph. However, a mulaqat with Huzoor, no matter how brief, would make my trip perfect.
The following day, my aunt invited me to the opening of the Lajna House, which she was hosting with a team of ladies. The house was adorned with the most beautiful flowers and the front garden was breathtaking. Inside the house, there were tables laden with beautiful food, a truly wonderful and colourful display.
I accompanied my cousins to one of the rooms which had a row of computers. My cousins explained that they held classes with older Lajna women to teach them to use the computer and the internet, so they can keep an eye on the content viewed by their children. I met all of these aunties, but they all seemed slightly preoccupied and nervous. I asked my cousins what was going on as everyone was standing in a semi-circle.
Before my cousin could answer, I saw Huzoor walking into the room with Apa Jaan. My heart stopped. As I was by the door, Huzoor spotted me instantly and asked me what I was doing there. I replied that I had come for the Jalsa. Huzoor was then introduced to all the ladies in the room and he asked about the nature of the class. Huzoor then spoke to me again and asked where I was staying. My aunt began to tell Huzoor what my name was and who my father was, but Huzoor stopped her, and said that he knew me well. I became very emotional and stuttered my answers to Huzoor. Huzoor then asked me if I enjoyed the Jalsa. I told Huzoor that I enjoyed the Jalsa very much, to which Huzoor then commented “but it is not as good as our Jalsa!”
Huzoor had turned my trip from successful and enjoyable to incredible in an instant. When Huzoor left I was completely overwhelmed and emotional that Huzoor had been so kind to me. Even more touching was the fact that every single lajna in the room was in tears. I was not aware that this was their very first mulaqat with Huzoor. What a beautiful way to end my trip and a special Jalsa memory that will stay with me throughout my life.