Jalsa Salana – Spiritual Blessings and Spirit of Sacrifices
Walking around the Ladies Jalsa area, we, the Jalsa Connect team, could see happy and smiling faces everywhere. Just as we were about to head towards the MTA compound, we found ourselves stopped in our tracks by an endearing sight. The devotion and sacrifice that we witnessed was second to none, especially in the scorching heat. Without complaint, we saw a lady picking up litter from the Jalsa grounds and surprisingly, she had her 17 month old baby daughter strapped behind her back. Astounded by this picture we approached her and hijacked her time to unravel her story. We asked her many questions and here is what she said.
Jalsa Connect: Tell us a little about yourself
Alfia Ghazi: My name is Alfia Ghazi from Wimbledon but I am originally from Russia. I converted to Ahmadiyyat many years ago and have been attending the Jalsa regularly for over 20 years. Originally, I used to travel all the way from Russia, but then I moved to the UK. I have done many duties over the years and I thought it would be a nice change as it’s outdoors and I prefer to be outdoors.
JC: Can you tell us a little about your litter picking duty?
AG: I have done many other duties and this year I wanted to do something different. My friend recommended the litter picking duty as she had been doing it for a few years now. She suggested that it is a great duty to do and it helps the Jalsa Salana grounds to be clean and tidy. I also have two older children Rafael (8 year old) and Mikael (6 years old) who are also litter picking at this very moment.
JC: Previously, what other duties have you carried out?
AG: I used to help look after the Russian speaking guests in Tabshir; helping them around the Jalsa and explaining Ahmadiyyat to them.
JC: You said that you had converted to Ahmadiyyat many years ago; how many Jalsas have you been fortunate to attend?
AG: “Fortunately, I have been attending Jalsa for over twenty years now.
JC: Has the Jalsa changed over the years since you first attended?
AG: My first experience of Jalsa was in Islamabad, where before the Jalsa was much smaller in size but now it is much bigger and more organised with more advanced facilities. It is much more accessible especially for the disabled and elderly thanks to the buggies that are available. The nature of the Jamaat members has improved and I feel year on year they show more patience thus every year the experience becomes more positive.
JC: Aside from being an Ahmadi, how is the Jalsa attractive to you?
AG: It is a great opportunity for the younger children to learn and gain from the blessings of the Jalsa. They can interact with other individuals of other nationalities due to the vast number of international guests attending the Jalsa. This is a spiritual event which they would not be able to find anywhere else. It is at Jalsa where we hear stories of people converting to Ahmadiyyat and the adversities that they have gone through to in doing so; it is very uplifting and inspiring and I feel a deep connection with the members of the community. This is why I keep coming every year.
JC: So tell us your ‘story’ of converting to Ahmadiyyat.
AG: “It all started with a Jalsa invitation given to my father when some missionaries visited Russia and they introduced the Jamaat which I did not know anything about. My father had the privilege of meeting Khalifatul Masih IV (ra), and he came back really inspired, saying, ‘I want to follow this man’s Islam as I trust him 100%.’
So the next year I came to Jalsa as well. Upon our return to Russia both my parents and I converted to Ahmadiyyat. (Alhamdolillah)
JC: How did you feel at the time when you converted?
AG: “I didn’t know a lot about Islam. I noticed the people I met at the mosque were very different; they were very dedicated –what was most striking was that everyone was very observant in their prayers which she had not seen in any other community. Although I researched different religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, nothing stood out to me. I wanted to follow my original religion so one day my friend told me to put on a head scarf and go to the Mosque. It is here that I saw an Ahmadi girl praying and I felt a light was radiating from her. Instantly, I knew it was the right path.”
JC: What pulled you towards Ahmadiyyat?
AG: I had never associated Islam with respect for women as to me Islam was a representative of repression of women and something really backwards. But Ahmadiyyat showed me the complete opposite and gave me an insight into the true Islam. Ahmadiyyat felt right, as no other religion gave rights and respect to women and the status of the mothers as the true Islam. It is such an important part of the faith. It was a revelation for me. I have never seen this before When I read Jamaat books and listened to the sermons of the Huzoor (atba), they all made sense and I found that Ahmadi Community was very different from others.
JC:- What is your most memorable Jalsa moment?
AG: (With tears rolling down her face she answered): The last Jalsa Salana of Khalifatul Masih Rabah (ra). I remember it because it was as if he was saying goodbye to everyone. And I had always felt really close to him as to me he was almost like a member of my family. I had such warm feelings and every time I saw him my heart would swell up.
JC: How does it feel to be part of this historic 50th Jalsa Salana?
AG: “I think it’s a blessing, an honour to be a part of it. As I have not seen these blessings anywhere else.
JC: What’s your message for those who can’t join in on this blessed Jalsa?
AG: Watch it on MTA and follow it online and you can still be a part of it. They can actually benefit from listening to all the Jalsa proceedings in peace and quiet (jokingly) as there is great coverage and they can still capture the essence of the Jalsa. I pray that May Allah the Almighty give you all the ability to come next year. Inshallah
JC: Jazakallah for your time.
AG: Jazakallah, it was my pleasure.