By Mansura B. Minhas
Hassan, who will not be attending Jalsa UK this year, posted the following on twitter:
‘If I can get wings! One should not miss this for the world’ #JalsaConnect
This expression echoes the sentiments of millions of Ahmadi Muslims worldwide, who will not be physically attending Jalsa Salana, the annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Alton, Hampshire, United Kingdom from August 21-23.
What is so fascinating about Jalsa Salana UK? What lures thousands of adherents from the corners of the world to travel to United Kingdom? It can be summed up in five words: Spirituality, Diversity, Hospitality, Volunteerism and Camaraderie.
When Ahmadi Muslims embark upon a journey to UK every summer, they are eager to be in the company of their spiritual leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of Islam who heads the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. It is a blessed event where Ahmadis Muslims gather and yearn for spiritual nourishment and guidance from their Khalifa. Some travel thousands of miles just to listen to his inspirational speeches in person, to pray behind him and if they are fortunate enough, to have a personal meeting with the Holiness. Allegiance to the Caliphate of Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the most sacred bond for these attendees. It might seem unimaginable, but for Ahmadi Muslims, the delight of visiting historical cities and landmarks of United Kingdom pales in comparison to these three coveted days, which encompass their most indelible memories.
Jalsa Salana UK is akin to the United Nations of Islam. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community epitomizes diversity that is characteristic of Islam. Guests from all the continents of the world will gather in Alton, Hampshire. This year, as delegates from more than 90 countries arrive in the English countryside, a richness of cultures and languages will be on display. Guests can expect to meet travelers from the breadth of the world, ranging from the Americas to the archipelagos of Indonesia.
Visitors will be in for a treat as they will be blessed to receive outstanding hospitality. Free meals, parking and accommodation are just some of the free services provided to the guests. The fact that a pita bread plant will be rolling out 10,000 pieces of bread per hour gives an idea of the scale of services that can be expected.
A hallmark of the cordiality mentioned above is the fact that teams of enthusiastic volunteers, young and old, infused with a passion to serve – power it and are willing to put in long hours of labor. The rigors of service do not dampen their spirits and they are ever ready to help. Visitors can expect to be greeted with smiles and outstanding congeniality by selfless volunteers, who don’t show any signs of fatigue despite the long hours of service. These volunteers are infused with a contagious energy that keeps them going for endless hours. No job is menial and it is very likely that a person washing the dishes might be a high-powered executive or professional in life. 5000+ volunteers will work seamlessly to ensure a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience for the guests.
At the Jalsa Salana UK, regional and cultural boundaries are blurred. Attendees are imbued with a sense of ideal unity and spirit of kinship that stays beyond the convention. This camaraderie stems from allegiance to the Khalifa of Islam, who is the common thread that unites them. During the three days, there are ample opportunities for interaction among guests that facilitate in fostering and strengthening the bonds of brotherhood.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:
‘The Jalsa Salana is not an ordinary gathering….’
These profound words were uttered more than a hundred years ago, yet they still hold true. Adherents of Ahmadiyyat have spread to the corners of the Earth as the Promised Messiah (as) had prophesied, and they continue to flock and gravitate towards their spiritual home, the physical abode of his current successor, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
In present times, Hadeeqatul Mahdi (Garden of Mahdi) is just that, and serves as a true testament to its name.