Thousands of guests each year attend the Jalsa Salana and the workers at the airport have a huge but important job on their hands when it comes to receiving the Jalsa guests.
The reception duty at the airport starts 8 days before the Annual Jalsa and there are volunteers at each of the major London airports, with the majority of guests arriving at different terminals.
I, myself, did not physically receive any guests as I was a member of the smaller team who manage the arrivals from the office at the nearby Bait-ul-Wahid mosque. My job entailed liaising with the transport department in arranging the ride for the guests to their respective accommodation locations – Jamia Ahmadiyya UK or Baitul Futuh.
The first few days are generally quiet with us only expecting a few arrivals each day but nonetheless the workers still have to make their way after Fajr namaz towards the terminals and ensure they are present to receive our guests. Excellent hospitality and treatment of guests is the crux of many of the duties that workers conduct over the course of the Jalsa period but for the reception duty the treatment towards guests needs to be absolutely top class.
Picture yourself having just come off a 22-hour long haul connecting flight from literally the other side of the world, with jetlag causing you weariness and your patience of airport staff running thin, you just want to relax. So when you are received by the volunteers at the airport you want your sprits lifted and you want to be reminded about why the Jalsa Salana is so important.
Those working at the airport receiving guests need to be hospitable and understanding, approach the guests with love and remember these are the Promised Messiah’s guests. The guests are warmly welcomed and often we receive commendations of the lengths that the boys go to, to ensure the guests are taken care of. The majority of guests that arrive are expected on our lists but there are unexpected guests that do arrive and the Jalsa Salana reception desk guides such guests towards the volunteers.
This truly is a blessed duty considering that the guests are chauffeured directly from the airport to their destination for absolutely free, something which would never happen in everyday life. The Ahmadiyyat Jamaat again show the world that when you have noble intentions and with humble efforts, something truly remarkable can be done.
By Sohaib Ahmed