Hashir and Usman Ahmad

“This is his first ever Jalsa here, he’s actually from Canada. I’m just taking him on a tour, showing him around and getting him used to all the work done around the Jalsa Gah. This way he’ll be ready of Khidmat-e-Khalq, and perform other important duties as a future Khadim”.

“So where did he get that awesome vest”?

“It’s the only size I could find for him, and I gave him the walkie talkie cause he

likes to pretend he’s calling his mom back in Canada

… It hasn’t really worked out for him though”.

Chai Guys

“Usually when you think about lads having a chat, you think of office workers crowding around an outdated water . I guess the chai station is like our water cooler in a way; everybody takes a break from their work and recharges. Its like Jalsa, cause there’s all these people who come together for these few days to recharge their spiritual battery. Ties in pretty well for your photo doesn’t it”?

“Why are you using another cup”?

“So that you don’t burn yourself drinking the chai, you pour it from one cup to the other so the air cools it down”.

“Aren’t you a bit young to be drinking chai anyway”?

“No, they have chai with sugar too”.

Tahir Ahmad

Thinking that I was done taking pictures for the day, I saw a man wearing a mask on his face, instantly I thought he was a boxer or an MMA fighter. When I approached Tahir Bhai, who was just finishing his conversations with two other gentleman, he told me he would happily talk to me, and to my dismay he informed that he was not a boxer.

He did tell me that he “was diagnosed with cancer last year”. He continues “I had a compromised immune system because of intense chemotherapy. My doctor told me to wear the mask to ward off pathogens from people around me. The cancer was a test from God to be honest, I see some other people and the pain and struggle they go through, and I feel blessed that I was only tested in this way. Before I was diagnosed, I was at a job where I was not satisfied with the work I was doing. I asked Huzur for guidance and he pointed me into a completely different field of work, and I have been studying to become an electrician for the past year. Alhamdulillah since then I have been much more involved in the Jamaat, and my main accomplishment to date is the social media work I do to push writing letters to Huzur. I started writing my own letters, and in order to encourage the younger generations I began posting my letter templates in order to give them something to start with. People called me with hesitation about writing, but showed an interest in doing so. So I helped them with how to phrase a problem, properly edit their paper, or even where to begin with the first few words”

“That’s quite a story man”

“I enjoy it when I get approached and people say things like, ‘Oh are you a boxer’ or ‘Have you got some sort of costume on?’ because it makes light of the situation. So when you came up and asked if I’m an MMA fighter or boxer it put a smile on my face”.

Tahir Bhai may not be a conventional boxer as we may picture it, however his story clearly tells us about a fighter of a different sort. In one corner was his illness, fighting to take his physical health away, alongside it was his strive to become more spiritually charged. In the other corner was a determined Tahir Bhai, and through perseverance he has beaten his opponent to stand before you in this picture a much happier and healthy person.

The mask, it’s the one thing on everybody’s mind before actually meeting him, however by the end of the conversation, it had lost its presence.

“So you have to wear for how much longer”?

“I get to be Bane for six more weeks”

Gia, Amir Hamza, Iwan &  Chandra

“My father has been a pilot with an Indonesian airline for 39 years now, so we take advantage of his flight benefits to come here. Its sad that back home, we’re unable to fully practice our faith. So when we come here, we feel blessed that we have a safe space to be the believers of the Promised Messiah. But we pray for a day when we get to set up our own Jalsa, we cannot wait to be the hosts!”

“Tell me something future attendees should do when they come for the future Jalsa Salana Indonesia”

“Oh, the food; nasi goreng and sate, those will be the favorite dishes. Nasi goreng is a fried rice dish, and satay is chicken grilled with peanut sauce”

“You’re making me so hungry”

“We were just on our way to get food ourselves”

Zuby and Saj

I was passing them by while they were taking a selfie with the flags, so I offered to take the picture for them. Of course I had to take a picture of them taking their selfie. We talked for a bit after about how we have to find a balance between deen dunya. It was an interesting conversation which ended like this:

“We’re from Yorkshire so we have a much slower pace of life than say London, or Washington DC like yourself”

“What makes Yorkshire different for you personally”?

“Yorkshire’s got lots of sheep”

The Qaid

One of the biggest challenges I’m currently working through is being the recently appointed Qaid for my region. Getting khuddam and atfal involved is definitely a

difficult but important task, and I completely understand cause I was once a khadim who would slack on showing up to events.

One morning I got a call asking to have 15 khuddam ready for security duty at the Masjid the next day, and I didn’t leave my desk until I called every single

khadim in my region … and my list consists of around 80. Alhmadulillah I was able to get the team ready, but I was also reminded that we play a serious role in

our Jamaat’s future.

The progress in our youth is a direct reflection of the efforts we put into them,

and they will only be as involved and led on the straight on the path as much as

we will guide them.

The Humanitarian 

“So tell me what are you doing here?”

“I am doing duty in the Humanity First tent”.

“Why do work for humanity first?”

“I work for humanity first because I want to help raise money, so that all the children that don’t have mummy’s or daddy’s can have something”.

“Are you enjoying it?”

“Yes!! I get to speak to people from all around the world”

Nadia and Sadia Jowaheer 

“We love Jalsa so much; it brings together all the Ahmadis from around the world, and we make

many new friends. For the last three years, we have been blessed with the opportunity of reading

nazms in different languages once Huzoor’s speech at the Ladies Jalsa Gah ends. It is a wonderful

thing to hear Pakistani girls reading nazms in foreign languages, and African girls reading in Urdu.

Being Mauritian, we were part of the Pan African group and we prepared this placard which we

raised as we read. We feel very proud to be in this blessed community. As twins, we always share

everything, but this experience can be shared and enjoyed with the rest of the world.”

Fatima Demba

“I have a twenty minute break everyday from my security duty, for lunch. I make my way to the

European tent where the lovely ladies on duty rush around to find me some food and cutlery. I have

arrived 30 minutes after everyone has eaten, you see. I share a quick conversation with the guests

on my table, while enjoying the wonderful food on offer. Today we have been given a sweet and

sour chicken curry. I need to eat to keep up my energy. If I do not eat and there is an issue with

security, I will not be on guard. Now I have refueled, I will be (until my dinner break)!!!”



“I’ve been in photography for a very long time, have done a lot of work as a professional photographer, but the most enjoyable work I have done is for the Jama’at”.

“Tell me about your most memorable photo”

“In 1989 during the Jama’at centenary year, the Fazl Mosque was lit with coloured lights, and I really wanted to get picture of Huzoor with the lights. The best time to get a picture of him. So I asked if I could just get a picture of him by the door. I will never forget how kind he was when he smiled and said yes. Once I had taken two or three photos he asked….’Have you taken enough?”

Erik from Chicago 

“I was actually trying to get into the Jalsa Gah, and this uncle asked me where my camera crew is and if I need help navigating the area. But back in the US at the ijtema it doesn’t work as well because people have started recognising me from coming events. Then you have to wait in line with everyone else, but as comical as that is, it just does to show how open my Ahmadi brothers are, I signed the Ba’ait first week of Ramadhan and from even before that I felt like I’ve alwys been a part of this community”.

“That’s really inspirational, tell me about your journey here”

“So I’m 33 years old and I just got my passport; it’s a special trip for me cause it’s the first time I’m leaving the US, and its to see Huzoor. I had my first mulaqa’at with Huzoor two years ago in California, at the time I had accepted Islam but was still questioning what community to join: Shia, Sunni, Ahmadiyyat etc. I was inquiring about the differences amongst the communities, and Huzoor gave me answers and also told me to pray.

….I’m back to tell him my decision”

“Do you want some juice?”

I walked in and they all turned around, amongst them in the dark someone asked “do you want some juice?”
#PeopleofJalsa is a new project which Jalsa Connect started at this Jalsa Salana UK. The idea behind its inception was to depict the people who make up this jamaat, and to be able share the stories of our members through a different perspective. A chance to connect with guests who they have never met, bridging the gap between us, and ultimately reminding us that we are brothers and sisters of the same Jamaat.
My experience learning about the members who make up this community has been eye opening. To see the struggles and achievements that our jamaat members have made is beautiful, it makes me proud to be able to call them my mentors, brothers, and role models.
The final story I will leave you with is of two brothers, A and S. They pulled me aside and asked me to include them in the people of Jalsa series. I told them they had to tell me something interesting, so we joked around for a bit about what they could talk about. Finally one of the brothers pointed to the other, and he began talking about how they met. The two of them bonded when they met in Germany for Jalsa, one of them had lost his father, and the other lost his mother. When S then went to Norway Jalsa, he stayed with A, and that is where this story became the one which would leave a permanent impression on me.
They told me about how they never feel like they aren’t a part of each other’s family, that regardless of the fact that they don’t share blood, they get this feeling of unexplainable brotherhood, a friendship which cannot be transcribed into words, a feeling which can only be experienced.
It was the way they would speak, one would take some time to talk about the other, while the other looked down and smiled at the moments which they would immediately recall. There were times where they would cut each other off with their banter, laughing and poking fun because that’s just what brothers do. They would both go quiet, and I would think that we were done, but one of them would begin speaking again about more of the qualities in the other person. That they had a shell, an exterior which maybe didn’t reflect that, at heart, they are the most humble of characters. They are a true reflection of this Jamaat, the actual meaning of brotherhood which so many of us strive to achieve and maintain in our lives. I was so moved by their demeanour that I began to think about my own two brothers and the bond which we have. Then I began thinking about friends in the Jamaat, and what a blessing it is to have those friendships, their support and above all, their unconditional love as my fellow brothers in Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya.
To those two brothers: Jazakallah for sharing your story as it has touched my heart, and hopefully the hearts of the many who see this post.