I remember years back in our sitting room where we used to have a picture portrait of a man in a white pinned round-neck jacket with a white turban. His radiant smile was so appealing you wanted to reach out to him. The picture was of Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra). We grew up to know the Khalifah and develop love towards him. The structural learning system of the Jamaat also helped us realise and learn more about the institution of Khilafat and the Khalifah himself. My imagination at the time led me to wonder whether it would be possible to one day move closer to him.
At that time, the technological advancement in this part of the world was crawling and struggling to catch up with the rest of the world. My dad always had an interest in international politics which affected my quest to follow suit as well. This made me ask him one day ‘when are we going to have cable channels in our television?’ And his answer was simple: ‘very soon’. As a child, my thought was that once you combine two terrestrial antennas together, it would be the equivalent of having cable channels on TV. So I always prayed that my dad would buy a second antenna on time to boost our TV signal. Little did I know the joy which would accompany having cable TV in our home – the chance of seeing Huzoor.
After the establishment of MTA, many homes around the globe started witnessing a bond like never before with the institution of Khilafat, more importantly through International Jalsa in the UK. I have heard of stories from old members in our Jamaat relating their experiences in Jalsa Qadian and Pakistan. It always made me wonder how such a setup of international contingents would look like.
International Jalsa Salana has been a phenomenon to members around the globe in anticipation of seeing the Khalifa of the time. Back then, even though members wrote letters to him, merely seeing the Khalifah on the screen easily quenched one’s quest for a connection, years before we would actually see him. MTA fulfilled many long awaited dreams and the sharp rise in technology advancement has given many households the precious opportunity to have individual cable TV and be able to sit in the comfort of their sitting rooms watching Huzoor weekly. This being the fulfilment of Allah’s promise to The Promised Messiah (as) that he will make his message reach the far corners of the world.
A decade ago, preparing for Jalsa International was a week long venture, as it involved setting up the connection at the mosque. In our Jamaat, a locally fabricated black coloured dish was installed for us to watch international jalsa proceedings. It was very big and occupied a wider space. It was usually placed at the Qibla side of the mosque where technical people, some from a very far distance, would come together just to set it up for us. Naturally, children always gathered around as if we were in a theatre watching actors. At times it took 3 days to hook up to the satelite channel with a good signal. This itself was a celebration for members as if we had won a trip to London!
We have our own cable TV at home now through which we watch MTA. Likewise, many Jamaat members will also be watching Huzur on their own TVs now, with some local stations airing International Jalsa proceedings for three consecutive days. Members from neighbourhood towns will not need to do a 50km long trip to watch the Jalsa proceedings and for many, this is a long time imagination becoming fulfilled.
By Allah’s grace, with the launch this week of MTA Africa, we will now further spread the true teachings of Islam to the deepest corners of the continent. At this years Jalsa Salana International, more people of African origin will be united in a spiritual bond, more tongues will speak the same language, more ethnicities will have a common ground to raise the flag of Islam under the rightly guided Khalifah of the time.
So, as a human being with boundless imagination, I have a new dream now, which is to actually be at the International Jalsa Salana and see for myself the proceedings, listen to speeches and see my beloved Khalifa. I await its fulfilment, inshallah one day soon.
By Oniyide Mujeeb Olajide