Jalsa Salana (Urdu: جلسہ سالانہ; English: Annual Convention) is a formal gathering of Ahmadiyya Muslim Communityinitiated by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the community who also claimed to be the Promised Messiah andMahdi of the latter days. Usually, the gathering spans over three days, commencing on Fridays when the Friday Sermon ends and the Flag Hoisting ceremony begins. The event takes place in many of the countries where the Community is established.
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In 1891, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad announced under divine inspiration that he was the Promised Mahdi awaited by the Muslims and in the same year he decided to hold the first Jalsa Salana under divine inspiration. Thus, the first annual convention was held from 27 to 29 December in Qadian, and it was attended by 75 members. In 1907, 2000 members participated in the Jalsa Salana, which was the last one to be attended by the founder of the Community. In 1983, over 200,000 members participated in the last Jalsa Salana to be held in the city of Rabwah.
The founder of the Community said:
|“||The primary purpose of this Convention is to enable every sincere individual to personally experience religious benefits; They may enhance their knowledge and –due to their being blessed and enabled by Allah, The Exalted- their perception [ of Allah ] may progress. Among its secondary benefits is that this congregational meeting together will promote mutual introduction among all brothers, and it will strengthen the fraternal ties within this Community…||”|
|—Ishtihar 7 December 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 340|
He also said:
|“||It is essential for all those who can afford to undertake the journey, that they must come to attend this Convention which embodies many blessed objectives. They should disregard minor inconveniences in the cause of Allah and His prophet (peace be upon him.). Allah yields reward to the sincere persons at every step of their way, and no labour and hardship, undertaken in His way, ever goes to waste. I re-emphasize that you must not rank this convention in the same league as other, ordinary, human assemblies. This is a phenomenon that is based purely on the Divine Help, for propagation of Islam.||”|
|—Ishtihar 7 December 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 341|
The founder of the Community said:
|“||I conclude with the prayer that everyone who travels for [attending] this Convention that is for the sake of Allah: May Allah, the Exalted, be with him, reward him in abundant measure, have mercy on him, ease up for him his circumstances of hardship and anxiety and eliminate his anguish and grief. May He grant him freedom from every single hardship and lay open for him the ways of [achieving] his cherished goals, and raise him up, on the day of Judgment, among those of His servants who are the recipients of His blessings and Mercy. May He be their Guardian in their absence until after their journey comes to an end. O Allah! O Sublime One and Bestower of bounties, the Ever Merciful and One Who Resolves all problems, do grant all these prayers, and grant us Victory over our opponents with scintillating signs, because You alone have all the prowess and power. Ameen! Ameen!!||”|
|—Ishtihar 7 December 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 342|
The event begins on Friday with a solemn flag-hoisting ceremony. The national President hoists the flag of the country whereas the Khalifatul masih, if present, hoists the flag of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. After the ceremony, members of Khuddam-ul Ahmadiyya will stand in front of the two flagpoles in order to symbolise the honour and defence of the nation and faith. This continues until the Jalsa ends, although such activity is not carried out throughout the night.
This is immediately followed by an address of the Khalifatul Masih. The program continues until Sunday evening with several speeches on spiritual and moral concepts, by the Khalifatul Masih, but also from the National president, Imams and other Islamic Scholars. Often the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community invites several distinguished non-Ahmadi guests to give a short speeches. The television station of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, MTA records most of the speeches and broadcasts them live, usually only if the Khalifatul-Masih present.
The most important part of this event is the performance of five daily prayers in congregation. The ceremony of the International Bay’ah is typically only held in the international Jalsa Salana.
Since all the speeches will be simultaneously translated into several languages, most visitors including those who are foreign can easily listen and understand them easily. Outside the normal sessions, many other facilities are available, including exhibitions, libraries, bookshops, medical counselling inc. homeopathy and other shops.
The funding for the Jalsa Salana comes from the voluntary donations of Ahmadis. Everyone, including Ahmadis and the guests that they bring with them, are, according with the Islamic tradition, hosted free of charge. Meals are also provided free of charge.
Jalsa Salana are held in many countries where the community is established. The following are a few examples where they are held:
Jalsa Salana has been held in Pakistan since the partition of the Indian Subcontinent. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from Qadian migrated to the newly created Pakistan and settled in Lahore. Thereafter, in 1948, the Community found a tract of arid land and thereupon built the town of Rabwah. The community had been holding its annual convention since then. The attendance grew remarkably reaching over 200,000 participants in 1983.
On 26 April 1984, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan, issued the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX, which effectively prohibited Ahmadis from preaching or professing their beliefs. The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent “anti-Islamic activities,” forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to “pose as Muslims.” This therefore prevents Ahmadis to participate in their annual conventions.
Jalsa Salana Ghana is held on a site known as “Bagh-e-Ahmad” spread over 400 acres (1.6 km2) around 60 km from the capital, Accra.The Convention was attended by the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad on two occasions; 2004 followed by 2008. In 2008, as in 2004, the Caliph toured many countries of West Africa. However, the tour in 2008 was distinctively known as the ‘Khilafat Centenary’ tour, for the reason that 100 years have passed by 2008 since the first inception of Caliphate in Ahmadiyya. In the Jalsa, some of the highlights of the Caliph’s several addresses included his love and bond with the Ghanaian Jamaat; the devotion of the Ghanaian Jamaat towards the Khalifatul Masih; the importance of the development of truth and forbearance of every Ahmadi and the refutation of the allegation that Islam was spread by the sword. Moreover, in 2008, in attendance, among many of the distinguished guests was the President of Ghana, John Kufuor in which he congratulated the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on its Centenary celebrations and referred to the Caliph as a brother, friend and teacher to the people of Ghana. Many participants were reported to have travelled long distances from many of the surrounding countries, some in difficult conditions by bicycle or foot. Tens of thousands of Ahmadis participated on both occasions including 50,000 women in 2008.
Jalsa Salana Nigeria is held on a site known as “Hadeeqate-e-Ahmad” (Garden of Ahmad) an 85-acre (340,000 m2) stretch of land located approximately 40 km from the Capital, Abuja. During the Khilafat Centenary tour of West Africa in 2008, the Caliph also inaugurated the 58th Jalsa Salana Nigeria. This event was also of historic importance, because other than the Caliphs attendance at the Convention, this was the first event televised live via MTA International. In this Jalsa, the Caliph’s addressed many issues such as the importance of honesty as the key to Africa’s future development; the need for Ahmadis to strive to nearness to God Almighty and the importance of Jalsa Salana.
The first Jalsa Salana in Germany was held in 1976. The Conventions were held on the grounds of the Noor Mosque held in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen. Afterwards, the community bought a site “Nasir Bagh” in Groß-Gerau and held their Convention since 1985. However, because of rising visitor numbers the place became too small and so it was later held on the surface of where the Bait-ul Shakour mosque was later built. In 1989 Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community initiated the construction of 100 mosques in Germany during his attendance at the Jalsa. Since 1995, the Jalsa Salana is held approximately four weeks after the international Jalsa Salana in the UK at the Mannheim Maimarktgelände. With the number of participants of over 30,000 annually it is the largest Muslim gathering in Europe.
The first Jalsa Salana in Switzerland was held in Zurich in 1983. In 2004 from 3 to 5 September, the 22nd Jalsa Salana was held in the presence of Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in the multi-purpose hall of Forch near Zurich. The 27th Jalsa Salana Switzerland was held in the hamlet of Wigoltingen from 12 to 14 June 2009.
The first Jalsa Salana in the UK took place in 1966. Jalsa Salana UK also serves as an International Jalsa, since the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad resides in this country after his migration from Pakistan. This was because it was difficult for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to “pose as Muslims” and therefore was nearly impossible for the Head of the Community at that time to carry out his role as a Khalifatul Masih. From 1985 to 2004, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK used a site near Tilford, officially known as Islamabad, for the Jalsa. Since then, because of rising visitor numbers, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK bought another site near Alton of an area of 208 acres (0.84 km2), named as ‘Hadiqatul-Mahdi’. In the last few years, however, Islamabad has also been used for accommodation purposes and shuttle services are used extensively to help participants reach the Jalsa grounds in Hadiqatul Mahdi with minimal traffic congestion. The Jalsa Salana in the UK is usually held on the last weekend of July. The number of participants average around 30,000 annually.
15,000 members and guests attended the 33rd Jalsa Salana in Canada in 2009 which was held from the 26 to 28 July in Mississauga.
Fiji hosted the 39th Jalsa Salana in 2006 and had over 500 people in attendance. Closing remarks were given by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. The Indian High Commissioner to the Fiji Islands, Ajay Singh, discussed perceptions of Islam. Singh also stated that religion was a path to achieving world peace as well as spiritual and financial success.
More than 2000 people attend the Australia National Jalsa Salana each year. This Jalsa is held usually over the month of April. It is held in Sydney Australia at the Bait Ul Huda mosque in Marsden Park, the mosque in which Mirza Tahir Ahmad both laid the foundation and opened. The 2006 Australia Jalsa Salana was broadcasted live on MTA International as this was the year Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad visited. During his visit he also placed the foundation of the Khilafat Centenary Hall, made in commemoration of the 100th year of khilafat. This hall was then opened in 2008 by the Amir of Australia, as Mirza Masroor Ahmad could not be able to visit Australia in that year. Inspection is done usually on the night before the Jalsa or in the morning of Jalsa Day by Mahmood Ahmad, Amir of the Australia Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
There are three auxiliaries of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia namely Majlis Ansarullah Australia(for elderly male members) , Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya Australia( for youth male members) and Lajnahimmaillah Australia(for woman).Muhammad Amjad Khan is the national president of Majlis Ansarullah Australia, Rana Ejaz Ahmad is the national president of Majlis Khuddamul Ahmaduyya Australia and Mrs.Anjum Khan in the national president of Lajnahimmaillah Australia.
- ^ First Annual Conference
- ^ a b c Objectives of Jalsa Salana
- ^ Text of Martial Law Ordinance XX of 1984
- ^ Khan, Naveeda. “Trespasses of the State: Ministering to Theological Dilemmas through the Copyright/Trademark”. Sarai Reader 2005: Bare Acts. p. 182.
- ^ Friday Sermon 22nd August 2008
- ^ a b Khilafat Centenary Tour of West Africa 2008
- ^ Fiji Jalsa Salana 2006 Press Release