The Ahmadiyya Annual Jalsa- A Once in Lifetime Experience
It is an experience that is ineluctable, inexplicable and indicative of deep faith, and reverence. It was the 38th Annual Jalsa of the Ahmadiyya Community – an event that had over 35000 participants and despite the huge masses of the people, everything was so neat and tidy, so disciplined that it could rival the German precision in every detail. The volunteers at every place, the solemn dignity and most of all the strict adherence to the time was something that is rare, especially in the events organized by people of South Asian descent. The moment I entered the hall and was was escorted to my seat by an extremely pleasant young man, I was overawed by the dulcet tone of the the reading from Quran. I am an avowed agnostic, but the the ambience of piety and overwhelming prevalence of love was an awe inspiring aspect of the ambience.
Why this Jalsa? Jalsa implies celebration, and also a meet. What better can be there to express this celebration of an community that has been persecuted in different Islamic Countries, despite being the purest followers of Islam? The creed of this community spread across the globe is “Love for all, hatred for none”; and they live upto it. The participation of people of all religions and creeds, the active eulogy by the political leaders of all hues bears a testimony to the Ahmadiyya espousal of peace, fraternal love and spread of human and humane feelings to a degree of passion.
The presentations were so scholarly, and devoid of all cant, or hypocrisy that often marks most of the religious events.
The Ahmadiyyas hold many beliefs far outside mainstream Islam, including the idea that the Messiah has arrived. They’re also convinced Jesus died in Kashmir, in the Himalayas. Their opponents observe that the Ahmadiyyas have become known as assertive proselytizers and that the Ahmadiyya are not shy about seeking converts in Canada, mainly by connecting with politicians and offering hundreds of public talks and “interfaith” forums each year.Through such well-publicized open forums on themes such as suffering, goodness or human rights, the Ahmadiyyas often attract Canadian newcomers unfamiliar with the different schools of Islam. And pray what what is wrong with it.
As Maulana Mubarak Ahmad Nazir in a heartfelt speech observed Islam had been hijacked by forces that are un Islamic, as the word Islam means peace. Referring to the recent murder of a young dedicated cardiologist in Pakistan, he categorically said that the revenge for this crime would be creation of hundreds of such doctors. ” Love does not beget hatred; peace does not beget war”. he observed. I was moved, as he was not just making statements, but one could see the agonized outpourings of the soul of this fair skinned white robed man, whose whole being radiated love and serenity. If such is a disciple of the Messiah- how charismatic would be the master. But what man has made of man; these peace loving people are the butt of tyrannical oppression of petty, narrow minded fanatics. He called for Jihad – but jihad for liberation of soul and upliftment of man.
A big difference between an Ahmadiyya and a non-Ahmadiyya is that the Ahmadiyya believes in striving and struggling for the dissemination of the Light of Islam; which is described in the Quran as Jihadan Kabira, the highest/greatest Jihad, carrying the message of Islam to the four corners of the world, at great personal sacrifice in terms of money and worldly prospects. The non-Ahmadiyya, unfortunately, is still very apathetic to this great duty enjoined by the Quran, which divides Muslims into two categories the Mujahidin and Qaideen, i.e., those struggling and suffering for the establishment of Truth and those who sit back doing nothing. The first group is said to have a higher status with God: “Those who do Jihad with their wealth and lives carry with God a status higher than those sitting back.” (The Holy Quran: 4:95).
The Ahmadiyya Muslim is a veritable Mujahid, the non-Ahmadi a Qa’id. Both are Muslims, but with a big difference. Islam is a call to striving and struggling for the establishment of God’s sovereignty in human heart. Mere acceptance and profession is not enough. The Quran has a poor word for those who say they believe that Islam is the only Light that can save mankind, but, raise not a little finger to make that Light known to the world. They are described as “idlers.”
There are about 50,000 Ahmadiyya in Canada. Many of them are refugees from Pakistan. Ahmadiyya Muslims represent about one per cent of all the world’s Muslims; most live in South Asia and Africa.
Muslims generally believe that Muhammad is the greatest and the last of the prophets the Ahmadi, although accepting Muhammad as the greatest prophet, teach that there can be other, albeit lesser, prophets. Rejecting the rhetoric of violence declared by militant Islam the Ahmadi also teach that true jihad is “to struggle” for righteousness, to fight with the pen in rational debate, rather than fight with the sword or Kalashnikov.
As with all other Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims believe in the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’, and the ‘Six Articles of Faith’. They follow the same holy scripture (The Holy Qur’an), and accept that Islam is the final and perfect religion for mankind. They also believe in Prophet Muhammad Khataman Nabi- yyeen (the ‘Seal of the Prophets’) as he was the one who was the best model for mankind who brought God’s final and perfect message for mankind.
Ahmadiyya Muslims also follow the Islamic sources of guidance and jurisprudence– which is sourced from three main authorities: The Holy Qur’an; The Sunnah (practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad; and The Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad) as given in the authentic books of Hadith such as Sahih Al Bukhari, Sahih Al Muslim, Sunan Abu Daud,Tirmidhi, Ibne Maja and Nisai (Ahmadi Muslims also have regard for the interpretation of Islamic Laws (shariah) provided by the classical Islamic scholars. They generally follow the Hanafi school of thought, but all such matters are considered in light of the guidance provided by the Promised Messiahas). Despite this abundance of guidance Muslims, like followers of all religions before them, were destined to drift away from the true teachings of Islam. This decay was to be followed by the revival of Islam through the messiah of the latter days as prophesied by the Holy Prophet Muhammad. So whilst all Muslims expect a messiah to appear it is only the question of the identity and acceptance of the messiah that distinguishes Ahmadiyya Muslims from all other Muslims.
In some Hadith the messiah is referred to as ‘Jesus son of Mary’ and in others he is referred to as ‘Al-Mahdi’.. It is interesting to note that there are also similar such prophecies in other religions that tell of a messiah who was to appear in the ‘latter days’; for example, Christians are awaiting the second advent of Jesus.
Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that the messiah who was promised has come and that he was a single person who fulfilled all the prophecies relating to such a messiah not just in Islam but also in all religions. This was to be a unifying factor for all humanity and a means of uniting people under Islam, as it is the perfect religion for man.
This Jalsa opened a window on the thoughts that pervade the universe of this sect of Islam- the real Islam. As an unforgettable experience, it shall remain etched in the memory of the attendees; as learning experience, it shall stand out as an outstanding celebration of love, upliftment, mercy and forgiveness