100 Years Ago… – A glimpse of Jalsa Salana Qadian 1919

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Information acquired from Al Fazl, 5,8,12 and 15 January 1920

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This year, prior to the Jalsa days, a heavy spell of rain perturbed the organisers. They faced harsh circumstances and it was assumed that the tough weather conditions may stop many attendees to travel to Qadian for Jalsa. Moreover, the scarcity of means of transport in the Amritsar area, owing to the hustle and bustle of political activists from both camps of the Muslim League and Congress, fuelled worries of the Jalsa management.

Another important factor, which also added to the concern of the organisers in 1919, was that the Jamaat had two annual Jalsas in Qadian. For known reasons, in 1918, conditions were not favorable to organise a Jalsa in Qadian during the month of December [thus Jalsa Salana 1918 was held the following year in early 1919].

Post-World War I, a dearth of everyday commodities was common, but the huge gathering at Jalsa Qadian utterly dumped all assumptions about supplies because visiting Qadian is something out of this world. This spiritual bond of devout members of the Jamaat with the Markaz, Qadian, is evident from day one. Visiting the Markaz does not solely depend on provision of worldly means. So the attendance remained between six to seven thousand this year.

Hazrat Syed Sarwar Shah Sahibra

This year, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra appointed Hazrat Syed Sarwar Shah Sahibra as the chief-organiser of Jalsa arrangements. He did his utmost along with his team members to handle the unprecedented situation which arose due to the sudden downpour during Jalsa days.

The first day of Jalsa commenced on Friday, 26 December 1919 in Masjid Nur, Qadian where an arena like sitting arrangement was set up with the help of some locally available wooden material. This first session was presided over by Seith Abdullah Allah Din Sahib from Sikandrabad. Recitation of the Holy Quran was presented by Hafiz Ghulam Rasul Sahibra from Wazirabad, which was followed by an Urdu poem by Hakim Ahmad Hussain Sahib from Lyallpur. The first speech was delivered by Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Rasul Sahib Rajekira about prophecies and their manifestation. The interesting speech remained incomplete as the time for Jumuah prayer approached.

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra delivered his Friday sermon and led the Jumuah prayer along with the Asr prayer. The next session started under the presidency of Hazrat Chaudhry Nasrullah Sahibra (advocate) from Sialkot.

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Hazrat Hafiz Roshan Ali Sahibra

Hazrat Hafiz Roshan Ali Sahibra began his speech on the truthfulness of the Promised Messiahas which he had been presenting for the last two Jalsas and continued with this vast topic. Hafiz Sahibra spoke eloquently for more than two hours, even though he had been unwell for the past few days. With this, the blessed proceedings of day one came to an end.

The second day of Jalsa, Saturday 27 December was affected by the showers and had to be shifted to the building of High School, which was not sufficient enough. The dire need of an adequate hall was felt desperately to aptly accommodate in a situation like rain etc.

This session was presided over by Hazrat Khan Sahib Zulfiqar Ali Khanra. After the recitation of the Holy Quran, a Punjabi poem was recited by Munshi Qasim Ali Sahib. The first speech was made by Sheikh Abdur Rahman Sahib Misri evaluating between the Jamaat who remained loyal to the institution of Khilafat and the party that left Qadian.

The next half an hour was allotted to the speech of Syed Sarwar Shah Sahibra about the importance of Bai‘at and how to safeguard from sin. But the speaker was so occupied with his Jalsa engagements that he was not able to turn up at the Jalsa Gah and his time was also granted to the previous speaker.

Zuhr and Asr prayers were offered in congregation. At 2 o’clock, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra arrived for his keynote address, but the hall at the [Talim-ul-Islam] High School again proved insufficient for attendees. So, the proceedings were shifted back to the Jalsa Gah at Masjid Nur and the second day’s gathering was set up there. Before his main speech, Huzoorra announced some Nikahs and started his 5-hour long speech. Despite the fact that thick clouds were hovering over the uncovered gathering, this session continued smoothly.

As Huzoorra started delivering his address, it started to drizzle. A big umbrella was placed above him, but Huzoorra refused to be covered and said, “There is some divine wisdom behind this.” And after some moments, the drizzle stopped.

On the third day of Jalsa, the first session started under Chaudhry Abu Al Hashim Khan Sahib from Bengal. A girl of Arab origin recited the Holy Quran in her melodious voice, which was followed by a poem. Then reports of various Jamaat central offices were read out. The allocated time for each administrative centre yet again proved inadequate because widespread activities of those offices were so attention-grabbing that everyone was eager to know some more.

Then an effective appeal for the collection of Chanda was made, which saw its fruit simultaneously during the Jalsa days. With this, the session came to an end for prayers.

After Zuhr and Asr prayers, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra commenced with his four and half hour long speech on a complex and important topic of fate and decree. Huzoor’sra words were so awe-inspiring and captivating that the time of dusk approached and the countryside’s chilly weather started having its effect. Huzoorra thus postponed explaining the remaining key points for the following day.

On 29 December, Huzoorra opened the session by announcing some Nikahs, which was followed by Bai‘at ceremony of some new converts. Afterwards, something unique happened; Huzoorra himself explained the previous day’s speech in Punjabi. This summary was meant for those members of the community who remained indulged in farming and maintaining their cattle houses throughout the year.

Thereafter, Huzoorra continued with the remaining points of his lecture on the topic of fate and decree and spoke for another four and a half hours, dealing with subject.

Subsequently, Mr Sagar Chand (Barrister) came to the stage and briefly shared a rejoinder to the allegations leveled by Khawaja Kamaluddin Sahib. After Zuhr and Asr prayers, Huzoorra went to the ladies’ side for his address there. Ladies faced the same series of difficulties in arrangements, braving the odd weather.

The final session of this year’s Jalsa started under Munshi Farzand Ali Sahib’s presidency. During this, in the beginning, Qazi Muhammad Abdullah Bhatti Sahib shared some anecdotes from the tabligh activities being done in England. Next was missionary of Mumbai, Hakim Khalil Ahmad Sahib’s turn to speak about the remarkable works of the Promised Messiahas. The lecturer’s approach to the subject was so forceful that it moved the listeners very much. Later, the session’s president spoke a few words and read out an article by Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra and led the congregation in silent prayer, concluding that year’s Jalsa Salana.

Amongst many remarkable features for that year’s Jalsa was a special arrangement for Huzoorra to reach and leave the Jalsa site without any hindrance. Even the Jalsa stage was fenced for the first time so that Huzoorra could deliver his speeches safely. To accommodate for Ahmadis, a timetable was issued for mulaqats. The Jamaat’s literature was specially published and displayed in large quantities.

In his Friday Sermon following Jalsa Salana 1919, Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra repeatedly asked members of the Jamaat to remember and follow all the good deeds, which were highlighted in the Jalsa speeches. The Jamaat’s newspapers published almost all speeches, poems and brief accounts of Jalsa proceedings in its later issues. Due to Allah’s immense bounties, the Jalsa was a success.

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