Faran Rabbani, Al Hakam Correspondent
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA: 99 years ago, when Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiqra was not permitted to enter the country upon his arrival in the USA, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra addressed the Jamaat and stated:
“America, which claims to be a world power, has only faced worldly powers until now and has defeated them. However, it has not faced a religious power until today. If it ever faces this community, it will realise that it cannot defeat us because God is with us … It is our hope that one day in America, the sound of “La ilaha illallahu Muhammadur-Rasulullah” will most definitely echo”. [Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat, Vol. 4, pp. 250-251]
Alhamdolillah, a testament to that historic day has once again dawned on us this beautiful morning in Harrisburg, USA. Today, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA is celebrating its 71st historic Jalsa Salana.
This momentous day began with the observance of Tahajud prayer followed by Fajr at the Hadi Mosque in Harrisburg along with all the hotels where guests of the Promised Messiahas are staying this year. Then, a few hours later, the live Friday Sermon of Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa was listened to and soon after, everyone started making their way to the Jalsa Gah.
This year’s Jalsa Salana has an amazing pictorial exhibition on Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya in Islam, capturing the history of Khilafat and the various visits by Khulafa to the United States over the span of several decades. Similarly, a book store, a tabligh booth with its own exhibition, multiple booths for The Review of Religions magazine, a humanity first exhibition, multiple food halls and multiple bazaars have also been set up for the guests of the Promised Messiahas.
At 12pm, lunch was served to the guests of this year’s Jalsa Salana USA. At 2pm sharp, Azhar Hanif Sahib, Naib Amir and Missionary In-charge USA, presented the Friday Sermon based on the one of 1 January 1988 by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh highlighting the significance of Friday prayers in Islam and comparing it with the institution of Sabbath in Judeo-Christian scriptures. He mentioned the great service that the Promised Messiahas had rendered for the Muslim Ummah by petitioning the British government to grant Muslims a partial leave on Fridays so that they could participate in the Friday prayers.
Flag Hoisting and Opening Session
At 4:10pm, the flag hoisting ceremony took place at the entrance of the main Jalsa Gah, where the Liwa-e-Ahmadiyyat (flag of Ahmadiyyat) was raised high next to the American flag. This was followed by a short silent prayer. Everyone then proceeded to the Main Jalsa Gah where the opening session of the 71st Jalsa Salana USA began promptly at 4:30pm, which was presided by Amir Sahib.
After tilawat and nazm, Amir Jamaat USA, Sahibzada Dr Mirza Maghfoor Ahmad Sahib read out the message that Jamaat USA received from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
The message read:
“Dear members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat USA, Assalamo Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
“By the grace of Allah, you have been granted the opportunity of convening another Jalsa Salana. As most of you are aware, one purpose of holding the Jalsa as has been explained by the Promised Messiahas is that the members of the Jamaat should gather together to advance their religious training and spirituality. Religious and spiritual matters should be the subjects of the Jalsa so those attending may develop a closer relationship with Allah and endeavor to increase in their spiritual status.
“Similarly, another objective of the Jalsa is to promote love, affection, unity and compassion with the Jamaat. So, you should strive to adopt these values much more than before. Always remember and adhere to these principles.
“Further, the purpose of the advent of the Promised Messiahas was to teach us that by fulfilling the obligations due to Allah, we would increase in piety. We are also required to fulfil the rights owed to others by following the commandments of Allah, that is to behave lovingly and with affection and cultivate better relationships with each other. Therefore, adhering to the teachings of the Promised Messiahas will prove a source of blessings for you in your tasks. Whereas such actions will be beneficial for your tarbiyat and keep you aright in your affairs, they will also prove blessed for you in your tabligh work and you will be able to convey the message in the best manner.
“Another point you should always remember is that irrespective whether you are implementing a tabligh programme or a tarbiyat activity, or you are striving to improve your personal character, your efforts cannot succeed until you develop khashyatullah that is the fear of Allah. Once this is firmly established within you, you will then witness how Allah blesses your work and your efforts.
“Your every endeavor should be independent of personal gain. The office-bearers are expected to fulfil their responsibilities by considering the service of Islam as a blessing.
“This year in the Jamaat elections, some new and some serving office-bearers have been given the opportunity to serve the Jamaat. It is now your responsibility that you direct even more attention towards the service of religion. You are to forge ahead along and together with the other members of the Jamaat.
“Similarly, the members of the Jamaat should realise that they are expected to dispel all thought of personal interest and offer their service purely for the sake of Allah, and in complete obedience to Nizam-e-Jamaat. As the relationship between the office-bearers and the general members of the Jamaat develops, your work will be blessed and you will be enabled to express your attachment to Khilafat genuinely with your hearts, and thereby you will be able to fulfil your pledge. If this is not the case, then your statements are empty words.
“In this age, Allah has favoured us with the divine institution of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya and so to fulfil our obligations towards Khilafat, it is incumbent on the office-bearers and all other members of the Jamaat that they should deal with each other affectionately and with love, and by cooperating with one another; they should become of those who strive for the success of the Jamaat. When all of you join and work together, then you will be considered among those who have truly entered the Jamaat of the Promised Messiahas and are most rightly fulfilling the obligations of your Bai‘at.
“Allah Almighty sent the Promised Messiahas as the Imam of this age and servant of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. Only if we follow the teachings of the Promised Messiahas with sincere hearts and fulfil the requirements of our Bai‘at, can we consider ourselves to have fully exhibited our total allegiance to the Holy Prophetsa and his commandments. May Allah enable you to do so. Amin.
“Yours Sincerely, [signed] Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V”
This was followed by the first speech of today’s session on the topic of “Al-Wali – the True Friend and Protector of Believers” presented by Omar Shaheed Sahib. In this speech, various anecdotes were mentioned that showed how Allah helps and protects those who truly believe in Him with all their heart and keep Allah as their ultimate friend.
Next was another exhilarating speech on the topic of “Tazkirat-ul-Auliya – Narrations and Noble Qualities of the Friends of God” by Rizwan Khan Sahib. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra had mentioned that the “companions had an ishqiyya [loving] temperament whereas the youth of today only have a philosophical temperament”. The speaker then illustrated various faith inspiring incidents from the lives of the blessed Companionsra and tabi‘een of the Holy Prophetsa as well as from the lives of the Companionsra of the Promised Messiahas exemplifying their expressions of love for these blessed personages.
The third and the final speech of the day was presented by Dr Waseem Sayed Sahib on the topic of “The Tenth Condition of Bai‘at – Our matchless bond of love with Khilafat”. Outlining the true purpose of our Bai‘at, the speaker quoted the Promised Messiahas where he stated that the system of Bai‘at had been instituted solely with the purpose of bringing together a large group of righteous people who should cast their own virtuous influence upon the world. The speech highlighted many practical examples through which an Ahmadi Muslim can enhance their relationship with Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa.
The first day of Jalsa Salana USA ended with dinner, after which Maghrib and Isha prayers were offered in congregation.