Shahzad Malik, Ireland Correspondent
Eleven members of the Ahmadiyya Cycling Club (ACC) Ireland cycled over 650 km to attend Jalsa Salana UK 2023. The group of cyclists, along with their two supporting vehicles, left the Dublin mission house Bait-ul-Ahad on 23 July 2023, and arrived at Hadeeqatul Mahdi on 27July.
The Ahmadiyya Cycling Club in Ireland was initially set up in 2021 with the view to introducing this beneficial activity to all Jamaat members. Shortly after, the idea of incorporating a charity cycle into the already existing annual charity walk in Ireland was initiated. Thus began the new task of introducing long-distance cycling to khuddam, getting them trained and well-equipped. Khuddam eagerly signed up to embark on this challenge to raise funds for local charities, and since then, the charity cycle has become an integral part of the Khuddamul Ahmadiyya annual calendar.
Members of the ACC Ireland committee spent countless hours in the build-up to the cycle preparing the route, sharing safety information with cyclists, arranging nutrition, etc. Furthermore, two national training rides were held in County Cork and County Clare in preparation for the cycle to Jalsa Salana UK.
The National President of Jamaat Ireland, Dr Anwar Malik Sahib, led the cyclists in silent prayer as the group began their journey, going through Dublin city alongside the river Liffey, reaching the port where we boarded the Ulysses Ferry from Dublin Port to Holyhead in Wales. On arrival, the cyclists got back on their bikes and began their journey to the Sadiq Mosque in Rhyl through sunshine, rain, and some wonderful views across the Northern Wales coastline. On arrival at the mosque after a tough day, cyclists were warmly welcomed by the local Jamaat members, who showed great care and hospitality.
The following day brought its own challenges, as the journey consisted of a staggering 194 kilometres to the Darul Barakat Mosque in Birmingham. The long journey was well worth it, as a wonderful reception in Birmingham enabled the cyclists to meet with many local members of the Jamaat and share their experiences. This characteristic was common and was felt at each location we stopped at; the stop at Oxford was no exception. The local members looked after the team very well, and cyclists were even given goody bags to take along for their next step of the journey. Subsequently, the next stop was at Baitul Futuh Mosque, where the team was in for a pleasant surprise. Many local Jamaat members and international guests of the UK Jalsa Salana had gathered to welcome the cyclists by raising slogans and holding up the Irish flag. This is when the Jalsa feelings really began to kick in, with the feelings of tiredness and fatigue after a long day of pedalling quickly evaporating.
After a well-deserved rest in the lively mosque, it was time to embark on the last leg of the journey to reach Hadeeqatul Mahdi. It was the shortest journey in terms of distance (85 km), but also the most anticipated one. As our group neared the final destination, we were fortunate to be joined by the team of cyclists from Germany. As both groups merged and cycled the last stretch from Country Market, it was a sight to behold for all – Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis alike. The last few minutes of cycling brought with it a great sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, as well as passionate slogans being raised as the white marquees of Jalsa UK came into view. All cyclists were welcomed by Amir Sahib Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya UK, who appreciated the efforts made and presented gift bags to everyone involved.
In this manner, the group of eleven that began their journey from Ireland, not knowing what lay ahead, reached their destination, covering 650km in distance and over 5000 metres in elevation. This was all in an effort to quench their spiritual thirst by attending the blessed event of Jalsa Salana.
This journey was not free from some setbacks or minor difficulties, but at every moment the cyclists were witness to the help and blessings of Allah the Almighty, which enabled their safe travel. This journey taught us many things, including the importance of unity and brotherhood, the ability to struggle and remain steadfast despite facing difficulties, and not taking blessings for granted. We are extremely thankful to everyone who hosted us throughout our trip and provided us with revitalised spirits to start each day of this great endeavour.