In 1891, the Promised Messiahas, to further deliberate upon the establishment of an Anjuman as explained in his book Asmani Faislah (The Heavenly Decree), invited his followers to come to Qadian on 27 December.
Hence, on this date, 75 fortunate individuals gathered at Masjid Aqsa, Qadian before the Promised Messiahas and a meeting was held after Zuhr prayer. Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Silakotira read out Asmani Faislah before the gathering. Then the matter was discussed as to who should be the members of this Anjuman as well as the manner in which it was to operate. These were the proceedings of the first Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in which only 75 companions of the Promised Messiahas participated. It was after this Jalsa that the Promised Messiahas published an announcement in which he informed his Jamaat that the Jalsa would now be an annual gathering.
In the early days, there was no continuous system of chanda [donations] for the purpose of Jalsa Salana and the Promised Messiahas would bear all costs for the hospitality and catering of guests. It should be noted that even when regular donations began to be made by Ahmadis towards Jalsa Salana, the Promised Messiahas took such care in ensuring that the needs of guests were being met that it was as if he himself was making all the arrangements.
Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ahmadra of Kapurthala narrates:
“Once, on the occasion of Jalsa Salana, there remained no means of expenses. In those days, chanda would not be collected for Jalsa Salana and Huzooras would spend from his own pocket. [Once] Mir Nasir Nawab Sahibra came and stated that there was no food for guests in the evening. The Promised Messiahas instructed to obtain some jewellery from his wife, which would be enough to cover the costs, and to make necessary arrangements. Hence, Mir Sahib sold the jewellery and used the money so it could cover the needs of the guests. After two days, Mir Sahib, again in the evening and in my presence, said that there were no means for the arrangements of the following day. Huzooras replied by saying that he had made the necessary material arrangements prior to this to the best of his ability, but now he ought not to and the host of each guest should make arrangements themselves. The following day, at around 8 or 9am when the postman arrived, the Promised Messiahas sent for me and Mir Sahib. The postman had 10 or 15 money orders in his hand containing notes of 50 and 100 rupees which had been received from various places. The money orders were sent with the words: ‘We were unable to attend the Jalsa, therefore, this money is for hospitality of the guests.’ The Promised Messiahas accepted the money orders and then spoke to us on reliance upon God.”
The second Jalsa Salana was held in 1892 and it was this Jalsa that was the first to extend for longer than one day. On 27 December 1892, the Jalsa began with a speech by Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra on the death of Jesusas which was followed by a recitation of a Qaseeda by Hazrat Syed Hamid Shahra. The Promised Messiahas then delivered an address negating the allegations of the opponents regarding angels. Huzooras continued delivering his sermons after Asr and Maghrib as well with the proceedings concluding in the evening.
It was the second day of Jalsa, 28 December 1892, in which a formal session of Shura took place. The main topic of deliberation was how to conduct tabligh in Europe and America. The decisions that were made during this Shura were:
- A magazine should be distributed in Europe and America which provides infromation regarding Islam free of charge
- A printing press should be setup in Qadian
- A newspaper should be published by the Jamaat
- Hazrat Maulana Syed Muhammad Ahsan Amrohi should be appointed as a preacher who would journey throughout India propagating the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat
- A committee be setup to look after the arrangements of Jalsa Salana – the president of which should be Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddinra.
On the second day of Jalsa Salana 1892, around 40 people took the oath of initiation and entered the fold of the Jamaat.
The Jalsa Salana in Qadian has a rich history that is heavily linked to the progress of the Jamaat. Even though at times the conditions were strenuous enough to sometimes not allow for a gathering, yet even in such times, the Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat has been a ray of light for not just Ahmadis but people of all faiths to gather, reflect and deliberate upon how they can improve the world we live in.
On the first Jalsa Salana the attendance was 75. During the course of the lifetime of the Promised Messiahas this number grew as more and more people visited Qadian especially during the Jalsa days. The final Jalsa Salana during the lifetime of the Promised Messiahas was attended by 3000 people, a number which continues to grow till this day. It is the occasion of the 124th Jalsa Salana Qadian. What began as a few individuals deliberating upon how to propagate the message of Islam in a remote village in India has now turned into an internationally commemorated occasion.