Romaan Basit, Ahmadiyya Archive & Research Centre
From a small hamlet in British-Indian Punjab, Hazrat Ahmadas claimed to be the Messiah of our time. His followers were few, and the eruption of backlash further turned friends into foes. With such fierce opposition, one would ask how the Messiah would even establish a following or community.
Against this backdrop, glad tidings began to descend from Allah the Almighty and Hazrat Ahmadas was told that his message would reach the corners of the earth. Consequently, Allah directed Hazrat Ahmadas to prepare for a vast multitude of people, at a time when his followers could be counted within the small vicinity of Qadian.
In 1897, the Promised Messiahas received the following revelation:
وسع مکانک۔ یاتون من کل فج عمیق
“Enlarge your abode. People will come to you from very distant lands.” (Tadhkirah [English], p. 382)
At the time, funds were extremely scarce in the Community, so much so that Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra MA writes:
“When the Promised Messiahas received the revelation of ‘enlarge your abode’, he said to [Mian Abdullah Sanori] that though we do not have enough money to build any houses, we can comply with this divine instruction by making two or three makeshift wooden huts.” (Seeratul Mahdi, Vol. 1, p. 131)
As a result, “Huzooras had three wooden huts prepared in his house, which remained intact for three years, after which they wore down.” (Ibid.)
These three wooden huts were the humble beginnings of the expansion of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. When we take a look at the first bait in Ludhiana at the house of Sufi Ahmad Jaan, there were only 40 people in attendance. Similarly, the first Jalsa saw a total turnout of 75. But, alongside these revelations, Allah the Almighty had also promised to aid the Promised Messiahas and his Community – these divine promises were destined to be fulfilled.
From here, the Community began to multiply. Allah continued to bless Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya abundantly, and the above revelation (and scores of others) manifested themselves at every step.
Today, all Ahmadi Muslims across the world are witnesses of the grand prophecy that people will come to the door of the Promised Messiahas in huge crowds – Jalsa Salana is a prime example.
Jalsa Salana UK continues to expand every year, and in direct fulfilment of the revelation “enlarge your abode”, there are now five main sites that host the guests of the Promised Messiahas: Fazl Mosque, Islamabad, Baitul Futuh Mosque, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK and Hadeeqatul Mahdi (this is not counting the many guesthouses the Jamaat has).
Fazl Mosque was inaugurated in 1926. The women of the Community came forward and donated generously for this project, and the mosque was financed entirely using their donations. (“Fazl Mosque (The London Mosque)”, www.ahmadipedia.org) The first Jalsa Salana in the UK was held here in 1964, and at the time, accommodation proved to be a challenge. Former Imam of the Fazl Mosque, Bashir Ahmad Rafiq Sahib, writes:
“Accommodation for members who were to visit London for the convention proved to be a complicated problem.” (“The first Jalsa Salana UK, 1964”, Al Hakam, 30 July 2021, Issue 176, p. 20)
He explained how this was resolved: “Members of the London Jamaat, displaying a spirit of selflessness and sacrifice, accommodated visitors in their houses. Mostly they set apart their sitting rooms to lodge the guests.” (Ibid.)
Today, by the grace of Allah, accommodation is no longer an issue, with the Fazl Mosque being one of the five main hubs where guests of the Promised Messiahas from all over the world come and stay.
In 1984, an approximately 25-acre site of an old boarding school in Tilford was bought through auction by the Jamaat, and the site was named “Islamabad” by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh.
This is where the Jalsa Salana was held for a large number of years before moving to Hadeeqatul Mahdi. In recent years, the Mubarak Mosque was built, and the site was converted into a state-of-the-art complex. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa made the historic move from the Fazl Mosque to Islamabad in 2019 – making it the residence of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya.
Every year, large numbers of guests are accommodated in Islamabad, from providing living arrangements to hot meals being served in the langar khana three times a day.
Baitul Futuh Mosque
Baitul Futuh Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Western Europe with a capacity of 16,000 worshippers. It was inaugurated in 2003 by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, with over 600 guests in attendance, including high commissioners, members of parliament, councillors and representatives of 17 countries. (“Baitul Futuh Mosque”, www.ahmadipedia.org)
If we compare this to the humble beginnings of the Jamaat, where just 75 people were in attendance at the first convention, it becomes clear as day that the divine promises of Allah the Almighty given to the Promised Messiahas are continuing to be manifested to this day, and will continue to do so, insha-Allah.
This is one of the most populated sites each year. The multi-purpose halls transform into guest houses, welcoming crowds of the Promised Messiah’s very own guests.
Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
The Promised Messiahas established Madrasa-e-Ahmadiyya in Qadian after the demise of two great scholars of the Jamaat. This later turned into Jamia Ahmadiyya. Uncertain periods of time were faced in the early years, including having to relocate to the likes of mud huts and stables.
This is very reminiscent of the wooden huts prepared by the Promised Messiahas in his own house for his guests. The UK-based campus was established in 2005 in London after which in 2012, a new premises in Haslemere, Surrey, was acquired and inaugurated by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
Throughout the year, this is used as a seminary, housing all the future missionaries of the Community. During Jalsa, however, it transforms into a hotel-like facility for the guests. People travelling from the corners of the earth, for example, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Ghana, Nigeria and many more countries stay in this location – a truly magnificent manifestation of “enlarge your abode, people will come to you from distant lands”.
Hadeeqatul Mahdi in Hampshire was 208-acre farmland purchased in 2005 and is the home of Jalsa Salana UK as we see it today. Within a 28-day period, this farmland is transformed into a magnificent tent city which improves and grows every single year; from the sizes of marquees to the temporary infrastructure that caters for the thousands of guests, Hadeeqatul Mahdi shines as another magnificent proof of the Promised Messiahas’s truthfulness.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic’s restrictions on capacity and number, this year’s Jalsa will serve as another example of the grand prophecies given to the Promised Messiahas. We will witness again, insha-Allah, how Allah will bring people from all corners of the earth to listen to the Khalifa of the Promised Messiahas and observe how Allah has enlarged his abode.