8 September 2023
Jalsa Salana Germany 2023: Review and guidance for improvement
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
It is a great blessing and favour of Allah the Almighty that the Jalsa Salana of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Germany was successfully held last week. Hence, first and foremost, we should be grateful to Allah the Almighty that, after a gap [of some years], He enabled us to hold the Jalsa once again on a large scale, as we usually do. All of the organisers as well as the participants of the Jalsa should express their gratitude to Allah the Almighty for this. The workers should be particularly grateful to Allah the Almighty that He enabled them to serve the guests of the Promised Messiahas. Similarly, the participants should be thankful to these workers for striving to serve them during the days of the Jalsa. There may have been many shortcomings in making such vast arrangements, due to the fact that it was a new site. In fact, there were many shortcomings, and some guests may have experienced some inconveniences as well. From what I have been told, they did face inconveniences. However, since they came for a religious purpose, the guests generally did not complain. Nevertheless, after enquiring, I came to know that some arrangements were not adequate. Indeed I personally noticed this as well. As far as the workers are concerned, they generally fulfilled their responsibilities with great diligence. As for any shortcoming on the part of the muavineen [helpers] and other workers, or of departments, it was generally the result of not being guided properly by their respective officers. Therefore, wherever guests experienced any difficulties, the heads of the departments of the Jalsa administration are responsible. The National Amir should particularly make a note of and monitor this, as it is also his responsibility. They should seek forgiveness, note their shortcomings in their red book and try to reform them for the future. They should also consider whether or not they can even improve the arrangements at this site, or if they have to find another place. Generally speaking, some of the difficulties that were experienced are as follows:
Someone wrote to me that the escalators were not working and that this caused difficulties in going up and down. The elevator was not working, and this also caused difficulties. The [organisers] provided accommodation, but there was a great shortage of washrooms, or the water supply was inadequate. When they acquired the site in Karlsruhe, they took me there in the beginning, and I observed the place and drew their attention towards making adequate arrangements for washrooms and water. Similarly, I checked the sound, standing in various places, and despite the halls being smaller there, I noticed that there were shortcomings. They tried to fix it and managed to do so to some extent. However, they did not properly assess these aspects here. This time, they did not tell me the details of this place. They just sent me positive reports, saying that this was a very good site. Similarly, at times, due to misguidance from the heads of department, the security department created unnecessary hindrances. Generally speaking, however, they performed their duties well. Nevertheless, on some occasions, there were certain individual cases. Due to this, a complaint from the Lajna [ladies] has also been received that this caused a delay in delivering the food as well. Those on security should remember that their job is not limited to stopping people [for checking], but [it is also their duty] to guide them. Moreover, this department should have a team, that comfortably takes the guests to their designated areas and creates ease for them. Similarly, in relation to the translation service, a report was received that the Lajna was experiencing difficulties on the first day. I was not told of this by the Lajna; rather, the translation department of MTA informed me that the translation service was not done properly. Afterwards, some external guests complained that they were unable to listen to the Friday sermon due to the translation service not being available.
There were issues with the audio, especially in the men’s hall. I also drew the organisers’ attention to this matter during the Jalsa. The Afsar Jalsa Salana, Afsar Jalsa Gah and the in-charge of the Audio Department are responsible for this. People come to listen to the Jalsa; if proper arrangements for them to be able to hear the proceedings are not made, then what is the benefit of the Jalsa? Shortcomings in other administrative matters can be tolerated; however, deficiencies in the arrangements for hearing the Jalsa proceedings cannot be tolerated. The Promised Messiahas has stated that this is not some festival where people gather. (Shahadatul Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 395).
His purpose was also not to merely have people congregate so that he may explain his superiority to them. However, due to not being able to hear [the proceedings], the atmosphere in certain areas at the back of the hall was like a festival. Some people made videos of this, and I have seen them. In no way did they depict the atmosphere of a Jalsa. In my estimation, there are at least seven to eight thousand people who were unable to properly hear the Jalsa. The organisers blame the people for talking [during the proceedings], but according to me, the Afsar Jalsa Gah, the sound system team, and the Tarbiyyat department are responsible, and they should ponder over this matter. It was embarrassing for me to see such a state and I expect that they will also have felt embarrassed. If people were talking, then it is due to a lack of Tarbiyyat [moral training], for which the Missionary In-Charge and the missionaries are responsible; why do they not ensure that Tarbiyyat is done throughout the year and inculcate consideration for the sanctity of such gatherings? They should not simply blame others. If the attention of Ahmadis is drawn to a matter, then they generally have a positive reaction. These people came to attend the Jalsa, and it could never be the case that if their attention was drawn towards a matter, they would not immediately rectify themselves. In any case, these were shortcomings on their part, which led to further issues.
I have observed that whenever the head of a department works with humility and effort, the entire department improves. Otherwise, even if a worker desires to do good work, they are unable to do so because of those in charge. This is why I have no issue with the workers. I am thankful to every member of Khuddam, Ansar and Lajna for doing their part in working very hard. However, the heads of departments must focus on their own reformation. I mentioned before as well; I observed that the discipline shown by the women to be better than that of the men, which shows that the men’s department of Tarbiyyat should be concerned about themselves. Progressive nations are only successful when they remain mindful of their weaknesses. Do not hinder the paths to success by simply saying that everything is fine, nor is there any shame in admitting to this. May Allah the Almighty enable the heads of every department to reform themselves.
Despite all of these shortcomings, Allah the Almighty bestowed a great favour upon us by covering our faults. The non-Ahmadi guests who attended the Jalsa generally took away a positive impression. As I said, if the Jalsa was successful, it was only because Allah the Almighty greatly concealed our shortcomings. People gave extraordinary feedback. Similarly, wherever in the world the Jalsa was viewed on MTA, people generally praised the Jalsa. At this time, I will present before you the impressions of some guests. People have generally expressed positive sentiments. Hence, the Ahmadiyya Community in Germany should be very grateful to Allah the Almighty for enabling them to spread the true teachings of Islam to people through the Jalsa.
A Christian lady from Bulgaria, Dr Veronika Stoilova, who is a lawyer and university lecturer as well as a PhD holder, says, “An excellent Jalsa was organised. I did not see any sort of worry or anger on any of the faces I saw. Everyone was very sincere and ready to help in any way. Everyone was content with how they were. Without a doubt, this event has spiritually revived me. All the departments — men, women and even children — were organised. During these days, I had the opportunity to learn many interesting things about the Ahmadiyya Community, such as tolerance and accepting others despite their differences. No doubt I was deeply moved to learn that the Berlin Mosque was built with the [donations of] jewellery and money by women. I also liked the organisation of the women’s side very much. I attend many conventions; however, I can say that I have never seen anything like this. There are very few who can establish such examples.”
Then, regarding my speeches, she says, “The concepts of spirituality, humanity and peace had a profound impact on me. It is my belief that first and foremost, we are all humans, then citizens of a country and then members of the brotherhood of faith. We should search for similarities between one another, rather than differences that move us apart.”
Then, a Christian lady from Bulgaria named Natalia attended the Jalsa for the very first time. She says, “I will never forget the Jalsa. For the first time, I saw thousands of Muslims worshipping together. This was a beautiful sight to behold. I am a Christian and it was my first time attending such a convention. Everyone treated us very respectfully and politely, which fostered a unique sense of happiness. I very much liked the concluding session of the Jalsa, during which the speech delivered by the Caliph was full of lessons. The thing that impacted me the most was that everyone treated us with such respect, as if we were special. Those on duty made certain that no guest faced any sort of difficulty.” She then says, “On the first day, we experienced some difficulty with the translation (she has made a complaint in very subtle words, but in reality, she was unable to listen to the sermon). However, this was later resolved”.
Then there is a guest from Macedonia, who is a Christian journalist named Ljubinka Ajtovska, who says, “The organisation of the Jalsa was of an excellent standard. It is a significant honour for me to have taken part in such a large-scale and organised event that was attended by people of different faiths and nations. This was a testament to the claim that love alone can make the world a better place.”
Another guest from Macedonia, a Muslim journalist named Senad Rasimov, says, “I was impressed by the speeches delivered by the Caliph of the time on various topics.” As a journalist from Macedonia, he says, “At the Jalsa, I had the opportunity of speaking with many Ahmadi Muslims who always spoke to me with a smile. I was very impressed with the cleanliness and organisation of the Jalsa. Your motto, ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ could practically be seen, and it is this very motto that can establish peace.” Not only did the conduct of duty holders impact the guests, but so too did the conduct of the attendees.
A lady attending from Slovakia who is a teacher named Martina says, “I am grateful to have been able to attend the Jalsa for the first time. I witnessed such hospitality that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Everyone met me with kindness and a smiling face. This entire Jalsa has left a deep imprint on my heart. Especially during the bai‘at [initiation ceremony] and the prayers, I was unable to control my emotions. I cried throughout the entire bai‘at ceremony. I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life, when all the Ahmadis joined as one at the hand of the Caliph and pledged allegiance. I will also never forget my meeting with the Ahmadiyya Caliph. This meeting still has an effect on me even a day after it happened.” She says, “I definitely wish to meet the Caliph of the time (with me) again and wish to obtain information about Islam directly from him.” She is not a Muslim, but this is the impact it had on her.
A guest from Slovakia named Ondriska, who is a businessman, says, “Before the Jalsa Salana, I did not know anything about Islam. My knowledge was such that I thought Muslims considered the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa to be God (God-forbid). Upon attending the Jalsa, I learned about the true teachings of Islam, the true status of Allah the Almighty and the Holy Prophetsa, and that Islam is a peaceful religion. Here, the media especially promotes the wrong image of Islam. I was astonished at the fact that the entire Jalsa is organised by Ahmadis themselves and the dedication, passion and zeal with which they serve the guests.” He says, “When I saw the Caliph of the time, I felt peace within my heart and it had a positive impact upon my soul.” He says, “I have firm faith that it was God Almighty Who brought me to attend this Jalsa.”
Then, there was another guest from Slovakia named Judr Martin – there were large groups that came from different countries – he says, “I attended the Jalsa Salana for the first time. I was very happy to see the morals and hospitality of Ahmadis. I learned many things at the Jalsa Salana. Muslims, especially Ahmadis, are peaceful and act according to their teachings. I liked the exhibition, which was prepared by the Community. I learned a great deal about Islam and its beautiful teachings. I noticed that every Ahmadi has a lot of love for their Caliph and the Caliph loves them. Such brotherhood and love are hard to find in this world.” With regards to the map of Serbia and Bosnia that was displayed at the exhibition, I believe the Serbians had some complaints about their map not being correct. This should be looked into by the organisers of the exhibition.
Professor Dr Rexhep Shaurti, a guest from Albania who is a professor at the Faculty of Natural Science at the University of Tirana, attended along with his wife. He says, “The Jalsa was wonderful (he is a Muslim). I have been observing [the commandment of] fasting for 10 years and act upon the other injunctions of Islam, if not all, but I have witnessed Islam here at this Jalsa. The main difference between you and other Muslims is that you have the Caliphate, and for this reason, you have unity.”
A guest from Albania named Ermira, who is a nurse, says, “I have also attended the Jalsa prior to this, but I came once again this year as a result of the same spiritual yearning. (After a person has attended once, it becomes a habit, even if they are non-Ahmadis). This was the first time I offered the prayer. My friend was with me; I would watch her and pray along. For the first time, it was as if every particle of my soul was moving. I was weeping in prostration and it seemed as if all my animosities were melting away. I pray that Allah Almighty firmly establishes me in my faith.” She met me later and told me, “I shall always remember this moment.”
Hence, when the atmosphere of the Jalsa has an effect on non-Ahmadis, how can it not have an effect on Ahmadis? Thus, if office bearers have any complaints about Ahmadis, they should adopt the correct measures for their reformation. First of all, they must reform themselves and present their own example, and then they will be able to explain to others.
Drite Shkurti, an Albanian guest and high school teacher who was in attendance, says, “The organisation of the Jalsa was extremely good. I am a school teacher and know how aggressive children these days can be, yet here, the children were so calm that they were immersed in their duties (the children thus also opened avenues to tabligh through their good examples). This was astonishing to me. My curiosity during the Jalsa brought me to the general food hall, which was just before the bazaar. I witnessed there that, despite thousands of men eating their food, I couldn’t see anyone arguing, snatching or jostling, etc. It seemed as though all were honey bees who were only concerned with their tasks. The people were prepared for any task, and their behaviour was so excellent that even if there was a slight push, they would apologise right away.”
Xhaferr Kuci, an Albanian guest who has an MA in economics, pledged allegiance after four years of research. He says that the Jalsa was very inspiring for him, and it gave him a lot of positive energy. He says, “During the prayers behind the Caliph of the time in the Jalsa hall, I was unable to control my tears. Likewise, the bai‘at [initiation] ceremony was extremely emotional. I will always remember the feeling of protection whilst sitting with the Caliph of the time, and I felt as though he alone is my dear friend and leader. Aside from this, there is one thing I did not like (this in fact is in relation to the people, therefore people should note this down. He says,) It happened on many occasions during the Jalsa proceedings that people would stand up and leave before the speeches were over.” Thus, we must be concerned about this, as it is having a negative effect on new converts.
Harith, a professor in history who came from Bosnia, says, “Before coming to the Jalsa, I was aware that there would be thousands of people, and that the Caliph would also address us. I was slightly fearful and had some reservations. I had doubts about everything. This is because I was not aware in detail of Ahmadis and about such a large-scale gathering, and their religious customs, and I was stuck on the basic points. However, prior to this, I never had an opportunity to spend time with such good people. At first, this was the opinion I had, but what happened after I arrived? I never had the opportunity to spend time with such wonderful people prior to this. Everything was organised during the Jalsa. (He expected one thing, but witnessed in practice quite another – that everything was organised.) Everyone was occupied in their duties. Great organisation, and beautifully arranged. After the first address of the Caliph, my mind was purified. I would follow people and see how they spoke, what they would say, and what kind of relationship they had. (He was curious, so he would follow people). I listened to all this and watched it all. I found myself to be safe among the Muslim brothers. I noticed that neither did anyone say anything bad to me, or look at me in envy or as a stranger, nor did anyone criticise me over anything. Of all these points, the one thing that was the biggest privilege and unique for me, which I had never before experienced in my life, was meeting the Caliph of the time. I felt such a comfort, as though a rock had fallen from my back. I was nervous but then became free from worry. I return satisfied, and undoubtedly brimming with knowledge and with the good people that I met.”
Indira Haidar, a Bosnian woman who attended and is a secretary of the Red Cross, whilst mentioning her meeting with me in Frankfurt, says, “It was a very joyous moment because you make excellent points. I had the opportunity to listen to the Caliph of the time directly. Despite various hardships, the sincerity with which the Ahmadiyya Community and Humanity First work and serve humanity in our country, I came to know that the source of the selfless passion to serve mankind of these volunteers is the Caliphate.” This is indeed the reality. She then says, “The Ahmadiyya Community has connected people from different parts of the world into a chain of unity. I felt that my experience of the Community playing its role in uniting all of mankind, and making the world a better place has made me more determined and deepened my understanding. This event not only increased my pride in being a Muslim, but also encouraged me to make efforts to show compassion to humanity, and further participate in interreligious dialogue.”
Amina, a Bosnian guest who attended, says, “The organisation of the volunteers was very good. Due to some translation issues, we were unable to follow some of the programme on the ladies’ side as there was no translation on the women’s side.” She is also confirming what I said at the beginning. She says, “The leader of our women’s group translated the address of the Caliph of the time for us. I liked that every programme commences with the recitation of the Holy Quran and its translation. I believe that the advice of the Caliph of the time – that the Muslims should educate themselves as much as possible, and transform their knowledge into practice – is the only way for the Ummah to change from its current state. There were translation issues once again on the second day, so our women went to the men’s side to listen to the translation.” She said that I, however, was on the women’s side, but in any case, she says, “The address to the ladies was very helpful, and I really liked the examples given of women from the time of the Holy Prophetsa. Then, during the programme on Sunday, the fundamental Islamic principles of safeguarding the rights of others, and how we must improve in every aspect were mentioned. This deeply impressed me. It was also mentioned that only if we act in accordance with justice can we make progress and establish peace in society. I will take all of these points with me as a guiding principle.”
Lia, who is from Georgia, was also in attendance. She says, “Currently, I am completing my master’s in theology and religious studies (she is studying in Holland, but she is from Georgia). I participated in the Jalsa for the first time. I witnessed how everyone – the youth and elderly – was rendering services with extraordinary zeal. Upon witnessing the international bai‘at, I could not control my emotions. This pledge on the final day was a promise being made by everyone that they would spend the rest of their lives in light of the teachings of Islam.” This is the lesson she has learned upon witnessing the pledge of allegiance. She further says, “One important thing has impressed itself into my mind; the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community has presented the concept of the jihad of the pen before us, which I completely agree with. I was very delighted to learn that Islam also urges women to propagate its teachings. I have firm faith that in the future, the world will ponder and contemplate over Islam and thereby come to recognise their Creator.”
A Sunni scholar from Georgia by the name of Mr Veisel was also in attendance. He says, “I live in Georgia. At the age of 15, I left Christianity and accepted Islam. After that, I spent around 15 years in Madinah learning about Islam and the Arabic language. During my studies, I heard many negative things about your community; that you call us disbelievers and that your beliefs are completely different. I met your missionary in Georgia and was introduced to the Community. You distributed meat from sacrificed animals in various villages and also contacted us, and we supported you.” He further says, “Before coming to the Jalsa, I looked into the edicts from Jamiatul Azhar regarding the Community (since he was going to visit Ahmadis, he looked into what Jamiatul Azhar says about us). I read into the entire Muslim Ummah’s views about the Community. After going through all the edicts, I decided that I would like to see the Ahmadiyya Community up close.” Others call us disbelievers, but he wanted to find out for himself. After attending the Jalsa and witnessing the Jamaat first-hand, he says, “The Ahmadiyya Community is undoubtedly a part of Islam. I listened carefully to the addresses of the Caliph, and I have reached the conclusion that it is utterly wrong to refer to you as disbelievers. Just like other sects, you are also a sect of Islam.” He further says, “I greatly respect the Caliph. I had many questions in my mind that were answered during various sittings during the three days of Jalsa. I got the opportunity to speak about your Community and its founder in great detail. Upon returning to Georgia, I will start to read your Community’s literature. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet you.”
There was also a guest from Kosovo who is the Official Director of Education for the Ikan Municipality. He says, “During the Jalsa, I listened to lectures and other talks. I will forever preserve them in my memory. I am anxiously awaiting to tell my friends and co-workers in Kosovo about this Jalsa. I will especially abide by the teachings imparted by the Caliph of the time. Moreover, the extraordinary love with which I and my colleagues were looked after will always remain in our hearts. May Allah grant you all immense happiness.”
There was another guest from Kosovo, Avni Jashari, who is from the Lipjan municipality and head of the mayor’s cabinet there. He says, “This was an extraordinary and truly impactful experience for me. I listened to the Caliph of the time’s addresses and other speeches and acquired a treasure full of interesting and inspiring information that will always remain with me.” He says, “I would like to emphasise that this experience has left a deep impression on me. For me, the Jalsa Salana is such a garden amongst the world of knowledge that fosters teamwork and brotherhood. Furthermore, this is such an occasion where your community’s exemplary accomplishments and efforts have been highlighted. This shows how the Ahmadiyya Community is making plans and taking steps towards benefiting society.”
The mayor of Elez Han, Kosovo, Mr Mahmat says, “This extraordinary Jalsa had a profound impact on me. I have been inspired by this spirit of unity, peace and brotherhood that is apparent in all aspects of this gathering. The speeches during the programme were excellent. In particular, the speech of the Caliph of the time was astonishing and faith-inspiring. I have now come to understand Islam in its true form. I should also praise the hospitality of the organisers who were all excellent hosts.”
A guest who came from Tajikistan, Arzu Karim, is an expert in the Arabic and Tajik languages and has acquired his education from Jamiatul Azhar. He has translated many Arabic books into Tajik and is the author of many books in Tajik. He says, “I have listened attentively to the Jalsa and have observed the people. I would like to mention the qualities of the Ahmadiyya Community that are now fading from other religious communities. These qualities are the high moral values of Ahmadis (thus, every Ahmadi must demonstrate the highest standard of morals). I have researched many sects of Islam. At this time, if the rest of the sects are abiding by even one per cent of Islam’s teachings, then this community is surely following 99 per cent of Islam’s teachings. The books in various languages at the bookstall are a testament to your efforts in spreading Islam.” He says, “I will stay in contact and wish to learn more about the Community. I do not fear anyone except God. I also enjoyed meeting with the Caliph of the time. I agree with the Caliph of the time when he said that there are weaknesses in us, and yet we continue to criticise the government and regime. I hope that I get to meet [the Caliph] again and take benefit.”
A non-Ahmadi guest from the Tajikistan delegation says, “We had a very good discussion on the political issues and religious restrictions in Tajikistan with the Caliph of the time. I was very happy that the Caliph had great concern for all mankind.” He says, “Before coming here, I was given negative information about the Ahmadiyya Community. However, I have had the opportunity to learn about brotherhood and humanity from your community.”
The missionary of Tajikistan writes that there was a guest from the Tajikistan delegation who was very contentious. During the first two days of Jalsa, he was constantly raising allegations. He would raise allegation after allegation without giving ear to any response. His colleagues told him that instead of raising allegations, he should try to witness everything with his own eyes. Nonetheless, during the second day of Jalsa, the delegations had the opportunity to meet me, and he also met me. The missionary started by introducing him first, and he was wearing a mask, and so I asked him to lower it and reveal his face. I spoke to him in great detail. After the meeting, the missionary says that he was very happy to have met the Caliph of the time and also gave prayers to me. However, it was astonishing that he did not raise any allegations after that for the next two days and by Allah the Almighty’s grace, his heart has been cleansed of all objections.
There are also the sentiments of some Arab guests who attended the Jalsa. Muhammad Ali was also in attendance, who is originally from Syria. He says, “I was introduced to Ahmadiyyat by a friend. My friend brought me to the Jalsa and I had intended that as the day concluded, I would return to my home because it is close by and [the accommodation] did not seem to be comfortable. The atmosphere and discipline I witnessed was such that everyone was smiling and creating an amazing atmosphere as though everyone knew each other.” He says, “I have never witnessed such an atmosphere in my life. I changed my mind and thought that I do not even mind sleeping on the floor at this Jalsa, where mattresses had been placed. It was only the second day of Jalsa when the truthfulness of Ahmadiyyat dawned upon my heart. I decided to take the pledge of allegiance and Allah the Almighty enabled me to do so.” He says, “I have been deeply impacted by Ahmadis and their obedience to the Nizam [the administration], their discipline and their willingness to stay together. Everyone is aware of their responsibilities, whether they are organisers or guests.”
Abdul Rehman Ismail writes, “I attended the Jalsa Salana for the first time. There is no other group in the world doing work like this. There were attendees from all across the world; however, I did not see any conflict at all. I witnessed the highest standard of love, affection and brotherhood.” He says, “There was a greater number of attendees than anticipated and I took great benefit.”
Abdullah Izzat Aqeeli, who is from Egypt and is currently completing his Masters in Physics from France says, “Everything in physics is regarded with a shadow of doubt, and so I have now come to naturally doubt everything. I had taken the pledge of allegiance some time ago, and I had a relationship with the Jamaat and the Caliph; however, in certain issues, I began to harbour doubts and complaints about the Jamaat and become distanced from it. This year, I came to attend the Jalsa Salana Germany; however, there was a delay in the registration.” This was a common complaint about the registration, that it was not happening in a timely manner and causing delays and people faced great difficulty. Nonetheless, this delay benefitted him in this way, as he says, “When I arrived, the Friday Sermon had already begun. When I entered the main Jalsa hall, I heard the following words of the sermon: ‘If a person thinks negatively about everything, he would not be able to take a single breath in this world; (At the time, I was reading an extract of the Promised Messiahas wherein it stated that); such a person would not even be able to drink water for fear that poison has been mixed into it; such a person would not eat anything from the market for fear that it would bring him death. How can such a person stay alive?’” (Malfuzat , Vol. 3, p. 73)
He continues, “I was shaken to the core upon hearing these words. It seems as though God had decreed for me to enter the Jalsa at that time, because the first sentence I heard was the cure to my illness. It seemed as though it was addressed directly to me. This was not a mere coincidence and this has left a deep impact on my heart. By the grace of God Almighty, my doubts and reservations have been removed. All praise belongs to Allah Who granted me salvation from doubts and ill-thinking by attending the Jalsa.” He has also personally told me this incident.
A chief imam from Cameroon attended the Jalsa. He is a very prominent imam from Douala city and is the chairman of the Ulema [scholars] Council of two regions – he is not an Ahmadi. He writes: “I have attended such a large gathering for the first time. It was surprising for me to see that people belonging to different races and ethnicities were greeting each other happily. They were meeting each other with joy and happiness, as if they were members of the same family. In the three days, I did not see any quarrel.” He further says: “Seeing the exhibitions greatly increased my knowledge and I am very impressed by the services rendered by the Jamaat.” He says: “The addresses of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community were full of wisdom. They were an exceptional portrayal of the teachings of Islam. I was captivated by the address delivered to the women. If we all live our lives in accordance with these precious pieces of guidance, then our lives will be like paradise.” He further says: “During the Jalsa, the address of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community to the non-Ahmadi guests was based on Islamic teachings. The way the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community presented the teachings of Islam was such that it would make every Muslim proud of their own faith. We should spread these teachings to the entire world by acting on them. At present, Allah the Almighty has entrusted the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to present the beautiful teachings of Islam before the world.” He then said that he learnt a lot from the other speeches as well, the speeches delivered by the scholars.
Daniel, a retired professor attended the Jalsa for the first time this year. He says: “This is my first time attending the Jalsa and there were many things that impressed me greatly. One thing was that during the prayers, the members of the Jamaat were praying alongside the Caliph in a manner whereby it felt as though they were even breathing in unison with him. It was as though they were one entity. I have seen many races, religions and different people in the world, but I saw such unity and harmony for the first time and seeing this had a profound effect on me.” He further says: “I have had the opportunity to visit various exhibitions around the world. Whenever I have met security officials, I have found their demeanour to be unpleasant. However, at the Jalsa Salana, every worker, including those in security, had a smile on their faces and they were polite. Undoubtedly, this had a positive effect on the whole Jalsa atmosphere and created a peaceful environment. To organise such a big gathering without any hurdles was an astonishing feat.”
Some Ahmadis had grievances about the security workers, but thankfully, the non-Ahmadis were pleased with the conduct of the security teams. Perhaps it was an isolated incident, or they stopped someone from going into a certain area. But on the whole they carried out their duty to a good standard.
Then, mentioning a meeting with me, he said, “I was greatly impressed, and I am very grateful for it.” He said: “This meeting was a beautiful moment in my life, and I have derived great benefit from our discussions.”
Another youth from the Czech Republic says: “Through Ahmadis at this Jalsa Salana, I witnessed God. Many people try to explain things about God. However, upon witnessing the beautiful morals of the people resonating silently, I saw proof of God’s existence through your community.” This is a form of silent tabligh.
Gintare Serekaite is an Arabic professor from a university in Lithuania who attended the Jalsa. She voluntarily translated The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam into Lithuanian. She says: “The Ahmadiyya Community has a unique status within the Islamic world. No other community establishes connections with non-Ahmadis and non-Muslims like the Ahmadiyya Community does. In my capacity as a researcher, I take an interest in Islamic culture and Islamic traditions. However, in Lithuania, it is very difficult to meet or keep in contact with any other Muslim Community, except for the Ahmadiyya Community. The Jalsa Salana has given me an excellent opportunity to assess the Ahmadiyya Community in every way. Indeed, the Ahmadiyya Community acts on its motto: ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’. Amongst the 47,000 people here, I did not feel like an outsider.”
Jeronimaas, an author and journalist from Lithuania, says: “I am very worried about the great unrest and extreme poverty in the world. I always think that, given the extreme circumstances, what can a single individual do? However, I asked this question to the Caliph, to which I received a very satisfactory answer; that the purpose of man’s creation which has been outlined by the Holy Quran is that mankind has been created for the worship of Allah the Almighty. People should bear in mind that there is a life to come after their demise. If people do not bear this in mind then there will always be turmoil in the world. It pleased me greatly to know that the Caliph of the time is already mindful of these issues and is explaining the solutions to these problems in his addresses and sermons.”
Kachiev from Kyrgyzstan says: “During the Jalsa, I learnt a lot about my religion and the community. I got the answers to many of my questions. I attended the Jalsa for the first time in my life and this is the first time I have been somewhere abroad. I had no idea that there would be this many people at the Jalsa. I listened to everything at the Jalsa and found it very interesting. Everything was outstanding.”
Ali Baig, an Ahmadi guest from Kazakhstan, says: “I really enjoyed attending the Jalsa. Taking part in the bai‘at was an altogether unique experience and when I met with the Caliph of the time, all of my sentiments and emotions reached their utmost limit. I have attained the purpose of attending the Jalsa. Attending the Jalsa has had such an impact on me that my wife and children have said that I have completely changed. God-willing, next year I will attend with my wife and children.”
Yasmin, a Turkish lady who lives in Germany and is a teacher by profession attended the Jalsa. She says: “The address of the Caliph of the time answered all the questions I had. I really liked the atmosphere of the Jalsa. Despite such a large gathering, for everything to run peacefully and without any issues gave great comfort to my heart. For so many people to gather together simply for the pleasure of Allah and for them to all be threaded into one string of love is something extraordinary.”
She further says: “In short, all that was said there [at the Jalsa] and whatever ideas were discussed is what I had been in search of. On that day, I saw every piece of a puzzle fit perfectly in its place.”
A journalist from Serbia, Stanislav, expresses his sentiments as follows: “Despite being an orthodox Christian and seeing many hateful things against the Community on the internet, I am greatly impressed by your Community. Your organisation and [administrative] system has impressed me greatly. It saddens me that I am not able to spread the true teachings of Ahmadiyyat extensively throughout the world. I saw your motto everywhere: ‘Love for All, Hatred for None.’ I have not seen anything disagreeable amongst the organisation, nor the 46,000 people. There was peace everywhere. Everyone was treating one another with respect, as is your teaching.” He also said it was impossible for him to put his sentiments into words.
Mia, a journalist who came from Serbia said: “I have positive sentiments for the organisers of the Jalsa, the speakers and all those who attended. What impressed me the most was the address of the Caliph to the ladies. I am very grateful to all of the organisers.”
A local Polish Ahmadi lady says that three years ago she saw in a dream that she was in a meeting with me and that she wished to ask me a question. She says: “However, I was unable to ask the question and this troubled me greatly. My question was very important. This year I attended the Jalsa Salana in Germany and had the opportunity to have a meeting [with His Holiness]. This time I had the opportunity to ask my question and I received a reply from the Caliph, which satisfied me completely. After this, an extraordinary tranquillity came over me. I am very grateful.”
A German guest, Gunter Moar, says: “I view Islam with a critical eye. Despite this I listened to the addresses of the Caliph attentively, to the extent that I even checked the references the Caliph used in his addresses.”
Some people go to such details and check whether the verses of the Holy Quran that were quoted were correct and they weren’t just quoted for the sake of it. He went and checked the Holy Quran He further says: “I am compelled to admit the fact that the speeches of the Caliph have left me astounded at the fact that the Caliph gives so much emphasis on peace and brotherhood. Undoubtedly, the Caliph delivered an excellent speech and I am compelled to say this again and again that you cannot gauge my astonishment. This is because the Caliph has presented a peaceful image of Islam, which is usually not found here.
Indeed, today there has been a great change in my perception of Islam. Previously, I would not even consider Islam to be a religion of peace and I was completely unaware of its teachings. I first saw the Caliph on the screen from the men’s hall whilst he was delivering his address to the ladies. I was not aware that he was the Caliph, but I was greatly impressed by his address and I only came to know about him when he came onto the stage during the session with the guests and I was extremely happy to see him in person.”
Kevin, a German guest, says, “I am left astonished upon listening to the address of the Caliph. I do not have the words to describe this. All I know is that everyone needs to adhere to what he says and what the Caliph said about the importance of smiling is extremely important because this is greatly lacking in Germany. (He himself mentioned about the German people that they need to always be smiling, which they do not do, yet our people become impressed by them.) I completely agree with his speech regarding the status of women and I believe that whatever the Caliph stated was indeed true.”
Another German guest, Christian, who is a representative of a Catholic TV station, said, “The address of the Caliph was very impressive. The scope of his speech was in accordance with the understanding of the listeners. The Caliph mentioned the fundamental principles and also explained that these fundamental principles have in fact been taught by God as opposed to being established by the United Nations or any other organisation. I believe that the other religious leaders should also deliver their addresses with similar explanations.”
She further said, “To simply listen to the address of the Caliph is not enough, rather one ought to greatly ponder and reflect over the deeper meanings of what he said. I have done a lot of research about the true teachings of Islam and I have a very positive view of Islam. The teachings outlined by the Caliph regarding women were extremely interesting and I wish that people should remember that these rights were not established by any NGO or institutions; rather, God Almighty has established these through religion.”
Another German guest, Julian says regarding us, “They were very open and I felt a lot of kindness in their gathering. [The Caliph] gave very profound insights based on his vast experience and he mentioned that whatever country one resides in they should serve that country. To widen the scope of one’s neighbours to 40 houses whilst elaborating on the meaning of a neighbour was an extraordinary point for me because it is only in this way that one can truly take care of one another. Christianity also teaches about the rights of neighbours but it does not mention who is among one’s neighbours and hence only the person who lives next door to someone is considered a neighbour, whereas Islam has presented an even better teaching.” These were the comments of a Christian guest.
A lady from Georgia said, “Today, I heard two addresses of the Caliph. I was greatly impressed and from these addresses, I came to learn that true integration is to serve one’s faith, nation and humanity. I really liked the atmosphere of the Jalsa Salana because there were people from different nations and ethnicities and they were all gathered together in a spirit of love, cooperation and in a peaceful manner which one cannot find anywhere else. I heard the address to the Lajna and I learnt for the first time the vast teachings about the status of women in Islam and that in the past there have been Muslim women who participated in battles. This was a very astonishing fact for me.”
Ali Bakr, who is a spokesperson for the Green Muslim Party said, “The address of the Caliph was very interesting and impressive. The points he mentioned are not just important for Muslims to adopt, in fact, they should be adopted by every section of the society. Also, he mentioned that it is not just the Muslim countries where there is no peace, but in fact we should strive to establish peace in the entire world. I found this to be a very interesting point.”
A German lady, Marie, who although is not a Muslim was wearing a headscarf out of respect whilst seated [at the Jalsa]. She said, “I am a Christian and during the address I felt as if there was very little difference between us and we could live together in a very peaceful manner. I am very impressed. I felt so moved during the address that I had tears in my eyes. In his address, the Caliph spoke about the teachings [of Islam] regarding women and that Islam grants all those rights that other communities also speak of. At the Jalsa Salana, I have personally observed that these teachings are also acted upon as well; it is not merely a teaching.”
She further said, “His words were very impactful and I have seen people become emotional upon listening to his address.”
There were 39 people from a total of 7 countries, who had the opportunity to take part in the bai‘at after becoming greatly impressed [by the Community] during these days. A guest from Serbia, Uros, says, “The Jalsa Salana is an international event that unites the members of the Ahmadiyya Community from across the world. The bai‘at ceremony had the most spiritual and emotional impact on me. Right from the start, we placed our hands on one another’s shoulders. I did not understand a single word, but whatever was being said passed through my body and mind and I began to tremble and I felt as though I was spiritually being brought closer to Allah the Almighty. I had tears in my eyes during the bai‘at ceremony.”
A young man from Turkey, Jan Mert, who lives in Hamburg, said, “After attending the Jalsa, I have witnessed that the Promised Messiahas has kindled an everlasting fire in the hearts of the Ahmadis for the victory of Islam.”
On the final day of Jalsa, Jan Mert had pledged allegiance in writing and then later also pledged allegiance at my hand.
These were some of the sentiments of the people which I have mentioned.
By the grace of Allah the Almighty, there was also very good coverage of Germany Jalsa by the media. There were four TV channels; ARD, RTL, RegioTV, SWR; and according to the report, news of the Jalsa reached 41 million people through these TV channels. 11 newspapers in Germany published articles and news reports about the Jalsa and the message of the Jamaat and news of the Jalsa were conveyed to over 50 million people through them. Five radio stations aired news of the Jalsa and our message reached 14 million people through this. Two million people received the message of the Jamaat through the online media coverage. They have estimated that, based on all the various figures and statistics, coverage of the Jalsa Salana reached more than 108 million people. May Allah the Almighty enable these efforts to bear even better results in the future. These were just brief details, and, as I mentioned earlier, there were many comments and impressions by the people of which I only selected some. We are thankful to Allah the Almighty and this is His great blessing that He continues to cover our shortcomings.
Similarly, people have expressed very positive comments during the inaugural receptions of the various mosques. Some even mentioned that they were not previously aware of Ahmadiyyat and the teachings of Islam and how Islam draws our attention towards fulfilling the rights of Allah and the rights of His creation. People expressed this in the various functions that they have learnt about the teachings of Islam and that their views [about Islam] have now changed.
Some of the people also complained that their Ahmadi acquaintances did not inform them about the beautiful teachings of Islam. Thus, there is a need to make an effective plan for tabligh [outreach] in this regard. Every Ahmadi, without any kind of inferiority complex, should introduce Islam and the Promised Messiahas. For example, one of the Ahmadis had brought his friend to the Jalsa, who was a young Iranian man. Whilst speaking to one of our Ahmadis he said that he was very upset upon coming here. He was asked the reason for this and he said that he only found out today that we believe in Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas Qadiani to be a prophet. In any case, he was informed in detail as to what kind of prophet he was and that he appeared in the subservience of the Holy Prophetsa, who came to spread his faith and came in accordance to his prophecies and the prophecy of Jesusas to appear [in the Latter Days] is in fact fulfilled through him. He then said, “This is all fine and I agree with your concept of the Mahdi and Jesusas and it is very logical as well but why did my friend not inform me of this? We have been friends for many years.”
Hence, without falling prey to any kind of inferiority complex, we have to preach to our friends and acquaintances and we have to preach in a very effective manner. Simply distributing pamphlets or leaflets or putting leaflets inside people’s letterboxes does not fulfil the objective of the Department of Tabligh. We have spoken about the fact that Islam is a religion of peace but we now have to move onto the next stage as to how this peace is to be established, which is by accepting the Promised Messiah and Mahdias. We should try and derive benefit from every opportunity of tabligh. I have noticed that there is still a section of society here [in Germany] that has an interest in learning about faith. Therefore, we should organise such events and invite these people and inform them in this regard.
In any case, we need to assess ourselves in every aspect. We should particularly focus on all the shortcomings in the administration of the Jalsa and in any other department as well. Not just the administration of the Jalsa, but in fact every department needs to make an assessment. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, the department of tabligh is doing good work but there is still room for improvement. We should always try to excel further. You should carry out your work through good planning, seeking help from Allah the Almighty and through supplications. As I mentioned, some people had some complaints, and so they should be addressed in the future. The organisers as well as the participants should always make the effort to, God-willing, try and fulfil the objectives of the Jalsa. As I mentioned earlier, one of the guests mentioned that the attendees would get up and leave during the Jalsa session and they did not like this. Therefore, the tarbiyat department should particularly ponder over this and fulfil their duties in a better way. May Allah the Almighty bestow His mercy upon us and enable everyone to fulfil the objectives of the Jalsa in an even better manner in the future.
(Official Urdu transcript published in the Daily Al Fazl International, 29 September 2023, pp. 2-10. Translated by The Review of Religions.)