5 August 2022
Jalsa Salana UK 2022: Guidance for Workers and Attendees
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:
By the grace of God Almighty, Jalsa Salana UK is being held once again on a large scale this year since 2019. The Jalsa was held the previous year as well, but with limited capacity. Although only the UK Jamaat and a very limited number of international guests are attending this year’s Jalsa Salana, every jamaat within the UK is permitted to attend all three days and they will do so, insha-Allah. I am hopeful that, insha-Allah, the attendance will be good.
As we are all aware that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one year we did not organise the Jalsa at all and we were unable to derive full blessings of the Jalsa. This year, the outbreak of the pandemic has fluctuated and even now, it has not completely gone away. As a matter of fact, in certain areas here, as well as in other parts of the world, it has increased recently. However, there are not many restrictions imposed by the government in relation to gatherings. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we discard all precautionary measures. Every participant should remain mindful of all the precautionary measures and adhere to them. One such precautionary measure is that all participants and workers on duty inside the marquee should wear a mask and also while walking around outside.
Similarly, this year, the organisers have made arrangements to provide a homoeopathic medicine, which they believe to be most suitable for this illness, in the morning on entering [the Jalsa] and also when leaving. May Allah the Almighty grant cure through it. It is only Allah the Almighty Who bestows cure through any medicine. However, we must also adopt all practical measures as well. In this regard, I ask every participant to cooperate with the organisers.
Usually, in the Friday sermon the week prior to the Jalsa, I draw the attention of the workers and volunteers, who sacrifice their time for the guests of the Promised Messiahas, towards certain aspects of the Jalsa. I was unable to do so in the previous Friday Sermon. Therefore, today, I will say a few words in this regard. Among the workers there are some children, some youths and others who are new to duties and thereby this will draw their attention to various aspects.
Over the last three years, many people have come from Pakistan, who do not have any experience in doing duties at Jalsa, because the Jalsa Salana has not been held there for many years. By drawing their attention towards this, they become, or will become, mindful of how to discharge their responsibilities. Similarly, it will serve as a reminder for the workers who are experienced. Nevertheless, I will briefly say a few words in this regard and I will also say a few words as a reminder for the participants. If we remain mindful of these matters, we will continue to derive benefit from the atmosphere of Jalsa, insha-Allah.
The Promised Messiahas has said that this Jalsa is not a worldly festival. (Shahadatul Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 395)
In fact, we gather here in order to listen to the words of Allah and His Messengersa and to act in accordance with them. If we act in accordance with the words of Allah and His Messengersa, then we will be able to become those who fulfil the rights due to Allah and those due to mankind in the best manner.
Nevertheless, as I said, I would first like to say a few words to the workers. I have already spoken about wearing masks and taking the medicine, so that should be adhered to. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, our youth, our children, our elders as well as our women have the desire and also understand the importance to offer their services to the guests of the Promised Messiahas attending the Jalsa and to do so in the best manner possible. All the workers who offer their services do so with this passion, regardless of their profession, family status and whether they are rich or poor. The work surrounding the Jalsa is not limited to the three days of Jalsa alone; rather, it commences several weeks before and now, MTA regularly updates on the work that is going on in its news in the form of short clips.
Despite the fact that some of the work is done by other companies and contractors, there is a lot of other work which requires manpower and this is provided by volunteers, who do so by sacrificing their time and by offering their services. As I mentioned, people from all walks of life participate in this.
In the outside world, people try to get volunteers, but the history of the Ahmadiyya Community presents examples of quite the contrary in that so many volunteers show up that the organisers find it difficult to accommodate them. In terms of the formal duties over the Jalsa, a chart and programme are made first and the required number of volunteers are then provided to every department. However, for the work that is carried out before and after Jalsa, since a general announcement is made for all members, at times more volunteers turn up than expected.
Last Sunday, so many volunteers showed up in Hadeeqat-ul-Mahdi than the organisers had expected and I came to know that adequate food arrangements could not be made for them. However, the organisers should have taken note of the number of people and made arrangements beforehand. This is the duty of the hospitality department. These volunteers did not gather together for a meal. They were working since the morning or were present from before. I believe that when I asked towards the end of the previous Friday sermon to pray for the Jalsa as well as the volunteers, more volunteers passionately came forward. Nevertheless, the organisers should make special arrangements, particularly on the weekends. The hospitality department should note this for the future.
Similarly, even during the days of Jalsa, the hospitality department should prepare food in greater quantities. The estimated number of attendees for this year’s Jalsa is uncertain. Some people feel that perhaps people may not attend due to their concerns and fear of illness [Covid-19]. On the other hand, some people believe that since the Jalsa is being held after some time, therefore people will certainly attend. Regardless, when it comes to expenditure, our organisers, especially the hospitality department, have a negative mindset. Instead of preparing food in abundance, they prepare less food as they believe that fewer people will attend. This is absolutely wrong. It is the responsibility of the hospitality department to fully accommodate the guests that are arriving.
Also, with regard to food provisions, I would also like to give some instructions to the hospitality department that since the weather is hot, therefore they should make arrangements that as they begin to cut the meat, they should put the small portions of meat in a chiller straight away, rather than leaving it out all day which will cause it to go off and cause people to become ill as a result. Similarly, the rest of the food should be properly cared for as well.
In any case, the volunteers who I was mentioning before came to perform duties and irrespective of whether they received food or not, they left without saying anything. However, this brought to light a shortcoming on the part of the administration.
I also wish to say to the volunteers that during the three days of Jalsa, they should serve the guests of the Promised Messiahas with such passion, whereby they always understand and bear in mind that they are not serving in order to seek any sort of reward from their officers or the guests. In fact, they must serve these guests in order to attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. They should follow the example of that companion and his wife who put their children to bed hungry and also remained hungry themselves in order to fulfil the due rights of their guests. They turned out the light and made it seem to their guest as if they were eating along with him. Allah the Almighty was so pleased with this act of theirs that He also informed the Holy Prophetsa of it. The following day, the Holy Prophetsa said to that companion, “Even Allah the Almighty smiled at your plan last night (of feeding the guest).” Allah the Almighty was very pleased and smiled, and Allah the Almighty has mentioned people who offer such sacrifices in the Holy Quran. These are people who selflessly offer sacrifices and these are the people who are successful. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib-ul-Ansar, Hadith 3797)
Hence, this was the manner in which the Companions extended their hospitality and served their guests. How fortunate are those who strive to do justice in serving their guests for the sake of attaining Allah the Almighty’s pleasure, and on the other hand, how fortunate are those guests who have hearkened to the call of the Imam of the Age and have come to listen to the words of Allah and His Messengersa, with the hope of attaining the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. Fortunate are all those volunteers who serve the guests coming for the sake of their faith, and do so solely in order to please Allah the Almighty.
When there is a large number of attendees, there are usually people of various temperaments; some are short-tempered, and at times, speak to the volunteers or demand something in a harsh manner. However, both male and female volunteers must ensure to never be harsh towards anyone. They should never respond harshly to someone who speaks harshly to them; instead, they should respond with a smile. If they are able to fulfil their need, then they should do so, otherwise, they should kindly and gently excuse themselves or take the individual to their superior officer who can tend to the guest’s need. Sometimes this can be very challenging, but it should be done in order to attain the pleasure of God Almighty. One should keep control over their emotions and their words.
Similarly, volunteers should also be kind when speaking to one another and the officers and superiors should be gentle when speaking to their workers. If someone makes a mistake, they should advise them in a kind manner. Those in charge should remain cognisant of the fact that these are volunteers who have come to serve the guests of the Promised Messiahas in order to attain the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. Despite the fact that their specific department may not be their area of expertise, they have come with a passion to serve and are doing so selflessly. Hence they should be encouraged. May Allah the Almighty enable everyone to work together with mutual cooperation. However, we can only foster this spirit within us when the supervisors and volunteers understand that they are to serve with a spirit of sacrifice.
There is a narration which shows the standard of service and sacrifice established by the Holy Prophetsa, despite a guest’s misbehaviour: It is recorded that once, a non-Muslim guest arrived who was presented with food and was given a bed at night to sleep on. At night, he soiled the bed, either because his stomach was upset after having eaten too much, or he did so purposefully in order to be a nuisance, and then left early in the morning. The Holy Prophetsa did not become upset at what he did. Instead, he asked for some water and began cleaning it himself. The Companions relate that despite saying, “Why are you taking the trouble to do this? We are here, ready to serve. Let us clean it”, the Holy Prophetsa said, “He was my guest, therefore I will do this myself.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 5, p. 295. 1984 Edition) (Masnavi Molvi Maanvi, Vol. 5, pp. 20-25)
The Holy Prophetsa said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day ensures to honour their guest.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Adab, Hadith 6018)
Hence, it is the responsibility of our volunteers, men and women alike, and whether one is in charge or an ordinary worker, to serve the guests of the Promised Messiahas, who have come for the sake of their faith and whilst hearkening to the call of the Promised Messiahas. They should serve them even if they have to make sacrifices and they should always exhibit a high standard of patience and serve in a spirited manner without expressing any sort of displeasure on their faces.
By the grace of Allah the Almighty, many of our volunteers possess this spirit and it is my hope that this is the passion with which all volunteers will serve. Those who have been put in charge of the various departments should also always bear in mind that they have been afforded the opportunity to serve due to the blessings of Allah the Almighty. They should fulfil their responsibilities, considering themselves to be ordinary workers, rather than office-holders. If they exemplify high moral conduct, then the workers and assistants under them will also display high moral conduct. May Allah the Almighty enable everyone to do so.
The Promised Messiahas has provided guidance regarding the kind treatment of guests on various occasions. On one occasion, the Promised Messiahas said, “There are many guests who have come, some of whom you know; some you recognise and others whom you don’t. Hence, you ought to consider everyone to be worthy of respect and extend them your hospitality.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 6, p. 226)
This principle should be kept in mind by every volunteer, especially those who are directly dealing with people and departments such as hospitality and dining, in particular, should adhere to this.
This year, since great care must be taken due to Covid-19, the arrangements should be such – and I believe the department has tried to do so – whereby there should not be a large crowd for an extended period of time while eating and people should leave the marquee quickly after having eaten. The guests should also be mindful of this and cooperate with the organisers. Of course, while eating there is no option [but to remove one’s mask]; however, generally, as I have stated, everyone should make sure to keep wearing their masks and while eating, everyone should limit their conversations to a minimum. Try to eat in silence and swiftly exit [the dining marquee]; do not cause difficulties for yourself or the organisers.
I have given some basic guidance to the volunteers and have also drawn their attention toward serving guests. Now the guests should also take heed of some advice. If the guests understand and adhere to the teachings of Islam whereby guests should not become an unnecessary burden upon their hosts, then this helps maintain an atmosphere of love and compassion. Problems arise when guests hold their hosts to wrong and unreasonable expectations. Hence, guests should not have unreasonable expectations so that the hosts and those tasked with taking care of the guests, and the guests themselves can remain at ease. Hence, always keep this in mind. Those who are residing under the Jamaat’s accommodations should be thankful to the volunteers, their Ahmadi brothers and sisters who, despite the positions they hold, have presented themselves to serve the guests. Sometimes the food may not be to the guests’ liking, although every Ahmadi knows the tradition of our Community whereby alu gosht [meat and potato curry] and dal [lentil soup] are generally prepared during the days of Jalsa. However, even if guests receive food which is not to their liking, they should still eat it happily.
The Holy Prophetsa has stated that whatever a guest is presented to eat by the host should be happily accepted. (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol. 5, p. 204, Hadith 15048, Alim-ul-Kutub, Beirut, 1998)
In previous years, if someone did not wish to eat the food which was cooked in the langar, they would go and eat something from the bazaar which was temporarily set up on the Jalsa premises. This year, the bazaar will not be available as per usual, hence those who have different preferences for food should happily eat whatever is available for the sake of attaining the pleasure of Allah the Almighty. However, I reiterate to the hospitality department that they should strive their utmost to cook good food. Although people of such nature are usually only a few in number, at times these few can become a cause for concern.
Exhibiting high moral conduct is not only the duty of volunteers but also of every attendee. The Promised Messiahas has said to the participants of Jalsa that they must exhibit good morals and take care of one another. (Shahadat-ul-Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 394)
All attendees should bear in mind that they have taken part in this Jalsa to quench their religious, intellectual and spiritual thirst. In order to fulfil this objective, it is incumbent to always remember the statement of the Promised Messiahas that this Jalsa is held solely for the sake of God. Hence, never should one express impatience or enmity over trivial matters. Volunteers are also human; if ever they commit a wrong, it should be overlooked, and this is a great way in which can reform their moral conduct. It is true that sometimes, a situation arises wherein something is said which incites another person’s anger, either by the guests or the volunteers. However, high moral conduct demands that the matter should be overlooked and one should remove themselves from that situation so as to avoid increasing the conflict. Such circumstances can come about amongst the youth, and so, it should always be borne in mind that the purpose for which we have gathered here is very lofty; it is to quench our spiritual thirst, to increase our spiritual knowledge, to learn the ways in which we can fulfil the rights owed to God and the rights owed to His creation. In order to achieve this, the least we will have to do is sacrifice our emotions and seek help from Allah the Almighty. When this passion rises forth, when tongues remain inclined towards the remembrance of Allah, when there is increased attention towards repentance and seeking forgiveness, then even if one is inconvenienced by another, they will react by pardoning and overlooking the grievance.
Hence, these days, always bear in mind that we have left our homes and journeyed here for the sake of Allah the Almighty. Once, while teaching a prayer for undertaking a journey, the Holy Prophetsa said to pray by saying, “O Allah, we beseech You for good and attaining righteousness on this journey, enable us to perform those virtuous deeds which please You.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ul-Hajj, Hadith 3275)
Thus, when we pray in this manner, Allah the Almighty will fill our stay here and our journey with blessings.
Thus, during these days, engage profusely in prayers and the remembrance of Allah. The Holy Prophetsa has taught us a prayer for every occasion. Some people have left their homes behind to benefit from the blessings of Jalsa. Those people will also be worried about their families that they have left behind. In relation to this, the Holy Prophetsa stated that we should recite the prayer:
“O our God, I seek refuge from the hardships of travel, unpleasant and worrisome circumstances, negative repercussions to my wealth and family, and unpleasant changes [in my journey].” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ul-Hajj, Hadith 3275)
This is a very comprehensive prayer. It is a prayer to seek Allah’s protection in all respects while travelling and also for the safety of one’s family. When every man and woman here walks with this mindset and whilst making such prayers, then the atmosphere will become peaceful, the hearts will find comfort, and Allah the Almighty will protect everyone from unpleasant circumstances. At present, the Covid-19 [pandemic] is a cause for concern. You must be more mindful of prayers that may Allah the Almighty protect the attendees here and also those sitting at home. During these days, aside from praying in general, you should give special attention to reciting durood [invoking salutations upon the Holy Prophetsa]. Likewise, come to offer your prayers on time and do not waste time in discussions outside. Furthermore, the volunteers who do not have to perform their duties during the prayer timings should try to offer prayers in congregation. All the attendees should try to sit in the Jalsa Gah during the Jalsa proceedings and listen to the speeches. The speakers make a great effort in preparing their speeches, and one can benefit from them both in terms of gaining knowledge and spirituality. For this reason, do not only consider listening to those who deliver good speeches or speak well; instead, ponder over the significance of the topic and consider the extent of its benefits. Normally, the speeches cover topics that are in need of the time, and if one listens carefully, then they can find the answers to many questions that come into their hearts.
Thus, listen very attentively to the speeches. Although there is no Bazaar this year, as I had mentioned, during the breaks, visit and benefit from the exhibitions on display – even though they have been organised on a smaller scale. Insha-Allah, when conditions become better, the exhibitions will be made more vast and the rest of the arrangements will follow suit. The weather is also very dry this year and we should be mindful of it. It is not raining much. Owing to this, I hope that, insha-Allah, we will not face as much difficulty in the car park as last year. Due to the rain last year, there were a great many difficulties. However, there are improvements in the preparations this year with better arrangements for a track [for vehicles]. With the help of experts, a lot of work has been conducted for a permanent system of water drainage. Last month, the manner in which the water was drained during the rains suggests that, insha-Allah, this work will prove to be of great benefit in the future. Nonetheless, this year, the weather forecast shows dry weather these days. However, sometimes the organisers face difficulties due to a high volume of cars in the car park. If those coming [to the Jalsa] by car show their cooperation, then everything can be managed easily. The guests coming by car should be patient and cooperate with the arrangements that have been made for traffic so that there are no difficulties.
Similarly, as I mention every year, whilst using the toilets and washrooms, be mindful of their cleanliness and also do not waste water, particularly this year. Owing to the lack of rain, the government has also drawn attention toward using less water. Therefore, be considerate whilst using water. Also, the dry grass can very quickly catch fire, therefore take great caution in this regard. Any kind of negligence could potentially cause harm to yourself and to the neighbours. Moreover, everyone should be vigilant from a security point of view and keep a close eye on their surroundings. If anyone sees any suspicious bag or object, they ought to immediately report it to the administration. The administration and those on duty at scanning should ask everyone to remove their facemasks when checking their ID cards to ensure it matches the photo on the card. May Allah the Almighty grant everyone His protection from every kind of harm and bestow His special grace.
Once again, I would like to say that pay particular attention to the remembrance of Allah and worship during these days. Especially pray for the success of the Jamaat and for it to remain protected from the enemy. Pray for those who have been imprisoned due to Ahmadiyyat and are having to endure great hardships; may Allah the Almighty establish the means for their swift release. Particularly pray during the Friday prayers and also in the days to follow.
In the end, I would like to present a prayer of the Promised Messiahas with regard to the Jalsa. The Promised Messiahas states:
“I pray that may Allah be with all those who are travelling in order to attend this Jalsa and may He bestow great rewards upon them, show mercy to them, alleviate their states of trouble and tribulation and remove from them their hardships and sorrows. May He grant them freedom from all afflictions and enable them to attain that which they desire and raise them up on the Day of Resurrection amongst those to whom He has shown His mercy and grace, and so that He may be their Protector till the end of the journey. O Allah! O Bestower, Benevolent and Merciful! O Remover of hardships! Hear these supplications of mine and grant us victory over our opponents by aid of great and clear signs, for You are the Possessor of all power. Ameen.” (Majmua Ishtiharaat, Vol. 1, p. 342)
May Allah the Almighty enable everyone, men and women alike, to become the recipients of the Promised Messiah’sas prayers for the attendees of Jalsa. Some people travelled with the intention of attending the Jalsa and have also come from abroad but have fallen ill after arriving here, and despite their immense desire, they are not able to attend. May Allah the Almighty reward them for their intentions and enable them to also become the recipients of these prayers.
(Official Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International, 26 August 2022, pp. 5-8. English translation prepared by The Review of Religions.)