Mirza Saad Sharif Ahmad, UK
The summer holidays are a time that all children look forward to; they are off from school and can relax and play more with their friends. However, for Ahmadi youth, there is another reason why the summer holidays are so special, and that is because of Jalsa Salana UK. Some may think that Jalsa is a gathering best-suited to adults, and children have nothing much to participate in; however, this could not be further from the truth.
There are many reasons why Jalsa is beneficial for the youth, but to start with, one reason is that duties that may be considered insignificant from a worldly point of view, such as water-duty or helping to serve food to guests, actually continue to provide blessings for one throughout the year.
For example, in a hadith, it is mentioned how the supplication of a traveller is accepted (Sunan Abi Daud, Kitab al-Salat, Hadith 1536). The vast majority of Jalsa attendees are travellers, many having come from quite far or even from abroad, and although you may not realise it at the time, the prayers you receive whenever you help a guest will, insha-Allah, continue to benefit you, even long after the Jalsa period finishes.
The prayers you receive for volunteering during Jalsa not only help you in spiritual terms, but they also benefit you in your worldly endeavours.
Those who are familiar with the UK’s university admissions process will know that when applying for a degree, you have to write a personal statement.
Some time ago, there was an individual who was applying for medicine, which is highly competitive, and in his personal statement, he wrote a small portion about his volunteering experiences during Jalsa. When it was time for his interview, he discovered that a large part of it was in fact him describing his experiences during Jalsa. And so, it is no surprise that he soon received an offer from this well-known university – no doubt because of the blessings of helping out during Jalsa.
There are countless examples of blessings that children have received for volunteering during Jalsa, and especially after the pandemic, we should take advantage of the opportunity to attend, as the last few years have proven that we cannot take anything for granted.
And although after performing duties during Jalsa, we may feel tired or wish to relax, we should keep in mind the example of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa whose work for Jalsa starts much before anyone else and finishes long after.
Regarding Huzoor’s example during the Jalsa period, which is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year, I would like to mention some examples of how Huzooraa, in this day and age, perfectly emulates the noble example of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas.
One of the most important things in Huzoor’s life has always been the observance of prayer, and especially during Jalsa, despite his own extremely busy schedule, this is something that he inculcates in his family as well. During the days of Jalsa, every day, Huzooraa himself comes to each room at home to make sure that we had woken up for Fajr.
Here, I would also like to mention Huzoor’s humility, in that if he comes to our rooms, he first knocks and says “Assalamu alaikum”, and even then, he usually waits outside until we ourselves come out. For us, this is a lesson in how we shouldn’t enter people’s rooms without asking, as has been mentioned in the Holy Quran.
In terms of salat, we should also keep in mind that Huzoor’s day always starts much before dawn, when it is time for Tahajjud, followed by him reading a part of the Quran before Fajr – this is no different during Jalsa. There is also the leading of the five daily prayers, and despite other work that may sometimes have to be done, Huzoor’s main concern is always that salat is offered on time.
Then, another part of Jalsa is when guests arrive, and witnessing Huzoor’s hospitality is something that is inspirational. Alongside preparing for Jalsa itself, Huzooraa also keeps a close eye on any needs that guests may have.
At home, one recent example was when we had an uncle visit for Jalsa. Huzooraa knew that he is a keen cyclist, and so whilst mentioning this at dinner, Huzooraa said to my father that as he had a spare bike, he should offer it to our relative. Huzooraa also told my father to make sure the bike was clean and in good condition, and only then he should offer it. This is one of many examples of how Huzooraa himself thinks about what guests might want, and how their comfort is on his mind at all times.
Another example of how Huzooraa is concerned about the attendees of Jalsa can be seen even if the Jalsa is abroad, and Huzooraa is not physically present.
Some time ago, there was a family who had been involved in an accident, and even though Huzooraa was here at the time, he was receiving updates and praying for them continuously.
After Jalsa finishes, Huzooraa often instructs Ahmadis to drive carefully, in order to prevent any accidents.
During Jalsa, despite his schedule, Huzooraa often helps with household chores as well. I remember that last year, when I would sometimes clear the plates after meals, even then Huzooraa helped me on a couple of occasions.
There are many subtle things that Huzooraa does, which serve as a lesson to us. I have noticed that small things such as leaving your meal to get something nearby, when someone else could have also been asked to do it, leave an impression on your mind that where possible, we should get into the habit of doing things ourselves instead of burdening others, even if they are only small actions.
After addresses at Jalsa, Huzooraa sometimes asks us what we understood, and sometimes asks in a lighthearted way if we weren’t bored!
To conclude, I think the biggest lesson I have learnt from observing Huzoor’s example, especially throughout the days of Jalsa, is that despite being extremely busy or having a hectic schedule, Huzooraa is always concerned about the feelings and sentiments of others, and this is something that we too, should try to instil into ourselves.