The air here in London is filled with the aura of the Jalsa Salana UK which is due to be held in literally a week’s time from today.
Historically speaking, the Jalsa preparations come into full bloom with the inauguration of duties by Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa. This vitalising event, which usually happens on the Sunday before Jalsa Salana, is one where Huzooraa tours the whole Jalsa Gah, personally visiting most of the departments to inspect the arrangements for the upcoming Jalsa, and grants the persons in charge and their teams with invaluable guidance on various matters.
All departments aim to have their preparations finalised, as much as possible, by the day of the inspection; this practically means that for those on duty, Jalsa starts with this blessed event of inauguration.
The inspection of the arrangements of Jalsa Salana traditionally dates back to the time of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, in whose time the blessed institution of Jalsa Salana was founded. We know from the recorded history of the Jamaat and the biographies of the Promised Messiahas that he would keep a very keen eye on all arrangements that were made for the guests that travelled from far and wide to be in the blessed company of Huzooras and to spend a few days in Qadian.
The Langar Khana, as we know it today, has its roots in the kitchen of Hazrat Amma Janra (Syeda Nusrat Jehan Begum Sahiba – noble wife of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas). For the guests that would visit the Promised Messiahas, food was prepared in this kitchen at home which meant that it was directly under the supervision of Huzooras. With the inception of Jalsa Salana, the number of guests multiplied manifold and separate arrangements had to be made. This was where cooking on a mass level was carried out to serve the guests that would come to Qadian in their thousands. Even then, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas would personally keep himself updated with what was being cooked, and also that those with special dietary requirements were being served appropriately and as much as possible on a mass scale.
In its initial years, bedding for guests was voluntarily provided by local Ahmadis of Qadian. In this sacrifice also, the Promised Messiahas would lead by example. Traditions narrate that a companion of the Promised Messiahas visited him in the days when preparations for Jalsa were underway and guests had started to arrive. He saw the Promised Messiahas sitting on a bed without bedding. It was only when the companion enquired that the Promised Messiahas mentioned that he had sent it for the guests. In the chilly winter of the Punjab, this was a great sacrifice for anyone to make; we are talking of the late 19th century Punjab when there was no central heating or any other sophisticated way of heating rooms.
During his morning and evening walks, the Promised Messiahas would head to various facilities and inspect them personally, providing guidance and ensuring that guests – assembled in Qadian merely in the cause of Allah – were provided as much comfort as was possible in the given resources; meagre and humble as they were.
Isfand Yar Munib Sahib (Head of Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat department, Rabwah), speaking to Al Hakam, said:
“The Jalsas continued after the demise of the Promised Messiahas, and so did this tradition. The successors of the Promised Messiahas have always taken keen interest in the arrangements of this blessed institution. Now that every country has its own Jalsa Salana, Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa is still very keen on ensuring that guests that travel from other cities to their respective centres are accommodated in the most hospitable way, and also that all other arrangements are in place to make every Jalsa a true reflection of the Markazi Jalsa – in logistic arrangements as well as the spiritual ones. But Jalsa Salana UK, being the central Jalsa of the Jamaat, is blessed with his blessed presence and attention.”
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya UK is extremely fortunate that, UK being the abode of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih, their Jalsa has turned to be the Markazi, or central, Jalsa. From planning, to organisation and to implementation, all stages are blessed with the gracious attention of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. As mentioned above, all departments take the inauguration of duties as the starting point of their Jalsa. So by then, they have invested all their energies to take them through the actual Jalsa period. This special surge of energy, motivation and spiritual drive all comes from the one and only source: Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya – the heart and soul of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya.