This article was written by Syed Ahmad Ali Shah Sahib of Sialkot, who was a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and served in various regions of Pakistan. He was well versed in the field of comparative religions and the Jamaat’s teachings. He authored dozens of books and many of his articles were published in newspapers and magazines.
Syed Ahmad Ali Shah Sialkoti, (1911-2003)
In 1882, at a time when he was all alone and unknown to the world, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdias, published the following revelation in his book Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya:
ياتيك من كلّ فـجّ عميق۔ ياتون من كلّ فـجّ عميق۔ ينصرك رجال نوحی اليهم من السّماء
“Help will come to you by every distant track. People will come to you so that the track will become deep due to excessive travel. So many people will come to you that the track on which they travel will become deep […] Such people will help you whom We shall inspire from Ourself.” [Tadhkirah (English, 2009 edition), pp. 62-63]
God Almighty further revealed to him:
ﻭﻻ ﺗﺼﻌّﺮ ﻟﺨﻠﻖ اﻟﻠّٰﻪ ﻭﻻ ﺗﺴﺄﻡ ﻣﻦ اﻟﻨّﺎﺱ
“It is incumbent upon you not to be arrogant towards them and you must not get tired of receiving them in large numbers.” [Tadhkirah (English, 2009 edition), p. 64]
Then, the following revelation was vouchsafed:
و وسّع مكانك
“And enlarge your house.” [Tadhkirah (English), p. 65]
Furthermore, prior to his making the claim of being the Imam Mahdi, Huzooras published the following revelation in his announcement [ishtihar] of 20 February 1886, after being informed of it by God Almighty:
خدا تيرے نام كو اس روز تك جو دنيا منقطع هو جائے عزّت كے ساتھ قائم ركهے گا اور تيری دعوت كو دنيا كے كناروں تك پہنچا دے گا ۔۔۔ وه لوگ جو تيری ذلّت كی فكر ميں لگے هوئے هيں اور تيرے ناكام رهنے كا درپے اور تيرے نابود كرنے كے خيال ميں هيں وه خود ناكام رهيں گے اور ناكامی اور نامرادی ميں مريں گے ليكن خدا تجهے بكلّی كامياب كرے گا ۔۔۔ ميں تيرے خالص اور دلی محبّوں كا گروه بهی بڑهاؤں گا اور ان كے نفوس و اموال ميں بركت دوں گا اور ان ميں كثرت بخشوں گا
“God will maintain your name with honour till the day when the world comes to an end and will convey your message to the ends of the earth […] Those who seek to humiliate you, and are determined to cause you to fail and wish to ruin you will themselves be frustrated and will die in failure and frustration. But God will grant you complete success and will grant you all that you desire […] I will cause an increase of your true and sincere friends and shall bless their lives and their properties and they will grow in number.” [Tadhkirah (English), pp. 181]
Thus, alhamdulillah [all praise is due to Allah], that we are seeing the fulfilment of all these prophecies before our eyes. Among them is also the prophecy that is always fulfilled with all its glory and splendour at the occasion of Jalsa Salana.
Upon seeing the large gathering of people, one’s understanding, spiritual insight, faith and certainty are immensely increased. The Promised Messiahas, after making his claim of being the Imam Mahdi, laid the foundation of the Jalsa Salana.
What are some of the objectives, benefits and blessings of that Jalsa Salana? They are outlined below:
1. Benefitting from the company of the Imam
The Promised Messiahas states:
“The purpose of pledging allegiance is to dampen the worldly ardour so that the heart is engulfed in the love of the Bountiful God and of the Holy Prophetsa […] In order to achieve this, it is necessary to stay in my company and to spend a portion of one’s life in this cause […] It is essential to meet me now and then. Bai‘at is devoid of all blessings and is a mere formality if one does not care to meet me.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 73)
He further states:
“The purpose of the Jalsa was that the members of our Jamaat may somehow undergo a transformation by repeatedly meeting one another and that their hearts may be completely drawn towards the Hereafter and filled with the fear of God; they may become an example for others in righteousness, virtue, fear of God, goodness, soft-heartedness, mutual love and brotherhood; they may develop humility, humbleness and virtue and that they may instil a passion for religious endeavours.” (Shahadat-ul-Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 394)
He further states:
“Those who have pledged allegiance should only travel and come here for the sake of Allah. They should stay in my company and undergo some positive changes before they depart.” (Ibid)
2. Listening to the spiritually insightful discourse and verities
The Promised Messiahas states:
“This gathering will be devoted to the exposition of such truths and spiritual insight as are necessary for the promotion of faith and certainty and spiritual understanding.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 74)
In other words, participation in Jalsa Salana serves the development of theoretical knowledge as well as spiritual insight.
3. Benefitting from a special prayer of the Promised Messiahas
Those who sincerely participate in Jalsa Salana partake of the blessings of following exclusive supplication of the Promised Messiahas:
“I conclude with the prayer that everyone who travels to [attend] this Jalsa for the sake of Allah, may God Almighty be with them, reward them in abundant measure, have mercy on them, ease up for them their circumstances of hardship and anxiety and eliminate their anguish and grief. May He grant them freedom from every single hardship and lay open for them the ways of [achieving] their cherished goals, and raise them up, on the Day of Judgment, among those of His servants who are the recipients of His blessings and Mercy. May He be their Guardian in their absence until after their journey comes to an end.
“O Allah! O the Glorious One and Bestower of bounties, the Ever Merciful and One Who Resolves all problems, do grant all these prayers.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892[Urdu], Majmu‘ah-e-Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, p. 342)
Now, is there any Ahmadi who would not wish to partake of the blessings of this prayer? However, the only way to do that is by travelling for and attending the Jalsa Salana with sincerity.
4. Increasing knowledge
One objective of participating in the Jalsa Salana, as described by the Promised Messiahas is as follows:
“[…] so that every sincere person may have the opportunity to directly gain religious benefits and their knowledge may expand and their spiritual insight may develop by the grace and blessings of God Almighty.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892[Urdu], Majmu‘a-e-Ishtiharat Vol. 1, p. 340)
Those who listen to the speeches at Jalsa Salana know full well how much they increase their knowledge, spiritual insight and faith. However, those who do not participate in the Jalsa are deprived of these blessings and faith-inspiring experiences.
5. Meeting and getting to know brothers
The number of the members of the Ahmadiyya Community continues to grow steadily in accordance with the prophecies. Hundreds of non-Muslims convert to Islam and accept Ahmadiyyat. Jalsa Salana is a great means for them to develop mutual friendly relations. Thousands of people are such that they are unable to meet others despite having the desire to do so. However, Jalsa Salana gives them the opportunity to meet each other. Moreover, one’s faith increases by seeing the new brothers from Africa, America, Indonesia, China and Germany etc. The Promised Messiahas mentioned this great objective and important purpose in the following words:
“An additional benefit of these gatherings will be that each year new entrants to the Jama‘at shall, by being present on the fixed dates, get to know their brethren who had joined earlier. And these meetings will lead to a progressive strengthening of the bond of mutual love and affection.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 74)
He further states:
“Among its secondary benefits is that this congregational meeting together will promote mutual introduction among all brothers, and it will strengthen the fraternal ties within this Community.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892[Urdu], Majmu‘a-e-Ishtiharat Volume 1, p. 340)
He further states:
“Supplications shall be made at the threshold of the Glorious God that He may unite all these brothers in spirit and banish all estrangement, dryness and differences from amongst them.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 74)
It is evident from these magnificent statements of Huzooras that certainly, the meeting of the members of the jamaats from outside the markaz equally serves to foster brotherhood, love and fraternal ties and it is also a means of removing any resentment or estrangement.
6. Congregational prayer for absolution for the deceased
Another benefit of participating in the Jalsa Salana has been described in the following words by the Promised Messiahas:
“Prayers for absolution will be offered for brothers who will have passed away in the interim.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 74)
It is obvious how greatly it would increase the status of those who have passed away and those buried in the Heavenly Graveyard [Bahishti Maqbarah] when thousands of sincere participants of Jalsa Salana will pray for them.
7. Mutual consultation regarding the propagation of Islam
Another objective of participating in the Jalsa has been described by the Promised Messiahas as follows:
“It is also necessary to put forward sound policies for the religious benefit of Europe and America in this Jalsa because it has now become a proven fact that the fortunate among the people of Europe and America are getting ready to accept Islam.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892 [Urdu], Majmu‘a-e-Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, pp. 340-341)
Thus, if a fine proposal or suggestion comes to the mind of any of the participants of Jalsa Salana, he should certainly convey it to the relevant officers. Moreover, whenever a meeting is called by a nazarat for this important purpose, its invitees should ensure their participation in it.
8. Increasing faith by seeing the large gathering of people
It is evident from the Holy Quran that observing the manifestation of Allah’s Signs also increases the faith of the believers as it is clear from the following verse:
فَاَمَّا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا فَزَادَتۡهُمۡ اِيۡمَانًا وَّ هُمۡ يَسۡتَبۡشِرُوۡنَ
But, as to those who believe, it increases their faith and they rejoice. (Surah al-Taubah, Ch.9: V.124)
Jalsa Salana is a means of achieving this objective in the most excellent manner because the boarding and the lodging of the thousands of people who come to the markaz in accordance with the prophecies, is undertaken free of cost. This is something for which we do not find any example anywhere else. The Promised Messiahas has drawn a picture of the time before and after the fulfilment of these prophecies in the following words:
“I was poor, helpless, unknown, and unskilled; No one knew where Qadian was.
“People did not look towards this direction at all; No one knew even of my existence.
“But now you see how the world has turned this way; This very Qadian has become the rendezvous of the elect.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya Part 5, pp. 31-32)
9. Spending in the way of Allah
Those who participate in the Jalsa Salana, not only reap the rewards for their physical sacrifices but also for the jihad of the financial sacrifices because:
• they bear the travel expenses themselves
• they bear the expenses of their families as well
• they try and bring non-Ahmadi friends to Jalsa Salana and even bear the travel expenses of some of them.
Some members who are unable to travel and are excused, take part in this jihad by bearing the travel expenses of others and thus, by sending them to Jalsa Salana.
Moreover, participants are blessed with the acceptance of their prayers which they offer while bearing the hardships of travelling.
In short, participants of Jalsa Salana take part in the jihad of financial sacrifices in various ways. The Promised Messiahas describes it as follows:
“Such a grand arrangement of the Jalsa where hundreds of dignitaries as well as ordinary people may come and stay for several days and, like it was the case during the previous Jalsa, some distant poor travellers be provided with travel expenses by us, and proper hospitality be provided to hundreds of people over the course of several days and other necessities such as bedding etc. be provided for hundreds of people, and a sufficient number of rooms be built for their lodging […]!” (Shahadat-ul-Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, p. 399)
Moreover, Huzooras admonishes the participants of Jalsa Salana by saying:
“They should disregard minor inconveniences in the cause of Allah and His Messengersa. Allah yields reward to the sincere persons at every step of their way, and no labour and hardship, undertaken in His way, ever goes to waste.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892[Urdu], Majmu‘a-e-Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, p. 341)
In short, participating in Jalsa Salana and bearing its expenses is a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah.
10. An exercise in serving mankind and bearing hardships
Jalsa Salana serves as an exercise in bearing the hardships of travelling. It also provides an opportunity to have our prayers accepted and to serve and make sacrifices for others. This is so because sometimes it is possible, during travelling, to have a shortage of space or some inconvenience of accommodation or of not having meals on time. Bearing such hardships and preferring the comfort of others at the cost of our own can be crucial for strengthening the states of our hearts and souls, as the Promised Messiahas states:
“Man’s faith can never be right unless he puts his brother’s comfort before his own as much as possible […] Being a servant of the nation is a sign of becoming one who one day will be served. Talking softly and humbly to the poor is a sign of being accepted by God. Responding to evil with good is a sign of being fortunate. Suppressing anger and swallowing bitter words is a sign of the highest form of bravery.” (Shahadat-ul-Quran, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 6, pp. 395-396)
11. Fulfilling the Word of God
The teaching of Islam makes it clear that trying to fulfil the Word of God also yields reward. Hence, the Holy Prophet’ssa travelling from Medina to Mecca along with hundreds of companions in order to perform an Umrah was for the purpose of fulfilling a vision that he was shown in this regard. Hazrat Umar’sra making Hazrat Suraqahra wear gold bangles also served to fulfil a vision that was shown to the Holy Prophetsa.
Thus, if we attend Jalsa Salana with this intention and desire that we may be able to play our part in fulfilling the prophecies related to people travelling to the markaz, it would serve as the cherry on top.
In short, the Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community bears countless benefits and blessings and it has numerous other important objectives and purposes.
I have only presented 11 by way of an example. Otherwise, the Promised Messiahas has said:
“This spiritual convention will have many other spiritual benefits which will become manifest from time to time.” (The Heavenly Decree, p. 74)
He further states:
“It is incumbent that such people should definitely participate in this Jalsa, which bears many blessed objectives, who are able to afford the travel expenses. They should also bring their required bedding etc. with them.” (Ishtihar 7 December 1892 [Urdu], Majmu‘a-e-Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, p. 341)
We pray that Allah the Exalted may grant us the blessings of Jalsa Salana and an opportunity to offer individual and congregational prayers. May God accept our prayers. Amin.
(Translated by Al Hakam from the original Urdu article published in the Daily Al Fazl Rabwah, Jalsa Salana Number, 1962)