Jalsa Salana: 11 ways to enhance your experience

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
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1) Be prepared: Know why you’re attending

In all our actions, decisions, and intentions, it is crucial to consider the meanings behind the destinations we choose. The Promised Messiahas emphasised the extraordinary nature of jalsas, emphasising that they are not ordinary gatherings. Jalsas carry immense importance, and it is only by comprehending their significance that we can fully benefit from them. To familiarise yourself with Jalsa Salana and its significance for the Jamaat, please visit the following link: www.alhakam.org/jalsa-salana-and-its-importance-for-the-jamaat/

And so, reminding oneself of why one is attending becomes the first step to optimise the Jalsa experience.

2) Spiritual growth

Spiritual growth plays a significant role in Jalsa. When we attend a religious gathering, our intention is to foster our spirituality and reaffirm our faith in God.

Hazrat Ahmadas has stated that the primary purpose of this convention is to enable every sincere individual to personally experience religious benefits. They may enhance their knowledge, and due to their being blessed and enabled by Allah the Exalted, their perception of Allah may progress.

3) Things to pack: Keeping in mind arrival, health and weather

When travelling or journeying to any location, it is essential to do some research on the destination. And so, as Hadeeqatul Mahdi is located in Alton, UK, here are some items you should consider including in your packing list and some matters to keep in mind:

(I) Weather-appropriate clothing: Check the weather forecast for Alton and pack clothing suitable for the expected conditions. This may include light and breathable clothing for hot weather or layering options for cooler temperatures.

(II) Sturdy footwear: Choose comfortable shoes suitable for outdoor activities in the countryside. If rain is expected, consider packing a spare pair of waterproof shoes or wellies.

(III) Personal care items: Remember to pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and any necessary medications. Additionally, consider any specific personal care items you might need based on your preferences or requirements.

(IV) Translation kit (if needed): If you require a translation kit, make sure to bring one you have purchased beforehand. Alternatively, there are usually arrangements on the Jalsa site to purchase a translation headset.

4) Faith-inspiring speeches

One of the major takeaways from Jalsa is undoubtedly the speeches. The faith-inspiring speeches are the main highlight of the Jalsa, and it is when we are able to retain every word of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa and act upon them that we can truly say we have gained significant benefits from Jalsa. Therefore, it is recommended to bring a small notebook to take notes and jot down the standout points during the sessions to enhance your Jalsa experience.

Continuously revisiting these notes can be extremely beneficial. It is also worth mentioning that the other speeches delivered by the elders of the Jamaat are worth listening to. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has always encouraged attendees to make full use of their time at Jalsa and actively listen to those speeches.

By emphasising the importance of taking notes and attentively listening to all speeches, one can ensure they don’t return from Jalsa empty-handed.

5) Bring your curious mind

After the sessions of the day, or even during lunch break, it would be a good idea to go out and stretch one’s legs to improve blood circulation and prepare oneself for the next session or the proceedings of the following day. This time can be used to visit various exhibitions at the Jalsa site. For example, the Ahmadiyya ARC (Archive & Research Centre) will be showcasing historical manuscripts relating to the Jamaat. The Review of Religions, IAAAE, Humanity First, Makhzan-e-Tasaweer and others will also be hosting  a variety of exhibitions. Furthermore, one can use this time to visit the Ahmadiyya Book Stall and purchase any new publications or books of the year to add to their personal library.

6) Connecting across continents

The Jalsa is a unique opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds, countries, and continents—an experience not found every day. If you think about it, you’ll realise that it’s a truly spiritual and emotional spectacle. Just imagine a gathering where individuals from all corners of the world come together in one location, standing shoulder to shoulder in prayer, united under one Imam, the Khalifatul Masihaa.

Take advantage of this time to learn about different cultures; engage in conversations and discover the incredible journeys that people have undertaken to embrace Islam Ahmadiyyat. The sense of brotherhood and sisterhood within the Jamaat is something that the Promised Messiahas and his Khulafa have consistently encouraged. (“Foster harmony, love, and an atmosphere of mutual trust.”, www.alhakam.org/japan-amila-meets-huzoor/)

7) Engaging children in exploring the Jalsa site

Most of our youngsters may be unaware of the tremendous effort that goes into transforming the 206-acre site. During Jalsa, a lot of manpower is involved in converting the 206 acres into a spiritual tent city. Various marquees, offices and  exhibitions are erected and set up. One can take this opportunity to explore the Jalsa site with their children and teach them about the importance and effort required to create a tent city for three days. Furthermore, parents can educate their youngsters about the inception of the Langar Khana Hazrat Masih-e-Maudas, and how the kitchen of Hazrat Syeda Nusrat Jehan Begumra was the first-ever Langar facility at Jalsa Salana. (www.alhakam.org/hospitality-a-special-trait-of-the-prophets/)

8) Being on time for maximum Jalsa experience

The three days of Jalsa are an exceptional opportunity to rejuvenate one’s faith and strengthen their bond with God. There is a well-known hadith that states that when  there is a gathering in which Allah is exalted and remembered, angels pray for all those who are present. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab az-zikri wa d-du‘a’i wa t-tawbati wa l-istighfar) Therefore, in order to fully benefit from the Jalsa sessions and the scheduled timetable, it is important to be punctual. This may require leaving home earlier than scheduled to avoid traffic. Make sure to carefully review the Jalsa programme to ensure that you do not miss out on the speeches and other exceptional activities planned, so that you don’t leave the three days empty-handed. (jalsasalana.org.uk/programme-jalsa-salana-uk-2023/)

9) Cultivating connections: Tea and international bonds at Jalsa

It is often remarked that sharing a cup of tea with someone strengthens the bond of friendship. Give it a try! During this Jalsa, as you meet new people from different countries, take the opportunity to have tea together and get to know them. Additionally, meal times can be used to engage with individuals from diverse nations that you wouldn’t typically interact with. Consider it a chance to experience and learn about various countries, cultures and backgrounds over a simple cup of tea.

10) International bai‘at

Before arriving at the Jalsa site, we should remind ourselves of why we have accepted the Messiahas of the age and how we can become complete followers of the Messiahas, who was foretold to come in the Latter Days by the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. As we remind ourselves of this reality, it is important to review the conditions of bai‘at since this UK Jalsa is also unique in the sense that the international bai’at, usually takes place. (www.alhakam.org/what-is-baiat/)

11) Prioritise preparation, shared responsibilities, and children’s care

Listening to the speeches at Jalsa is an essential aspect that cannot be emphasised enough. Therefore, it’s crucial to be fully prepared and ready.

One approach parents can take is to share the responsibility of looking after the children. For instance, on Saturdays, when Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa delivers his speech at the Lajna marquee, husbands can take over and care for the children so that the wives are able to listen to Huzoor’saa speech with undivided attention. There is a distinction between merely listening to a speech and actively engaging with it, attentively taking note of all the aspects mentioned.

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