Tasleem Ahmad, New Zealand
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya New Zealand held its 32nd Jalsa Salana on 23 January 2021.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, jamaats in many countries have recently been unable to hold such major events, but as a result of the lack of cases in New Zealand, it was possible for the Jalsa to be held in a condensed format over one day.
This year, the proceedings were held at an external venue, at Alfriston College in Auckland, due to the need for more space.
The Jalsa began with the flag hoisting ceremony and silent prayer. During the four sessions of the day that followed, there were several speeches on a variety of topics, all centred around the theme of the jalsa, which was “Unity Among Nations”.
During the opening address, the National President of New Zealand Jamaat, Bashir Khan Sahib, stated:
“This special convention is unique and special to Jamaat New Zealand. By Allah’s grace and mercy, New Zealand may be the only country blessed to host this event, as the rest of the world has been severely restricted due to the viral pandemic.”
The second session saw numerous external guests join the proceedings, including members of parliament, dignitaries and religious and community leaders. These included the chief guest, Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Member of Parliament, who addressed the attendees at the start of the session. She commented on the theme, saying:
“The theme you have chosen for today’s convention … speaks highly of your commitment to promoting mutual understanding across faiths and cultures and global solidarity.”
The Hon Michael Wood, Member of Parliament, also addressed the participants. Referring to the Jamaat’s initiatives to serve society, he said:
“I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat here in New Zealand for your work – putting on this convention, the Peace Symposium that you hold every year and everything else that you do, not only to serve your own community, but the causes of peace and justice here in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
The keynote address was delivered by the missionary, Mustenser Ahmad Qamar Sahib. He focused on the Islamic perspective on creating unity, sharing examples from the Holy Quran and the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.
He presented an excerpt from an address by Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa relating to the Holy Prophet’s covenant with the residents of Medina, as a case study for how unity could be created between peoples. He said:
“After the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa migrated to the city of Medina, he formed a covenant with the Jewish people whereby the Muslims and the Jewish citizens would live together peacefully and with a spirit of mutual sympathy, tolerance and equity. The covenant proved to be a magnificent charter of human rights and governance and ensured peace between the different communities living in Medina. According to its terms, all people, regardless of their faith or ethnicity, were bound to respect the rights of one another. Freedom of belief and freedom of conscience were cornerstones of that treaty. Unity underpinned the agreement.”
After the session, several external guests also took the opportunity to share their thoughts on the proceedings.
“The topic spoken about is all about unity, all about coexistence and it’s very timely during these very difficult times,” explained Mariam Arif, ethnic liaison officer for the New Zealand Police.
Reverend Bruce Keeley of the Anglican Church also shared his thoughts, commenting:
“Very good speeches and I think it’s wonderful to have the input from the Members of Parliament and it just reinforces the sense of wellbeing that we have in New Zealand and such a diverse and inclusive government and the commitment that they obviously have to building an inclusive society where nobody is left behind.”
National Engagement and Operations Manager for the New Zealand Police, Rakesh Naidoo, said:
“I think the main takeaway from the event today was that in order to foster unity we’ve got to respect and understand that there’s much diversity within our community and that we’ve got to work with all communities, and that all communities have a right to feel safe in New Zealand, and that you can do so under the rule of law when justice is applied. What really resonated was the phrase from the Quran that really respected righteousness and justice for all.”
The Jalsa concluded with a concluding session that evening, with an address by the Missionary-in-Charge, Shafiq-ur-Rehman Sahib, who explained the importance of and the reasons for turning to God.
“Turning to God, for the believers, in the first place, highlights or embodies the very objective of our life – that is, the worship of the Almighty Allah, so turning to Allah is the same thing as this. And without turning to Him, we cannot achieve the objective of our lives. Secondly, the reason for which we have this topic chosen for the Jalsa Salana, is to highlight the situation in this current age … the only solution to those problems faced by the world is to turn to the Almighty God.”
The proceedings of the Jalsa then ended with a concluding address from National President, Bashir Khan Sahib, and a silent prayer.
Alhamdulillah, the Jalsa was extremely successful, with around 500 people attending and the fact that New Zealand is one of the only places where such events can be held is an exceptional blessing of Allah the Almighty, which served to make this occasion an even more special one.
The New Zealand Jamaat looks forward to holding the Jalsa next year and prays that Jamaat members across the world will also soon be able to participate in their own events, insha-Allah.