At long last, with Allah’s grace, today, Jalsa Salana UK has officially commenced with Huzoor’s Friday Sermon.
Those who are first to read these lines will likely be those tuning into the live broadcast of Jalsa Salana on MTA. Some among the first readers of these lines will have just offered the Jumuah prayer behind Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah strengthen his hand – something all Ahmadis have eagerly yearned for.
Nevertheless, wherever you may be in the world, you are seeing before you, on your screens, such blessings that were missed for far too long: brothers and sisters gathering on an open plain in their love and dedication to God and humanity; passionate Ahmadis, young and old, offering their time and energy for the sake of a divinely inspired event, and ardent devotees displaying their devotion for a man who sacrifices every fibre of his being for them and for the world at large.
As the world begins to open up amidst the high and low waves of the pandemic, there are signs of life appearing after all. Traces of last year’s chaos still continue to linger on in the world, but as Jalsa Salana UK successfully begins, the worldwide Jamaat members look on eagerly, awaiting their turn to not only host the beloved guests of the Promised Messiahas at Jalsa Salana, but to host Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa in their respective countries.
As readers of Al Hakam will know, Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa made it very clear to the organisers of Jalsa Salana UK this year that anyone who was doubtful or sceptical about the possibility of holding Jalsa this year should step aside. The reality is that Jalsa, alongside enabling the organisers to retain their competence in hosting this auspicious event, is a great means for everyone to reconnect.
Jalsa Salana is a ray of hope for people – albeit a limited number for now – to socialise and meet up in brotherhood and sisterhood.
However, with the recurring lockdowns in recent months, there have been by-products, which have affected a large portion of the world’s population, most notable among which is “reopening anxiety”.
Some people have naturally become so used to the concept of being at home, staying at home, working from home, home-shopping and attending Zoom calls etc. that now, when some parts of the world appear to be reopening, it is a daunting concept for them to meet other humans again.
In a report published by the American Psychological Association (March 2021) it was found that almost half of America’s population felt “uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction” after the numerous strict lockdowns. (Anna Russell, The New Yorker, “The Age of Reopening Anxiety”, www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-returns/the-age-of-reopening-anxiety)
A recent study by Anxiety UK revealed that “the proportion of people looking forward to resuming normal life and those who would rather stay home was virtually the same: 36%”. (Eliza Mackintosh, CNN World, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/06/europe/uk-lockdown-reopening-anxiety-gbr-intl/index.html)
Islam emphasises the blessings of communal gatherings in its various requirements of Muslims; for example, the preference of worshipping Allah in congregation as opposed to alone, neighbourhoods getting together for Friday Prayers, towns convening for Eid prayers and the mass international gathering of Hajj where Muslims display their individual and collective devotion to Allah.
This naturally encourages Muslims to get acquainted with others and promotes a healthy sense of community.
The objective of Jalsa Salana holds this aim too – it is a time where Ahmadi brothers and sisters from various parts of the world connect and grow in unity.
Although the UK Jalsa this year will only include a limited number of Ahmadis, it is still a great way to break down many barriers we were forced to put up, in a bid to strengthen our ties of love and kinship.
While we all welcome Jalsa Salana UK 2021 with open arms and wholeheartedly glue ourselves to our screens, or passionately take part in this blessed event physically, let us remind ourselves that Jalsa Salana, and indeed other similar events hosted by the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, are indeed a blessing and a great way for us to overcome any anxiety by standing shoulder-to-shoulder (figuratively speaking for the time being, of course) with our fellow men and women who bore similar hardships for the last year-and-a-half.
May Allah bless this Jalsa in every respect and for everyone watching – whether physically present in Hadeeqatul Mahdi, or watching on MTA – and may it be the precursor of many positive things to come. Amin.