Faran Rabbani, USA Correspondent
Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA had the opportunity to hold its 72nd Jalsa Salana after a three-year pause due to the pandemic.
This momentous day began with the observance of Tahajjud prayer followed by Fajr prayer at the Hadi Mosque in Harrisburg. Then a few hours later, we listened to the live Friday Sermon of Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa on MTA. Soon after, everyone started making their way to the Jalsa Gah at the Farm Show complex in the heart of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This year’s Jalsa Salana has a unique pictorial exhibition on Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya, capturing the history of Khilafat and the various visits by the Khulafa to the United States over several decades. Similarly, a book store, a tabligh booth with its exhibition, a booth for The Review of Religions magazine, a booth for The Muslim Sunrise – the longest-running Ahmadiyya magazine in the USA, Atfal booth and book store, Khuddam Hub with many engaging activities, Humanity First exhibition, multiple ziafat halls, and numerous bazaars have also been set up for the guests of the Promised Messiahas.
At noon, the ziafat team served lunch to the guests, and at 2pm sharp, Azhar Hanif Sahib, Naib Amir Awwal and Missionary-in-charge USA led the Jalsa attendees in Jumuah and Asr prayers. His Friday sermon was based on the last year’s Friday Sermon of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa from Jalsa Salana UK, highlighting the significance of remembering Allah throughout the blessed days of Jalsa Salana. He also read out a letter that was written by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh on the occasion of Jalsa Salana USA 1997, in which Huzoorrh had reminded us about our responsibilities towards the Jamaat and one another.
At 4pm, the flag hoisting ceremony took place at the entrance of the main Jalsa Gah, where the Liwa-e-Ahmadiyyat was raised high next to the American flag. A short silent prayer followed this.
Everyone then proceeded to the main Jalsa Gah, where the opening session of the 72nd Jalsa Salana USA began promptly at 4:30pm, which was presided over by Amir Sahib Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA, Sahibzada Dr Mirza Maghfoor Ahmad Sahib.
After the recitation from the Holy Quran and a poem, Amir Jamaat USA read out the following special message from Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa:
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, you have again been granted the opportunity to convene your Jalsa Salana 2022 on a full scale since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
“May Allah bless your Jalsa with great success. May all of you be enabled to appreciate the real objectives of Jalsa as stated and expounded by the Promised Messiah علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام. Indeed, the fundamental purpose for holding this Gathering is that you should acquire religious knowledge and spiritual training, and that after returning from the Jalsa, you should impart this guidance to others and also strive to fulfil diligently the obligations of your Bai’at.
“In this regard, the Promised Messiah علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام has stated:
“‘This system of bai‘at has been established solely to gather together a group of the righteous people in a Jamaat so that a substantial group of the righteous people should make a holy impact on the world. The unity of these righteous people should be a source of blessings, grandeur, and positive results for Islam. The blessings of being united on one creed may enable them to perform noble and righteous services for the sake of Islam….’
“To take bai’at means handing over your life to Almighty Allah. If each one of us recognises that, ‘My person does not now belong to me; I now have to abide by all injunctions of Almighty Allah under all circumstances and have to follow them faithfully and make all acts of mine subservient to the pleasure of Allah,’ that in fact is the summary of the ten conditions of Bai’at.
“The Promised Messiah علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام has further explained the responsibilities of those who have undertaken the Bai’at in these words:
“‘All their efforts should be devoted to spread Islam’s blessings throughout the world so that a pure fountain of the love of Allah and sympathy for humanity may flow from every heart and, being combined in one place should look like a flowing river…. Almighty Allah desires to manifest His Glory and demonstrate His Omnipotence through this group, and then He desires to grant it further progress so that the world may be filled with the love of Allah, true repentance, purity, true goodness, peace, reconciliation, and sympathy for mankind.’ (Majmu’ah Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, pp. 196-198)
“These and many other sayings of the Promised Messiah علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام, make it very obvious what bai’at is. Therefore, having offered bai’at, you need to keep reminding yourselves of your responsibilities in terms of always respecting the conditions of your pledge and constantly re-evaluating your relationship with the Promised Messiah علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام and with Khalifatul Masih. In this age, Allah Almighty has bestowed upon you the special bounty of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. Therefore, may Allah enable you to always remain firmly attached and bonded to the divine institution of Khilafat.
“It is my earnest prayer, may you be granted the opportunity to reform yourselves and spread the teachings of Islam Ahmadiyyat far and wide. May Allah enable those who heed this spiritual message to be able to prostrate before Allah Almighty and come under the shelter of Ahmadiyyat. May they receive the protection of Allah Almighty and may they be of those who obtain relief from the distresses of the world. May Allah bless you all.
“Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V”.
This was followed by the first speech of the session on “Experiences with God – Verily I am near,” presented by Mahmood Kauser Sahib. In this speech, various anecdotes were shared that showed how Allah listens to the prayers of His humble servants even in this day and age. He mentioned that how from sea to shining sea, there are stories of Ahmadis who have experienced the existence and nearness of God, and narrated a faith-inspiring incident of Raymond Brown Sahib, also known as Rahman Abdul Aleem, of Los Angeles.
Next was another exhilarating speech on the topic of “The Holy Prophetsa – A model of faith in trials and tribulations” by Sahibzada Usman Latif Sahib. He presented many faith-inspiring incidents from the blessed life of the Holy Prophetsa to show how he was always inclined towards exhibiting patience, firm faith in his Creator, and complete reliance on Allah in the face of every trial that came in his way whether it be the migration from his beloved birthplace of Mecca or when being threatened with a sword by a Bedouin in the desert. Whether it be the loss of his children and other loved ones or being boycotted, facing hunger, or when the vagabonds of the city of Ta’if pelted stones at him, injuring him badly. The Holy Prophetsa remained inclined to show patience and absolute faith in Allah, making him the role model for the entire world.
Amjad Mahmood Khan Sahib presented the third and final speech of the day on the topic of “Ummah without Khilafat: No unity, no peace”. He spoke how at the time of the Holy Prophet’ssa demise, Allah the Almighty made Hazrat Abu Bakrra the first Khalifa of Islam. As soon as Hazrat Abu Bakrra took hold of the reigns of the Ummah, he guided the community and led it to victory after victory. The speaker also presented a sharp contrast between Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya and other Muslims, that Ahmadis have a Khalifa, while the other Muslims are without a leader.
The day 1 of Jalsa Salana USA 2022 concluded with dinner, after which Maghrib and Isha prayers were offered in congregation at the Jalsa Gah.
The second day of Jalsa began with the congregational Tahajjud prayer followed by Fajr prayer and brief dars at the jalsa gah and various hotels where the Jalsa guests are staying.
The session was presided by Naib Amir Jamaat USA, Dr Hameedur Rahman Sahib and began sharply at 10 am with the recitation from the Holy Quran and a poem.
After which, Dr Madeel Abdullah Sahib, Sadr Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya USA presented the first speech of the day. The topic of his speech was “The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge and Contentment”. He opened his speech by speaking of the gold fever people in the wild west of America experienced in the early 1900s and the lengths they went through to find gold. He then connected it with the willingness to go to extreme lengths to find knowledge. The underlying principle is to ask questions that lead to positive outcomes while avoiding asking such questions that lead to poor outcomes.
The second speech of the morning session was on the topic of “Obedience in a Culture of Independence”, by Syed Adil Ahmad Sahib. He mentioned that obedience is, in fact, a central hallmark of a believer, of a moment, of every human actually, that allows them to achieve and access levels of success that they could never have imagined. It is the key to individual success and our Jamaat’s as well.
The third and final speech of the morning session was on the topic of “Avoiding the Evil Tree of Infidelity and Hypocrisy”, by Rizwan Khan Sahib. He stated that hypocrisy was the source of the disorders that happened during Khilafat-e-Rashida.
The session concluded with lunch break followed by Zuhr and Asr prayers in congregation.
The afternoon session started at 4:15 pm, presided over by Naib Amir Jamaat USA, Dr Falahuddin Shams Sahib. The session formally began with the recitation from the Holy Quran, followed by a poem.
In this session, some of the external guests and friends of the Jamaat presented their remarks on this august occasion.
Some of the notables were as follows:
Ms Wanda Williams, the 39th Mayor of the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the site of our jalsa gah, sent a video message.
Ms Stephanie Sun, the executive Director Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission.
Mr Razi Hashmi, South Asia Advisor, US State Department.
Ms Nadine Maenza, Former Chair, US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a video message.
Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota sent a video message.
Mr Saikou Ceesay, Officer of the Embassy of the Gambia.
His Excellence Sidique Abou Bakarr Wai, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the US.
At this year’s Jalsa, the 2022 Ahmadiyya Muslim Humanitarian Award was presented to the former senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, former ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom (2018-2021).
At the end of this session, a speech was presented by Abdullah Dibba Sahib on the topic of “Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad: A Global Peacemaker”. He highlighted various aspects of Huzoor’s life to show how selflessly, for almost two decades, our Khalifa has been at the forefront of establishing peace in the world.
After the evening session ended, dinner was served to the Jalsa guests.
A special question and answer session was also held with the tabligh guests and new converts, where a panel of missionaries was able to answer questions in multiple languages.
Day two of Jalsa USA ended with Maghrib and Isha prayers at 8:40 pm.
The third day of Jalsa Salana USA also began with congregational Tahajjud prayer followed by Fajr prayer and dars.
At sharp 10 am, the closing session of the Jalsa Salana USA 2022 commenced with the recitation from the Holy Quran, and was presided over by Amir Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA, Sahibzada Dr Mirza Maghfoor Ahmad Sahib.
After a poem, the Ahmadiyya Talent Awards 2022 were given out to students with outstanding academic achievements in their respective fields. Next was the Nusrat Jehan Center of Excellence Award given to the best performing Tahir Academies across the country. There are currently 54 Tahir academies operational throughout the US, with current enrollments standing at a staggering 2300+ students supported by 650 volunteers, Alhamdulillah. The top-performing Tahir academies for the academic year 2021 were Maryland, Seattle, North Virginia, Queens, Baltimore, Detroit, Zion, Miami, and Columbus.
Next, the Majlis Ansarullah awards were announced. The Alam-e-Inami was awarded to Detroit majlis. Then, the turn for the annual awards for Majlis Atfal-ul-Ahmadiyya USA was announced. This year the Alam-e-Inami was awarded to Los Angeles majlis. Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya was next. The Alam-e-Inami for 2020-2021 went to Fort Worth, Texas majlis.
After the announcement of these awards, the first speech of the closing session was delivered on “The Second Manifestation – Our Responsibilities”, by Zafarullah Hanjra Sahib in Urdu, and simultaneous English translation was also provided for the listeners. He expounded on the subject matter using the will of the Promised Messiahas as its central theme. He presented the examples of many companions of the Promised Messiahas who readily offered themselves and their possessions to become the initial enrollees of the blessed and divine scheme of Al-Wasiyyat.
The second speech was on the topic of “History of Ahmadiyyat – God and His Messengers will prevail” delivered by Dr Faheem Younus Qureshi Sahib, National Secretary Tarbiyat. He presented the example of machine learning and the science of predicting results based on data analysis. He highlighted that machines are still not producing the anticipated results despite having the means to predict outcomes based on available data. In contrast, Allah the Almighty has made the prophecy that comes true every time. The prophecy is that God and His Messengers will always come out victorious every single time. He also gave examples of God Almighty’s hand with Khilafat as well, proving that God, His Messengers, and their Khulafa are always victorious.
The final speech of this year’s Jalsa Salana was “Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya – Our Future and Our Life”, delivered by Azhar Hanif Sahib, Naib Amir and Missionary-in-charge USA. He explained that we are known in the world as the Jamaat because we have a divinely appointed Imam, our Khalifa. He then presented the example of Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq Sahibra, the first missionary of Ahmadiyyat in the USA who had immense love for the Promised Messiahas. He instilled this love for the Messiah and his Khulafa in the hearts of those he converted here in the States. He shared many anecdotes from the lives of such converts to Islam Ahmadiyyat, whose hearts were filled with love and devotion to Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya.
The Jalsa Salana USA 2022 concluded with the concluding address delivered by Amir Sahib Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya USA. He mentioned that this year’s Jalsa Salana has come after three years due to the pandemic. He asked the rhetorical question to the audience to analyze if our spiritual and moral state has improved over these three years or digressed. He shared the final will of the Promised Messiahas and reminded us of the expectations that the Promised Messiahas had with the members of his Jamaat.
In the end, Amir Sahib led everyone in silent prayer.
By Allah’s sheer grace and mercy, the total attendance at this year’s Jalsa Salana was 5,817, of which 2814+ were women, while 2980+ were men. International guests were 147 from 16 countries. More than 20,000 people watched the Jalsa Salana USA 2022 online.