Aqeel Ahmed Kang, Al Hakam
Over the last couple of years, you may have observed some changes to your hands-on Jalsa experience due to the pandemic. One thing, however, that shall never change is the eagerness and passion of the volunteers to serve the guests of the Promised Messiahas; no amount of rain or mud and not even a global pandemic can dampen their spirits. They have been trained to serve God and His creation right from childhood and it never stops, with one generation passing the baton on to the next as Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa recalls:
“I started performing Jalsa duties from a very young age. As far as I can remember, I do not recall any Jalsa when I was not on duty. Abba [Hazrat Mirza Mansoor Ahmad Sahib] was the Nazim of Langar Khana Number 1 – the Langar Khana situated behind Nusrat Girls School in Rabwah. His days and nights were spent there. As a very young child, I would accompany him. I remember walking to the Jalsa duty, holding his finger. […] I always offered my duty in Langar Khana, even when I was a tifl. Then at every stage, I was blessed to serve in the Langar Khana of the Promised Messiahas. I was a khadim [servant] even as a tifl; I was a khadim as a khadim; a khadim in Ansarullah and, to this day, I remain a khadim.” (Jalsa Salana Memories – Exclusive Interview with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, Al Hakam, 20 July 2019)
Hence, Jalsa Salana is also a great platform for the training of the next generation of Ahmadi volunteers.
As the Jalsa Salana UK 2022 commences in Alton, Hampshire, a 6,000-strong force of volunteers, comprising men, women, boys and girls from all backgrounds, is given just a few weeks to set up and wind down the entire Jalsa village, that is Hadeeqatul Mahdi, with all its amenities. Many of the volunteers are successful professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers and entrepreneurs etc. The Jalsa Salana administration draws on their professional expertise but it is also not uncommon to see a city banker cutting onions in the Langar Khana or a young student preparing content for a global MTA audience using cutting-edge technology. Their love for Khilafat and a desire to serve the Faith unites them all and puts students, professors, labourers, entrepreneurs, full-time mothers and high-ranking officials all on an equal footing with one goal; to excel each other in serving the Faith.
Many of the departments have an identical setup on both, the ladies’ as well as the men’s sides; for instance, just as men have hygiene teams, so do women and so on.
Al Hakam interviewed some of these volunteers working tirelessly day and night to give us all a flavour of what goes on behind the scenes.
1. Roti Plant: Carrying my father’s badge
“My Name is Fathay Rashid and, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, I am a waqif-e-nau. I started my career as an automotive technician which I learned from my late father Abdul Rashid Sahib, and this created my foundation and helped me to get on to the aviation industry, which opened many more doors. My automotive skills helped me with hands-on work such as repairing, maintenance, welding, etc. Studying aviation helped me understand complex systems and their functions, i.e. pneumatic systems and automatic controls.
“With the help of these two skills, I have been designing and implementing new systems in the roti plant every year and, insha-Allah, in other departments very soon. I strongly believe new technologies and systems should be invented and developed for Jalsa Salana and then given to the world.
“I was introduced to the Roti Plant Department by my late father Abdul Rashid Sahib when I was a tifl. At the time of my father’s demise, he was Naib Nazim Roti Plant Engineering and his duty badge was given to me in 2015 with the difference in name and picture. At that time I made a promise to myself that under any circumstances I will give my best to the Roti Plant and as much time as it requires.
“Now, I have been working in the Roti Plant Department of Jalsa Salana UK for 12 years and I am currently serving the department as Nazim Roti Plant Engineering. My team and I start our work six months prior to the Jalsa. Our aim is to have all the systems perform at their best during Jalsa without any breakdowns and also improve the quality of production. Alhamdulillah, we are at a stage where any faults within the systems can be repaired within an hour during Jalsa.
“At Jalsa Salana UK 2019 I developed a machine which helped the workers with cutting the freshly mixed dough into 12 kg pieces. Prior to the development of the machine, this work was done by hands and knives. This dough was then put into boxes where they waited an hour before going into the main plant for cooking.
“This project was mentioned by Huzooraa in his Friday Sermon of 2 August 2019. Huzooraa said:
“‘This year, the young engineers working at the roti plant have made specific improvements to the flour kneading machine which has made the flour extraction process even more effective. The person in charge of the roti plant and the young engineer, who is also a waqif-e-nau, and their team is now working to make further improvements to ensure that the flour moves from the kneading machine to the cooking machine directly instead of the current practice of having the workers carry the flour in buckets and deliver it physically and this particular hurdle of the process will no longer be required.
“‘However, it does not mean that we will deprive the workers of serving because of this automatic machine, rather, God willing, these workers will be assigned to roles where they can serve in an even better manner. In fact, this is a distinctive feature of the Jamaat that from childhood to senior age, our workers strive to perform any duty with utmost joy, to the best of their abilities.
“‘In any case, the reason I mentioned this is because there was a time when it was challenging for the management to provide food for 4,000 to 5,000 people. During those times, ninety per cent of the rotis were purchased from an outside vendor. A small second-hand roti plant was installed, but even that would constantly break down. It required the constant attention of the engineers.
“‘Our senior engineers of the Jamaat spent a lot of time working on this. Even then, this old plant would only produce a few thousand rotis, which were not round and were of the same shape as the pitta bread. Now, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, they produce hundreds of thousands of rotis themselves in order to serve 35,000 to 40,000 attendees.
“‘People also appreciate its quality and I also regularly assess the quality of this roti and indeed, it is far better than the rotis which were produced previously. May Allah Almighty further increase the skills of the youngsters who are carrying out this work. May He also grant them the wisdom and further increase their capacity to do this work so that they can serve the guests of Jalsa more than ever before.’” (Al Hakam, 30 August 2019)
Fathay Rashid continued:
“After testing the machines for two years and with the continuing development, it was ready for further automation by removing the boxes completely. Therefore this year the manual process of the dough moving from the mixing stage to the main plant will be done automatically. Without any human contact with the dough, the health and safety aspect of the roti plant will increase manifold. This newly developed system will do the work of 10 voluntary workers automatically.
“For this year’s Jalsa Salana UK, we started preparation in December 2021 as a lot of system development was required and new machinery was to be designed, built and installed. Due to the tight budget, we acquired many parts pre-used and then refurbished them. Most of the frame-related work was done with scrap metal that was bought from Scotland for a sum of £700 as new metal would have cost over £4,000.
“During this project, we faced many difficulties and problems that were overcome with the help of Allah the Almighty and He showed His signs at every step.
“To illustrate this, I was very worried about a conveyor (a very important part of the system) that was not available anywhere and custom-made was not the solution as it was too expensive. After months of searching, I found a factory that was closing down in Wales and they had a conveyor which could work but required a lot of modifications. After many thoughts and without any other options I left for Wales to see this conveyor and negotiate the asking price of £8,000, despite it being too expensive and I was simply not able to justify its price.
“On my way to Wales, I prayed a lot that ‘Allah please help me through this as without this conveyor the system would not be possible and the asking price of it is way out of our budget.’ When I reached the factory, I saw that the conveyor would not fit into our system and it was yet again another dead end. At this point, my eyes were full of tears that my hard work was incomplete and that six months of work would be wasted because of one conveyor.
“Shortly after that, Allah the Exalted helped me; the person I went to see said he would give me a tour of the factory as I really enjoyed looking at the systems. After looking around the factory we came out to their backyard where a lot of components were laying around to be thrown away into scrap. There, I saw a glimpse of some conveyor parts along with other junk and dug them out, realising that these were all the parts I needed to make a conveyor by ourselves for our machine. I asked him how much he wanted for this as they were going to be thrown away. He replied, ‘£200’. So, I bought those straight away. With this, I made the conveyor.
“Alhamdulillah, we completed this project a few weeks ago and successfully carried out all the testing with the help of Allah.”
2. Lajna Tea Stall: I knew Allah was taking care of everything
“I am Mansoora Chaudhry and I have been blessed with the responsibility to serve as Nazima Tea Stall at Jalsa Salana UK. In my personal life, I have a business of my own where I manage events.
“Looking after my children and family, alongside everything else, sometimes gets very hectic but I find comfort in the knowledge that Allah has blessed me in countless ways. It motivates me to do more as I realise that I serve the Jamaat for the sake of Allah Who rewards me manifold for every second I spend in His cause.
“At the ladies’ tea stall, we have an exceptionally hard-working team from diverse backgrounds. However, when we work, we work as one! Regardless of how big or small the task is, everyone gets together to complete it.
“Although we prepare and serve tea, we have a great offering at the stall, which requires many different tasks to be completed, including the constant washing of the massive teapots to ensure consistently perfect taste. We also cater for the different tastes of people; sugar, or no sugar, milk or no milk, strong or mild etc. Some even prefer green tea or coffee over chai!
“In addition to being used in chai and coffee, the milk is also used to prepare kachi lassi that we serve to everyone. Moreover, milk is offered to mothers with infants. This important task is accomplished by our hard-working young nasirat. They serve milk to the mothers of young kids based on their preferred temperature and also offer to wash the milk bottles for them.
“We also have a hygiene team who make sure everything is and remains clean. They clean the spillages, wash the pots, and properly dispose of the rubbish, which requires constant effort.
“Our discipline team ensures that everyone is welcomed with a smile and salaam. They also ensure that everyone is complying with the Covid measures as well as other health and safety protocols.
“Our serving team has a challenging job, as they are handling hot liquids which require constant attention. However, they always have a smile on their faces.
“We’ve had extreme weather conditions at Jalsa over the years; sometimes scorching hot and at other times, very wet and muddy too. Both weather conditions have their challenges. I remember a few years ago when it was so hot at Jalsa that merely standing outside was difficult. Inside our little marquee with six stoves felt like standing inside a hot furnace. This did not deter our teams from serving the guests of the Promised Messiahas. Instead, the sherbet team got to work more diligently than ever and the entire team kept each other motivated with na‘ra-e-takbir.
“Usually, we start making tea from Tahajjud and finish once everyone has retired to the accommodation marquees and after having sent the tea urns to the accommodation marquees and leaving some behind as well for the guests to help themselves, thus ensuring that tea is available 24/7.
“We have had so many challenging situations but I have also seen Allah’s countless blessings and little miracles happen right in front of my eyes. I remember in the early years we had a day when I was short of helping hands at a very busy time of the day with a storm of people heading from the food marquee towards the tea stall. I was just reciting Durood Sharif. I stood outside and felt helpless. At that moment, I just looked toward the sky and prayed to Allah and within a few minutes, two girls in their late teens came to me and asked if they could help. And we got through that busy time. At that moment, I knew it was all Allah’s work and He was the One Who was doing everything.”
3. Men’s Hygiene Department: Blessed to be given the opportunity to serve
“I’m Rafiq Bhatti and from a professional perspective, I am a qualified optometrist, working in and around the Kent area. In terms of the Jamaat, I serve under MKA as naib mohtamim tarbiyat MKA UK.
“Alhamdulillah, over the last decade, I have had the honour of working in the hygiene department as naib nazim. The role entails the general cleanliness of Hadeeqatul Mahdi.
“There is a well-known hadith of the Holy Prophetsa that “cleanliness is half of faith” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab at-taharah, babu fadli l-wudu’). With this in mind, our responsibility and duty to the guests of Jalsa Salana is of paramount importance.
“The Jalsa site is vast and we have to ensure the cleanliness of all areas including the Langar area, dining, accommodation, car parks as well as the Jalsa Gah arena.
“To break this into simple stages:
- Litter is collected from the site by hand.
- Rubbish bags when full are emptied from bins.
- Fresh black bags are then placed in the bins.
- Full bags are collected in vans
- Bags are then thrown into skips at the back of the site
- Skips are then removed daily.
“Over all these years of being part of such a wonderful team of khuddam, there have been many memorable times. Foremost the camaraderie and brotherhood become stronger each year. At times the work feels endless but when one simply reminds themself of how we are serving Khilafat and moreover, the guests of the Promised Messiahas, it gives an unparalleled desire to continue without any hesitation.
“In essence, one feels blessed that we have the opportunity to serve the Jamaat in this capacity, be it even picking up rubbish.
“It resonates in my mind continuously what Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra said, that there would come a time, one day, in Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya when people would express their desire to perform a duty for the Jamaat, but would be told that there was no requirement for them. How blessed are we that we can be recipients of the prayers of the Promised Messiahas in the current times!
“I would also like to share an event with the readers of Al Hakam, which I hold very close to my heart:
“A Jalsa prior to the pandemic, in addition to be assigned the general hygiene duty, we were also tasked to clean the toilets on site. We duly got to work and continued our task. As cleaning can be quite arduous and not necessarily the most pleasant task, we as a team continually smile and support one another to make everything we do feel like light work. There was an elderly gentleman who was looking to see if any of the toilets were available. Upon seeing him, we pointed out one cubicle which was available. We went towards the door of the cubicle and opened it for him. This led us to the realisation that the cubicle and everything within was in dire need of cleaning. We told the gentleman to give us a couple of minutes and the cubicle would be good to use. A few minutes later, he thanked us and walked in and we continued with our work. A little while later, this gentleman came to us and began to thank us again. We looked at him and he had tears in his eyes. He explained to us that there was a time when he was a lot younger when he had such opportunities to serve the Jamaat but had not taken advantage of any such duty. Today due to health conditions, he was less mobile and only wished that he had the ability to serve the Jamaat as he could have then. He explained to us that we were tremendously blessed for what we were doing and then went on to pray for us.
“In all my years, I have never felt such anguish and heartfelt prayers. He prayed for us, our team, and our families and his eyes continued welling up with tears. He prayed that Allah may give us nothing but happiness throughout our lives and went on to pray for our progeny and generations to come. He then slowly walked away.
“I remember clearly being with one of my khuddam brothers, Mansoor Ahmad and we looked at one another and were speechless. It was not for all the prayers but more the deep heartfelt conviction of the prayers which resonated deeply within our hearts. It was a reminder to us as well, that we are indeed fortunate to be tasked with what may appear to be a very difficult and unpleasant duty. However, in the eyes of Allah, we can be recipients of tremendous blessings.
“Undoubtedly, throughout the last decade of being under the hygiene department, it is the prayers of the Promised Messiahas and Huzooraa, the honour of serving the Jamaat and the guests of the Promised Messiahas, which gives continued conviction to me for the simple prayer: that God may always give us the ability to continue serving the Jamaat in any capacity we can.”
4. Lajna Hygiene Department: Hearts changed through Huzoor’s prayers
“My name is Fozia Riaz. It is my great honour that I have been able to serve the cause of Islam Ahmadiyyat in different capacities starting from the age when I stepped into Nasirat-ul-Ahmadiyya. At present, I am serving as sadr Lajna Baitun Noor Region. As far as Jalsa Salana is concerned, I have had the great privilege of serving in various departments over the years including Children’s Marquee, Ziafat and Discipline Andaroon.
“Last year the hygiene department was assigned to me. In the beginning, I encountered some hurdles in forming the team and convincing girls, some of whom are highly educated and qualified, to join the team. However, as is always the case when an Ahmadi faces a challenge, I wrote to Huzooraa and requested prayers. Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya is a great blessing of Allah and members of the Jamaat love Khilafat so much that they are always ready to sacrifice everything for their beloved Imam. Hence, the hurdles were removed and the girls, who were initially hesitant to join the team, when I explained to them the significance of their service at Jalsa Salana and the blessings and prayers of Huzooraa they would get as a result, they readily joined the team. And they did the work so well that we had no trouble carrying out our assigned job.
“I observed the girls working diligently and with great enthusiasm. Even some girls’ mothers were astonished and happy to see their daughters working like this in the hygiene department.
“Although it was a challenging job, as we also had to ensure that Covid-19 protocols were followed, nevertheless, the ladies put in their full effort. Hence, the guests were very happy and would pray for the workers, which further invigorated the volunteers.
“I truly believe that behind all this miraculous change there is the spiritual power of the prayers of Khalifatul Masih, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa. His prayers are always assisting us in our matters; his attention is so miraculous that hearts start to melt. May Allah grant our Huzooraa a long, healthy and active life and enable us to be his helping hands.
“This year we aim to maintain or, rather, elevate the level of our service, as our department was praised by beloved Huzooraa last year. Although it is never an easy undertaking to improve one’s performance, our volunteers are prepared to assist once more and with even greater passion, insha-Allah.”
5. Power Supply Department: No time to relax
“My name is Qasid Ahmad Malik. I was born and raised in Islamabad, Tilford. I have been blessed to be attached to the Jamaat all my life, growing up in Islamabad alongside many waqifeen-e-zindagi and their families. I grew up in an environment where life revolved around the Jamaat, but in particular, the highlight was Jalsa Salana in Islamabad. I remember as a young boy seeing the marquees going up, the atmosphere building up to Jalsa with so many volunteers working to make a memorable and successful Jalsa every year.
“My father was part of the Jalsa Salana Power Supply team, providing the crucial power supply to all aspects of Jalsa, including the main Jalsa marquee, the accommodation areas, the bazaar, etc. I remember how my father used to constantly get calls over the radio throughout the Jalsa period; he never had time to sit down and relax during Jalsa!
“I grew up admiring the dedication and sacrifices everyone made during Jalsa. It was the Jamaat volunteers from all backgrounds who were my role models growing up. I would be encouraged to do waqar-e-amal in preparation for Jalsa. I had also done various duties during Jalsa, including Water Duty and Reserve Duty. In Islamabad, it was traditional to be doing a duty during Jalsa, no matter what it may be.
“Having a keen interest in engineering, I focused my studies on electrical and electronic engineering. I wanted to follow my father’s path and do duty with the Power Supply team.
“I started working with the Power Supply team when I was in college (2006, at 16 years old), having gained a vast amount of experience while working in Hadeeqatul Mahdi. I had gained experience working with my nazims who trained me and supported me. I eventually studied electrical and electronic engineering at university.
“I recently started as a senior electrical engineer for a multinational energy company. I provide engineering services for designing power supply to onshore and offshore plants, including for offshore wind farms in renewables. The work I do is part of various projects which supply oil, gas, power and renewable energy. My work involves undertaking calculations, studies, specifications, and drawings for the electrical system to ensure it is safe, cost-effective, sustainable and optimised. I have visited offshore platforms in order to commission electrical equipment for powering the platform in order to process oil and gas once it is extracted from the seabed.
“At Jalsa Salana UK, I am currently part of the Electrical Inspection & Testing team, serving as naib nazim. The work starts months before Jalsa, including PAT testing equipment such as kettles, fridges, freezers and fans etc. We also test generators, including installing earth rods and testing their safety.
“Once another team from the Power Supply department has completed the installation of all wiring and distribution, we then test each socket to ensure they are safe to use. During Jalsa, we inspect to ensure all equipment being used throughout is safe to use. This includes equipment in the bazaar, accommodation and all across the Jalsa site.
“In my role as naib nazim, I ensure all Power Supply team members carry out work safely. I also have a team that inspects equipment throughout Jalsa. I keep a record of all the findings for future analysis.
“In essence, volunteering for the Jamaat always brings with it so many blessings that one cannot comprehend. Even to this day, I do my best to sacrifice my time for the Jamaat with full passion. By the grace of Allah, I have received so many blessings for volunteering and giving time to the Jamaat. Thus, I would like to emphasise the importance of gaining work experience from the Jamaat, voluntarily and with passion.”
6. Langar Khana: Comradeship in the kitchen
“My name is Waseem-ud-Din Ahmedi. I am an East African Asian, born in Kampala, Uganda to Pakistani parents.
“I arrived and settled in the UK in the early 1970s. My parents had a love for the Jamaat and would always send me, along with my brothers, to tarbiyati classes at the Fazl Mosque, London, being held under the guidance of Sheikh Mubarak Ahmad Sahib and later, Ataul Mujeeb Rashed Sahib.
“After graduating in applied chemistry, I went with Humanity First on a food convoy mission to Bosnia for eight days in the early 90s.
“After my marriage in 1992, I moved to Manchester and joined the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as a police officer and have also been blessed to serve the Jamaat in various roles. By the grace of Allah, I have been blessed with three sons, one of whom is a waqif-e-zindagi.
“I am now a retired police sergeant for Greater Manchester Police, where I served for 30 years as an operational officer. Whilst in service, I carried out various police roles in and around Manchester. As a result of my training as a police officer, I was also able to assist and advise the local community and Jamaat members regarding various issues.
“At Jalsa Salana UK, I am a volunteer in the Ziafat Department which is responsible for providing and preparing all the food for the guests. The department is divided into many different sections so as to cater for the various dietary requirements of all those attending. The department works a 24-hour shift pattern and some volunteers work the night-shift to ensure the department fulfils its obligation.
“My role involves cooking 12 large pots of curry, with each pot containing enough food to feed approximately 250 people. I ensure that they contain the right ingredients and amounts to prepare the curry. I liaise with other volunteers in the department who provide the ingredients and I then cook the ingredients to prepare the curry which on average takes approximately three hours per 12 pots. Once the curry has been prepared, I liaise with the nazim and update him.
“I volunteer to do the day-shift which starts at approximately 1 pm and can last as long as midnight depending on the requirements as agreed by the nazim.
“By the grace of Allah, I have been blessed with carrying out various roles at the Jalsa Salana. Initially, when I was a khadim I carried out car parking duties, and security duties, and later on, for many years, I was a minibus driver for the Jalsa transport department which I thoroughly enjoyed particularly receiving guests of the Promised Messiahas from various airports.
“In my current role, I thoroughly enjoy meeting old friends. The brotherhood and commitment to serve the Jamaat is overwhelming. I feel the team has grown up together with all the brothers sharing each year their highs and lows, bringing us all together and increasing the brotherhood between us all.”
7. Lajna Department of Environmental Management
“My name is Salma Snober Hayat. I am a psychology graduate. But, foremost, I am a waqifa-e-nau, wife and mother of three. I draw inspiration for my waqf (dedication) from my late maternal grandfather – Maulana Mian Abdul Hayee Sahib (who served in Indonesia). That connection with my late grandfather is especially invigorated when, in mulaqats, beloved Huzooraa always refers to me as the granddaughter of Mian Abdul Hayee Sahib.
“Since the birth of my first child, I have had the privilege of dedicating my time to my family as a homemaker. Growing up in British society, there are a lot of stigmas associated with being a housewife. But when beloved Huzooraa instructed me not to engage in any work at the expense of the tarbiyat (moral and spiritual reformation) of my child, it has been my daily focus and challenge to meet that expectation. My children are now aged nine, six and eleven months, Alhamdulillah.
“Being a waqifa-e-nau means being ready to serve the Jamaat and Khilafat to the exclusion of all else. In many ways, I have been tested in this respect through various Jamaat duties and offices. Amongst the most challenging has been serving at our Jalsa Salana UK.
“From the age of seven, I have had the honour to serve as a muavina in water duty, creche and security. I have always looked forward to the Jalsa days; where I get lost in the spirit and fever of gathering and hosting international guests.
“At 27 years old, I was appointed to serve as a nazima. The prospect of being responsible for an entire department was an enormous burden and very overwhelming. However, if that was not testing enough, this appointment came with three unique challenges: One, I was appointed two weeks before Jalsa Salana – in fact, a week before the inauguration – so I had no time to absorb the shock; Two, I was put in charge of a brand-new department – Environmental Management – something new to all of us at Jalsa; Three, my two children at the time were aged four and 17 months old.
“Despite what initially appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, by the grace of Allah, I am now serving my fifth year as nazima for Environmental Management. Last year my youngest child was born a month after Jalsa. Whilst pregnant, I remained serving as nazima, except that due to Covid restrictions my department was not operational. This allowed me one year to re-energise and make myself ready again.
“The journey for my children is important to me because being a waqifa-e-nau raising waqifeen-e-nau, I want to be a source of inspiration for their waqf similar to how my grandfather is for me. In fact, my two eldest children over the past few years have served and participated in many activities at Jalsa Salana alongside me. They relish the opportunity to work hard for three days and it gives me enormous pleasure to watch them learn the etiquette of serving the guests of the Promised Messiahas from myself and fellow participants. Such character-building exercises are virtually impossible to replicate at any other time of the year; which is why missing out on Jalsa Salana for two years during the pandemic was so impactful.
“The Department of Environmental Management, in a word, is tasked with making Jalsa ‘green’. Government guidelines and societal trends are marching toward reducing our carbon footprint and educating ourselves in protecting our planet for our future generations. Our Jalsa Salanas are an example of how to conduct spiritual and peaceful gatherings the world over. We work closely with the local council to bring efficiencies in our processes, such as recycling certain materials and safely disposing of food waste. All the while we emphasise raising awareness amongst participants because this is a task we can only achieve together.
“At this year’s Jalsa we are going one step further and are looking to compost any food waste so that it goes directly back into enriching our environment. The ultimate goal is for our Jalsa to have a net-zero carbon footprint – something everyone can help to achieve!
“Each year I have been blessed with a hard-working and dedicated team of volunteers. We start planning many months in advance and the three days of Jalsa see them sacrificing hour-after-hour to ensure that our plans come to fruition. Being a new department, at times it’s been particularly difficult with having to make or change plans at the last minute. My team have, nevertheless, offered their unwavering support and commitment with sincerity and utmost humility. Similar to my own journey, I have given opportunities to mothers with young children to partake of the blessings of serving at Jalsa Salana, where ordinarily they would attend as guests. I am flexible in my shift patterns and encourage them to bring their children along, where appropriate, and work around their personal commitments. This way, over the last five years, my team has grown with me and our children have also grown up together and are now offering their services in our department and elsewhere.
“As hosts of the International Jalsa Salana, it falls on our shoulders to be the true example of serving the guests of the Promised Messiahas. The underlying spirit and practical example of this was shown to me when I attended Jalsa Salana Qadian in 2005 aged 16 years old. As a guest there, I witnessed unmatched care, love and respect. Despite the enormous task of hosting the Khalifa and thousands of guests, I could not see any stress or worry on their faces. It was as though the duty-holders were looking after us in their own homes. This degree of personal attention, kindness and love is etched in my memory and are qualities I strive to inculcate in my service and inspire my children to develop in the few days of our great Jalsa Salana.”
These are just a few examples from among thousands of volunteers who selflessly serve the cause of Islam Ahmadiyyat for the sake of Allah during Jalsa Salana. We cannot introduce them all, nor do they desire any fame. They feel fortunate to have been blessed with the opportunity to serve the Faith and thereby benefit from the prayers of the Promised Messiahas, who said:
“There is only one thing that attracts my attention and makes me feel inclined to pray for an individual: When I come to know that a certain person is engaged in serving the Faith, and their existence is beneficial to [the cause of] God, His Messengersa, His Book and His servants, the pain and anguish that such a person feels, is actually my own.” (Malfuzat, Vol. 1, pp. 215-216)
We pray that Allah may enable all of the Jalsa Salana volunteers to carry out their responsibilities in the best manner, may He reward them abundantly and may they continue to benefit from the prayers of Promised Messiahas and Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa throughout their lives. Amin.