Nazima Report, Ijtema Lajna Imaillah UK 2018
Lajna Imaillah UK Ijtema was held on 29 and 30 September 2018 over the last weekend of the month in the serene Hampshire surroundings at Country Market, Kingsley. This flagship event is the culmination of the Lajna Imaillah annual calendar, and is the final product of the hard work put in by thousands of Lajna and Nasirat nationwide throughout the year. The main purpose of the Ijtema is for Ahmadi women to gather in a spiritual atmosphere, gain religious knowledge, strengthen in unity and increase in righteousness.
The theme of this year’s Ijtema was the Existence of God. As has been the practice, Ijtemas at local and regional levels throughout the year were held following the same theme. Activities during the event were also planned to highlight this theme. In the era of New Atheism and at a time when the very necessity of faith is being questioned by Western society at every turn, it was a relevant and essential subject for Lajna and Nasirat to educate themselves on.
The inaugural session on Saturday began with recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by academic competitions. The Ijtema Gah and the competitions marquee were the focus of everyone’s attention at the beginning of the first day, as various competitions were held simultaneously at different venues around the Ijtema site. One extremely popular competition is the presentation competition that attracts the attention of members every year. Teams from all regions around the country prepare research-based academic audio-visual presentations based on the theme of the Ijtema. This year, the teams had put forward theological, scientific and logic-based arguments refuting the atheistic discourse and in support of the existence of God.
Nazm competitions weave through and run side-by-side to these intellectual presentations. Over the course of the two days, a total of 170 Lajna members – including new converts – participated in thirteen competitions. During this time, attendees had the opportunity to disperse and watch activities taking place across the site. For the first time this year, a badminton field was made available to members; an attraction that brought out the sportswoman in many Lajna and Nasirat alike.
An added attraction this year was an interactive exhibition marquee set up by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Research Association (AMRA), which held various exhibits displaying natural systems and scientific concepts alongside their corresponding Quranic verses showing that the Quran is the Word of God. Allah the Almighty presents nature as proof of the existence of God and asks the believer to ponder upon the natural world to discover its Perfect Creator. Allah the Almighty also asks the believer to look, explore and investigate the state of the civilisations of the past who had rejected the message of Allah and his messengers. An Explorer Zone was set up displaying archaeological relics carrying forward the theme of “Existence of God”. The idea behind the exhibition was to inspire Lajna and Nasirat to study and learn the Holy Quran, in order to furnish themselves with knowledge and truth.
AMRA had also organised an array of inspirational talks in the lecture marquee for both Lajna and Nasirat. Madiha Rizwan Sahiba, Lajna Representative for AMRA, told us:
“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Research Association was given the opportunity to organise an exhibition at this year’s Ijtema. The exhibition marquee was designed so that Lajna could reflect on the wonders of our universe. At every exhibit we attempted to emphasise that behind every creation and every scientific marvel, a creator is at play, thus showcasing the existence of God practically”.
The exhibition marquee was split into three zones. The Nature Zone featured experiments including demonstrations of the healing properties of plants, aquaponics, water filtration and – the most popular display – the smoothie bike. A vegetable growing competition was also launched and seeds were given out to those interested in putting their green fingers to test. For the curious souls interested in observing celestial objects and admiring the wonderous universe, Stargazing was another amazing option available to nigh time visitors. Then, there was the Explorers Zone, which featured an exhibition on the existence of God, society and religion through the ages, a display of archaeological artefacts from Silchester and an archaeological sandpit display.
The Discovery Zone included a display of experiment on refractive indices to demonstrate how light bends when it goes through different mediums. There were other displays including one of real space meteorites and another of wind tunnels to demonstrate the principles of aerodynamics. By the Grace of Allah, the AMRA team received very positive feedback from the visitors. More than a thousand members visited this insightful and thought-provoking exhibition.
The team had also set up an AMRA Talks event where experts from diverse fields were invited to discuss wide-ranging secular and religious subjects. The talks grabbed the attention of an audience of varying ages and interests. The topics included The Existence of God in Ancient Civilizations, Human Rights Law and Persecution of Minorities, Volunteering Tales From Rabwah, LGBT, Hazrat Maryam’s Pregnancy, Solar and Lunar Eclipse, Differences Between Ahmadi and Non-Ahmadi Muslims, Autism Awareness, Consumerism and the Meat Industry, etc.
In the afternoon session, Dr Fariha Khan Sahiba, National President Lajna Imaillah UK, addressed members of Lajna. She reminded members that the only source of peace and security in today’s world is the institution of Khilafat. She shared some heart-warming anecdotes of her interactions with Huzooraa pertaining to her role as Lajna President. She brought to light the responsibilities Lajna have as mothers and said, “Our only legacy is pious and God-fearing children.”
The National Tabligh Department also hosted an interactive exhibition at the Ijtema. National Tabligh Secretary, Farzana Yusuf Sahiba named a few attractions of the exhibit:
“The Lajna Mastermind Quiz was an interactive educational test of knowledge on topics relevant to the role, status and rights of women in Islam. Participants were given one minute to answer as many correct answers as they could.
“Video Pod was a place where guests to the exhibition were able to listen to a selection of short excerpts from the speeches of Huzooraa. At one station, visitors were asked to vote for their solution to lasting world peace.”
Nasirat Ijtema was held simultaneously with that of Lajna in the Nasirat marquee on both days. The Ijtema not only provides our youth with a platform to polish their talents and skills, but also helps develop a sense of identity and community. It is a gathering where girls from all across the country, from Glasgow to Cornwall, from Swansea to Ipswich, learn, pray and eat together in a safe and spiritual environment. The Ijtema programme was tailored to cater for the three age groups of Nasirat.
One hundred and six Nasirat took part in academic competitions according to their respective age groups. The Nasirat programme was designed to be both educational and entertaining. Alongside the exhibitions and lectures, the Funfair was also a popular destination of the tours arranged for the Nasirat, with archery, obstacle courses, bouncy castle and much more on show. The Funfair also catered for children under the age of seven. After the competitions, Nasirat had a chance to sit down, read stories and share riddles.
The Umur-e-Talibat department is a new department set up in March 2018. Their presence was felt by the meet-ups they had organised with students in lectures marquee to help them make subject choices at college and university level. This was a joint effort of the Umur-e-Talibaat department and Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Students Association (AMWSA). Students had a chance to ask questions, get advice, buy planners and get help with their personal statements before heading off to university. With UCAS applications on the horizon, the event was perfectly timed and provided some valuable and much needed advice and support to students.
The highlight of the Ijtema was the concluding session on Sunday, which was graced by Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa. Huzooraa not only graciously awarded prizes to the winners but also delivered a faith inspiring address to the members of Lajna. He reminded Lajna to remain firm on their faith and be ready to offer any sacrifice for the sake of religion as they had promised themselves in the Lajna Pledge. Huzooraa asked Lajna and Nasirat to solemnly reflect on the words of their respective pledges and try to uphold them in their lives. He told Lajna to follow in the golden footsteps of those outstanding Muslim women who excelled in piety and righteousness and sacrificed everything for the sake of religion in the early Islamic period.
Huzooraa then mentioned some modern day Ahmadi women who have made great sacrifices for the sake of Ahmadiyyat in recent years. In the end, Huzooraa reminded Lajna members to always seek to increase their faith and to travel on those blessed paths that Allah the Almighty has Himself commanded us to walk upon. He invited Lajna to tread upon those golden walkways that lead directly to Him.
Huzooraa also visited various parts of the site including the exhibitions. In the AMRA exhibition area, Huzooraa planted a courgette seed and signed their visitors book.
This year, Lajna were blessed by the opportunity to offer Salat behind Huzooraa over the weekend, something which made this Ijtema extra special. Maghrib and Isha prayers were led by Huzooraa on Friday, as were all prayers until Zuhr and Asr on Sunday. 5,528 members attended National Lajna Ijtema 2018, which made it a much larger gathering compared to 2017 when the attendance was 4,216. By the grace of Allah, 133 out of 134 Majalis were represented at this year’s Ijtema.