This year’s Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya UK Ijtema was held in the fields of Country Market, Hampshire.
Although this site has been utilised for Ijtemas previously, the site of this Ijtema was situated in the northern corner of the premises where it had not taken place before. Since the Lajna and Ansar Ijtemas take place this weekend (a week after the Khuddam Ijtema), the layout of the marquees is planned keeping the requirements of all three auxiliaries in mind. Moreover, the Atfal Ijtema takes place simultaneously with the Khuddam.
The Ijtema began with the Friday Sermon of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa which was televised live at the Ijtema Gah. The inaugural session took place later in the afternoon and was chaired by Rafiq Ahmad Hayat Sahib, Amir Jamaat UK. The Khuddam then had the opportunity to disperse into various activities spread across the site.
The Ijtema Gah became the centre for the Khuddam academic competitions whereas the sporting competitions took place on the sports field as well as in the indoor sports marquee which hosted a range of sports such as table tennis and volleyball. In recent years, the tarbiyat department has also worked on and developed an indoor activity centre named The Hub which aims to put on activities that have a moral purpose behind them. Not only is The Hub a place where Khuddam could gather and meet each other (thereby fulfilling one of the objectives of the Ijtema) but could also partake in fitness challenges, answering allegations and the Question Time (Q&A) discussion circle. Whilst Khuddam engaged in such activities, a group of Jamia students interacted with them to learn about the issues they faced in their daily lives and how they could overcome them.
Whilst speaking to Zan Khan (Mohtamim Tarbiyat, Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya UK) on the purpose behind The Hub, he commented:
“Many Khuddam at the Ijtema have a lot of free time, and for this, The Hub is a place where they can meet with other Khuddam whilst also taking part in interesting activities and educational discussions. The Hub is a place where Khuddam will buy some refreshments, challenge their friends at the HubFit challenges and then listen in at the Allegations Corner where interesting discussions will be taking place in an open forum with missionaries and other Khuddam answering questions. An array of educational talks are also held at The Hub, from mental health to self-defence techniques; these talks prove to be extremely interesting.”
Another well visited feature of the Ijtema was the exhibition which was adjacent to The Hub. Not only the national Khuddam departments (such as Khidmat-e-Khalq and Atfal) displayed their exhibitions but a space was allocated to regions as well. Moreover, central departments such as Waqf-e-Nau, Humanity First, IAAAE and Al Hakam were also represented.
This year’s exhibition also showcased a photo room where photos from Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya’s archives were displayed. The purpose of the exhibition was to firstly educate Khuddam regarding the theme of the Ijtema – Salat. Secondly, it was an opportunity for Khuddam departments to showcase the work that they carried out and promote their departments so that fellow Khuddam could join their efforts.
The Outdoor Discovery Zone hosted a range of talks delivered by experts on various subjects arranged by Majlis Ansar Sultan-ul-Qalam. Talks were of a religious and secular nature. A total of 8 talks were arranged with speakers such as Abid Waheed Khan Sahib (Press Secretary to Huzooraa) who spoke on the travels of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, Asif Mahmood Basit Sahib (Curator of Ahmadiyya Archive and Research Centre) who spoke on the contributions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to conflict resolution and a talk on astronomy by Musaddir Rashid Sahib (President of AMRA UK).
Sajid Zahid (in-charge of MASQ) reported, “The primary objective of the Discovery Zone department was to enlighten our youth, whether it be on humanitarian activities carried out by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, or our response to conflicts, not to mention the blessings of Khilafat at every level. The talks attracted over 1,000 Khuddam across all 3 days.”
Sports has been a vital part of Khuddam training since the inception of the Majlis. This year’s Ijtema saw the development of the indoor sports marquee with 6 sports taking place indoors and the same number taking place outdoors on the playing fields.
Usman Butt Sahib (Mohtamim Sehat-e-Jismani) explained the importance of sports at the Ijtema: “The purpose of sports at the Ijtema is for the tarbiyat of the Khuddam and to help build a bond between them. Moreover, to show the beauty of the Nizam-e-Jamaat (system of the Community) to those who might only attend sports events. It also is in line with the Hadith which states that a strong believer is better than a weak one. Furthermore, sports are an amazing tool to show Khuddam that faith and our daily activities go hand in hand.”
The Atfal Gah was adjacent to the Khuddam area and hosted the same programme. What is also noteworthy is that although Atfal ages range between 7-16, arrangements were also made for those under 7 to take part in sports and academics.
This year saw the addition of the new Qaseedah competition, the winner of which was awarded a prize in the final session by Huzooraa. Abdul Quddus Arif Sahib (Mohtamim Atfal UK) highlighted the Atfal programme by telling us:
“The Atfal Ijtema activities are a reflection of the Khuddam activities and take place simultaneously. Whether it be the academics or sports, the underlying principle is the same – that the qualities a true practising Muslim should have be instilled in Atfal. This year’s Ijtema saw the launch of the Atfal Arena which was a culmination of educational and leisure activities aiming to bring Atfal together in a spirit of brotherhood. A desk was also setup where Atfal could write letters to Huzooraa and post them in a letter box that had been created for this purpose.”
The weather conditions at the Ijtema were drastic to say the least. Before the Ijtema began, strong winds had uprooted some of the marquees which resulted in the outdoor programmes being shifted indoors. However, the weather conditions improved going into the final day and no part of the programme was cancelled.
There is no doubt that the highlight of the Ijtema is Huzoor’saa presence and the attention that he gives to the wellbeing of the Khuddam. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa graced the Ijtema on all three days. Maghrib and Isha prayers were led by Huzooraa on Friday and Huzooraa led all prayers until Zuhr and Asr on Sunday. Huzooraa also visited various parts of the site including all the exhibitions and hoisted the Khuddam flag before leading silent prayers. The Ijtema concluded on Sunday with the final session in which Huzooraa not only graciously awarded prizes to the first prize winners but also delivered an address on the importance of Salat.
One could say that the address of Huzooraa is the pinnacle of the annual Khuddam theme in terms of spiritual and educational training. Though the Khuddam theme is focused upon throughout the year beginning with the local Ijtemas, and though the regional Ijtemas too revolve around the training of the Khuddam with regard to the allocated theme, it is only at the National Khuddam Ijtema when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa delivers an address on the subject that the pinnacle of training upon the subject takes place.