Haris Ahmad, Student, Jamia Ahmadiyya Canada
During the summer, my classmate and I were blessed with the opportunity to perform Waqf-e-Arzi in Jamaica. This narrative is a reflection on our experience and the invaluable lessons we learned during our time there.
Our journey commenced when the Missionary-in-Charge and National President requested the assistance of a couple of Jamia students for a summer mission in Jamaica. As Jamia students, we always seek the permission of our beloved Huzooraa before embarking on such endeavours.
After receiving Huzoor’saa blessing, we met with our National Secretary Waqf-e-Arzi, Musleh Shanboor Sahib. In our meeting, we established contact with the Missionary-in-Charge and National President of Jamaica, Tariq Azeem Sahib. During this meeting, we discussed essential details, including the dates to book our tickets, what items to bring along, and other information we should know. Once everything was sorted and arranged, we started making preparations.
From Toronto to Jamaica and meeting a cricket legend
The four-hour flight from Toronto to Jamaica passed swiftly, and upon landing, the striking sight of light blue waters and mountains was mesmerising. It was something I had never seen before in my life, and it left me wondering what was next to come.
As I waited for my luggage at the baggage claim, I noticed a tall man in a purple jumpsuit standing nearby. Someone asked him for directions, and when he spoke, I immediately recognised his voice – it was none other than the Cricket legend from West Indies, Chris Gayle. I respected his privacy and asked hesitantly if I could take a picture. He happily said, “Sure, why not?” He then asked what I was doing in Jamaica. I explained that I was from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and had come to volunteer my services. He congratulated me and thanked me for choosing Jamaica. It was a surreal and memorable encounter.
Exiting the airport, I was hit by a brick wall of heat. This took some getting used to. Coming over from Canada, I was not accustomed to the humidity. I was picked up from the airport by the local mu‘allim, Ghulam Ahmad Sahib. The journey from the airport to the mosque took about an hour and a half. I took that time to ask the mu‘allim some questions. We talked about his journey to Islam Ahmadiyya, his decision to become a mu‘allim, and his four-year service in Jamiatul Mubashireen Ghana. His dedication was inspiring, and it really motivated me to work hard not only during my trip but also when I returned to Canada.
As we neared the mosque, I could spot it from a distance with its silver dome and minaret, reminiscent of the Baitul Islam Mosque in Peace Village, Canada.
I met with Tariq Azeem Sahib at the mosque, who had arranged for some lunch. He later showed me to my residence and instructed me to get some rest. After offering the Zuhr and Asr prayers, I took a brief nap, refreshed myself for the Maghrib and Isha prayers, and had a meeting with Tariq Azeem Sahib to discuss our plans for the next two weeks. The schedule was meticulously planned; he made sure that no time whatsoever went to waste and that we maximised our productivity.
The 17 days I spent in Jamaica were filled with a myriad of events and activities. While I can’t cover them all, here are some of the highlights:
Back to school events
We had the privilege of organising two back-to-school events during our trip. These events aimed to provide school supplies to underprivileged children in the community. Our first event took place in Trelawny, a parish on the northern side of the island, where we met the regional missionary, Ibrahim Ahmad Forsen Sahib. He briefed us on our responsibilities, and then we headed to the salat centre. We organised school supplies and prepared gift bags for the students. It was truly heartwarming to witness the Jamaat’s work in even the most remote corners of the world. We interacted with the guests and learned about how their connection with the Jamaat has created a positive impact in their lives and in the lives of the people around them.
We also organised the same back-to-school event at the headquarters in St. Catherine, with around 300 people in attendance. Here, we had the privilege of meeting local community workers and teachers who shared their thoughts on the event and how their association with the Jamaat had positively impacted them and their communities. Witnessing the joy on the faces of parents and children who genuinely benefited from the Jamaat’s assistance was really moving.
Local health fair
We also had the opportunity to collaborate with local community members to organise a health fair. This event offered free medical services to the community, including dental, medical, and mental health services. The attendees had the opportunity to tour the mosque while they waited for their appointments. I had the privilege of giving a tour to multiple guests, such as police sergeants, community workers and doctors, who expressed surprise at the peacefulness of Islam and dispelled the negative stereotypes they had encountered in the media.
Throughout our trip, we allocated five days to distribute flyers. We visited high foot traffic areas and distributed over 4,000 flyers while collecting contact information from various individuals. This experience was eye-opening, revealing the prevalence of misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in Jamaica, largely stemming from negative media portrayals. Unlike Canada, where people have the chance to witness their Muslim neighbours practising Islam, Jamaica’s small Muslim population makes it difficult for locals to understand how Islam is truly practised. Despite these misconceptions, the majority of people we encountered were kind and receptive; they genuinely loved Jamaat’s slogan of Love for All, Hatred for None.
During our trip, we set aside some days to explore the natural beauty of Jamaica. The country is one of the most beautiful places in the world. With its lush tropical landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs, the island’s rich cultural tapestry and warm, welcoming people add to its charm, making Jamaica a true gem in the Caribbean. We visited a number of places, such as the famous Dunns River Falls, Frenchman’s Cove, and the beaches in Ocho Rios.
Meeting Ahmadis around Jamaica
Even on our days off, we made it a point to get some work done. Wherever we travelled, we met with Jamaat members along the way. Their passion and dedication were truly inspiring. Their love for the Jamaat and their commitment to spreading the message of Islam Ahmadiyya would leave a lasting impression on my soul. Even those with limited resources would sometimes spend their entire day’s earnings on a cab ride to attend Friday prayers at the mosque. Witnessing their wholehearted dedication to Islam Ahmadiyya renewed my love for the religion I was born into.
A valuable lesson
This trip provided me with a valuable lesson, something I believe I should share with the readers of Al Hakam. If I could summarise this trip in one experience or one lesson, it would be this:
During my time at Jamia, we often heard this from our seniors, and Huzooraa also provided guidance on this matter. The lesson is that, regardless of how much knowledge you possess, how many books you’ve read, or how scholarly you may be, it all amounts to very little if you are not a decent human being. If you lack love in your heart for God’s creation, if you’re deficient in righteousness and kindness towards others, then your knowledge is essentially useless.
When you share your religion with others, the first thing that attracts them is your behaviour and character. It’s a reflection of your religion through you. Throughout the trip, I came to realise that no one really cared about how much knowledge one had, how well one could give speeches, or how excellent my teaching skills were. What truly mattered was whether one was a good human being—someone who could engage in genuine conversations, care enough to ask about their day or health, and exhibit kindness.
This doesn’t mean we should stop learning and studying. It is a gentle reminder to prioritise becoming a better person and a better human being. If our slogan is Love for All, Hatred for None, then we should strive to live up to it.
In conclusion, my journey to Jamaica has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It provided me with the opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture, witness the global impact of the Jamaat, and receive an outpouring of love from the people I met.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, in his sermons, often mentions individuals living in different parts of the world who would display remarkable dedication and unwavering faith, and sometimes I would wonder if I would be fortunate enough to meet them. Today, I can attest to the fact that I have had the privilege to witness such individuals in this day and age. I sincerely request readers to keep the members of Jamaat Ahmadiyya Jamaica in their prayers, seeking Allah the Almighty’s blessings for them and their families as they continue to grow in sincerity. Amin.