I was but poor, helpless, unknown and without talent!
Not a soul had ever heard of Qadian!
No one cared to give me a second glance;
None was even aware that I existed!
Look! How the world inclines to this direction now!
The very same Qadian is now the hub for the elite!1
This year marked the 122nd anniversary of Qadian, Dar-ul- Amaan (the Centre of Peace) Annual Convention. The three day gathering ran from the 27th to 29th of December 2013 and attracted over 17,000 guests not only from India but from around the world. For the last few years, the final session of this event, an address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has been broadcast live on MTA International (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International). Five thousand members of the Community gathered at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in London to listen to the concluding session whilst Ahmadis the world over tuned in on MTA. It was a very different story 122 years ago, when only seventy five people attended the first Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Community. As Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah reminds us in the poem, Qadian was in those days a very small town in a remote location that few had heard of. The roads were very poor and Qadian itself had only a few shops. For even the most basic requirements, one had to travel to the nearest towns of Batala and Amritsar. And yet it was to this small town that God revealed to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah that large numbers of people would travel, and from this small town that the revival of Islam would begin.
The objectives of the Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) were very ambitious from the beginning. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadsa said:
“The primary purpose of this Convention is to enable every sincere individual to personally experience religious benefits; they may enhance their knowledge and—due to their being blessed and enabled by Allah, The Exalted—their perception [of Allah] may progress. Among its secondary benefits is that this congregational meeting together will promote mutual introduction among all brothers, and it will strengthen the fraternal ties within this Community.”2
A notice published on 7 December 1892, the second year of the convention, by the Promised Messiahas reads:
“One of the requirements of this convention is to put forward sound propositions for the religious benefit of Europe and America. It is a proven fact that the fortunate people of Europe and America are getting ready to accept Islam but are most alarmed by the religious divisions in Islam. Thus, recently I received a letter from an Englishman which stated: ‘You show mercy towards all living beings; but we are also human and deserve mercy because we have accepted Islam. But we are still unaware of its true and correct teachings.’ Therefore brothers! Understand it well that this group is getting ready for us. God Almighty never leaves a sincere person without a community. With Allah’s command and wish, the blessings of truth will attract them all to this direction. God Almighty has decreed this in the heavens and there is none who can change it.”3
Readers of The Review of Religions may be interested to note that at the Annual Convention that year, the proceedings record that:
“On 28 December 1892, respected guests gave their suggestions for the religious benefit of Europe and America and it was decided that a magazine setting out the complete teachings of Islam and reflecting the beautiful features of Islamic beliefs should be compiled and printed. Many copies should be sent to Europe and America…. In future as well, the purpose of these yearly conventions should remain the same, i.e. that proposals should be put forth for the propagation of Islam and as an act of kindness for the new Muslims from America and Europe…”4
That magazine was to become The Review of Religions. Each year the Annual Convention in Qadian bears witness to the progress being made by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spreading the message of the true Islam across the world. The three day conventions are filled with speeches by scholars of the Community extolling the teachings of Islam. The final address by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba is translated live into five languages thereby fulfilling the wish of the Promised Messiahas that the true teachings of Islam reach the West. These days, it is not only the case that the West are alarmed by religious divisions in Islam, but as Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba noted in his address, many Muslims “are also in despair” at the state of the Muslim world, but were unable to express their anxieties due to a fear of their so-called religious scholars, who he said “were motivated only by their own selfish interests.” Addressing the immense persecution encountered by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the present times, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba reminded Ahmadi Muslims that they should always respond only with patience, prayers and displaying absolute steadfastness.
“Fourteen hundred years ago, Hazrat Bilal [Companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa], tolerated all of the pain inflicted upon him, and responded only by saying ‘Allah is One, Allah is One’. And today, that example is a lesson to us as we face opposition and persecution. It calls us to our real purpose, that in spite of these cruelties, we will spread the Oneness of God to the corners of the world and for its establishment we will never let our efforts, which are due to the Promised Messiah, ever decrease in any way.”5
The Qadian Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) is a testament to the truth of the Promised Messiahas’s advent. As the Promised Messiahas notes in his poem, he was an unknown person of no special social rank. He did not have access to funds nor did he have any political influence. But in just over 100 years the message of the true Islam has not only spread to Europe and America, but to all the continents of the world. Ahmadi Muslims now number in tens of millions across the world and the Community is established in over 200 countries, and is continuously engaged in the peaceful propagation of the true message of Islam by publishing translations of the Holy Qur’an, and conveying the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and his true servant the Promised Messiahas. And now Annual Conventions are held all over the world wherever the Community is established. The Qadian convention will always retain a special place in the hearts of Ahmadi Muslims. This was the town where their beloved Messiahas lived and received Divine revelation. Visitors are able to pray where he prayed and walk in his where he once treaded. And even today, Qadian remains a simple, unpretentious place, imbued with an air of spirituality and Divine Grace. Those who are able to attend this Annual Convention and the many others that are now held each year worldwide, also become the recipients of the following prayer of the Promised Messiahas:
“I conclude with the prayer that everyone who travels for [attending] this Convention that is for the sake of Allah: May Allah, the Exalted, be with him, reward him in abundant measure, have mercy on him, ease up for him his circumstances of hardship and anxiety and eliminate his anguish and grief. May He grant him freedom from every single hardship and lay open for him the ways of [achieving] his cherished goals, and raise him up, on the day of Judgment, among those of His servants who are the recipients of His blessings and Mercy. May He be their Guardian in their absence until after their journey comes to an end. O Allah! O Sublime One and Bestower of bounties, the Ever Merciful and One Who Resolves all problems, do grant all these prayers, and grant us Victory over our opponents with scintillating signs, because You alone have all the prowess and power. Ameen! Ameen!”6
1. Durre Sameen Muhasin e Qur’an Kareem (English Translation by Shermeen Butt).
2. Majmoo’ah Ishtiharaat, Vol. 1, Ishtihar 7 Dec. 1892, p. 340.
3. Majmoo’ah Ishtiharaat, Vol. 1, pp. 340–341 (English Translation by Shermeen Butt).
4. A’yeena Kamalaat Islam; p. 14; appendix.
5. “122nd Jalsa Salana Qadian Concludes | Islam Ahmadiyya.” Accessed January 22, 2014. http://www.alislam.org/egazette/press-release/122nd-jalsa-salana-qadian-concludes/.
6. Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, Ishtihar 7 Dec. 1892, p. 342.