Jalsa Salana/Annual Conventions

Purpose of Attending Annual Conventions

16 The Review of Religions – July 2005 Today, by the grace of Allah,the 37th Jalsa (Convention) Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Tanzania is starting. As you perhaps know, this is the first visit by me to this country and the first time that I am addressing you directly. I am very pleased that I am seeing the members of this lovely Community of the Promised Messiah(as) in this country of East Africa also. These members established their link with the Promised Messiah(as) only for the sake of Allah. I am seeing the spiritual light shining on the faces of these people who joined the Community of the Promised Messiah(as) so that they could fulfil the prophecy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) and true to the Holy Prophet’s directives, convey to the Promised Messiah ( a s ) the S a l a m (salutations of peace) of the Holy Prophet(sa). The meaning of conveying the Salam is to accept that pursuant to this prophecy, the peace and well- being of the world lies only in you. Therefore, we who convey the Holy Prophet’s( s a ) S a l a m to the Promised Messiah( a s ) and have entered his Community, make this promise that in addition to conveying this S a l a m, we will help the Promised Messiah(as) in all those tasks which he has been commanded by Allah Almighty and for which Allah commis- sioned the Promised Messiah (as). So remember that to convey the Salam is not an easy thing. This S a l a m is your pledge to the Messiah of Muhammad(sa) that the Islamic teaching with which the Holy Prophet(sa) was sent, which Purpose of Attending Annual Conventions The Opening Address delivered by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V, at the 37th Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Tanzania on 9th May 2005. 17The Review of Religions – July 2005 was forgotten by the world with the passage of time or which had begun to be incorrectly interpreted or which had suffered from arbitrary meanings and whose true knowledge was given in this age to the Promised Messiah( a s ); we promise that we shall do our utmost to conform to those teachings so as to spread true Islam around the world. You have come together today with the aim of making pious changes in yourselves and also to try and set your future generations on the right path. The gatherings that take place in the Community are also a part of the programme for Tarbiyat and Islah, that is, religious training and reformation, and making whole- some changes and these Jalsas (Conventions) have been held ever since the time of the Promised Messiah(as). In the beginning, people gathered in Qadian where the Khalifa (Successor to the Promised M e s s i a h( a s )) of the time was present. But such conventions are held today in many countries of the world. Ever since God Almighty has bestowed upon me the robe of Khilafat, I have been conscious of the fact that a vast majority of the Community comprises those who cannot participate in the Central Convention. Therefore, I have decided that as far as possible, I should participate in the national conventions where the strength of the Community is sizeable, even if some country’s turn comes up after several years. However, as a result, the Community also gains recognition in the world because of the presence of the Khalifa and sentiments of affection and relation of the Khalifa are enhanced. This is indeed the grace of God Almighty on the Community whose parallel we cannot find anywhere else in the world. As I have said, by direct encounter this relation of affection is greatly fostered. May Allah make these relations with the Khilafa ever stronger and may the relations between the members also grow stronger and the bond with Allah and the true knowledge about Allah increase. The Promised Messiah(as) states: PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 18 The Review of Religions – July 2005 Amongst the objectives of these conventions, the primary objective is also so that every sincere person should get an opportunity to derive religious benefit, face to face and at first hand, so that their religious knowledge should broaden and their true comprehension should begin to progress. (Ayena Kamalat Islam, Ruhani Khazain Vol.5 p.606) So, as the Promised Messiah( a s ) h a s said, the only purpose of your gathering at such conventions should be so that your religious knowledge should improve and the biggest aim should be so that you should cultivate a relationship with Allah and should recognise Him. If you have come here because others have come here and your attitude is: ‘Let me go and also see what is going on, I shall also take part in the show and enjoy the gathering’, then there is no use in coming to this Convention. The intention of coming here and the objective of this Convention will be only served when you listen to the programmes with full attention and try to make them an integral part of your lives. Then during these days of the Convention and in this special environment, a special spiritual change should emerge within you. A special relationship with Allah should grow in you. A voice within you should testify that this Convention has drawn me nearer Allah and I am marching forward towards righteousness and that all of us are marching forward. Only then can the purpose of your attending this Convention be s e r v e d . Now we see what is righteousness? Righteousness means that the fear of God should be created in one’s heart in such a way that there is the consciousness that if I do such and such bad or evil things, then God would be displeased with me. My love for God should never tolerate that God should be displeased with me. When you develop such a concept in your mind, then you will try to continue to avoid many evils. In this regard, the Promised M e s s i a h( a s ) s t a t e s : ‘Of all the commandments in the Holy Qur’an, there is great emphasis on righteousness and PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 19The Review of Religions – July 2005 abstaining from evil. The reason for this is that right- eousness grants one the strength to avoid every evil and propels one towards all good deeds. The secret behind so much emphasis on righteousness is that right- eousness is like a talisman or a good luck charm for peace in all matters of man and a fortress to protect one from all types of mischief and disorder. A righteous man can be saved from many petty and dan- gerous disputes in which others get caught, occasionally perish, and, because of their haste and suspicions, cause discord amongst people and cause opponents to raise objections.’ (Ayamus Sulh p.105, Ruhani Khazain Vol.14 p342) So, as the Promised Messiah( a s ) has said, righteousness enables one to save oneself from every kind of evil. This strength is gained because the righteous person is convinced that the Master of all powers is God Almighty. If one is certain that God is the Master of all powers, then instead of fearing worldly kingdoms and worldly authorities, one would be afraid of God Almighty alone. Man will only do that which God has commanded and abstain from that which God has forbidden. He will have the extreme urge that he wants to do everything that God has ordered. When he tries to do these good deeds, then apart from peace and tranquillity and love and broth- erhood, there would be nothing else. Therefore, every Ahmadi should try and tread the path of righteousness and shun all types of evil. If we try in this way, only then would we fulfil the purpose of the advent of the Promised Messiah(as). And, if anyone pre- viously had any bad habit, then as a result of the spiritual envi- ronment of this gathering, he should try and get rid of it. Purpose of creation and righteousness R e m e m b e r, a person cannot remove these bad habits by his efforts alone unless Allah’s grace accompanies him. And to gather His grace, it is important to bow before Him, to worship Him in the manner He has taught us, and to PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 20 The Review of Religions – July 2005 observe the five daily obligatory prayers because without these there is no purpose of human life. God created man so that man may worship Him. When man prays, his righteousness will also progress. Allah likes those whose righteousness increases and in fact He loves them as He says: Surely, Allah loves those who are righteous. (Ch.9:V.4) And what else does a man whom Allah loves need? All his needs have been fulfilled. Whenever such a man needs anything then because of Allah’s love for this man Allah would cater for it. Allah says that out of obedience to My command and because of his relationship with Me, this man treads the path of righteousness, commits no wrong, fulfils his obligations of worship to Me and is also mindful of My commands about social matters. Then, as a result of the relationship, Allah, Who is the Most Faithful of all the faithful ones and Whose friend- ship has no equal, Allah, of course, takes care of His righteous servant. We observe that if an affectionate friend sees his companion in pain, he becomes extremely anxious and tries his utmost to help this companion. Then God, Who is better at discharging the obligation of friendship than anyone else, will He not fulfil the rights of friendship with His special persons and servants? Most certainly He will. Allah says that those people who adopt righteousness towards Me, I take so much care of them that at times of difficulty, I bring them in My protection. Allah says: But Allah is the Friend of the righteous. (Ch.45:V.20) Discharging the trust of friend- ship, Allah brings into protection such of His servants who adopting righteousness, obey His com- mands and worship Him. So what else does the person who falls in the protection of Allah need? What greater guarantee can there be for success in this life and the Hereafter? PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 21The Review of Religions – July 2005 Each Ahmadi should, therefore, be engaged in this serious thinking as to what he needs to do in order to gain nearness to Allah, to attain His happiness, to fall in His protection and to make Allah his companion and friend. However, to help us in this effort, Allah has also Himself shown us the way. One method, as I have said earlier, is the worship of Allah. This worship has been made obligatory for us in the form of the five daily prayers. Then if we travel the path of righteousness, the next stage are the Nawafil, that is, the voluntary prayers. There are voluntary pra- yers for the night and for various parts of the day. They enable us to increase in virtue and good deeds. Then there are human rights. We should discharge the rights that we owe to others cheerfully. Sometimes quarrels start on small issues. Each Ahmadi should refrain from this. An Ahmadi’s capacities should be very wide. He should have greater endurance and tolerance. Do not think that to tolerate something or to treat someone softly will lessen your value in the sight of someone or will lower your respect in the view of anyone but they will enhance your status. When you do this for the sake of Allah, even if in the eyes of people your position slips somewhat, in the sight of Allah, your status will be raised. One whose status is raised in the eyes of Allah is among those people who are the friends of Allah. In one Hadith, it is narrated that the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) said that Allah is kind and likes kindness and the reward He bestows for kindness is greater than any other reward. So while being tolerant and responding to anything harsh with kindness and with a soft word, you are earning A l l a h ’s reward and with great abundance. Then what else can be greater than that? In another Hadith, it is related that once the Holy Prophet M u h a m m a d( s a ) asked, ‘Shall I tell you one who the fire will not touch? Fire will not harm any person who lives close to people’, that is to say, does not hate or despise anyone, treats them kindly, removes their difficulty and grants them ease and facilitates them. PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 22 The Review of Religions – July 2005 Then after tolerance, he will advance one step further when he realises that he has to treat others with kindness and has to create an atmosphere of love and aff e c t i o n . No tribe, no clan or family should cause any problem or as you say in Kiswahili, if my pronunciation is correct, any m a t a t a for another tribe, clan or family. If one party has used force, then an Ahmadi should be exemplary in his behaviour and say that I am not going to exceed the limits because I have believed in the Imam of the age and my hands will harm no one. Then there is also the well-to-do man who is the owner of some business. If he takes care of his employees, is kind to them and shows them affection and com- passion, an atmosphere of love and understanding would be created. On the other hand, there is the worker or employee. If he tries to cause his boss any harm because of the boss’ ill-treatment, then that worker is not creating an atmosphere of kindness but one of hardship and hatred. Therefore, instead of retaliating against his boss, an Ahmadi worker or employee should remain silent. If the Ahmadi submits his pleas to God Almighty, then because of his good behaviour, the attitude of his boss may automatically change for the better. Or if the attitude does not change because of this silence God Almighty would reward the person. There are other workers also in the offices and other places of work. Because of something or some reason, they may become your opponents and try to cause you harm. So even against such people, one should not resort to haste in adopting a harsh attitude. In this manner hatred multiplies. Instead one should try and explain and even if after that the other person does not stop or refrain from causing harm, then the appropriate officer or owner should be informed. It is no Ahmadi’s job to take the law in his own hands. He should not involve himself in any quarrel or dispute as this will only cause further trouble and spread hatred which is against Ahmadiyyat’s true teachings of Islam. Moreover, people have come to this Convention where so many PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 23The Review of Religions – July 2005 people are assembled and some things can happen which others dislike as a result of which envies and jealousies can grow in the hearts of some people. Some people may think that the administration has taken care of people from such and such an area but have been indifferent towards them. Such complaints can also adversely affect Ta r b i y a t o r religious training. Ahmadis must of course remain pure of any complaints or accusation and should always be happy and have this feeling in their heart that they are a very fortunate Community who have been granted the opportunity by Allah to accept the Muhammadi Messiah. Because of the teachings that the Promised Messiah(as) has given us, we are members of that fortunate Community and have to make good and wholesome changes within ourselves, in our wives and our children and we should never nourish any complaints nor harbour any petty matters in us. United as one Community, we should try to get the world to bow before its One and Only Lord. Because of these wholesome changes in us, we have to prove in our country that this change and this progress in our condition has come about only because we have believed in the Promised Messiah(as). So if you also seek everlasting happiness, come and believe in him through whom a reformation within you can occur. If, on the other hand, you have taken the B a i ’ a t (pledge of initiation) but have caused no change to occur within yourself and have not abandoned all small or big bad habits and evil deeds and have not started performing all good deeds, of which I have mentioned one or two today – because it is impossible to talk of all of them in such a short time – then there is no use of a Bai’at that causes no change in you. So may this Convention cause this feeling in us that we are a strong Community that has firm belief in the existence of Allah Almighty. We worship Him and in obedience to His commands we adopt all good moral values. Each one of us will Insha’Allah (God willing) be an example for this country so that we accomplish the mission of the coming of the Promised Messiah(as). PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 24 The Review of Religions – July 2005 What does the Promised Messiah(as) require of us? Let me read a translation of an extract of his. He says: ‘Try and additionally seek the strength and courage from God Almighty that your heart’s pure intentions, and pure thoughts, and pure emotions, and pure desires, should become manifest and come to a conclusion through your limbs and all your might so that your good deeds should attain perfection, because any matter which emanates from the heart but is confined to the heart can lead you nowhere. Establish the Greatness of God Almighty in your hearts and maintain His Glorious Majesty in front of you. And remember that there are some five hundred commandments in the Holy Qur’an… the person who puts off or turns away from any one of these commandments, I tell you honestly that he will be called to account for it.’ So as the Promised Messiah(as) has said, seek Allah’s help and His strength at all times and for everything because He alone can grant every kind of power. And why do you have to ask for Allah’s help and His power? It is not to attack anyone, nor to take your revenge against anyone, nor to establish your own personal government. But you should seek help as such: O Lord, Thou Who hast made me a person, given me eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet and other limbs; Thou hast given me a brain with which I can distinguish between good and bad; Lord, help me now and grant me the strength that I should use them in accordance with Thy teachings and Thy commandments. Pray: O Lord! Purify me from everything unclean, remove all Satanic inclinations and let there be no thought in my mind of harming anyone or hating anyone. Purify my mind in every way and remove all foul things from it so that apart from searching for ways of attaining Thy pleasure no other thoughts should cross my mind. Always remain pressed in this endeavour and pray that whatever desires arise in the heart, it should be for the benefit of the whole world and not ones which serve PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS 25The Review of Religions – July 2005 your personal interests but usurp the rights of others. Good feelings should always arise for both near ones and others so that a society that loves peace can be established in the world. When such thoughts and these supplications would begin to emerge from the hearts and every effort would begin to be made to act on all types of good deeds, then we would be able to reap the benefits of God’s endless blessings and bounties. Only then can we be the ones to establish the Lord’s Kingdom on earth. In these few days, may Allah enable all of you to create wholesome changes in yourselves through your prayers, your reflection and your deeds. For this purpose, put special emphasis on prayers during these days. May Allah enable you to do so! PURPOSE OF ATTENDING ANNUAL CONVENTIONS In this journal, for the ease of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam’ meaning ‘Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘ R a d h i a l l a h u Ta’ala anhu and is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun). Finally, ‘ru’ or (ru) for R a h e m a h u l l a h u Ta ’ a l a means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon h i m.