Sarmad Naveed, Canada
(Taken from Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat Vol. 1 pp. 444-448)
The Jalsa Salana was initiated by the Promised Messiah (as) amidst great opposition and hostility. At the time, clerics across the country were declaring edicts of kufr (disbelief) against the Promised Messiah (as). In fact, there were clerics who specifically encouraged people not to attend this convention, saying that holding such a convention was outside the bounds of Islam.
Not only was there religious opposition, but from an economic standpoint, there were many difficulties which all pointed towards the likelihood that this convention could not be sustained in the future.
However, what set this convention apart from worldly gatherings, was the fact that God Almighty had made a promise to help Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (as) at every step of his mission. As such, God’s help and support would also manifest, in order to make this convention a perpetual success. What the opponents of the Community once thought to be a stand-alone, unsuccessful event, continues to be held to this day, not only in Qadian, India where it originated, but in countries all over the world.
The Divine help associated with the Jalsa Salana could be seen early on, from the outset of this convention. An example of this is narrated by Munshi Zafar Ahmad Sahib (ra) of Kapurthala. He says:
‘Once at the time of Jalsa, finances had run out. In those days, there was no scheme in place to collect funds for the Jalsa. Instead, the Promised Messiah (as) would tend to the expenses out of his own pocket. The late Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib came and said that there was no food to present to the guests. The Promised Messiah (as) instructed him to go to his wife, and ask her to spare any jewelry she could, sell it, and then purchase whatever was necessary. Hence, Mir Sahib sold or bartered the jewelry and brought the money, which was used to feed the guests. Then, two days later in the evening, I heard Mir Sahib say that once again, there was nothing [to present to the guests] for the next day. He said, ‘before we were able to use worldly means in order to arrange something. This time we will not do so; now the hosts will each have to provide for their own guests.’ The next day, when the postman arrived at around eight or nine o’clock, the Promised Messiah (as) summoned Mir Sahib and myself. The postman was holding about 10 to 15 money orders in his hand which had arrived from various places, in the amounts of 50 or 100 rupees. People had written on them, ‘We are unable to attend, and so this amount is being sent in order to help provide for the guests.’ The Promised Messiah (as) received them, after which he delivered a speech about trusting God. He said that a worldly person trusts that they can take out the money which they have been saving in their box whenever they want. Similarly, the certainty in God of a person who puts their complete trust in Allah Almighty is far greater. And this has truly been the case; whenever a need arises, Allah Almighty fulfills it right away.’ 
These were the conditions under which the Jalsa Salana was initiated, yet through the grace and help of God, the Jalsa Salana has been thriving and progressing year after year, in fulfilling its mission as stated by the Promised Messiah (as):
‘This gathering will be devoted to the exposition of such truths and spiritual insight as are necessary for the promotion of faith and certainty and spiritual understanding, and there will be special prayers and attention for the participants.’ 
And so, from first Jalsa, when only 75 people attended, this convention grew into what has now become a global phenomenon, and continues to flourish. By glancing at the attendance for the first hundred years of this Convention, and the growth which took place over this period of time, it becomes evidently clear that God’s hand has always been at work in favour of the Jalsa Salana.
|1951||(After the partition of India and Pakistan the headquarters of the Community moved to Rabwah, Pakistan) Rabwah: 18,446+ Qadian: 1,125+|
|1961||Rabwah: 85,000 Qadian: 1,700|
|1971||Rabwah: ~100,000 Qadian: 3,105|
|1981||Rabwah: 200,000+ Qadian: 3,728|
|1991||(After the migration of the Fourth Caliph (rh) to UK, the headquarters of the Community also moved to London, UK) London: 8,500 Qadian: 22,000 |
About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’
 Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat Vol. 1 p. 444
 Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Heavenly Decree (Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2006), 74.
 Tarikh-e-Ahmadiyyat Vol. 1 pp. 446-448
 Data for 1901 is not available
 Jalsa Salana Qadian was visited by the Fourth Caliph (rh) this year