This weekend, in Alton, in the United Kingdom, Ahmadi Muslims are holding their annual gathering ‘Jalsa Salana’ after two long years of absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many people lost someone dear to them during this global pandemic or felt completely helpless when they faced multiple lockdowns and restrictions. While many experts were thinking that the pandemic would be over because of the large-scale vaccination campaign, here we are again, with a Delta variant that is much more deadly and spreading much faster.
I would like to reassure all my readers: the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is holding a greatly reduced event and is respecting all sanitary protocols for this year’s Jalsa Salana. But holding such an event is also a fundamental response to the global pandemic. This pandemic made people feel lonely, sad, sick and many reports evidenced the proliferation of depression and, eventually, violence in some cases. The fresh air brought by this event has many benefits that are likely to be as useful as the vaccine because they can be conceived as a brotherhood vaccine.
First, during these three days, many Muslims will meet others with respect to the social distancing rules. Although distant from each other, the mere fact of seeing each other in person can bring a lot of joy in this time of darkness where Zoom meetings are becoming the new social gathering norm.
Then, the pandemic has also put a lot of individuals in a situation where they are confronting the death of a loved one and secular societies, where the concept of God has been almost erased, are facing difficulties in responding to the actual issue: how to face the death of the loved one? How to survive without meeting others or with all the existing restrictions? The belief in God and the spiritual nature of this annual Muslim Convention is unquestionably fundamental. The spiritual power of the Jalsa Salana did not decrease with the pandemic; in fact, it increased.
Therefore, I decided to write this piece and make a general call. If anybody is willing to respect social distancing and is feeling sad or depressed, one vaccine does exist that can show 100% effectiveness: this vaccine is the brotherhood one, the love, affection, and kindness one that anybody can find during this fabulous Jalsa Salana. It is materialized by the motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’.
During these three days, you will be able to meet youngsters that have devoted months of their precious time to volunteering in order to make this event happen. You will witness the existence of sincere hard work without any price, salary or financial compensation. You will see a unique scene in front of your eyes where, not withstanding the rain and the weather conditions in Alton, the youngsters of the community will give all their energy to serve you.
More than anything, you will witness smiles, love, and affection from a small, persecuted community. Don’t get me wrong; the smiles on their faces are not a sign of weakness. They’re a sign of greatness. They’re a sign that this community is already fighting a virus, the virus of selfishness that is much more deadly than our global pandemic.
Folks, we have a vaccine. It’s up to you whether or not you are willing to take it.
About the Author: Asif Arif is an Ahmadi Muslim, a lawyer and an author of multiple books on Islam and Secularism.