Munavara Ghauri, UK
The largest annual Islamic convention in the UK– the Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention), is set to take place this August 5-7 for its 56th year, amongst the pretty fields of a Hampshire farm.
Volunteers of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who host the event, have been working with dedication on site for up to 2 weeks prior to the Convention in preparation. They have transformed the rural setting into a complex community hub with a vast range of marquees, electricity, water pipes, optic fibre, 8.5 km of track for vehicles and parking for 7,000 cars. 80 tower lights have also been erected this year to provide adequate lighting across the 200-acre site that is owned by the Community.
A feature that makes the Jalsa Salana unique from other large-scale outdoor events in the UK, is that there are 2 parallel areas designated for men and women. Both have the same infrastructure, the only difference being that the women’s side has its own exclusive female-led teams to manage every department from Health and Safety to Security.
The three-day Jalsa Salana usually attracts global interest from members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and as such, the last pre-pandemic event in 2019 hosted 38,000 guests. This year, due to the ongoing COVID 19 situation, the Community and it’s Worldwide Head, the Fifth Caliph, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), are remaining cautious and prioritising the health of their members by implementing certain Covid restrictions.
Masks will be compulsory in closed spaces and social distancing will be implemented to a degree. All visitors to the Convention will either show evidence of vaccinations or a negative Lateral Flow Test. Foreign guests have largely not been permitted this year to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. External guests have not been invited for the same reason, although the Community does enjoy strong links and has been joined by eminent guests in the past, such as Lib Dem leader, Sir Ed Davey, among many others.
Any limiting safety measures have failed to curb the enthusiasm of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for the Jalsa Salana. It is considered a unique event designed for the members’ spiritual uplift and for the revival of old friendships and the forging of new ones.
The Jalsa Salana has it’s roots in the town of Qadian, India, where the Founder of the Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), was born and raised (1835-1908). He claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi awaited by several major religions and said he had been appointed by God for the renaissance of true Islamic values. The Promised Messiah (as) began the Community in 1889 when he took the first pledge of allegiance (Bai’at).
Regarding the Jalsa Salana Convention, which first occurred in Qadian, India, in 1891, with a more modest attendance of 75 members, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) said:
‘The key purpose of this convention, is to enable every sincere individual, to personally experience religious benefit, to broaden their knowledge and to deepen their understanding of Allah The Almighty…the other benefits rest here to have escalation of acquaintanceship among all brothers and this will strengthen the loving relationship within the community.’
The Community now has tens of millions of members worldwide and is a dynamic and peace-loving movement with the second largest mosque in Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque, (Morden, London). The mosque has a capacity to accommodate 10,000 worshippers.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was also the first Muslim Community to launch a 24-hour Muslim Satellite channel (MTA International) in 1992. The dedication of Ahmadi Muslims is demonstrated by the fact that this non-profit broadcasting network is run by a majority of volunteers. The network will be offering live transmission of the 3-day event for all those who cannot attend in person (mta.tv), alongside translations in up to 8 languages.
The highlights of the Jalsa Salana include live addresses from His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) over the course of the three-day event, in which he tackles key social issues as well as the theological aspects of Islam.
The Press Secretary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Abid Khan, said:
‘We are extremely fortunate to have His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, address this year’s Jalsa and provide real solutions, based on Islam’s teachings, to some of the biggest challenges facing the world today.’1
Further information about the Jalsa Salana 2022 can be found at jalsasalana.org.uk
About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.
[i]Press Release, Aug 3rd, 2022, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Press and Media Office.