Jalsa Salana/Annual Conventions

People of Jalsa – ‘Where Nations Assemble’

RoR Women’s Team

The last full fledged, international Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) UK took place a few years ago in 2019. As the world adjusted to the COVID 19 pandemic, so did we in Hadeeqatul Mahdi (Oakland Farm). For many loyal annual travellers to Jalsa, the past few years have been comprised of a great deal of clock-watching and self-soothing. ‘Jalsa will come again, Jalsa always comes again.’

It is one of the most diverse events of the calendar as we meet people from all walks of life, some arriving to Oaklands Farm after a 10 minute drive, while others take a 10 hour flight across the sky. Clad with suitcases, wellies, parasols and portable fans – because who can tell what the the infamous British weather will give them this year.

We approached a large group of ladies talking excitedly with one another, drawn by the joy in their voices and smiles across their faces- and as they themselves describe it – ‘radiating love’. One of these ladies, Taofeeqah Fagbolade is the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association (Lajna Ima’illah) in Nigeria and this is her first ever Jalsa UK. She tells us that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Nigeria is very active and busy. They just held their Ijtemas (annual gatherings of the auxiliary organisations) and hold monthly events to propagate the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat. The Lajna and Nasirat are always on their feet, getting stuck in with activities and strengthening bonds with each other.

His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, (aba) Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has graced Nigeria with his presence twice, so Taofeeqah knows well of that unique feeling which one experiences when in his blessed presence. She is looking forward to Saturday, when she will be able to sit before her beloved Caliph once again during His Holiness’ address to the ladies. She tells us that she feels as if she is amongst her own people, and calls it a ‘spiritual elevation’. The biggest difference, she explains, between Jalsa Nigeria and Jalsa UK is, ‘here, different nations are assembled, the one I’ve experienced in Nigeria is only majorly for Nigerians, but here, I’ve been in contact with many people from diverse communities and it’s been very interesting’.

Another first-time attendant of Jalsa Salana UK from the same lively group, AbdulAzeez Fatimah explains how she was invited to the convention last year but due to a delay in her visa being processed, she was unable to attend and deferred it to this year. ‘And Alhamdolilah (all praise belongs to Allah) Allah spared my life to witness it! And I pray I will witness more of this. Insha’Allah (God-willing)….That is my endless prayer – that it should not be my first and my last. Insha’Allah.’

Seeing Jalsa Salana UK from new eyes and fresh perspectives is always a welcome view. We come to Jalsa to expand not only our spirituality but also to increase our understanding of this community of God Almighty which stretches far and wide. But here at Oakland Farm, we become one.