Jalsa Salana: The Special Gathering 

What is the Jalsa Salana and where is it held?

Jalsa Salana (lit. the Annual Gathering) is a 3-day convention organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in various countries across the world during different times of the year. The purpose of these gatherings is to further one’s spirituality through listening to insightful speeches and becoming immersed in congregational prayers. 

For example, the Jalsa Salana organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Germany typically has an attendance of over 40,000 people, making it the largest convention of Muslims in continental Europe that is held regularly.   

(Karlsruhe, Germany 2019)
(Karlsruhe, Germany 2017)

As another example, the Jalsa Salana of Ghana attracts a similar attendance. The following photos depict over 14,000 Ahmadi Muslims gathering at the Jalsa in 2017 for the optional prayer taught by Islam called tahajjud which is offered in the last part of the night: 

(Ghana, 2017)

Ahmadi Muslims hold the Jalsa Salana annually in various other parts of the world as well, including Japan, India, Turkey, and Switzerland, to name a few examples. 

(Qadian, India 2011)

However, the most important of these is the International Jalsa Salana, which is held in the UK, where the headquarters of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are located, and where the Caliph and worldwide leader of the Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), resides. 

This convention typically attracts over 35,000 people from across the world, making it the largest Islamic convention in the UK.


(Alton, UK 2016)

However in 2021, attendance was restricted to 4,000 people, who were required to be fully vaccinated and present negative COVID-19 tests, among other safety measures. 

(Alton, UK 2021)
Spiritual Purpose

n all faiths of the world, there is a special emphasis placed on spending time in the company of spiritual masters and teachers. It is an established teaching in various cultures that simply spending time in the presence of pious individuals can raise one’s consciousness and inspire them to be better.

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), elaborated on this philosophy by tying it to the primary idea of developing certainty about the existence of God. He stated that there are 3 essential ways through which one can develop this certainty:

The first duty of a person, therefore, is to acquire certainty with regard to the existence of God, and to adopt a religion through which this certainty can be acquired so that he should fear God and shun sin. How can such certainty be acquired? It cannot be acquired through mere stories. It cannot be acquired through mere arguments. The only way of acquiring certainty is to experience God repeatedly through converse with Him or through witnessing His extraordinary signs, or by keeping company with someone who has that experience..."

hus, even if one has not experienced clear signs of God in their personal lives, they can still gradually develop certainty about His existence through simply keeping company with individuals who have experienced Him. The Jalsa Salana is an annual gathering that offers this opportunity, primarily through sitting in the blessed presence of the Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), as well as through interacting with countless Ahmadi Muslims who have a personal connection with God. 

The process of developing certainty about the existence of God is a gradual one, but sitting in pious gatherings certainly has its place in that process. At the very least, such gatherings allow us to take a break from the world and turn inward to examine ourselves, and find inspiration to become better individuals. 

Brief History

When the Promised Messiah (as) expressed his wish to organize the first Jalsa Salana in 1891, he stated his intention behind it:  

“The primary purpose of this Convention is to enable every sincere individual to personally experience religious benefits; They may enhance their knowledge and – due to their being blessed and enabled by Allah, The Exalted – their perception [of Allah] may progress. Among its secondary benefits is that this congregational meeting together will promote mutual introduction among all brothers, and it will strengthen the fraternal ties within this Community..

This was in the spirit of the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa), who frequently emphasized the need to travel and congregate for the sake of gaining spiritual knowledge. The Holy Prophet (sa) said

Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim man and woman.” 

On another occasion, the Holy Prophet (sa) is reported to have said: 

Acquire knowledge even if you have to go as far as China.”

Thus, the first Jalsa Salana was held in Qadian, India in 1891 and was attended by 75 members. Over the years, attendance grew from surrounding areas of South Asia, and in 1946 (the last year before the partition of India) the Jalsa saw a crowd of nearly 40,000 faithful attendees. 

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the majority of Ahmadi Muslims migrated and established Rabwah, Pakistan as the new headquarters of the Community. The headquarters remained here until 1984, when the fourth Khalifa migrated to the UK after state-sponsored persecution of the Community in Pakistan. In 1983, the final Jalsa Salana of Rabwah was attended by nearly 250,000 people.

Since then, the International Jalsa Salana of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is held annually in the UK. The Jalsa is regularly attended by guests of various backgrounds and receives frequent media coverage. Many international political leaders and dignitaries often attend or send messages of their well wishes. 

Hospitality

In addition to benefiting from listening to scholarly discourses and praying together, the Jalsa offers a unique opportunity to practice the Islamic teachings of hospitality. The entire convention is run on the efforts of volunteers. 

Islam places great emphasis on taking care of one’s guests. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) excelled in this quality to a sublime extent, such that he was distinctly known in Mecca as an exceptionally hospitable person. 

His ardent devotee, the Promised Messiah (as), also paid great attention to this aspect of spirituality, and desired to inculcate its practice in all Ahmadi Muslims. He once said, "the heart of a guest is like that of a mirror, with a mere knock, it shatters,” urging Ahmadis to be extremely sensitive in their dealings with guests. 

The following incident is reported from one of the early Jalsas: 

Hazrat Munshi Zafar Ali sahib (ra) narrates that once during Jalsa Salana a great number of people were present who had no bedding to sleep with. A man, Nabi Baksh, began to take out bedding from inside and distributed them amongst the guests. After Isha prayer, he went to the Promised Messiah (as) and saw him seated with his arms crossed with thin cloth over himself. He said that he found out the Promised Messiah (as) had also given his own bedding for the guests. Upon this Munshi sahib said to the Promised Messiah (as), it is cold, and you do not have any bedding”. 

Upon this the Promised Messiah(as) said, the guests should not be given any disturbance, it does not matter about me, the night shall pass..” Later, companions made arrangements for bedding and presented it before the Promised Messiah (as) but the Promised Messiah (as) said to give it to the guests instead.

Jalsa Salana UK 2021 Highlights

On Saturday afternoon, in the 3rd session of the Jalsa Salana, as is the annual practice, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) presented the annual progress report of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

A few key points from the report of His Holiness are as follows:

  • The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community over the past year has been established in 403 new locations.

  • Despite the pandemic which restricted outreach activities, with the Grace of God, 125,221 new converts from across the world entered the Community. This is an increase of over 13,000 from the previous year.

  • In total, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has acquired and built 211 mosques this year, with Ghana (31) leading the way.

  • Raqeem Press in Farnham, UK has printed more than 315,000 books and pamphlets.

  • MTA International is now running 8 channels – 24/7.

  • A total of 27 Ahmadiyya Muslim Radio stations around the world have been established, with the most in Mali (17) and a new internet radio in the Turkish language.

  • The various international language desks are continuing to translate the Holy Qur’an and the books of the Promised Messiah (as).

  • Through the “Nusrat Jahan Scheme”, 37 hospitals and clinics of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are running in 12 countries. In these facilities, 49 Markazi (Central) and 14 local doctors are serving. 593 schools are being run with 21 Markazi teachers serving along with local teachers.

  • Majlis Ansarullah UK has built an eye clinic in Burkina Faso – the Masroor International Eye Clinic – which will be ready soon to treat patients.

After presenting the report, His Holiness (aba) quoted the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) who said:

Day by day, you [the opponents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community] are diminishing. Do you not see that your numbers are reducing and yet we are ever increasing?”

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) continued:

May Allah the Almighty grant sense to the opponents [of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community] and enable the people of the world to recognize and understand the message of the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) and the true message of Islam.” 

Jalsa Salana UK 2022 Highlights

This year only members from the UK community and some few guests were allowed to join the Jalsa Salana in Alton, UK, because of COVID. Therefore 26,649 members joined this event and 53 countries took part virtually. But still this is the country's largest annual Islamic convention.

A few key points about the achievements of the Community from the report of His Holiness, presented on Saturday 6th August 2022, are as follows:

  • The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community over the past year has been established in 355 new locations.

  • With the Grace of Allah, 176,836 new converts of almost 160 nations from 109 countries entered Islam Ahmadiyyat. This is an increase of 51,615 of the previous year.

  • In total, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has acquired and built 147 mosques this year and 62 existing mosques became Ahmadi mosques. Also 123 new mission houses established around the globe.

  • 229,000 books has been printed by the Communities Raqeem Press in Farnham, UK.

  • 7,611,000 leaflets about the beautiful teachings of Islam were distributed in 102 countries reaching 11,690,000 people.

  • 475,100 free literature has been distributed to 8,292,000 people across the world.

  • 10,861 exhibitions and books stalls reached more than 1,042,400 people.

  • Through Press & Media, 291 new articles were published in external newspapers reaching more than 30 million people.

  • In 24 countries the community and its auxiliary organizations printed 120 news papers and journals.

  • MTA International is running 8 channels – 24/7 in 23 languages with 16 various departments and 503 workers.

  • The community is running 25 radio stations globally reaching more than 340 million people.

  • Through the "Nusrat Jahan Scheme”, 37 hospitals and clinics of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are running in 12 countries. Till now Nusrat Jahan Scheme”, has established 615 primary schools and secondary schools in 11 countries.

Jalsa Salana UK 7th August 2022

Czech Republic was also represented at the Jalsa Salana UK 2022