While Ayoub El Khazzani was planning to kill all passengers in a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, August 21st, a group of peaceful Muslims on the other side of the English Channel were gathered in the fields of Alton near Hampshire, England to spread the message that Islam is not a violent religion. The occasion was the Annual Convention, the Jalsa Salana, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. More than 35,000 attendees from 96 countries came to the 200 acre farmland called “Hadeeqatul Mahdi” to share in this spiritual gathering which took place from August 21 to August 23. The entire program was telecast live through MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) which enabled members all across the world to watch the proceedings from their own homes.
The Jalsa Salana was initiated by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, in 1891. According to him the purpose of this convention is “to enable every sincere individual to personally experience religious benefits.” He further added, “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.”
The keynote speaker at the event was the Khalifa (Caliph) and the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad. During his Friday Sermon he reminded the members about the importance and objective of the Annual Convention. He said that the Jalsa Salana provides an opportunity for men and women to gather in the company of the righteous. It is a time to intensify one’s relationship with God through prayers and being mindful of one’s responsibilities towards fellow human beings. He further reminded the attendees the importance of listening attentively to the speeches delivered during the weekend.
His Holiness has been very vocal about the responsibilities of all nations for bringing about peace in the world. He has given addresses to political leaders both in UK as well as in the US. In all of these speeches he has made it absolutely clear that despite the media representation, there is nothing violent about the religion of Islam. In fact the true teachings of Islam only promote peace.
In his inaugural speech on Friday, His Holiness reiterated the mission and purpose of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and the Messiah awaited by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He said that God sent Ahmad to revive the true teachings of Islam. During the entire weekend, His Holiness addressed the audience four times. The convention concluded with the final address from His Holiness in which he gave the clear message that the disorder in many Muslim countries and other parts of the world can only be controlled by following the true teachings of Islam. He reminded everyone that in order for peace to reign in the world it is imperative that each and every member of the society should deal with each other justly.
One of the highlights of the convention is the Bai’at or the pledge of allegiance. This event took place on Sunday when the Ahmadi Muslims pledged their allegiance to His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad as the Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The participants formed a human chain which led to the Khalifa as they repeated the words of the pledge in unison. Earlier His Holiness announced that 567,330 new members had joined the community during the past year.