Jalsa Salana (Urdu: جلسہ سالانہ) is the formal annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community initiated by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as).
Usually, the gathering spans over three days, beginning on Friday after the Friday Sermon. Typically, the flag hoisting ceremony is used to identify its commencement. Although there is a central, international Jalsa attended by Ahmadis from across the world, many of the countries hold their own national jalsas too, sometimes attended by the Hazrat Khalifatul Masih.
Objectives, Purpose & Blessings of Jalsa Salana:
In the Words of the Promised Messiah (as):
“ 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..” (Ishtihar 7 Dec. 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 340).
“It is essential for all those who can afford to undertake the journey, that they must come to attend this Convention which embodies many blessed objectives. They should disregard minor inconveniences in the cause of Allah and His prophet (peace be upon him.). Allah yields reward to the sincere persons at every step of their way, and no labour and hardship, undertaken in His way, ever goes to waste. I re-emphasize that you must not rank this convention in the same league as other, ordinary, human assemblies. This is a phenomenon that is based purely on the Divine Help, for propagation of Islam.”
(Ishtihar 7 Dec. 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 341)
“I conclude with the prayer that everyone who travels for [attending] this Convention that is for the sake of Allah: May Allah, the Exalted, be with him, reward him in abundant measure, have mercy on him, ease up for him his circumstances of hardship and anxiety and eliminate his anguish and grief. May He grant him freedom from every single hardship and lay open for him the ways of [achieving] his cherished goals, and raise him up, on the day of Judgment, among those of His servants who are the recipients of His blessings and Mercy. May He be their Guardian in their absence until after their journey comes to an end. O Allah! O Sublime One and Bestower of bounties, the Ever Merciful and One Who Resolves all problems, do grant all these prayers, and grant us Victory over our opponents with scintillating signs, because You alone have all the prowess and power. Aameen! Aameen!!” (Ishtihar 7 Dec. 1892, Majmoo`ah Ishtiharat Vol. I, Page 342)
The event begins on Friday with a solemn flag-hoisting ceremony. This is immediately followed by an address of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih. The program continues until Sunday evening with several speeches on spiritual and moral concepts, by the Khalifatul Masih, but also from the Community's Scholars. In recent years the Community often invites several distinguished non-Muslim guests to give short speeches. MTA, the television station of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, records the speeches and broadcasts them live, usually only if the Khalifatul-Masih is present. The ceremony of the International Bay'ah is typically only held in the international Jalsa Salana.
There are three main departments of the organisation of Jalsa Sālāna which are as follows:
1. Jalsa Gāh (arrangements related to the venue of the meeting)
It is headed by the Officer Jalsa Gāh. At the Markaz it is normally Nāẓir Iṣlāḥ-o-Irshād. For Jamā‘ats outside Markaz, the Officer Jalsa Gāh shall be appointed by Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ on the recommendation of National Amīr/President. The main duties and functions of this department are:
- To arrange proper sitting area for the visitors and a stage in Jalsa Gāh.
- To prepare and publish the programme of Jalsa Sālāna after obtaining approval.
- To invite / contact the representatives of media.
- To arrange audio and video recording of Jalsa speeches etc.
- To issue tickets to guests for various enclosures.
- To arrange loud speakers and lighting in the area of gathering (Jalsa venue and surroundings)
- To arrange sufficient furniture and mattresses (or Straw) for seating of guests / visitors and Jamā‘at members.
Note:There is separate venue of the Jalsa Gāh for women. Arrangements within this venue are made by Ṣadr Lajna Imāillāh and her team.
2. Khidmat Khalq:
It is headed by Officer Khidmat Khalq, who shall be appointed by Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ on the recommendation of National Amīr/President. He has under him Nā’ibs (Deputies) and Nāẓims (in charge of different groups). The main functions of this department are to look after the security related matters pertaining to the Jalsa. viz.
- Security in and around the Jalsa Gāh for men and around the Jalsa Gāh for women. Lady workers will be appointed in Jalsa Gāh for women.
- Helping the guests in the area where they arrive viz. airports, railway stations, bus stands and the area from where they depart.
- Control of traffic in and around the venue of Jalsa Gāh and to arrange or earmark specific tracks for men and women.
- To see that no undesirable person reaches Jalsa Gāh or residential areas of guests.
- To assist the guests and the Jalsa administration in case of any emergency.
3. Jalsa Sālāna:
The administrative set up of Jalsa Sālāna consists of the Officer Jalsa Sālāna, the Nā’ibs (Deputies) and Nāẓims (in charge of Sections). The Officer Jalsa Sālāna is appointed by Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ on the recommendation of National Amīr/President. Each Nāẓim has his Nā’ibs (assistants) and Mu‘āwinīn (volunteers or workers) according to their requirements. All the members of the administrative set up participate in the arrangements of Jalsa Sālāna to serve the honourable guests who come to the Jalsa Sālāna.
There is an Officer Rābita (Coordinating Officer) who coordinates the activities of the three departments. At the Markaz and in other countries this coordinating officer is appointed by Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ.