In keeping with his tradition regarding the subject of the Sermon of the Friday preceding Jalsa Salana, Huzur gave a discourse on hospitality. Huzur said the Jalsa hospitality is carried out on communal level by the Jama’at as well as individually by people looking after their personal guests who come for Jalsa.
Hospitality is a courtesy that is mentioned in the Qur’an and one that has always been the custom of prophets of God and their followers. It is a means to develop mutual love as well as to make an impression on others and bring them closer and thus open ways of Tabligh. We are aware of the excellent model of honouring of guests of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and we know that his true and ardent devotee, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also paid great attention to this aspect. Allah had informed the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) that people would come to him in their droves and when people come to a strange place, they are guests. He thus received the revelation many times from Allah that people would come to him in their multitudes and that he should not be annoyed nor tire of meeting them. Huzur said there is counsel for us in this. The Langar (kitchen) of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is going to spread. Anywhere in the world that the Khalifa of the time is visiting, special arrangements of hospitality have to be made and the organisers there should never overlook courtesy and consideration. The revelation given to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also alluded to the growth of the Community in terms of numbers as well as the development and enhancement of the sincerity and dedication of the people of the Community. Moreover, a great number of seekers of truth shall also continue to come and thus the hospitality will continue. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) initiated the Langar Khana for this very purpose and called it an important matter among other important matters. Today wherever the Community is established there is a Langar Khana in operation.
Those who come to listen to our message take note of all this and when the Jalsa Salana takes place, the atmosphere is quite extraordinary. In short, hospitality is a task that has been entrusted to each one of us in general and the organisers and the Khalifa of the time in particular. If we do not exhibit courtesy and high morals we could incur Allah’s displeasure. The organisers as well as the volunteers are most fortunate that they have been enabled to offer their services to serve the guests of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). With the grace of Allah, young and old alike offer their names for duty with great fervour and zeal. Huzur said he has mentioned many times that when Jalsa Salana is held in countries across the globe people of all nations offer their services with similar zeal. Huzur said he has cited example of Africa and has also mentioned his recent USA and Canadian visits. He said wherever he goes he witnesses people of all social standings offering their services and executing them most cheerfully. However, the Jalsa Salana of UK has acquired unique significance. Due to the presence of the Khalifa of the day the expansion of organisation here is greater than anywhere else in the world. This Jalsa is scrutinised more internally as well as externally. Some of the duties of this Jalsa are most sensitive. Imperceptibly this Jalsa has acquired a central role. Those who come to this Jalsa from other countries have great expectations. Huzur said he would mention by the way that the Khuddam of London and other volunteers, those who do security duty or Langar Khana duty or organise other functions, as there are numerous functions held here, work more and with a greater degree of regularity than in other countries. Huzur said they have been working in a very good manner for the past twenty four years. In Rabwah there is staff but here Khuddam and Ansar work on voluntary basis, may Allah reward them in a most excellent way that they are making sacrifice of time and of money while living in this country and indeed in this very expensive city. Huzur said this is owing to their sincerity and dedication and may Allah enable them to continue to serve in this manner.
Huzur said the Jalsa Salana and the operations of the Langar Khana greatly impress people from outside the Community. Indeed at the time of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) the Langar Khana and the Promised Messiah’s personal civility used to make great impressions on people. Huzur said in his recent African visit during Jalsa at one of the countries, due to the Khilafat Centenary the number of guests was tremendous. Seeing the food arrangements there people from outside the Community were greatly impressed and some went to the extent of saying that this indeed was a mark of us being a divine Community. All this is owing to the training of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The hospitality and the generosity of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were exemplary. In the current era in order to revive faith and to bring man close to God the advent of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) took place and he was promised: “I shall carry thy message to the ends of the earth.” (Tadhkirah 2007 edition p. 381). The task that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was entrusted with was accomplished through him and after him is carrying on being accomplished through his Khulafa, however it is only Allah Who can change hearts. This, He alone does and is doing. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was also foretold: “Your helpers will come from every distant track.” (Tadhkirah p. 435. 2007 edition). The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) initiated these Jalsas for the enhancement of spirituality and religion, it is therefore the obligation of each volunteer to serve the guests in every way possible. These guests are coming for the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and we too are commanded not to be annoyed by them and not tire of them.
The exemplary hospitality of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) with regards people who came to see him has instances where he would personally wash soiled bedding left by the guest. He personally served the delegation sent by the kind of Abyssinia and once when he offered goat’s milk to a guest he ended up serving him milk from seven goats until the guest had his fill. He had so trained his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) that they would put their children to bed hungry and leave the food for the guests, putting the light out, themselves making eating noises without taking any food, so that the guests were comfortable in having their fill. The excellent examples of the Companions were not over a day or two of hospitality. Indeed, when the migrants of Mecca came to Medina, the people of Medina shared their property with them. Huzur part cited verse ten of Surah Al Hashr: “…but prefer others to themselves even though poverty be their own lot...” (59:10). The Jalsa guests to UK in particular come for the love of Khilafat and to acquire religious knowledge, it is our obligation to treat them with love and affection. This year many guests are arriving from Pakistan and some African countries for the first time. We should look after them all regardless of who is rich and who is not. They are all guests of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). Due to the occasion of Khilafat Centenary more guests are expected. The organisers are making better arrangements; it is now the task of the volunteers to carry out these arrangements as planned otherwise the best laid plans will not materialize. The volunteer workers of Jalsa should receive the guests in the spirit in which the guests are coming. They should display a greater sense of enthusiasm of the model that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) established for us.
Huzur said this year we are expecting more guests at Jalsa both from the Community and outside the Community. It is our duty to look after them all. Although there is some concern about the large numbers coming this year, this should not effect the organisation.
Huzur related a few extracts of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) giving detailed instructions to those who looked after the guest. These illustrate the fine points of hospitality that he wished to extend to his guests from the service at Langar Khana to non-discriminatory treatment of all guests, to informing them of the whereabouts of toilet facility etc. Next Huzur cited several incidents from the blessed life of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) expounding his most excellent hospitality. Huzur related incidents narrated by various companions of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who would come from outside Qadian to visit him. These incidents ranged from the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) going to great limits to cater for eccentric habits of the guests, like chewing the paan, personally opening doors for his guests despite other people around him, personally serving food to his guests at early hours of the morning, giving away his own bedding due to need for guests and doing all this in a most cordial, gracious manner. His advice to people with regards serving guests was: ‘You recognise some people and do not recognise others, therefore consider each one of them worthy of hospitality.’
Huzur said he related the incidents so that the volunteers of Jalsa Salana prepare themselves enthusiastically and have the blessed aspects of his model in view. Huzur said majority of people are not aware of the blessed model of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) because it is not available in other languages. Huzur said at Jalsa, the departments of food, accommodation, cleanliness and transport are directly involved with the guests. This year some experimental steps will be carried out by the transport department. They will have to discharge their duties in a very good manner. Special bus and train services are going to be operational. Effort should be made to particularly ferry guest passengers from Europe on time. However, no strict conduct should be displayed to the members of the UK Jama’at. It should be kept in view that people who have travelled from developing countries should be transported via buses. Huzur said the weather is a bit unpredictable. Prayers should be made that it stays favourable. If any difficulty arises, the volunteers should stay resolute, as they did last year. They should keep that spirit up, rather, they should enhance it further. Huzur said service requires sacrifice and one has to serve the guests of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) in a manner that honours its dues and Allah’s pleasure is attained. May Allah enable to fulfil the obligations in the best manner.