Huzur (aba), delivered the Friday sermon on July 22, 2011 at Hadeeqatul-Mahdi, site of the 2011 annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Community of the United Kingdom. Huzur (aba) stated that in last Friday’s sermon, he had provided guidelines to those Ahmadis who are playing the significant role of hosts and hospitality to guests of the Jalsa Salana. He reminded every duty holder that the Jalsa Salana is a blessed occasion, where they can express their etiquettes of hospitality, no matter which department they are executing their duty in. Huzur (aba) said that in the sermon today, he would like to re-emphasize the responsibilities of hosts and duty-holders, provide some guidelines to the guests of the Jalsa Salana, and in addition, would give some organizational instructions. He mentioned that although the organizational directives are printed in the Jalsa Salana program, it has been observed that people either do not read them or do not give them due importance. In either case, it is important to re-iterate them as a reminder.
Huzur (aba) said that we as a Jamaat are blessed to be the followers of the servant of the Holy Prophet (saw) and to be associated with the Nizam-e-Khilafat (system of Khilafat), therefore, when members of this Jamaat are given instructions and guidelines, they should try their best to follow these because if they do not follow, then what is the distinction between members of the Jamaat and the rest. May Allah Almighty enable all participants to be spiritually inspired by this Jalsa Salana.
Huzur (aba) stated the following hadith: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should be kind to his neighbour; and whoever believes in God and the Last Day should be generous with his gift to his guest. Someone asked the Prophet what gift was that. He said: A gift sufficient for one day and one night. Hospitality lasts for three days. If it goes longer than that, then it is a charity to the guest. Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should either say something good or remain silent.”
In light of this hadith, Huzur (aba) said that indeed it is the right of a guest to enjoy the hospitality and accommodation provided by his generous host, but he should remember what his limits are. An upright Momin would never accept charity, therefore he should remember that staying over 3 nights counts as charity. It is not appropriate for a guest to overstay his welcome in his host’s residence and become a source of burden for him such that the host begins to feel impatient and frustrated. The life here is such that everyone has commitments and sometimes have limited resources. Hospitality is a moral quality which should result in inculcating mutual respect between the guest and the host and developing a bond of love between them, but extending one’s stay can actually produce the contrary effect.
Islam’s beautiful teachings address the most minor issues and provide guidelines on how to conduct oneself in these circumstances. The guidelines provided on how to deal with the minor issues results in the achievement of bigger virtues. One of the objectives of holding Jalsa Salana as described by the Promised Messiah (as) is to establish brotherhood among the participants and form a loving community. This beautiful bond of brotherhood and unity can only be established by practicing complete obedience to God Almighty and to the Holy Prophet (saw). Therefore, every guest must raise his standards of obedience to take steps forward rather than backwards.
Huzur (aba) also reminded the guests that accommodation provided by the Jamaat is on a temporary basis. The guests who made a commitment of staying for 2 or 3 weeks should honour their promises and if they wish to stay in the country for longer than this period, then they should make alternate arrangements and abide by the rules laid out by Nizam-e-Jamaat, because Jamaat resources are limited, and the accommodation that is offered during Jalsa times is required for other purposes as well.
Huzur (aba) stated another hadith: It is not permissible for the guest to stay on until he becomes a source of sin for him (i.e. his host). How is that possible? The host, who may not have sufficient resources, may have borrowed money to make the stay of his guest comfortable. If a guest stays for an extended period of time at the residence of his host, and the host is unable to pay the money back, then he becomes sinful. Again, if a guest overstays his welcome, the host may become angry or frustrated and start complaining about his guests, again becoming sinful. Therefore, a guest should try to understand this situation and must not contribute in making the host sinful. If both the guest and the host fulfil their respective responsibilities, then no one will become sinful.
It is Allah Almighty’s favour on the Jamaat that 99.99% of Jamaat members pay heed to the advice that is delivered and obey the instructions. The few people who are stubborn should also try to comply to the guidelines given to them. The Holy Prophet (saw) also used to address his companions and give them counsel basing his observations on the ill-habits of one or two people, not based on the masses. The example of Muhajir and Ansar relationships is befitting here, where Ansar became the perfect hosts by serving the best meals and portions of meat to their guests, and the Muhajir became the perfect guests by requesting their hosts to show them where the markets were so that they could make their own arrangements and not become a burden to their hosts. The Holy Prophet (saw) gave these instructions consistently - firstly to raise the moral standards of his companions and also to train the new comers to Islam. The Quran states: “Vie, then, with one another in good works”. (2:149) In light of this Quranic teaching, there is an inspiration in the hearts of the Momineen to progress. Huzur (aba) reminds that those who take these steps forward should also look back and bring those who are staying behind up to the point with them and not leave them behind so that everyone in the society is making the effort to move forward and the momineen are united as one nation. These instructions are given not to embarrass or hurt the sentiments of anyone, but raise the moral standards of the masses in general.
Another advice that Huzur (aba) gave in the area of Ziafat or Langar is that although all guests are served the same meals, there are occasions when some guests are served different meals; those with special dietary requirements or those who do not have the taste for Pakistani food due to their own cultural background. Therefore, guests should not be upset at this in any way. However, organizers should not cook special meals for their own consumption. Huzur (aba) reminded all duty holders to respect their guests and not to hurt their sentiments in any way, even if it is intended as a joke. Guests must be served as many times as they wish to serve themselves. Guests however should not waste food and eat the portion they like whereas throw away the rest. Duty holders should not hasten the guests to leave the dining area but let them eat in peace and at their own pace. However the guests should also remember not to linger around the dining area after they have finished the meals. Remember that the duty holders have responsibilities to fulfil and they need time to rest as well. It is really the attitudes of the guests and the hosts that will make the atmosphere beautiful for all to enjoy.
Huzur (aba) then reminded that the main objective of the Jalsa Salana is to inculcate a deeper relationship with Allah Almighty. Thus, all duty holders and all guests must pay special attention to safeguard their prayers and pay special attention to offering Nawafil prayers and offering supplications and prayers, because the solution to all our hardships, especially in face of persecution, lies in these acts of worship.
Huzur (aba) said that Jalsa provides an opportunity to many people to meet with their relatives and friend they have not met in many years. Meetings between these people should take place when Jalsa proceedings are not taking place. It should be remembered that people should refrain from engaging in inappropriate discussions and instead, try to remember God and those who have departed from among us, and hold decent and respectable discussions. There are instances where new relationships are formed during Jalsa; Huzur (aba) again reminded, especially the women, that the break times during Jalsa Salana should be used for these purposes. He also said that late night sittings should be avoided because it becomes almost impossible or very difficult to wake up for the morning prayer and nawafil. Remember the purpose of this time is to create a spiritual environment. Women should specifically remember that this is not a worldly festival, therefore every effort should be made to raise spiritual and moral standards. This is not an occasion to flaunt outfits and jewellery. Women should wear decent outfits which conceals their beauty rather than puts it on display. Men and women should lower their gaze to meet the spiritual standards befitting to this occasion of Jalsa Salana.
In terms of organization aspects of Jalsa Salana, Huzur (aba) stated that security this year is rather strict, so if guests have to pass through scanners and their bags are checked, please be patient because these measures have been put in place for your own security. Each time a guest enters the Jalsa gah, his and/or her bags will be checked, in fact you should offer your bags yourselves to be checked. Please comply to these rules willingly and refrain from complaining. Huzur (aba) also directed the duty holders to carry out their security checks without any undue delays so that the Jalsa proceedings can be started on time. Fences have been secured to demarcate the boundaries of the Jalsa gah; however these fences should be manned by security guards as fences alone are not sufficient. All those who are present at the Jalsa Salana should keep an eye on their surroundings for any suspicious activity. This year, arrangements have been made for elderly and mothers with children to reserve separate entrances and scanners for them so that there is no delay for them to enter the Jalsa gah. However, patience is still required, as at times, the entrances can be bogged down with traffic. Huzur (aba) directed that slogans should not be chanted too frequently; in fact the specific department for chanting slogans should solely be responsible for this task. However, when a slogan is raised, the response should be united and strong. Huzur (aba) reminded all participants to remain in the Jalsa gah during the speeches and listen to them as they are for our own benefit. Huzur (aba) said that special care should be given to maintenance of cleanliness, especially in the toilets. With rainy conditions, the toilets can get muddy. Workers are on duty to help with the cleanliness, but guests should also be mindful of playing their part. Huzur (aba) instructed that those who arrive in the Jalsa gah first should fill the spaces in the front so that the late-comers have room to sit. Late comers should not leap over others to get to an empty spot. In fact, people should ensure that no empty spots are left in the jalsa gah.
In the end Huzur (aba) emphasized the importance of engaging in prayers and supplications throughout the Jalsa Salana. May Allah Almighty enable us to do so, Ameen.