The Ijtema was a testament to the power of unity, prayers, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge. It served as a beacon of light in my spiritual journey.
SHALINI NASIRA THAHIR, QADIAN
MAY 26, 2023
The timeless words of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other”, resonate deeply within me as I reflect upon the profound connections I have built ever since I converted to Islam and became a part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The connections with the women of the Community nurtured through the gatherings of Jalsa Salana Qadian over the last few years, and now the Kerala State Lajna Ijtema has become the very foundation of my spiritual journey.
Attending the Kerala State Lajna Ijtema was an experience that filled my heart with excitement from the moment I booked my ticket to travel from Qadian to Kerala to participate in the event. Although having roots in Kerala, this was my first time attending any such event in the state. The Ijtema (annual gathering) was held on the 13th and 14th of May. As this year marked a hundred years since the establishment of Lajna Imaillah, the women’s auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the Ijtema held immense significance.
As I walked through the gathering, I found myself embraced by familiar faces, each radiating joy and excitement. It was a joyous reunion that transcended geographical boundaries and showcased the unbreakable bond we share as sisters in faith. The genuine affection and care they expressed, along with the warm, tight hugs from each sister I knew, made me feel deeply valued and cherished.
It is important to emphasise here that the warm hugs from any sister in the Community when we meet have been a significant transformative factor in my life, especially considering that such expressions of affection were unfamiliar to me in my earlier years. These heartfelt embraces serve as a powerful reminder of the love and warmth that Islam encourages us to share with our fellow human beings.
Generally, there exists a misconception about Muslim women that often stems from ignorance and stereotypes. However, as a convert to Islam, I can confidently attest that the sisters within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are dispelling these misconceptions and challenging societal norms with their exceptional abilities.
One major misunderstanding is that Muslim women lack agency and independence. However, through my experience within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I have witnessed Muslim sisters taking charge and organising events for women, such as this two-day event in Kerala, with remarkable efficiency and skill. They display a profound sense of leadership, demonstrating that women have an equal and vital role in shaping society.
The sisters within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community challenge the notion that Muslim women are suppressed or limited in their aspirations. They break down barriers by pursuing education, achieving career goals, and actively participating in community development. Their dedication to serve their faith and humanity, coupled with their pursuit of excellence, sets a powerful example for others to follow.
It is crucial to recognise that Muslim women are not a monolithic group, and their experiences and contributions vary. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a testament to the diversity and dynamism of Muslim women.
The Ijtema was formally inaugurated by the National President of Lajna Imaillah India, Bushra Pasha Sahiba, who gracefully reminded us of the timeless wisdom imparted by the Khalifa (Caliph) and World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, as we complete a hundred years of the formation of this auxiliary. She emphasised the importance of following His Holiness’s guidance and direction, which revolve around self-development, striving for nearness to God, and actively contributing to the growth of the Community.
Bushra Pasha Sahiba’s words resonated with the hearts of the attendees as she urged everyone to remain steadfast in their daily prayers and to make a conscious effort to enhance their personal growth. By walking on this path of self-improvement, we can strengthen our bond with God and seek His pleasure.
Later, Kerala’s Minister for Higher Education, R Bindu, inaugurated the public conference organised as a part of the Ijtema and brought to light a remarkable observation – the exceptional achievements of Muslim girls in education across the state, which filled her with immense pride. Her inspiring words undoubtedly served as a catalyst, igniting a sense of motivation within all the sisters present and urging us to reach even greater heights in our educational pursuits. It was a much-needed boost, empowering us to embrace our potential and strive for excellence in every aspect of our lives.
The session was graced by many other dignitaries, including teachers, government officials and political leaders. One of the guests was K K Shailaja, the former Health Minister of Kerala, who played a pivotal role in leading the state’s fight against two major virus outbreaks, Nipah and coronavirus. She expressed her admiration for the gathering of over two thousand Muslim women, who were not associated with any terrorist organisation, rather were devout believers who not only wished for the well-being of themselves but also of fellow human beings, following the teachings of Prophet Muhammadsa.
While addressing the audience, Ms Shailaja emphasised the importance of women’s rights and equality. She highlighted that 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammadsa explicitly stated that both believing men and believing women, those who help others, are equally blessed by God. She pointed out that this demonstrates that women are in no way inferior to men in the eyes of Allah and His Prophetsa.
The second day of the Ijtema began with great anticipation as attendees eagerly gathered for a gripping marriage counselling session. Dr Amathunnaseer Nadir Sahiba, a sister from the Community, took the stage and instantly captivated the audience with her profound insights.
Drawing from the teachings and guidance of the Ahmadiyya Khalifa, Amathunnaseer Sahiba shed light on significant topics that are often overlooked in conversations among women yet hold immense significance in shaping the foundation of marriages and relationships.
With eloquence and wisdom, she spoke directly to the hearts of mothers, emphasising the vital role they play in nurturing their children and modelling healthy relationships. The importance of instilling values such as respect, empathy, and effective communication within the family unit was highlighted, acknowledging that these qualities serve as the building blocks of harmonious marriages in the future.
Addressing the young girls in the audience, Amathunnaseer Sahiba provided guidance and encouragement in navigating the complexities of life. She emphasised the need for self-confidence, self-worth, and the pursuit of education and personal growth. Her words served as a timely reminder of the vast wisdom and guidance available to them, reminding them of their limitless potential as they embark on their journey towards marriage and beyond.
The second day also saw a talk by Shereen Rafeek Sahiba on the status and identity of Ahmadi Muslim women. This was followed by a seminar conducted by members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Students’ Association, also known as AMWSA, on atheism and the existence of God. They eloquently presented their arguments against atheism, skillfully drawing upon scientific principles and relatable experiences from everyday life and surroundings. Their insightful approach left us with a renewed appreciation for the harmonious relationship between faith, scientific inquiry, and the undeniable presence of a Higher Power.
Throughout the two days, the air was filled with heartfelt prayers and devotion, creating an atmosphere charged with spirituality. Engaging in congregational prayers, listening to enlightening lectures, and soul-stirring recitations of the Holy Quran, I felt a deep connection with my fellow sisters, knowing we were all bound by our shared faith and love for Allah.
The sessions and workshops at the Lajna Ijtema were nothing short of transformative. Esteemed scholars, speakers and participants imparted their knowledge and wisdom, guiding us on matters of faith, family, and personal growth. Their words resonated with my soul, igniting a renewed commitment to seeking knowledge and living a purposeful life guided by Islamic principles.
The speeches, Quran recitation, and poetry recitation competitions held on both days added an extra layer of interest and engagement. The quiz and seminar session kept us glued to our seats, fostering a thirst for knowledge and inspiring us to learn and grow.
Besides, how can I forget the delightful meals? Each dish served was a culinary delight, leaving my taste buds satisfied and content. The organisers went above and beyond to ensure that we were nourished both spiritually and physically.
During the concluding session, the National President of Lajna Imaillah India, Bushra Pasha Sahiba, highlighted the foundation upon which the women’s auxiliary was built – the extraordinary contributions of women in the early years of its formation. She shared inspiring excerpts from the lives of pious women of the Community, reminding us to constantly reflect upon their exemplary characters. May we continue to reflect upon the noble examples set by the women who came before us, and may our efforts be guided by their virtuous lives.
Bushra Pasha Sahiba further emphasised the significance of our self-development and character improvement as essential components of proper moral training for the upcoming generation. She reminded us that the responsibility of nurturing the next generation rests upon our shoulders, underscoring the importance of aligning our character with the teachings of Islam, thereby setting a positive example for them to follow.
However, the most significant aspect of the Ijtema was the sense of sisterhood that permeated throughout the event. Meeting and greeting such a vast number of sisters from all corners of Kerala was an emotional experience for me. Beyond the formal sessions, the interactions with my fellow sisters left an indelible mark on my heart. Engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing stories, and offering support and encouragement, we formed a sisterhood that transcended any barriers.
As a convert to Islam Ahmadiyyat, this Community has always been a pillar of support, and being surrounded by such love and compassion reaffirmed the bond we share as believers. The Kerala State Lajna Ijtema was a testament to the power of unity, prayers, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge. It served as a beacon of light in my spiritual journey, inspiring me to embrace my faith wholeheartedly and contribute to the well-being of society. With gratitude in my heart, I pray that Allah blesses us with more opportunities to gather, learn, and grow together as sisters in faith, Amin.
The author holds a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication and a Postgraduate Diploma in Print Journalism. She serves as the Secretary of Outreach for Lajna Imaillah, the Ahmadi Muslim women’s auxiliary, in Qadian.
 Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Mazalim (Book on Oppressions)