Jalsa Salana is the formal annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community initiated by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas. Usually, the gathering spans over three days, beginning on Friday with the Friday Sermon.
The Promised Messiahas says:
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…
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 the propagation of Islam.
In 1891, the Promised Messiahas, for the first time, called the members of his community to assemble in Qadian during the month of December. One of the purposes of this assembly was to take counsel for the formation of members who would act as judges in regard to the first spiritual challenge the Promised Messiahas had given to Muslim clerics in his book The Heavenly Decree that year. 75 companions travelled from far and wide to Qadian and accordingly, the first annual conference or Jalsa Salana was held from Decemeber 27th to 29th at the Aqsa Mosque in Qadian.
On this occasion, the Promised Messiahas announced that, from then, every year, a Jalsa Salana would be held in December. Hence he said:
Three days of every year should be fixed for a gathering in which all my devoted followers should – God willing – be present, with the condition of health, time and absence of strong impediments.
This, hence, lead to the organizing of yearly conventions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The next year, in 1892, the Jalsa was held next to a pond in Qadian. The stage was built from mud collected from in and around the pond. The Promised Messiahas sat on the raised platform on which carpet had been laid and the members of the Community were seated around him on the floor. 327 members attended this Jalsa. The last Jalsa attended by the Promised Messiahas in 1907 was attended by two thousand participants.
With a few exceptions, this Jalsa Salana has been held since then, not only in India but in many countries of the world, in which thousands participate and promote the spirit of love and brotherhood.
In the second day’s program of Jalsa Salana, a remarkable interfaith session is held which is themed ‘Religious Leaders Day’. Amply reflecting the Islamic teachings of pluralism and the outstanding inter-religious harmonious theme of the Community Love for All Hatred for None, the session includes a series of short discourses by dignitaries and other religious leaders who equally share their vision of universal compassion and inter-religious harmony.
It is also an occasion when people of other religions and faiths and also members of the government come forward and express their views in regards to the significance of establishing inter-religious peace and acknowledge the works undertaken by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in this cause.
Moreover, this session is also known as the Guest Session which goes back to the traditions of the early days whereby non-member guests were invited to help understand Ahmadiyya message and relate and comment on the faith and the activities of the community.
To the pleasant benefit of the attendees and guests, an exclusive exhibition by the title Islam – World Peace runs parallel to the Jalsa. The exhibition, using large and colourful posters, elaborately presents the peaceful teachings of Islam and the tireless efforts of His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, the current worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, for the cause of global peace.