Qudsia Ward, Cornwall
At this time of year in the UK, members of the Ahmadi Muslim Community are finalising plans for their annual Ijtemas*. Speeches are being practiced and timed, poems polished, handicraft models and craft work completed, other skills honed. Travel plans are being made, checking with friends and family how to reach our destination and sleep comfortably for two or three nights away from home. These Ijtemas, or gatherings are the culmination of activities throughout the year, throughout the community.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has auxiliary organisations for young boys and girls and for adult men and women. Each auxiliary is organised with its own administration, locally, regionally, and nationally. Each auxiliary has its local, regional and national meetings which unite, train and educate members of the community.
The national annual Ijtema, or gathering, of the Lajna Imaillah, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, will be taking place in September this year.
When I first took part in Ijtemas 45 years ago, I did not appreciate their value. It was always fun to meet locally with old and new friends, to enjoy the competitions and speeches but I never realised the strength of the organisation that lay behind them.
Wherever I have been the community has been there. All around England, France, and the Middle East, I have been able to find friends, to share good fellowship, to have fun, to keep fit and to gain understanding of what it means to be a Muslim and what Islam really teaches. The community in Europe has grown so much and with this growth the skills, knowledge and experience of the ladies has grown too. Long ago I happily enjoyed joining in with the extempore English speech competitions. Not so intimidating when you know each lady and feel friendly support all around! Now the competitive edge is greater, and the young girls so well educated and experienced I stick to enjoying listening!! I listen with enormous pleasure to the well prepared and well-presented speeches, even with audio-visual presentations these days! I love to hear the melodious recitation of Holy Quran and poems of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who founded this wonderful community.
As the community has grown in UK the handicraft and sports department have grown too. There is something for everyone and that’s what binds us together.
Think of the skills and experiences that ladies gain in preparing for the competitions; first locally, then regionally, then nationally. The life skills and knowledge gained is what makes the ladies of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community stand out as strong, active citizens wherever they live in the world. Being trained and then training our children to understand and take part in the organisation unites us and makes us strong. It protects and guides us. Seeing, and being part of the ijtemas sets an important example for younger women and girls. Knowing there is always a place and a role for you when ever you are ready is so important and is one of the reasons our young people are ready to take part in the active service of others within and outside the community.
The greatest blessing of the community is that it is led by the Khalifa, the community’s worldwide spiritual head. Ahmadi Muslims worldwide are united, taught, advised and loved by our Khalifa. He oversees the community’s organisation and it is this leadership and organisation that makeIjtems it strong. His prayers and guidance lead us all towards success.
The message of the community is one of peace. Our Khalifa is constantly reminding us to remember our obligations to our Creator, Allah and to His creation. This message is reinforced and repeated throughout the world through the organisation of the community, and lastly, through its Ijtemas.
Ijtema is an annual spiritual and academic gathering. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association has their Ijtema coming up this year with the theme ‘The Existence of God’.