'This is how I felt attending my first post-Covid mass gathering' says Muslim leader from Milton Keynes
MK youth leader went to Jalsa Salana along with 4,000 other Muslims from all over the UK
Every year around 35,000 people from all over the world flock to the Jalsa Salana, the mass gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
This year, due to Covid, the event was scaled down to a few thousand people, who came from the UK only.
Saeed Nazir, who is the youth youth leader for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association's Milton Keynes chapter, was one of those who attended.
This is his first hand account of how he how he felt at his first post-Covid mass gathering.
Saeed said: "For the past 18 months, we’ve all been missing out so much, and last year August was even more heart-breaking. Every year I eagerly look forward to the UK’s oldest and largest Islamic convention – the ‘Jalsa Salana’ – which usually attracts over 35,000 Muslims from around the world in the month of August. It’s a vibrant event in a farm where we all come together to learn more about Islam in the British countryside where a farm gets converted into a tent city for three days.
"For obvious reasons, it had to be cancelled in 2020. But with restrictions eased, this year from 6-8 August this spiritually recharging event went ahead albeit with only 4,000 attendees from only the UK. I was initially wondering how possible it would be to run a large event like this whilst maintaining measures to stay Covid-safe? But I knew the Caliph of our Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad would be attending the event and he has been the most careful during the pandemic, telling us to restrict access to Mosques even before the government guidelines came through. And so, knowing our Caliph was going to be present, I had no doubt that the event would be perfectly safe and a blessed event.
"In my newest clothes - and wellies and a mask on – I went and met so many friends who I had not seen for so long. Instead of hugging and shaking hands, measures meant it was just a touch of the elbow. Everyone had to be double vaccinated to be allowed in and show a negative Covid test. Social distancing was also not difficult as it was in a 200-acre farm!
"The most memorable part for me was the address of the global Caliph and Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
He drew attention to what the actual purpose of the event was, saying: “During these days everyone should assess and critique themselves… Every Ahmadi Muslim must be an example of mutual love and brotherhood. There should be such love and brotherhood that is exemplary. And this is among the key objectives of the Jalsa.
"As I’ve made my way back home, I’ve been realising even more how much I’ve missed being with people during the pandemic, so I hope soon enough we’re all able to do that safely."