The Annual Jalsa
lslam Allows use of Modern Ways and Means for its Propagation and Defence
by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian
The Light & Islamic Review (US), November/December 1992 Issue (Vol. 69, No. 6, pp. 3–5)
Note by the Editor: In 1892 Hazrat Mirza [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] called on his followers to hold a gathering at the end of December every year, among its stated objectives being that members would gain in spiritual knowledge and understanding, strengthen fraternal bonds, plan ways and means of the propagation of Islam, and dedicate themselves afresh to the cause of the Movement. Some of the literalist Ulama [clerics], who had no eye for the great objects of the Movement, denounced the holding and organisation of such meetings as un-Islamic, and pronounced that, according to Islam, a journey was only allowed to one of the three sacred shrines of Islam, or one or two other places, all other travel being prohibited. Today it is inconceivable how such absurd rulings could have been issued, especially in view of the fact that the same Ulama now travel to all parts of the world, attending conferences and meetings. Here we reproduce selected extracts from the reply given by Hazrat Mirza to these critics, published on December 17th, 1892.
Last year it was decided, according to the opinion of the majority of friends, that members of our Jamaat should come to meet this humble servant at least once a year, in order to derive benefit as regards the essentials of the faith and to hold consultations regarding the propagation of Islam. At that time of discussion, it was also decided as being appropriate that the best date for coming to Qadian for this purpose would be December 27th because it is during the holidays, and people in employment are free at this time. Also, being in the winter, these days are suitable for travelling. As a result, our sincere members were pleased to agree to this view, considering it the best course of action. Therefore, on December 7th, 1892, I sent a letter consisting of a printed announcement to all members, the summary of its contents being that one of the main aims of this gathering (Jalsa) is that every sincere person should get the opportunity to benefit spiritually by a face-to-face meeting, to increase his religious knowledge, and to develop his understanding of matters spiritual.
Now we have heard that some person, in order to prove that such work is tantamount to adding a novelty into Islam, in fact a sin, has requested a religious judgment from a Maulvi Rahim Bakhsh, imam of the Cheenia-wali mosque in Lahore. In reply to this request, Maulvi Rahim Bakhsh has produced a lengthy writing, referring to a hadith which is not relevant to the subject, the synopsis of which is that it is an unlawful innovation, rather a sin, to go to attend such a gathering, and to propose the holding of such meetings is a later invention for which there is no basis in the Quran and Sunna. Moreover, the man who creates such an institution in Islam is a reprobate.
Fair-minded people should now answer truthfully whether the existence in Islam of such maulvis [clerics] and muftis [Muslim Judge] is a sign of the tribulations of the last days or not. O good man, do you not know that travelling for the sake of religious knowledge is not only allowed, but is incumbent according to the Quran and the Holy Prophet, so much so that the one who intentionally neglects it is guilty of a serious sin, and to insist on refusal deliberately is an act of disbelief in some cases? Do you not know that it has been urged with great emphasis that
“the seeking of knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim male and female”,
and it has been said:
“Seek knowledge, even though it may be in China”.
Now considering that I wrote in my announcement, in the clearest and plainest words possible, that this journey [to the Jalsa] shall be undertaken by every sincere one with the intention of seeking knowledge, just think how far from honesty, integrity, justice, virtue and piety it is to pronounce the ruling that the man who does such a thing in Islam is a reprobate.
Open and read the Sahih al-Bukhari, and see the glad tidings given for a journey undertaken to seek knowledge. These are as follows:
“Whoever undertakes a journey to seek knowledge, Allah eases for him the way to paradise”.
O you unjust maulvi, show some fairness, and consider that you have called your brother a reprobate, who, like you, professes the Kalima [pronouncement of faith], belongs to the people of the Qibla, and believes in Allah and the Messenger, and you have declared him as deprived of the mercy of God and the intercession of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, giving the reason that I had issued the announcement about the Jalsa, inviting people to it. Open your eyes and read what that announcement of December 7th, 1892, says. It calls our community together for the purposes of acquiring knowledge, seeking solutions to the problems faced by the religion, helping the cause of Islam, and meeting one’s brothers. Does it mention any festivity, entertainment, music or song?
Fixing a Date:
If there is misgiving in someone’s heart as to why a particular date has been fixed for this religious gathering, and whether such practice is traceable to the Holy Prophet or his Companions, the reply is that you should look in Bukhari and Muslim. There is a report in Bukhari that a delegation from the tribe of Abdul Qais came to the Holy Prophet and said that as they come from afar, they can only attend his company during a certain month. The Holy Prophet accepted what they said. This hadith shows that those who wish to meet their spiritual guide in order to seek knowledge or for religious purposes can appoint a certain date in accordance with their free time, when they can attend conveniently, without loss. This is just the case with December 27th because it is during the holidays and those in employment can easily come at that time. Bukhari has included a special chapter in his Sahih [authentic book] about appointing a date for holding a class for receiving religious education, its title being
“He who appoints certain days for those seeking knowledge”,
indicating that this practice is traceable to some Companions. In support of this, Bukhari quotes a report to the effect that Abdullah had fixed Thursday as the day on which to give religious instruction, and on that day people used to attend his lecture.
Quran sanctions Organisation and Arrangement:
It must also be remembered that God has instructed us in the Holy Quran to make plans and arrangements, and ordered us to put into action the best devised schemes which we consider to be expedient for the service of Islam and to be effective in overcoming the opponents. In this regard, He says:
وَ اَعِدُّوۡا لَہُمۡ مَّا اسۡتَطَعۡتُمۡ مِّنۡ قُوَّۃٍ
“And prepare for them [the enemy] whatever force you can” (The Holy Quran, 8:60),
in other words, make every kind of preparation that you can against the opponents of the faith, and exert all the strength that you can for the propagation of Islam.
Modern Methods must be used as Times Change:
Those who ponder over this verse can realise that, in accordance with the hadith
“Actions are judged by intention”,
to devise some suitable system for the service of Islam is not an unlawful novelty or evil. As with the changing times Islam faces ever newer types of problems, or the opponents attack us in new types of ways, so we have to adopt new means as well. Therefore, if we conceive of some method or remedy to combat these attacks which is appropriate for the present time, that constitutes the making of a plan, and has nothing to do with bringing innovations into Islam. It is possible that, due to the enormous changes of the times, we may face certain new problems of a kind which even the Holy Prophet Muhammad did not face. For instance, we cannot fight wars of the present day in the old ways because the techniques of warfare have completely changed in this age. Weapons used previously are now ineffective, and new weapons have been invented for fighting. Now if Muslim rulers were to consider the taking up and deployment of these weapons to be an unlawful novelty, and, listening to maulvis like Rahim Bakhsh, believe it to be sin and evil to use these modern implements of war, and argue that this is a manner of fighting never undertaken by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, nor the Companions, nor the next generation, the only result would be that they would lose their collapsed kingdoms with ignominy and the enemy would be triumphant. Therefore, wherever the making of plans and arrangements is required, whether in case of physical or spiritual warfare, whether the battle is by the sword or the pen, the verse quoted above is sufficient for our guidance.
Foolish Friends invite Ridicule upon Islam:
Every Muslim ought to pray that God rid Islam soon of those maulvis who show such perfidy. For, this is a critical time for Islam, and these foolish friends wish to make Islam a target of ridicule and mockery by making statements which every person, with his light of reason, finds to be untrue. May Allah have mercy on Imam Bukhari! He has also included a chapter regarding this in his book, in which he writes:
“Ali, may God be pleased with him, said: Tell people things which they understand; else, do you like to have Allah and His Messenger rejected?”
In the commentary on Bukhari, this is explained as follows:
“Speak to people according to their understanding”,
in other words, explain to people those injunctions of Allah and the Messenger which they can comprehend and which appear to them to be reasonable; otherwise, you will needlessly have them repudiating Allah and the Messenger.
Now it is obvious that when an opponent of Islam hears that the maulvis have issued a ruling declaring all travel to be unlawful except to the Sacred Mosque, the Mosque of the Holy Prophet, the Aqsa Mosque, and one or two other places, he will ridicule Islam and get the chance to find fault with the teaching of the Holy Prophet. He will not be aware that this pronouncement is merely the mischief of a maulvi, out of a grudge, or his ignorance; he will directly attack the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
Many maulvis, for the sake of their livelihood, travel all over the land, east and west, ostensibly for preaching. Yet such journeys are not considered objectionable, nor does anyone issue rulings that they have added novelties into Islam, or that they are evil-doers and sinners. But when this humble servant, having been appointed to call to the truth by Divine permission and command, invites his followers to come for the purpose of gaining knowledge, such travel is declared unlawful, and for this act I am dubbed a reprobate. Is this the way of virtue and godliness?
Progress is not Unlawful Innovation:
Regrettably, these unwise people do not even know that planning and organisation does not fall in the category of innovations. Every time and age requires new ways of organisation. If new types of problems arise, what can we do other than devise new types of plans? When the true Sunna has been safely preserved, and for the defence of that very Sunna we need to use certain means, will they be called innovations? Certainly not. An innovation is one which in essence deviates from and is contrary to the Sunna of the Holy Prophet, and the doing of which has been condemned and warned against in the Holy Prophet’s life. If merely modern ways of working and new types of schemes are called innovations, then the number of innovations in Islam will be countless. The sciences of grammar, literature and theology, and the writing of Hadith and its compilation, would all be innovations. Likewise, travelling by railway, wearing clothes made in factories, sending letters by mail, learning news by telegram, and fighting with guns and cannons, would all be in the category of innovations.
Even the Companions did not consider the Sunna to have the meaning which this maulvi has given it, and carried out many works of planning and organisation which were neither done by the Holy Prophet nor prescribed in the Holy Quran.