People across the continent made their way to the Chrysalis Academy in Tokai at the weekend for the 55th Jalsa Salana (annual convention) hosted by the Athlone-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Organisation.
The event began at Baitul Awwal Mosque in Athlone on Friday April 12 and then moved to Chrysalis Academy on Saturday and Sunday April 13 and 14. The theme was “The role of Islam for a developing nation”.
Each day began early, with almost three hours of prayer, from 5am, followed by breakfast, registration, flag raising, speeches and reading of poems and the Qur’an.
The convention was attended by dignitaries from various religious organisations and political leaders from South Africa, Mauritius and other African countries.
A number of other invited guest speakers from different inter-denominational groups and academic and political affiliations also attended.
The keynote speaker was meant to be Abbas Bin Suleman Sahib, a missionary in charge of Swaziland Jama’at (assembly). However, his visa could not be organised in time and so they made a last minute replacement, inviting Rayaan Allom Sahib, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Organisation southern circuit Jama’at.
Women were separated from men and did not want to be photographed.
They sat in another building, screened off from the hall in which the men and boys sat, watching the event on closed-circuit television.
Mr Ebrahim said the women chose to do this.
“They are regarded as queen. They feel they should not be on show. Men and women do not mix freely (in the Ahmadiyaa community), we see that’s when things go wrong. Women prefer to be separate. It’s their choice. We invite women who are not Muslim to choose where they wish to sit,” said national general secretary Zaid Ebrahim, of Woodstock.
“Our conference seeks to enlighten the members of the Ahmadiyya community, an Islamic revival or messianic movement founded in Punjab, Pakistan in the late 19th century,” he said.
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