If you’ve never been to Jalsa Salana UK then you’re missing out because for me it’s the highlight of the year.

I’ve been to some festivals in my time but this event stands out.

It’s about spirituality and learning to be a better Muslim. This year was even more unique.

We had all missed the event last year due to the pandemic, so when it was announced this event is going ahead this year, I was over the moon.

But before I could imagine what the event would be like this year with the pandemic still present, I started receiving plenty of messages and information that the event is going to be following some strict COVID-safety measures.

You had to prove you’d been double vaccinated, and had a negative COVID test in the last 24 hours.

Only 4000 people were allowed whereas in the past 35,000 people would usually attend.

No one outside of the 18-65 age bracket would be allowed and of course social distancing was not going to be much of an issue as it was taking place in a 200-acre Hampshire farm and everyone was expected to wear a mask!

So these measures in place really gave me the confidence and comfort to attend the event knowing that I’ll be as safe as possible.

When I got there, it was clear that the rules were not just on paper, rather everyone was certainly following them and the event was done with help from the NHS too!

Soon the safety measures were less of a talk of the tent-city, rather the rain and the mud became the talking points. Hundreds of cars had to be pulled out of the mud and so all the youth volunteers banded together and the spirit of brotherhood was something I had really missed.

But to be honest, the most memorable part for me was seeing and listening to the global Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, whose words really have inspired me coming out of the weekend, especially when his Holiness reminded us of the purpose of coming to the event and said: “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.”

With the google search results of the word ‘prayer’ rocketing during the pandemic, this event reassured me that having faith in God and turning to him was a way to calm my fears, regain my faith and push through all challenges in life.

COVID or no COVID, the words of my Caliph reassured me that there was hope.

Fahad Mahmood, who is from Collierswood