Bishwa Ijtema Kicks Off in Bangladesh

DHAKA – Hundreds of thousands of Muslim devotees gathered on the banks of Turag River outside the Bangladeshi capital on Friday, January 8, to call for peace and a revival of Islamic tenets in Bishwa Ijtema, the world’s second largest congregation after hajj.

The huge Muslim gathering began with the deliberation of ‘Aam Bayan’ (general sermons) by noted scholar Maulana Abdur Rahman of Pakistan after Fajr prayers while Islamic scholar of Tabligh Jamaat Abdul Matin interpreted the sermons into Bangla, the Financial Express reported.

The 3-day Ijtema will end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on Sunday.

The gathering saw the flocking of hundreds of thousands of Muslims who started congregating to the Turag bank to take part in the 72-hour religious event since Thursday.

Ijtema is being held in two phases from 2012 to ease accommodation problem.

The second phase of the Bishwa Ijtema will begin on the same venue on January 15 to January 17.

Organizing the meeting, Bangladesh enforced tight security measures, deploying thousands of members of different law-enforcement agencies.

Volunteers were also working around the clock to to make sure the event runs smoothly in health centers.

Special transportation was arranged by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) which is operating 228 buses for carrying the devotees to the Ijtema ground from different places, including the capital, and sending them back to their respective areas.

Bangladesh’s Biswa Ijtema, or World Muslim Congregation, is the world’s second largest Islamic gathering after the Hajj with devotees coming from all over the globe to pray and hear imams preach for three days.

The three-day gathering is organized annually by Tablig-e-Jamaat, a Bangladeshi non-political Islamic group.

Launched by Tablig Jamaat, a non-political group that urges people to follow the tenets of Islam in their daily lives, the gathering at Tongi was first held in 1964.

At the beginning, it took place at Dhaka’s Kakrail mosque.

Then, in 1948 it took place at Haji Camp in Chittagong and in 1958, it took place in Narayanganj’s Shiddhirganj.

Witnessing increasing appeal over the years among those who cannot afford to go to Makkah for the hajj, the Biswa Ijtema moved in 1966 to be held at the bank of Turag in Tongi from such date on.

It is the second largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.