The first phase of the Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest Muslim congregation, the first is that of Hajj, was concluded on January 15 with Akheri Munajat (the final supplication), attended by millions of people.
The meeting kicked off on Friday morning, 13th January, on the sandy bank of the Turag River on the outskirts of the capital city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Tabligh Jamaat has been organizing the Bishwa Ijtema, also called the World Congregation of Muslims, since 1946.
The second phase of the Bishwa Ijtema will be held on January 20-22 at the same place.
President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, opposition leader Khaleda Zia, and many other dignitaries have taken part in the Akheri Munajat held on Sunday 15th January at noon.
Noted policymaker of the Tabligh Jamaat, Maulana Jubayer Al-Hasan from India, conducted the Akheri Munajat.
The Bishwa Ijtema passed off its second day on Saturday with tens of thousands of devotees from home and abroad thronging the bank of the River Turag at Tongi.
The first phase of three-day annual Islamic congregation began on Friday with the deliberation of ‘Aam Bayan’ or principal sermons after Fajr (pre-dawn) prayers.
From all parts of the world
About 17,000 foreign devotees from 80 countries including the Kingdom Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, U.A.E., Qatar, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Cambodia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iran, Japan, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Trinidad, Russia, U.S.A., Zimbabwe, Belgium, Cameron, China, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, U.K., Korea, Algeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, Kuwait, Morocco, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Pakistan, Bahrain, Jordan, India, Pakistan, and Sudan have so far attended the Ijtema (meeting).
Saturday started with Pakistani religious scholar Mohammad Ehsan's lectures after the Fajr prayers. Bangladeshi scholar Maulana Nurul Haque is set to address the congregation after the Zohr (noon) prayers, followed by Indian scholar Zobayerul Hasan after the Asr (afternoon) prayers and Ahmed Latt after the Maghreb (sunset) prayers.
Islamic scholars from different Muslim countries, including Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were delivering sermons, which were being instantly interpreted into Bangla, English and other languages. The scholars are delivering sermons on various aspects of Islam, especially Iman (faith) and Amal (religious acts).
Hundreds of devotees had to remain outdoors due to the lack of indoor space to accommodate the number of attendees.
"I am suffering especially due to the cold weather. But it doesn't bother me. I think I would be lucky if I die here," said 70-year-old Kamaluddin Miah, who came from north-eastern district of Sylhet.
Many were cooking meals in stoves beside their makeshift tents, while some others took flattened and puffed rice to avoid the hassle of cooking.
Devotees waited in long queues at different temporary medial camps set up on the Ijtema ground.
“I attend this Ijtima for my personal purification and development,” said Mohammad Shakil (45), who came from Pakistan.
"Most of them are coming to us with cold-related complaints. We are giving them medical aid. If we find anybody with serious illness, we refer him to Tongi Hospital," said Adam Ali, a medical service provider.
Like previous years, about 100 dowry-free marriages were solemnized on the Ijtema, the World Congregation of Muslims.
Multi-tier security measures were in place in and around the ground to ensure the security of the devotees.
Around 10,000 security personnel from different agencies were posted apart from several thousand volunteers of the Tabligh Jamaat to ensure the security of the devotees.
Observation towers were set up to watch public movement, while close-circuit television cameras and video cameras were installed at 17 entrances of the Ijtema venue to keep watch on the Ijtema ground.
Biswa Ijtema has been taking place in Bangladesh since the 1960s, when it used to take place at Dhaka's Kakrail mosque. In 1948, it took place at the Haji Camp in Eastern District of Chittagong, and shifted to District of Narayanganj's Shiddhirganj in 1958. With a steady increase in the number of devotees attending, the Biswa Ijtema was shifted to the banks of Turag in Tongi in 1966 and has been taking place there ever since.