Final Day-Bisho Ijtema In Bangladesh-JAN2011

The Bishwa Ijtema (or Bisho Istema), (Bangla) or (World Congregation or Global Congregation or Meeting) is an annual Tablighi Jamaat Islamic movement congregation held at Tongi, Bangladesh by the river Turag. The event focuses on prayers and meditation and does not allow political discussion[1]. The local police estimated the number of attendees of 2007 ijtema to be 3 million[2] while in 2010 the number of attendees was 5 million.

The first meeting was reportedly held in 1946 [4] (although various sources indicate other dates for this) and continues to be organized by the Bangladesh Tablighi Jamaat. It lasts three days and is attended by over five million Muslims[5], making it the second largest congregation after the Hajj to Mecca but Hajj is farz (must) on the other hand Ijtema is not Farz. The program concludes with the Akheri Munajat, or final prayer. The tradition of Ijtema was initiated by an Indian savant named Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi and began as a small group of religious-minded individuals gathering at a local mosque. For forty-one years Tongi has been the chosen location, although similar programs are held on a lesser scale in other countries. The Ijtema is non-political, and therefore perhaps it draws people of all persuasion. Prayer is held for the spiritual adulation, exaltation and welfare of the Muslims community. This immensely popular program gives the people of Bangladesh an opportunity to interact with Muslims from other countries and is commonly attended by prominent political figures.

The congregation takes place at an area comprising 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land (0.25 square mile). Devotees from approximately 80 countries, including the host country, Bangladesh, attend the three-day Ijtema seeking divine blessings from Allah. In recent years, over seven thousands foreign delegates attend the congregatation each year.

Despite the large number of devotees living within a confined space, generally there is very few problems of sanitation, cooking, and internal movements. It is believed to be possible because of the minimalist approach adopted by the devotees. Devotees have reduced their own requirements and developed a respect for others’ requirements.

Muhammad Ilyas revived the Tabligh movement in 1927 at Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh, India and at the same time organized regional congregation or Ijtema. In course of time, Ijtema movement spread throughout the subcontinent and also influenced other regions. After the partition of Bengal in 1947, three Ijtema centres developed in three parts of the subcontinent – India, West Pakistan and Bangladesh. Biswa Ijtema at Tongi is the annual Tabligh congregation of the current Bangladesh. In addition to Tongi, Ijtemas are now held in Raiwind, Pakistan and Bhopal, India. However, in terms of popular attendance, the Tongi Ijtema is the largest of all these congregations. To hear the Boyans/Speechs of Tongi, Ijtema, please visit the link here.

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