The first phase of Biswa Ijtema – the second largest Muslim congregation after Hajj – has ended with Akheri Munajat (final prayer) seeking world peace, stability and divine blessings for humankind on January 10, according to Gazipur deputy commissioner SM Alam.
The eminent Islamic scholar Mawlana Mohammed Saad of India conducted the Akheri Munajat (final prayer) which started at about 11:07am and concluded at about 11:32am, on January 10, the deputy commissioner said.
More than three millions of devotees from home and abroad gathered at the Biswa Ijtema grounds situated on the bank of the Turag river at Tongi in Gazipur, according to Ijtema management committee.
People from 17 districts of Bangladesh and more than 7,000 foreign devotees from over 100 countries joined the Munajat, braving the chill, according to organizer of Ijtema. “The highest number of devotees came from Pakistan and India.”
The congregation -Ijtema, also called the World Muslims’ Congregation, began with the deliberation of ‘Aam Bayan’ (general sermons) by noted scholar Maulana Abdur Rahman of Pakistan after Fazr prayers while Islamic scholar of Tabligh Jamaat Abdul Matin interpreted the sermons into Bangla, the organizer said.
Ijtema is being held in two phases since 2012 to ease accommodation problem. In 2016, the first phase started on January 8 and end on 10. The second phase of Ijtema is scheduled to be held on January 15-17 at the same place, the organizer more said. “Tablighi Jamaat (Religion Program) has been organizing Bishwa Ijtema (World Muslims’ Congregation) since 1946.”
Besides, thousands of volunteers are working round the clock to make sure the event runs smoothly. Several health centres have been set up at different parts of the venue along with beds and almost all first aid and other treatment facilities with doctors doing round-the-clock duties at each centre, nearly 5,000 devotees got treatment from the camps. Most of them had been suffering from old-age problems, according to the civil surgeon office sources.
Similarly, Superintendent of Police Md Harun ar Rashid of the Gazipur said, “Around 12,000 members of police and RAB besides a few thousand detectives in plainclothes are on the field. The RAB also is keeping an eye from the river and the sky.”
Bangladesh Railway is operating 28 special trains to carry the devotees of the two-phase Biswa Ijtema.
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) 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.
But, Traffic on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and other roads around the venue had remained suspended since January 9, midnight to January 10 evening, said Gazipur’s Deputy Commissioner SM Alam.
A traffic jam was seen on roads and highways after the Munajat, as devotees started their journey to their respective destinations. Most people went walking as there were no vehicles. On the other, the Gazipur district police administration managed a special shuttle bus from the Ijtema ground to Gazipur Chowrasta and Station Road to Mirer Bazar to carry local people who joined Akheri Munajat, according to Gazipur SP Harun Or Rashid. “These special shuttle buses carried devotees without any money.”
The Tabligh Jamaat leaders this year did not give permission to broadcast the Akheri Munajat live and also barred taking photographs. But, loudspeakers were set up along roads and alleys from the Ijtema ground to as far as the Shajalal airport, Tongi Railway Station and Tongi Station Road, according to District Information Officer Nasima Akter of Gazipur.
On the other hand, more than nine devotees died in the first phase of Ijtema:- Hafez Abu Baker (60) of Olipur village under Hathazari upazila in Chittagong district died just before Akheri Munajat on January 10, morning; on January 9, Dalilur Rahman (75) of Kazipur area of Sirajganj district died of old age-related complications around 4:45am; Joynal Abedin (60) of Horinarayanpur village of the same district died of cold-related problems at 1am; Purnam Sopan alias Sofa Hajji (56), an Indonesian national from Jakarta, died of cardiac arrest; Abul Kalam Azad, 60, of Noakhali and Ala Uddin, 65, of Sylhet died of old-age complications; according to Gias Uddin, a member of Ijtema management committee. “Sofa Hazi fell sick after cardiac arrest on January 9 afternoon and was sent to Kurmitola General Hospital in Dhaka where the doctors declared him dead. He was buried at the Ijtema ground graveyard on January 9 night. Three more devotees died of cardiac arrest and other complications on Saturday (January 9). Two others died of cardiac arrest earlier on January 7 night.”
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology student Muhammad Shahnewaz Bhuyan who attended the Ijtema said the largest gathering ended peacefully.“I did not face any problem in last three days I have spent in the Ijtema.”
International University of Business Agriculture and Technology professor Mohammad Ataur Rahman said the first phase of Ijtema ended without creating problems.
Most of the devotees started leaving the spot, he said, adding that one-third of them would stay in the ground until the second phase of ijtema ends.