Two million Muslims attend Bishwa Ijtema to pray for peace
by Sumon Corraya

Every year, the gathering is held on the banks of the Turag River. About 5,000 pilgrims come from abroad. Some participants called for Allah's blessing; others prayed for his forgiveness for their offences in this life.

Gazipur (AsiaNews) – At least two million Muslims, including some 5,000 from 50 other countries, took part in the final prayer of the Bishwa Ijtema (global congregation), the largest Islamic pilgrimage in the world after Hajj, last Friday.

Organised by the Tablighi Jamaat (Society for spreading the faith), the event is held every year in Tongi, near Dhaka, on the banks of the Turag River, bringing together the faithful to kneel and pray for world peace.

Tablighi Jamaat is a transnational and apolitical religious movement, whose goal is a return to original Sunni Islam, particularly in matters of ritual, dress, and personal behaviour.

The pilgrimage is usually divided into two parts. Originally, they were set for 11-13 January and 18-20 January; however, this year, it was postponed and merged into a single gathering because of the country’s general election in late December 2018.

For the occasion, the banks of the Turag were kept under tight surveillance by security forces and CCTV cameras.

The pilgrims called for Allah's blessing. One of them, Imran Hossain from Jamalnagor, spoke to AsiaNews. "I study at a madrassa (Qurʾānic school) and one year from now I will start preaching the values of Islam at work.”

Other participants said they came to pray. This was the case of Nur-ul-Huda, 35. "My wife has been sick for several months. I took part in the Ijtema to ask for her to get well.”

Safique Hossian, 72, came with his grandson. "I will not live long. I am waiting for an answer from Allah. I came to ask for forgiveness for what I did in my life. I hope Allah hears my plea."

For Nahin Islam, 15, "True Islamic values ​​do not include fundamentalism. Allah commands us not to kill innocent people."

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