01/22/2018, 13.25
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A million Muslims gathered Dhaka for Biswa Ijtema to seek health and heaven after death

by Sumon Corraya

The meeting occurred in two phases in mid-January. The final prayer lasted 25 minutes. Some 4,500 believers came from abroad. The common desire was for the meeting to bring "unity, prosperity, peace and victory of Islam".

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – At least one million Muslims took part in the final prayer of the Biswa Ijtema, the largest Islamic pilgrimage in the world after Hajj. The rally is held every year in Tongi, near Dhaka (Bangladesh), on the banks of the Turag River.

This year at least 4,500 participants came from 80 foreign countries. Together, Muslims prayed to Allah for good health, prosperity in life, and heaven after death.

The Biswa Ijtema (world congregation) is an annual gathering organised by the Tablīghī Jamā‘at, the Outreach Society, a transnational apolitical religious movement whose goal is to promote the spiritual reform of Islam.

Over the years, as participation increased, organisers have had to split the event in two rounds. This year, the first took place from 12 to 14 January and was open to people from 17 districts; the second occurred from 19 to 21, with people coming from another 15 districts. Since Bangladesh is divided into 64 districts, the authorities rotate among them so that only 32 can participate in any given year.

Imam Maulana Zubayer, head of the Kakrail Mosque in Dhaka and a member of the Tablīghī Jamā‘at Council, led the final 25-minute prayer. Unlike previous years, in which the sermon was only recited in Arabic, yesterday’s prayer was also conducted in Bengali.

Participating Muslims are examples of true spirit of sacrifice and adaptation, as well as faith. During the meeting, they live encamped on the banks of the river, wash themselves in cold waters, and cook under tents.

Toffajol Miha, 65, from the village of Naogaon, spoke to AsiaNews about the experience. "Sixty men came by coach from my village,” he said. “We stayed for two days under the tents to pray to Almighty God. We listened to the sermons of the imams and we were encouraged to practice the way of Allah."

He said he asked Allah "to grant me heaven after death. I made a lot of mistakes in my life. I confessed them and regret them. I entrust everything to Allah and implore him for paradise."

Dulul Islam, 44, came from the city of Mimensingh. "I come to Ijtema every year. I pray God for my family and my relatives. I also pray for my health and job. My desire is to keep my faith in Almighty Allah for the rest of my life."

Lastly, Prof S A Mannan, mayor of the Gazipur City Corporation, said "I hope that the Ijtema will bring unity, prosperity, peace and victory of Islam."

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