First phase Ijtema ends with Akheri Munajat

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Gazipur, Jan 15: The first phase of the three-day Biswa Ijtema of the Tablighi Jamaat, the second largest congregation of Muslims after the holy Hajj, concluded at Tongi on the outskirts of Dhaka, on Sunday, seeking divine blessings for continued peace, progress and prosperity of the Muslim Ummah. The annual event has been taking place on the banks of the Turag for the last four decades and the venue turned into a sea of humans since morning. Conducted by Delhi’s Maulana Jobaerul Hasan—a member of Tablighi Jamaat Advisory Committee and son of Maulana Enamul Hasan, the former Ameer of World Tablighi Jamaat—the Akheri Munajat prayer saw tens of thousands of people join from roof-tops, vehicles and boats. A pin-drop silence prevailed in the 7-square-km. area during the Munajat, which started at 12:33 pm and continued for 23 minutes.
All roads led to Tongi since early Sunday morning, and people flocked to the venue and neighbouring areas in endless streams, using all modes of transport. Thousands of people made it on foot.
According to the organising committee, about 17,000 foreign devotees, from about 87 countries, joined the Ijtema this year. The foreigners, as well as, several thousand local devotees would spread all over Bangladesh and also travel to other countries to preach Islam, sources said.
President Jillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, leader of the opposition Begum Khaleda Zia, ministers, lawmakers, political leaders and diplomats of Muslim countries in Dhaka attended the prayer. However, the Prime Minister did not come to the venue this year and offered prayers at her official residence, Ganabhaban.
The main road leading to Tongi, a distance of 22 km away from Dhaka, remained virtually choked almost throughout the day, as people tried to return home after the prayers.
Maulana Sa’ad of Delhi delivered his sermon from fazr prayer on Iman (faith in Allah), Akhlaq (manners), Practice and Dawaat (invitation for Tablig). The sermons were translated into different languages, including English, Bengali, Malaya, Tamil, French, Hindi and Urdu.
Movement of vehicular traffic came to a halt from Gazipur street intersection, up to Tongi, after midnight on Sunday, when the road was packed with buses, cars, trucks, auto tempos and rickshaw vans.
Many devotees from the northern districts of the country could not reach the Ijtema venue, since the movement of vehicles from Joydebpur crossing, 8 kms from the venue, was suspended by the authorities. Police also put up barricades at Savar and Banani to stop the movement of automobiles.
President Zillur Rahman joined the final prayer and attended sermons from 11:45 am to 12.30 pm, from a cordoned-off corner near the main stage along with millions of devotees from home and abroad.
State minister for religious affairs advocate M Shahjahan Mia, the President’s son Nazmul Hasan, MP, and other senior civil and military officials also joined the Munajat with the President. Jatiya Party chief Hussein Muhammad Ershad took part in the prayer.
Leader of the opposition Begum Khaleda Zia reached the Ijtema at about 11.00 am and joined the Munajat from the rooftop of Atlas Honda Factory at Tongi. She was accompanied by former mayor of Dhaka City Corporation Sadak Hossain Khoka,  Salima Rahman, MA Mannan, Fazlul Haque Milon, Shan Sha Alam and other prominent party colleagues.
Following the Akheri Munajat, people thronged the bus stops, railway stations and river ghats to leave for their homes. The Bangladesh Railway arranged special Dhaka-Tongi, Tongi – Mymensingh, and Tongi-Bhairab trains and all inter-city trains stopped at Tongi station.
As it took hours for people to reach the venue in the morning, it took just as long to leave Tongi area. Devotees had to take a long trek to catch some sort of transport.
Until late evening, people were seen crossing the city roads on foot, while some elderly people hired rickshaws and rickshaw-vans to return home.
The three-day gathering, which began on Friday, is considered the second-largest Islamic gathering after the Hajj. It has been held in two phases since 2011.
The second phase of the Bishwa Ijtema will begin on January 20 and end on January 22.

Source: The Independent

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