Second phase of Biswa Ijtema begins
The second phase of Biswa Ijtema, the world's second largest Muslim congregation after the Hajj, began yesterday on the bank of the Turag in Tongi of Gazipur with sermons by Islamic scholars.
Several lakh devotees from home and abroad have joined the Ijtema. The number of devotees rose significantly during Juma prayers.
The second phase formally started with the sermons of Maulana Abdur Rahman of Tablighi Jamaat of India after Fajr prayers. Maulana Quari Zobayer, imam of the capital's Kakrail mosque, led the Juma prayers.
The first phase of the Ijtema started on January 8 and concluded with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on January 10.
Traffic from Abdullahpur to Gazipur Chowrasta on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway was stopped for about an hour as devotees joined the Juma prayers on the street. Many of the people prayed on top of buses and rooftops because of the huge crowd.
Two devotees, including a woman, died yesterday.
Abdur Rahman, 60, of Gabtoli upazila in Bogra, died of cardiac arrest early yesterday, said Mohammad Adam Ali, one of the Ijtema organising committee members.
A female devotee who was burnt severely while cooking at the Ijtema ground in the morning died at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) last night.
The dead, Habiba Begum, 45, suffered 92 percent burns to her body.
She was first taken to a local clinic and later shifted to the DMCH where she died around 9:00pm, said sources at the DMCH.
For the first time, the congregation is being held in four phases to deal with the huge crowd.
People from 33 districts are taking part in the first two phases this year, while those from the remaining 32 districts will attend the other two phases next year. Dhaka is in every phase. Foreigners can join any phase of the Ijtema.
The devotees from 16 districts along with foreign devotees are joining the second phase which is scheduled to be concluded with Akheri Munajat on Sunday.
The devotees from 17 other districts participated in the first phase.
The three-day Ijtema of the second phase includes delivering boyans (sermons) on the fundamental issues of Tablighi Jamaat, prayer for the spiritual exaltation and welfare of the Muslim Ummah, recitation from the holy Quran and Hadith and conducting dowry-free marriage.
The sermons will be delivered in Urdu. There will be interpretations in different languages, including Bangla, English, Arabic, Tamil, Malay, Turkish and Farsi.
Around 5,000 uniformed and plain-clothes policemen and members of Rab and intelligence agencies are deployed at the Ijtema ground for safety and maintaining order.
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and Bangladesh Railway are operating special bus and train services since the first phase and will continue the services till the last day of the second phase.