Akheri Munajat today

The first phase of three-day Biswa Ijtema, the second largest Muslim congregation after the Hajj, ends today with the Akheri Munajat seeking spiritual well-being and welfare of the Muslim Ummah.

Noted Indian scholar Mawlana Muhammad Saad is expected to lead the munajat starting around 11:00am, said organisers.

Before that, he will deliver a sermon on the importance of Islam based on the Quran and Hadith.

Some 30 to 35 lakh devotees, including 10,000 foreigners from 82 countries, are likely to turn out for the Akheri Munajat on the bank of the Turag river in Tongi, Gazipur.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to participate in the munajat from her official residence the Gono Bhaban.

President Abdul Hamid, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad, members of different political parties, foreign dignitaries, and government high-ups are also likely to take part.

Yesterday, thousands more devotees braved cold and fog to join the congregation on the second day.

Religious scholars from home and abroad delivered sermons on the Islamic philosophy in the light of the holy Quran and Hadith.

Preparations were on to have around 200 couples married without any dowry at the Ijtema venue, but for some unknown reasons, the marriages could not take place. Such weddings are usually organised after the Asr prayers every year.

Two more devotees died of cardiac arrest and other complications yesterday, taking the death toll to 5 in the last two days, said organisers.

Adom Ali, who was designated to look after the bodies, said the dead are Abul Kalam Azad, 60, of Noakhali, and Alauddin, 65, of Sylhet.

Meanwhile, additional security measures have been put in place ahead of today's Akheri Munajat. Around 12,000 uniformed and plainclothes police, Rab and intelligence agencies' members are deployed in and around the Ijtema ground to avert any untoward situation.

The Rab detained a man on charge of pick-pocking yesterday.

Organisers said restrictions have been imposed on vehicular movement on some roads near the venue for easing the influx of devotees. However, it will be lifted this evening, they said.

Over 50 free medical camps have been set up for emergencies.

A high official of the Bangladesh Railway said 28 special trains will operate to cope with the rush of devotees during the first and second phase of this year's Ijtema.

Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is also running special buses.

The second phase will start on 15th January and conclude on 17th January with the Akheri Munajat. For the first time, the Ijtema is being held in four phases in two years.

People from 33 districts, including Dhaka, are taking part in the first two phases this year, while those from the remaining 32 districts, also including Dhaka, will participate in the other two phases next year.

Tablighi Jamaat has been organising Biswa Ijtema, also called the World Muslims' Congregation, every year since 1946. In 2011, the organisers had split the congregation into two phases to deal with overcrowding, ensure better management and security.


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