Bishwa Ijtema of Bangladesh

Bishwa Ijtema
The Muslims from various region from the world gather in this place.The Bishwa Ijtema or Bisho Istema, (Bangla-বিশ্ব এজতেমা) or (World Congregation or Global Congregation or Meeting) is an annual Tablighi Jamaat Islamic movement congregation held at Tongi, Bangladesh by the river Turag. The event focuses on prayers and meditation and does not allow political discussion. It is the second biggest gathering of Muslims after the Haj, with troops and police maintaining tight security.

Muslims gathered in Bishwa Ijtema
More than two million Muslims are expected to attend the event, including faithful from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, the United States, Russia and Europe.
Troops used metal detectors and sniffer dogs to prevent possible disruption by militants disguised as devotees.
The Bishwa Ijtema has been held at same site since 1966 and is organised by World Tablig Council, which preaches teachings of Islam and prophet Mohammad. 
The first meeting was reportedly held in 1946 (although various sources indicate other dates for this) and continues to be organized by the Bangladesh Tablighi Jamaat. It lasts three days and is attended by over five million Muslims, making it the second largest congregation after the Hajj to Mecca. (Hajj is mandatory and a pillar of Islam, whereas the Ijtema is neither).

The program concludes with the Akheri Munajat, or final prayer. The tradition of Ijtema was initiated by an Indian savant named Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi and began as a small group of religious-minded individuals gathering at a local mosque. For forty-one years Tongi has been the chosen location, although similar programs are held on a lesser scale in other countries. The Ijtema is non-political, and therefore perhaps it draws people of all persuasion. Prayer is held for the spiritual adulation, exaltation and welfare of the Muslims community. This immensely popular program gives the people of Bangladesh an opportunity to interact with Muslims from other countries and is commonly attended by prominent political figures.
The congregation takes place at an area comprising 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land (0.25 square mile). Devotees from approximately 80 countries, including the host country, Bangladesh, attend the three-day Ijtema seeking divine blessings from Allah. In recent years, over seven thousands foreign delegates attend the congregatation each year. Special rates are provided by Bangladesh Biman's world wonder fund.
Download Bishwa Ijtema Lecture/Bayan/Dars/Speeches

Despite the large number of devotees living within a confined space, generally there is very few problems of sanitation, cooking, and internal movements. It is believed to be possible because of the minimalist approach adopted by the devotees. Devotees have reduced their own requirements and developed a respect for others' requirements.

Muhammad Ilyas revived the Tabligh movement in 1927 at Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh, India and at the same time organized regional congregation or Ijtema. In course of time, Ijtema movement spread throughout the subcontinent and also influenced other regions. After the partition of Bengal in 1947, three Ijtema centres developed in three parts of the subcontinent - India, West Pakistan and Bangladesh. Biswa Ijtema at Tongi is the annual Tabligh congregation of the current Bangladesh. In addition to Tongi, Ijtemas are now held in Raiwind, Pakistan and Bhopal, India. However, in terms of popular attendance, the Tongi Ijtema is the largest of all these congregations.

Organization of Tablighi Jamaat
Tablighi Jamaat follows an informal organizational structure and keeps an introvert institutional profile. It keeps its distance from mass media and avoids publishing details about its activities and membership. The group also exercises complete abstinence from expressing opinions on political and controversial issues mainly to avoid the disputes which would accompany these endorsements. As an organization, Tabligh Jamaat does not seek donations and is largely funded by its senior members. Since there is no formal registration process and no official membership count has ever been taken, the exact membership statistics remain unknown.The movement discourages interviews with its elders and has never officially released texts. Even though there are publications associated with the movement, particularly by Zakariya Kandahalwi, the emphasis has never been on book learning, but rather on first-hand personal communication. A collection of books, usually referred as Tablighi Nisaab (Tablighi Curriculum), is recommended by Tabligh Jamaat elders for general reading. This set includes four books namely (Hayatus Sahabah, Fazail-e-Amaal, Fazail-e-Sadqaat and Muntakhab-e-Ahadis).

The organization's activities are coordinated through centers and headquarters called Markaz. Tablighi Jamaat maintains its international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, in the Nizamuddin West district of South Delhi, India, from where it originally started. It also has country headquarters in over 213 countries to coordinate its activities. These headquarters organize volunteer, self-funding people in groups (called jamaats), averaging ten to twelve people, for reminding Muslims to remain steadfast on path of Allah. These jamaats and preaching missions are self funded by their respective members. 

Leadership of  Tablighi Jamaat
Ameer is the title of leadership in the Tabligh Jamaat and the attribute largely sought is the quality of faith, rather than the worldly rank. The ameer of Tabligh Jamaat is appointed for life by central consultative council (shoora) and elders of Tabligh Jamaat.First ameer, also the founder, was Muhammad Ilyas, second was his son Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalawi and the third was Inaam ul Hasan.At present, there is a council of two people — Zubair ul Hasan and Saad Kandhalawi — acting as ameer.

Activities and traditions of of  Tablighi Jamaat
The activism of Tabligh Jamaat can be characterized by the last of the Six Principles. This principle, Tafrigh-i-Waqt (English: sparing of time) justifies the withdrawal from world, though temporarily, for travelling. Travel has been adopted as the most effective method of personal reform and has become an emblematic feature of organization. They describe the purpose of this retreat as to patch the damages caused by the worldly indulgence and occasionally use the dry-dock parable to explain this.

These individual jamaats, each led by an ameer, are sent from each markaz across the city or country to remind people to persist on the path of God. The duration of the work depends on the discretion of each jamaat. A trip can take an evening, a couple of days or a prolonged duration.

Tabligh Jamaat encourages its followers to follow the pattern of spending "one night a week, one weekend a month, 40 continuous days a year, and ultimately 120 days at least once in their lives engaged in tabligh missions". During the course of these tours, members are generally seen dressed in simple, white, loose-clothing, carrying sleeping bags on their backs. These members use mosques as their base during this travel but particular mosques, due to more frequent tablighi activities, have come to be specifically associated with this organization. These mosques generally hold the periodic, smaller scale convocations for neighborhood members.

During their stay in mosques, these jamaats conduct a daily gasht, which involves visiting local neighborhoods, preferably with the help of a guide.They invite people to attend the Maghrib prayer at their mosque and those who attend are delivered a sermon after the prayers, which essentially outlines the Six Principles. They urge the attendees to spend time in tabligh for self reformation and the propagation of Islam. Also the regular activities like eating, sleeping etc are also carried out in the mosques.

Generally, the assumed role of these jamaat members cycle in a way that they may be engaged as a preacher, a cook or as a cleaner at other times. Among Tabligh Jamaat members, this is generally referred to as khidmat which essentially connotes to serving their companions and freeing them for tablighi engagements. The members of the Jamaat are assigned these roles based on the day's mashwara. The markaz keeps records of each jamaat and its members, the identity of whom is verified from their respective mosques. Mosques are used to assist the tablighi activities of individual jamaats that voluntarily undertake preaching missions. Members of a jamaat, ideally, pay expenses themselves so as to avoid financial dependence on anyone.
Ijtema - annual gathering
An annual gathering of followers, called ijtema, is summoned at headquarters of the respective countries. A typical ijtema continues for three days and ends with an exceptionally long prayer. These gatherings are considered moments of intense blessings by Tabligh Jamaat members and are known to attract members in excess of  million in some countries.The oldest ijtema of the World started in Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India.[citation needed] It attract people from all over World. Almost 2 Million people gather the this annual Gathering. The largest of such annual gatherings are held in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Bengali gathering, called Bishwa Ijtema (World Gathering), converges followers from around the world in Tongi near Dhaka, Bangladesh and with an attendance exceeding 3 million people.The second largest Tabligh Jamaat gathering takes place in Raiwind, Pakistan which was attended by approximately 1.5 million people in 2004. In 2011 Pakistan divided the Ijtema into two parts and total 1 million People attend the Ijtema.