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  A Gathering Of Millions  

A Gathering Of Millions

Saud Fasial

Bishwa Ijtema (or Bishsho Istema, the World or Global Congregation) is an annual Islamist conference held at Tongi, Bangladesh by the river Turag once every year during the mid-winter. It is the 3rd largest Muslim congregation in the world. The event focuses on prayers and supplication and does not allow political discussion. The local police estimated the number of attendees in 2010 was about 5 million. It lasts for three days and ends with the final prayer.

Attendees come from almost all the countries around the world. 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 it draws people of all persuasions. 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.  In recent years, over twenty thousand foreign delegates attend the congregation each year.

Despite the large number of devotees living within a confined space, generally there are very few problems. This is possible because of the minimalist approach adopted by the devotees. Devotees have reduced their own requirements and developed a respect for others. Islam has been defined most recently as linked with violence, terrorism and aggression. However, the motto of this gathering is to spread peace and to show humbleness.