The ijtema will be held jointly by the Tabligh Jamaat factions
The Biswa Ijtema will be held in February, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said.
Following a meeting with two factions of Tabligh Jamaat, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan announced that the feud between them has been resolved and they reached a consensus to jointly hold the Ijtema in February.
The factions had earlier called their own Ijtemas on different dates in January.
The minister was briefing reporters after a meeting with the two factions of the Tabligh Jamaat at his secretariat office in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Ijtema is the second largest congregation of Muslims, held in Tongi annually.
Home minister said Maulana Saad Kandhalvi of India will not join this year, adding: “The date of when Ijtema will be held is yet to be determined.”
"The date will be fixed in a meeting with the State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah and senior Tabligh members," he further said.
The next meeting will be held at the Religious Affairs Ministry on Thursday at 10:30am.
State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, secretaries of Road Transport and Bridges, Religious Affairs and Home ministries, top officials of law enforcement agencies accompanied the minister on the government side at the meeting.
Senior leaders of the two factions emerged from the meeting satisfied as they hugged with tears in their eyes.
The home minister said that the leaders of Tabligh Jamaat spoke openly at the meeting. “The primary decision has been made that one senior leader from each faction will sit together to decide on the Ijtema. These two representatives [Maulana Wasekh and Moulana Zubair] will lead the Ijtema’s arrangements.”
The State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah said that the government had to intervene as the feud went too far. “This is not good for the country and tarnished the image of the Ijtema.”
This was the first time that two factions sat together. Previously government side sat with the factions separately; which did not yield any result, he said.
Maulana Mazharul Islam, who acted as mediator of the factions told reporters that there is no division between the two groups now.
“We want to announce that there are no factions among the brothers from the Tabligh Jamaat across the country. The seniors in every mosque and of every district will work together as the central leaders and have decided to work together,” he said.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Md Javed Patwary, Director General (DG) of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Benazir Ahmed, State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah, the Home Ministry secretary, among others, were present in the meeting.
Deep rooted divisions
On November 17 last year, the home minister held a meeting with the two factions and decided to postpone Ijtema due to the 11th general election.
Kamal told the Tabligh leaders there might not be delays in hosting Ijtema if the election took place on time.
However, problems arose after Maulana Saad Kandhalvi’s followers set January 11, 12, and 13 for the next Ijtema.
Meanwhile, Maulana Saad’s opposition, Hefajat Qawmi Scholars, had set January 18, 19, and 20 for Ijtema, at a meeting last July.
Both factions also set separate dates for programs at the district level, which led to a dispute between them.
“This year there will be no separate Ijtema. There will one united jamaat once a year,” Maulana Mazharul Islam said on Thursday.
The state minister after the meeting said the factions have placed some conditions on holding the congregation but did not disclose that information to the media.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government might seek assistance from the Army in order to maintain law and order during the Ijtema.
What caused the internal rift?
In January 2018, hundreds of members of the Bangladesh chapter of Islamic movement Tabligh Jamaat and some Qawmi madrasa Alems (clerics) staged a demonstration near the Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, protesting the arrival of Indian preacher Maulana Muhammad Saad Al Kandhalvi.
In the face of stern opposition from a faction of the Tabligh Jamaat, Saad Kandhalvi had to return to New Delhi without being able to join Biswa Ijtema.
The radical Islamic organization Hefazat-e-Islam initially tried to prevent Saad’s arrival because they were strongly opposed to his participation in the Ijtema and opposed his statements made during the Biswa Ijtema.
Their opposition stemmed from allegations of what Hefazat leaders claimed to be “controversial statements about the Quran and Sunnah” that Saad had made. Saad is the great-grandson of the founder of the Tabligh movement and head of its Indian chapter, though his leadership is disputed by the organization’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi followers.
Tabligh Bangladesh chapter split into two groups following disputes among its top leaders over establishing dominance and the visit of Maulana Saad Kandhalvi.
The conflict had also led to violent clashes between the factions on the premises of Kakrail Mosque in Dhaka in November 2017.
In December 2018, one person was killed, and more than 200 others were injured, in a series of clashes between the supporters of the Indian preacher Maulana Saad Kandhalvi and of Maulana Zubair.
Following that, the government had issued five directives to resolve the internal disputes of the Tabligh Jamaat and carry out their activities in an organized manner, on September 18, 2018.
Held every winter in Bangladesh, Ijtema was supposed to be organized in the second or third week of January.
The decision to postpone the congregation was taken at a meeting between Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and leaders of the two factions of the Tabligh Jamaat at the secretariat on November 13.