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More factional strife feared ahead of Bishwa Ijtema

  • Published at 08:49 pm December 27th, 2019
web-bishwa ijtema-akheri munajat
File photo: Thousands of devotees participate in Akheri Munajat of Bishwa Ijtema on the banks of the Turag River, in Tongi, on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The annual second-largest congregation of Muslims is scheduled for January 2020 on the banks of the Turag River in Tongi

The upcoming Bishwa Ijtema once again appears to be threatened with feuds that may culminate in violence yet again.

The annual second-largest congregation of Muslims is scheduled for January 2020 on the banks of the Turag River in Tongi. 

The first phase of the Ijtema will be held from January 10 to January 12. The second phase will take place from January 17 to January 19.

The probability of a renewed conflict dates back to attempts by Indian preacher Maulana Saad Kandhalvi to influence the Tabligh Jamaat in Bangladesh and counter-measures by the established system to rebuff him.

In Bangladesh, the Kakrail Central Markaz Mosque is the hub for the Tabligh Jamaat's operations, including organizing the Ijtema.

In December 2018, Kandhalvi's followers clashed with the followers of Maulana Jubayer, who opposed him, leading to the death of one person and causing injuries to over 200 at Kakrail.

Following the intervention of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, the issue was reined in somewhat.

But simmering old rivalries are rearing their heads once again ahead of the forthcoming Ijtema.

Kandhalvi’s supporters claim they are allowed to operate out of Kakrail mosque for only 15 days, while Jubayer’s people can stay there for up to 30 days.

Mohammad Sayem, a member of the Kandhalvi faction known as Ijtema Inteyjami Jamayet, told Dhaka Tribune: “We have a five-member Shura committee just like the other faction, even though we have far more supporters. It is only fair that we be given equal time in the mosque.

“A major problem in 2018 was trying to prepare accommodation for guests at the Kakrail mosque. We have already invited scholars and pilgrims from over 200 countries. They must help us make arrangements for them.”

In response, his counterpart from Jubayer's camp, Md Hanjala Bin Jubayer, son of the anti-Kandhalvi preacher, said: “Just because they have a Shura committee does not mean they are the decision makers in Tabligh Jamaat. The top management team is made up of the Faisala [decision-makers]. Our team has five members, including myself. They only have two.

“The majority of Ijtema pilgrims are in our favour, as proven by the larger congregation organized by us.”

Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Religious Affairs said they wanted to get both phases of the Ijtema out of the way before focusing on the Kakrail mosque issue.

On October 28, State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah said the decision had been taken at a preparatory meeting for holding the Bishwa Ijtema at the Home Ministry, attended by the home minister and representatives from both Tabligh factions.

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