Just like every year, around one million Muslims from worldwide countries have flocked to the Indian central city of Bhopal to mark the annual Aalmi Tablighi Ijtima, the third largest gathering in the world after hajj and Bishwa Ijtima in Bangladesh. “I am here to learn about Islam,” Yusuf Khan, one of the participants from Chhattisgarh, told OnIslam.net on Saturday, December 14.“I am born a Muslim, but never knew what exactly Islam is. Here I am learning everything about Islam and its teachings.”
Ahmed Kamal, another participant from South India, said “Allah has given this life and it is up to us to decide how to lead our life. Our life should be for the betterment of the mankind.” “Here I learnt how we could become a true Muslim,” he added. The two were among hundreds of thousands of Muslims who flocked to the Aalmi Tablighi Ijtima, or World Muslim Congregation, held in Bhopal and organized by India’s Tabligh Jamaat, an international non-political Islamic group.
At the crack of dawn on Saturday, the 66th annual Muslim congregation, the largest in India, has begun in central Indian city of Bhopal after Fajr prayer. The congregation is considered to be the third largest after hajj in Makkah and annual Ijtima in Bangladesh, drawing more than a million people. The three-day annual gathering, which runs from December 14 to 16, brought together Muslims from around the world including; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, South Africa, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Yemen, USA, France, Thailand and Morocco.
A mass prayer was held at the end on the day the grand congregation concludes. Accommodating hundreds of participants from India and abroad, a tent city spreading over 175 acres has come up in the outskirts of Bhopal. Apart from the organizers, the locals are also providing different modes of transport free of cost to the participants to reach the venue. The first Ijtima in Bhopal was organized in 1948 in a local mosque, since then it has a regular feature for the city.
For the first time in its history, organizers of annual Islamic congregation said they would not allow the use of tobacco and polythene in the premises. “For the first time we have decided not to allow the use of polythene and tobacco use in Ijtima premises,” Ateeq-ul-Islam, chief spokesman of Ijtima organizing committee, told OnIslam.net. “Our volunteers are not allowing the use of polythene and tobacco. Even shops inside the premises are not allowed to sell tobacco.”
Ateeq-ul-Islam added that attendants would be given message from holy Qur’an to make them more conscience towards nature. Attendants would also be taught about the importance of working for the afterlife. “Muslims should follow the path shown by Prophet Mohammad,” prominent Muslim preacher and scholar Maulana Saad said. “We are moving away from Allah and his religion and because of which we are facing humiliation in this world.”
Maulana Saad added that Muslims need to understand the true teachings of Islam and devote more time to learn about their faith. Another scholar Maulana Ahmed Laat Sahab, agreed. “It is easy to be a Muslim, but it is not easy to be a true Muslim. A Muslim is someone who through his deeds and acts should set an example for the society. His acts should not be harmful for the society but should be beneficial for the mankind,” Sahab told OnIslam.net.
“We must understand that there is a life after death and we should prepare ourselves for that life. Our life is a gift of Allah and we should live a dignified life as shown by Prophet Mohammad. Tabligh takes you towards spirituality,” he added. The Tablighi Jamat is a world movement whose headquarters is bases in Delhi. It was founded by Sheikh Muhammad Ilyas Al-Kandhlawi in 1926.
Anyone can join the group once he or she attends its meetings and join the da`wah journeys organized by the group. There is no exact information on number of members or sources of funding. But funding usually comes from members and their supporters. After the death of Sheikh Inamul Hassan, former emir of the group, in 1995, a shura (consultation) council was founded, with Haji Abdul Wahhab Sb, Sheikh Zubair-ul-Hassan and Sheikh Sa`d Al-Kandahlawi as members. ON-ISLAM