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Stage all set for 65th edition of 'Aalami Tablighi Ijtima' in Bhopal

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Devotees book special train from Kurnool for Ijtima

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Stage is all set for the three-day 65th edition of “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” (World Preachers’ Congregation) which is being held here on November 24, 25 and 26. The congregation is said to be the largest Islamic gathering after Hajj at Makkah in Saudi Arabia and the “Bishwa Ijtima” at Tongi in Bangladesh. The annual congregation here draws between 5-10-lakh Muslims from all over the globe.

A tent city over 170 acres of land with marquees on 46 acres has come up at the Ijtima site which is about 12 kilometres on the northern outskirts of Bhopal town, the capital of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, at Ghasipura in Eintkhedi village. The air is thick with an aura of spiritualism which is pervading Bhopal, the city of lakes, hills, Masjids and now Mandirs too, as the “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” will unfold on Saturday soon after the Fajir Namaz (pre-dawn prayers).

On the second day separate special religious discourses will be held during the conclave for intellectuals, traders, farmers, students etc. and the participants would be asked to follow the Islamic religious tenets in their true spirit apart from the message for universal brotherhood. Prominent “Akabreens” (Tablighi elders) who will address the gatherings include: Maulana Zubair, Maulana Sa’ad, Maulana Yunus, Maulana Ahmed Laat, Maulana Yousuf etc. The Ijtima shall conclude in the afternoon on November 26 with mass “Dua” (prayer).

Many Muslims from all over the globe from India and abroad in Jamaats (Groups of devotees) have descended here much before the start of the Ijtima and were housed in various Masjids in the city. They have now started converging from the walled city to the tent city at the Ijtima site. Hundreds of Jamaatis from Kazakhstan, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, South Africa, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc. have already arrived in the city and from many more other countries are expected to reach the Ijtima venue soon.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the “Aalami Tablighi Ijtima” this year is that for the first time a train has been booked by the devotees for coming to attend the Ijtima. Ateeq-ul-Islam, the spokesman of the Ijtima Organising Committee, informed that the train would be coming from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh reaching here on Friday night. The devotees coordinated and ultimately booked the whole train, said Ateeq. The moment the news of train being booked spread at Kurnool, about 3,000 reservations were done in an hour’s time. Participants coming from Kurnool would go back on November 26 at 4 pm. Special arrangements have been made for the participants coming by this train to take them to railway station in time, considering huge turnout of people on the last day of “Dua”, he added.

Divisional Railway Manager, (DRM), of West-Central Railway, (WCR), Bhopal division Rajeev Chaudhary and senior Divisional Commercial Manager Mandeep Singh Bhatia reviewed the arrangements at Ijtima site and met the Ijtima committee spokesman Ateeq-ul-Islam on Wednesday. Chaudhary assured Islam of providing better facilities to the devotees during the Ijtima. Bhopal Railway Division is also coming up with stalls for train enquiry, computerized unreserved ticket counter so that passengers can get their return tickets from the Ijtima site only. Besides, two booking counters will be opened near the RMS office by erecting tent.
One booking counter at each platforms i.e. number one and five at Bhopal railway station will be operated on November 26 and November 27. In the booking office of Bhopal railway station, a special counter for the devotees would function from November 25 to November 27. For providing these facilities, two enquiry cum reservation clerks, two booking clerks and four ticket checking employees will be deployed. On the demand of devotees about 35 additional coaches will be attached in various trains for the return journey of the devotees. Arrangements of additional buses have been made from railway station up to the Ijtima venue for which special permits have been issued.

Chaudhary has specially ordered commercial officers to provide better facilities of information of trains, cleanliness etc, Railway Protection Force and Government Rail Police (GRP) to provide better security, medical officers for treatment, civil engineering officers for providing clean drinking water and electricity officers for proper lighting facilities. RPF personnel have been employed at the Bhopal railway station for better security and vigilance.

The huge main “pandal” (marquee) has been erected on about 30 acres of land this year to accommodate the Jamaats from all over India. In the main “pandal” tens of thousands of people will camp for three days listening to the holy sermons of Islamic scholars as how to inculcate the good values in life following the Islamic tenets in order to lead an upright life in this world and thereby be rewarded with Jannat-ul-Firdaus Hereafter.

Arif Gauhar, another spokesperson of the organising committee, informed that various food zones have been made taking into consideration varying eating habits of people. Land and water has been provided free of cost to food vendors so that they provide food at reasonable cost. Lunch and dinner have been priced from Rs.20-30 while breakfast would cost only Rs.10. One section comprises completely of vegetarian food. Staple diet of ‘daal-chawal’ would be provided to guests from south India.

Meanwhile, the organisers have banned the use of polythene including the sale of gutka pouches and cigarette at the Ijtima site. Gauhar said: "It's an exercise to be conscious of our environment and lessen the carbon footprint during the event. We have requested all shops and sellers not to use polythene. Especially, the tea sellers have been asked to use disposables other than plastic".

He said after the congregation every year we felt there was an avoidable damage to the agricultural fields. Although there is no fine for violating the order, the stall owners, hoteliers and vendors who are found violating would not be considered for allotment next year, he informed.
Meanwhile, a special feature of the Ijtima is exclusive arrangements for deaf and dumb people who come in Jamaats from all over the country and are housed separately. The sermons from the main “pandal” are translated to them in sign language. Their disability does not come in their way to leave their home and hearth to learn and inculcate the basic teachings of Islam to become righteous Muslims.

About 400 Nikaahs are expected to performed in a simple manner in the spirit of Islam by the elders of the Tableeghi Jamaat on November 25, the second day of the Ijtima after Asr Namaz. The formalities for the mass Nikaahs have been completed.

The organising committee has also announced the Namaz timings at the Ijtima venue. As per the schedule announced the Fajir Namaz would be held at 6.15 am, Zohar Namaz at 2 pm, Asr Namaz at 4.25 pm, Maghrib Namaz at 5.38 pm while the Isha Namaz would held after the sermons are over.

Ateeq said out of 170 acres of land 70 acres are reserved for parking. Small shopping plots meant for eateries are spread around the venue cover 35 acres of land. More than 5,000 water taps have been installed for Wuzu (ablution) have been made. The venue is spotted with 170 water tanks of 5000 litre capacity. In all 21 tube-wells have been connected to ensure proper water supply. Over 600 makeshift urinals and 900 toilets have been put with a temporary sewage system. A separate closed dome has been erected for foreign Jamaats wherein separate toilets and washroom facilities have been provided for them.

Medical clinics of Unani, Ayurvedic and Allopathic systems of medicine have been set up at the Ijtima site to cater the needs of the devotees who need medical aid.

Extra security measures are being taken with nothing being left to chance. While within the Ijtima campus Tablighi Jamaat volunteers will keep a tight vigil on security outside and around the Ijtima venue the cadres of Madhya Pradesh Police will do their job of maintaining law and order. A Police control room has be set up at Intkheri. In a bid to boost security in and around the venue CCTVs have been installed at strategic points. Police have set up watchtowers and hundreds of policemen will be present on the spot. Apart from police, the personnel of Rapid Action Force, (RAF), the Traffic police will be in attendance along with hundreds of volunteers of Tableeghi Jamaat to streamline the vehicular traffic. It may be mentioned here that the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in a meeting with Organising Committee of “Aalami Tableeghi Ijtima” and government officials had instructed the concerning state departments to help the Ijtima organising committee to arrange all the necessary requirements for “Jamaats”.

It may be recalled here that the Ijtima in Bhopal was first organized at Masjid Shakoor Khan in the walled city in 1948. Since then it is being held every year without break.

It may be pointed out here that Tablighi Jamaat (organisation for spreading faith) is a religious movement which was founded in 1926 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in India. The movement primarily aims at propagating spiritual reformation by working at the grass roots level, reaching out to Muslims across all social and economic spectra to bring them closer to Islam.

Tablighi Jamaat’s inception is believed to be a response to the deteriorating values and negligence of fundamental aspects of Islam, which were considered a threat to Muslims. It gradually expanded from local to national to a transnational movement and now has followers in over 150 countries.

Tablighi Jamaat maintains a non-affiliating stature in matters of politics and “Fiqh” (jurisprudence).

Meanwhile, “Tablighi Jamaat” has largely avoided electronic media and has emphasized a personal communication for proselytizing. The teachings of “Tablighi Jamaat” are mainly basic in approach and the Six Principles put forward by Muhammad Ilyas influence most of their teachings.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]
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