The Bishwa Ijtema (or Bisho Istema) or (World Congregation or Global Congregationor Meeting) is an annual Tablighi Jamaat Islamic movement congregation held at Tongi, Bangladesh by the river Turag. The event focuses on prayers and meditation and does not allow political discussion. The local police estimated the number of attendees of 2007 ijtema to be 3 million while in 2010 the number of attendees was 5 million.
Bishwa Ijtema, the second-largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj,begins on January 21.The preparation for this year is already taken. The annual congregation will be held in Tongi on the bank of Turag river. On the Holy annual congregation The government has taken tight security system.The Govt. will deploy 22,000 law enforcers from Rab, Police and Ansar in two phases during the upcoming Bishwa Ijtema. This year’s Bishwa Ijtema is going to be held in two phases to avoid the mad rush of people. Amongst the festivals in Bangladesh, theBishwa Ijtema is by far one of the most popular congregational gatherings, and has become an international event. It is not exactly certain when the first Bishwa Ijtema was held, with some speculating that the event started in 1946. One aspect of this religious gathering that has remained the same over time, is that the Tablighi Jamaat of Bangladesh organizes it each year. Starting out as a small event that was initially attended by a few Muslim followers, it has now grown into a massive event that is attended by millions from all over the world.
The first meeting was reportedly held in 1946 (although various sources indicate other dates for this) and continues to be organized by the Bangladesh Tablighi Jamaat. It lasts three days and is attended by over five million Muslims, making it the second largest congregation after the Hajjto Mecca but Hajj is farz(must) on the other hand Ijtema is not Farz. The program concludes with the Akheri Munajat, or final prayer. The tradition of Ijtema was initiated by an Indian savant named Maulana Ilyas and began as a small group of religious-minded individuals gathering at a local mosque. 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 perhaps it draws people of all persuasion.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.
The congregation takes place at an area comprising 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land (0.25 square mile). Devotees from approximately 80 countries, including the host country, Bangladesh, attend the three-day Ijtema seeking divine blessings from Allah. In recent years, over seven thousands foreign delegates attend the congregatation each year. Special rates are provided by Bangladesh Biman‘s world wonder fund.
Thousands of Muslims attend Biswa Ijtema at the Turag River in Tongi. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheik Hasina and other VIP’s also attended in Akheri Munajth (concluding prayer). for this reason govt has blocked many roads for Sheika Hasina's security and avoid massive traffic jam, but ordinary people and devotees suffer a lot, specially oldies devotees and women.
This year Biswa Ijtema is divided into two phrase, Second phrase of Biswa ijtema will be start from 28th January.
Devotees complained about insufficient transport facilities and pure drinking water. Female devotees express sadness because they have to beg for a place in the main ijtema moidan (field).