It is a common practice to add the phrase “the second largest congregation of the Muslims after the holy Hajj” when someone is going to introduce the Bishwa Ijtema.
Indeed the Bishwa Ijtema is the second largest gathering of the Muslims after Hajj. More than 4 million Muslims joined the event in 2010, and an estimated crowd of more than 5 million Muslims is going to join the prayers and meditations of Bishwa Ijtema to be held between 21 January and 30 January, 2011.
For the increasing number of devotees to attend, the authorities are going to introduce a new way of holding the event in two segments. The first segment will be held on 21-23 January with the first final prayers on 23 January and the second segment will be held on 28-30 January with the final prayers on 30 January.
The number of Muslims from across the world is increasing each year, as the numbers of devotees to have attended the Bishwa Ijtema have been around 2 million, more than 2.5 million, around 3 million and more than 4 million respectively in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The international guests from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Africa, United States, United Kingdom and other European nations attend the event.
Beside accommodations of the large crowd, security is one of the major concerns. The authorities were extra-cautious in the recent years to prevent the members of ‘outlawed’ organizations from joining the event in disguise of devotees. Another major reason of the security beef-up is that both the Prime Minister and the opposition leader, the posts BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina are alternating for decades, have been joining the event for years except in 2008 when both the leaders were jailed by the then military backed caretaker government. Both the ladies are expected to attend Bishwa Ijtema 2011.