Several lakh hands were raised together in prayer for universal peace and brotherhood on the last day of 2007 in the village of Sherwan in Azamgarh.
The mass prayer was the world’s largest religious congregation of Muslims, except for the gathering of Hajjis in Mecca. The alimi ijtema (intermational conference) was organised by the Tablighi Jamaat.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of some as they prayed for peace and compassion. The meet passed off incident free though the crowds had multiplied manifold for the prayer — ranging between 20 lakh and 50 lakh. Though there was food and water scarcity, the crowds remained peaceful.
The day started with the early morning namaaz, followed by takreers (sermons). Around 12.15 pm, the announcement was made for the mass dua. People immediately left whatever they were doing and squatted on the floor. Lasting 30 minutes, it was punctuated with “amin” in chorus.
Journalist Tahir, who kept his pen down for the prayer, said: “It makes you emotional as you connect with Allah. The collective prayer is very powerful as it is believed that Allah would answer the prayers of at least one in lakhs, with which the prayers of all would be kabool (accepted).” But after the prayer got over, Tariq Shamim, the convener of the Nationalist Congress Party got some pamphlets distributed on the arrest of a local hakim Tariq, who was taken away by the STF in connection with serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh.