Two factions of the Tabligh Jamaat scuffled at the capital's Kakrail Mosque yesterday over establishing supremacy following a long-running conflict.
The incident happened around 9:30am when the supporters of Maulana Jubayer obstructed Maulana Saad Kandhalvi's followers from entering the mosque premises.
At least nine people were hurt during the scuffle. On information, police rushed to the spot and took the situation under control.
“Police urged the leaders of both factions to leave the area for security reasons,” said Maruf Hossain Sardar, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna Zone).
After the clash, the mosque authorities held an emergency meeting in the presence of law enforcers, said its sources.
They took two decisions -- Syed Wasiful Islam and Maulana Jubayer, two key leaders of the Tabligh Jamaat, will stay out of Kakrail Mosque till May 1; and there will be a temporary ban on entry to it of four murubbis (elders) from both groups.
The four are Abdullah Mansur, Erteja Hasan, Mahfuz Hannan and Dr Asgar.
“We have talked to the mosque authorities and brought out both groups from the mosque,” the DC said. “Outsiders will not be able to stay inside the mosque. If anyone wants to attend prayers, they can.”
The mosque sources said a meeting will be held with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal to resolve the crisis once he returns from abroad.
The conflict between the two factions started at the last Biswa Ijtema, the second largest Muslim congregation after the hajj.
Hefajat-e-Islam first tried to prevent Saad's arrival because they were strongly opposed to his participation in the Ijtema. Their opposition stemmed from allegations of what Hefajat leaders claimed to be “controversial statements about the Quran and Sunnah” that Saad had made.
They demanded an apology from Maulana Saad for the “statements” if he wished to attend the Ijtema.
Finally, the top leader of the Tabligh Jamaat Maulana Saad, who had been conducting the Akheri Munajat (concluding prayers) for the last three years, had to return to New Delhi without joining this year's Biswa Ijtema.
Earlier, the two groups clashed at least four times, centring on Saad's speech. The home minister mediated between the two factions.
According to the mosque sources, there are 11 Shura members. Of them, five members are led by Maulana Jubayer and six others by Wasiful Islam. They are followers of Maulana Saad. Recently, Saad appointed two new Shura members, with which the other group did not agree.
On Thursday, several thousand students from 10 to 12 Qawmi madrasas, who are against the Maulana Saad group, started gathering at Kakrail Mosque.
On Friday morning, the anti-Saad group led by Maulana Jubayer held a meeting and announced that they will not let Maulana Saad preach any sermon in Bangladesh.
Tension arose inside the mosque. Police were deployed to avoid any untoward situation. Police also recovered two mobile phone jammers from the mosque. Police said it is still under investigation to know who set up the jammers inside the mosque.
Meanwhile, there was a gathering of Dhaka district Tabligh Jamaat in Zinda Bahar mosque in Old Dhaka yesterday.
After the gathering, the followers of Maulana Saad decided to protest the incident. Around 1,000 people then came to Kakrail Mosque around 9:30am.
“While we were trying to enter the mosque, the Qawmi madrasa students obstructed us. Heated words were exchanged and they also beat up a few followers of Maulana Saad,” said Jahangir Alam, a follower of Saad.
After police got all the protesters out of the mosque premises, Saad's followers beat up one of the madrasa students, named Jakaria.
Yesterday afternoon, this correspondent found some foreign guests and murubbis staying inside the mosque. Other people from both groups were leaving the area.
The Tabligh Jamaat, known as a non-political global religious movement, came into being in 1927 in India. Maulana Ilyas Kandhalvi founded the religious movement, which has an estimated 7 to 8 crore followers in more than 150 countries, majority of whom are based in South Asia.
According to sources at Kakrail Mosque, considered the headquarters of the Tabligh Jamaat in Bangladesh, all decisions regarding Ijtema and selection of Shura members are made after consultation with the organisation's headquarters in Nizamuddin Markaj (centre) in New Delhi, India.
Maulana Saad played a key role in those consultations. But it did not happen this year as the Shura members in India and Bangladesh have a sharp division over Saad's “controversial statements”.
A rift in Tabligh's leadership has been going on in India for the last two years but there had been no problems in Bangladesh until this year's protest by Hefajat.