Jamaat-e-Islami (Urdu: جماعتِ اسلامی) is an Islamic political organisation and social conservative movement founded in 1941 in British India by the Islamist theologian and socio-political philosopher, Abul Ala Maududi.
Along with the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1926, Jamaat-e-Islami was one of the original and most influential Islamist organisations, and the first of its kind to develop "an ideology based on the modern revolutionary conception of Islam".
The group split into separate independent organisations in India and Pakistan -- Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind—following the Partition of India in 1947. Other groups related to or inspired by Jamaat-e-Islami developed in Bangladesh, Kashmir, Britain, and Afghanistan (see below). The Jamaat-e-Islami parties maintain ties internationally with other Muslim groups.
Maududi created the party to influence the leadership of the Muslim community, dominated by the Muslim League, who sought a separate, independent state for Muslims (to be called Pakistan) following the withdrawal of the British from India. The Muslim League wanted to prevent domination of Muslims by the majority Hindus, but expressed no interest in an Islamic state, i.e. ruling the state according to Sharia law, the traditional injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah. These included abolition of interest-charged on loans, sexual separation and veiling of women, hadd penalties such as flogging and amputation for alcohol consumption, theft, fornication, and other crimes.
Maududi created Jamaat-e-Islami with the objective of making post-colonial India (or a separate Muslim state if the Muslim League got its wish), an Islamic state. Although this would be the result of an "Islamic revolution", the revolution was to be achieved not through a mass organising or a popular uprising but by what he called "Islamization from above", by winning over society's leaders through education and propaganda, and through putting the right people (Jamaat-e-Islami members) in positions of power. incrementally and through legal means.
Mawdudi believed politics was "an integral, inseparable part of the Islamic faith". Islamic ideology and non-Islamic ideologies (such as capitalism and socialism, liberalism or secularism) were mutually exclusive. The creation of an Islamic state would be not only be an act of piety but would be a cure for all of the many (seemingly non-religious) social and economic problems that Muslims faced. Those working for an Islamic state would not stop at India or Pakistan but would effect a sweeping revolution among mankind, and control all aspects of the world's life.
Groups associated with Jamaat-e-Islami
- Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, based in Pakistan. In 1947, Jamaat-e-Islami moved its operations to West-Pakistan after Independence.
- Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, based in India. Founded by Jamaat-e-Islami Members who remained in India after 1947 independence.
- Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, based in Bangladesh, legalized 1975. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the independence of Bangladesh, and was banned after independence was achieved. It was made legal after Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman staged a coup in 1975.
- Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was formed in 1953 after the pro-plebiscite chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested by the Indian government.
- Jamiat-e Islami, based in Afghanistan. Founded in 1972 by Burhanuddin Rabbani, it was also said to be inspired by Abul A'la Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Predominantly ethnically Tajik, the group was a major player in the "Peshawar Seven" during the jihad against Soviet military in the 1980s.
- Hezbi Islami, also based in Afghanistan, broke away from Jamiat-e Islami in 1975-6. Led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, its ethnic make-up was overwhelmingly Ghilzai Pashtun. It's less moderate stance won it the backing of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan president Zia ul-Haq) during the jihad against the Soviet military.
- UK Islamic Mission was founded by members of the East London Mosque in 1962. Also "inspired by the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan" and the "Islamic revivalist teachings of Abul A'la Maududi and others."
- Supporters of Jammat-e Islami also have groups in other states. According to The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism, Jamaat-e-Islami branches have followed Pakistani immigration to South Africa and Mauritius as well as the UK.
- Tanzeem-e-Islami was formed by author and Islamic scholar Israr Ahmed in 1975 following his break with the Jamaat-e-Islami party in 1957, after the Jamaat-e-Islami entered electoral politics in Pakistan.
Maududi opposed British rule but also opposed both the anti-colonialist Muslim nationalist Muslim League's proposal for a separate Muslim state led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the "composite nationalism" (muttahida qaumiyyat) idea of Jam'iyyat al-Ulama-ye Hind and Deobandi scholar Husain Ahmad Madani for a united independent India with separate institutional structures for Hindus and Muslims.
Although Maududi believed Muslims formed a separate nation from the Hindus of India, he initially opposed the partition of India to create a "Muslim state" circumscribed to Muslim-majority regions, agitating instead for an "Islamic state" covering the whole of India—this despite the fact Muslims made up only about one quarter of India's population.
In his view Muslims were not one religious or communal group among many working to advance their social and economic interests, but a group `based upon principles and upon a theory` or ideology. A "righteous" party or community) that had "a clearly defined ideology, allegiance to a single leader, obedience, and discipline", would be able to transform the whole of India into Dar al-Islam. Unlike the fascists and communists, once in power an Islamic state would not be oppressive or tyrannical, but instead just and benevolent to all, because its ideology was based on God's commands. 
In 1940, the Muslim League met in Lahore and passed the Pakistan Resolution, calling for autonomous states in the Muslim majority areas of India. Maududi believed the nationalism in any form was un-Islamic, concerned with mundane interests of people and not Islam. In response he launched his own party, Jamaat-e-Islami, founded on 26 August 1941, at Islamia Park, Lahore. Seventy-five people attended the first meeting and became the first 75 members of the movement.
Maududi saw his group as a vanguard of Islamic revolution following the footsteps of early Muslims who gathered in Medina to found the first "Islamic state". Members uttered the Shahada, the traditional statement of conversion to Islam, when they joined, implying to some that Jama'ati felt they had been less-than-true Muslims before joining. Jamaat-e-Islami was and is strictly and hierarchically organised in a pyramid-like structure. All supporters work toward the common goal of establishing an ideological Islamic society, particularly though educational and social work, under the leadership of the emir. Being a vanguard party, not all supporters could be members, only the elite. Below members were/are "affiliates", and "sympathizers" beneath them. The party leader is called an ameer (commander).
Maududi sought to educate the elite of the Muslim community in the principles of Islam and correct "their erroneous ways of thinking" both because he believed societies were influenced from the top down.
During the years before the partition of India, Jamaat-e-Islami stood aloof from the intense political fights of the time in India, concentrating on "training and organising" and refining and strengthening the structure of Jamaat-e-Islami.
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The origins of today's Islamist thought and organisations can be traced to the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood, created by the school teacher Hasan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, and the Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan, established by Abul Ala Maududi...
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[JI] purpose was to prepare an organised and disciplined group of sincere Muslims capable of achieving the victory of Islam in the subcontinent. Thus, were the efforts toward partition to fail, there would be a group to counter the results of the failure; and were the efforts to succeed, there would be a group to spread the knowledge of Islam in both India and Pakistan.
- Mortimer, Edward (1982). Faith and Power : the Politics of Islam. Vintage Books. p. 204.
The political doctrine which he based on this view [was] ... Islam had to be enforced, and all that was needed for that purpose was to ensure that the right people, holding the right ideas, should occupy the post of governors. ... He put implicit faith in the party which he founded.... His programme for the future of Pakistan was the expansion of the Jama'at-e Islami until it had absorbed the state and had, for all intents and purposes become the state.
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- Nasr, S.V.R. (1994). The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: the Jamaat-i Islami of Pakistan. I.B.Tauris. p. 7.
Once the leadership had been won over to Islam -- the Jama'at taking power -- the society would be Islamized and all socioeconomic maladies would be automatically cured
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...In a speech delivered to the Jamaat-i-Islami in Lahore in December of 1944, Mawdudi ... the cure for [the world's evils] is to organise a group dedicated to righteousness. ... [and made] a ringing declaration that such a group, once formed, would be able to control all aspects of the world's life and to effect a sweeping revolution among mankind.
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The political doctrine which he based on this view [was] ... Islam had to be enforced, and all that was needed for that purpose was to ensure that the right people, holding the right ideas, should occupy the post of governors. ... He put implicit faith in the party which he had founded, the Jama'at-i-Islami, as a tool for achieving the Islamic revolution that would put such people into power; and he cited the Fascists in Italy and Germany, and the Communists in Russia, as examples of groups which though tiny minorities in a total population, were able to exercise effective control. His programme for the future of Pakistan was the expansion of the Jama'at-e-Islami until it had absorbed the state and had, to all intents and purposes, become the state. Such a totalitarian approach might justifiably cause alarm in the case of communism or fascism, but in the service of Islam, he thought, it need alarm no one, since God's commands working in the life of the state would be just and benevolent to all.
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...the Muslim League passed its now famous Lahore Resolution which called for the establishment of autonomous states in the Muslim majority areas of the subcontinent. ... using the same argument Mawdudi had employed, that the Muslims of India were a distinct nation ... [Mawdudi disapproved] substituted Muslim nationalism for Indian nationalism and nationalism in whatever form was bad. Both were fundamentally secularist conceptions of the Muslim destiny, and both were concerned with the mundane interests of people, not their ultimate orientation.
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He believed that practical social change was impossible unless the theoretical views held by the leadership changed first. ... The task then was one of education in the principles of Islam, of religious nurture, and of correction of the erroneous ways of thinking into which the Muslim upper classes had been seduced the agents of jahiliyyah.
- Adams, "Maududi and the Islamic State", 1983: p.105-6
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