2009 Malaysian Annual Congregation of Tablighi Jamaat
Sepang Selangor, Malaysia
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In India & Pakistan:Urdu
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Tablighi Jamaat (Urdu: تبلیغی جماعت, Tablīghī Jamā‘at; Arabic: جماعة التبليغ, Jamā‘at at-Tablīgh; Bengali: তাবলীগ জামাত; Hindi: तबलीग़ी जमात; English: Society for spreading faith) is an Islamic religious movement based on the principle of the "Work of the Prophets" inviting to God in the manner of Muhammad. The movement was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in India, which was the dream of his teacher Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi. It primarily aims at Tablighi spiritual reformation by working at the grass roots level, reaching out to Muslims across social and economic spectra to bring them in line with the group's understanding of Islam.
Tablighi Jamaat came forth as an offshoot of the Deobandi movement. Its inception is stated to be a response to perceived deteriorating moral values and a supposed negligence of aspects of Islam. It expanded from local to national to an international movement, and now claims to have over 20 Million followers in over 210 countries.
Tablighi Jamaat maintains a non-affiliating stature in matters of politics and fiqh (jurisprudence). Although Tabligh Jamaat emerged from the Deobandi sub-school in the Hanafi fiqh, no particular interpretation of Islam has been endorsed since the beginning of the movement since the Quran and Hadith from which various denominations derive their authority are considered one and immutable. Tabligh Jamaat has claimed to avoid electronic media and has emphasised a personal communication for proselytising. Although prominent Tablighi personalities such as Tariq Jameel feature on an extensive range of Internet videos and often appear on TV. The teachings of Tabligh Jamaat are expressed in the approach of the "Six Principles" put forward by Muhammad Ilyas.
Tabligh Jamaat attracted significant public and media attention when it announced plans for the largest mosque in Europe to be built in London, United Kingdom. It is stated to reject violence as a means for evangelism. Tablighi Jamaat believes that Muslims are in a constant state of spiritual Jihad in the sense of fight against evil, the weapon of choice is Dawah (proselytization) and that battles are won or lost in the "hearts of men."
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs and objectives
- 3 Organization
- 4 Activities and traditions
- 5 Role of women
- 6 Controversies
- 7 Notable members
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The emergence of Tablighi Jamaat represented the intensification of individual reformation aspects of the original Deobandi movement. It was also a continuation of the broader trend of Islamic revival in India in the wake of the collapse of Muslim political power to the Maratha Empire and the subsequent consolidation of the British rule.
The emergence of Tablighi Jamaat also coincided closely with the rise of various Hindu proselytising movements which launched massive efforts in the early twentieth century to reconvert Hindus who had converted to Islam and Christianity. Notable among these Hindu revivalist movements were Shuddhi (purification) and Sanghatan (consolidation) movements. The Tabligh movement aimed to reaffirm Muslim religio-cultural identity of borderline Muslims who still practised customs and religious rites connected with Hinduism. Unlike common proselytising movements, TJ mostly focused on making Muslims 'better and purer'(strengthening their faith in the Might of the Lord) and TJ also gives dawah to the non-Muslims but on a very low scale its reason is that it says that a person should be perfect before the gives dawah to non-Muslims because his dawah will be affective only if he is perfect that's why this movement was started by Ilyas to make Muslims a perfect Muslim.
The Tablighi Jamaat was formed in 1927 in the Mewat region around Delhi, in north India, which was inhabited by the Meos, a Rajput ethnic group. At the time, some Muslim Indian leaders feared that Muslims were losing their religious identity to the majority Hindu culture. The movement was never given any name officially, but Ilyas used to call it Tahrik-i Imaan.
There is evidence that several Meos converted to Islam, followed by re-conversion to Hinduism when Muslim political power declined in the region. According to Ballard , the Meos were generally benighted Muslims before the emergence of Tabligh Jamaat, and lacked the necessary acumen required to resist the cultural and religious influence of Hindus.
Muhammad Ilyas, the founder of Tablighi Jamaat, wanted to set forth a movement that would exemplify the Qur'anic decree of 'enjoining good and forbidding evil'. The inspiration for devoting his life to Islam came to Ilyas during his second pilgrimage to Mecca in 1926. He initially tried to establish a network of mosque-based religious schools to educate the Mewati Muslims about Islamic beliefs and practices. Shortly afterwards, he was disappointed with the reality that these institutions were producing religious functionaries but not preachers.
Ilyas abandoned his teaching post at Madrasah Mazahir Uloom in Saharanpur and became a missionary. He relocated to Nizamuddin near Delhi, where this movement was formally launched in 1926. When setting the guidelines for the movement, he sought inspiration from the practices adopted by Muhammad at the dawn of Islam. Muhammad Ilyas put forward the slogan, Urdu: "!اﮮ مسلمانو! مسلمان بنو", "O muslims, become muslims!". This expressed the central focus of Tablighi Jamat: their aim to renew Muslims socially by uniting them in embracing the lifestyle of Muhammad. The movement gained a following in a relatively short period and nearly 25,000 people attended the annual conference in November 1941.
The group began to expand its activities in 1946. The initial expansion within South Asia happened immediately after the partition of India in 1947, when the Pakistan Chapter was established in the hinterlands of Raiwind town near Lahore, Pakistan. The Pakistan Chapter remained the largest till Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan in 1971. Today, the largest Chapter is Bangladesh followed by the second largest in Pakistan. Within two decades of its establishment, the group reached Southwest and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. The Tablighi Jamaat's aversion to politics, and also its lack of any direct and practical Economic-Political-Social viewpoints, like the occupation of Palestine, helped it enter and operate in societies, especially western countries and societies where politically active religious groups faced severe restrictions.
The first foreign missions were sent to the Hejaz and Britain in 1946. The next nation to receive Tablighi Jamaat missionaries was the United States. During the 1970s and 1980s the Tablighi Jamaat established a large presence in continental Europe.
The construction of the Markazi Masjid in Dewsbury, England commenced in 1978 and subsequently became the European headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat. This centre holds one major gathering annually, generally in Dewsbury itself. It has also constructed a busy madrasah, called the Institute of Islamic Education.
Introduced in France in the 1960s, Tablighi Jamaat grew significantly in the two decades following 1970. Tablighi Jamaat declined around 1989, although some members still represent it in the French Council of the Muslim Faith. During the first half-decade of the 21st century Tablighi Jamaat went through a major revival in France, reaching 100,000 followers by 2006. However, the United Kingdom is the current focus of the movement in the Europe, primarily due to the large South Asian population that began to arrive there in the 1960s. By 2007, Tabligh members were situated at 600 of Britain's 1,350 mosques.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the movement made inroads into Central Asia. As of 2007, it was estimated that 10,000 Tabligh Jamaat members could be found in Kyrgyzstan, that was largely driven by Pakistani members initially.
The FBI believes that nearly 50,000 members of Tablighi Jamaat are active in the United States. As of 2008, the organisation had a presence in nearly 213 countries and a total following of between 100 and 150 million people. By some measures this made Tablighi Jamaat the largest Muslim movement in the world. The majority of the followers of the Tablighi Jamaat live in South Asia.
Beliefs and objectives
Following the fundamentals of Sunni Islam, every member is allowed to follow his own fiqh as long as it does not deviate from Sunni Islam. Tablighi Jamaat defines its objective with reference to the concept of Dawah, which literally means 'to call' and connotes to an invitation to act. In religious context, it implies to a call towards Islam which may also refer to a 'mission' if used in reference with religious prophets and people who were assigned such mission. Tabligh Jamaat interprets Dawah as enjoining good and forbidding evil only and defines its objective within the framework of two particular Qur'anic verses which refer to this mission. Those two verses are:
Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness, and says, "I am of the muslimeen (those who submit to Allah) "?
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.
Tablighi Jamaat encourages everyone to fulfill the Islamic requirement of da'wa even if the person falls short of strong religious intellect. This was different from the other Islamic movements which were mainly ulama-led and extended their leadership roles to the religious erudites. Tablighi Jamaat also negated the prevailing idea that the highest standards of Islamic scholarship and ethical standards were prerequisites for proselytising, and promoted da'wa as a mechanism of self-reform.
The only objective of Tabligh Jamaat, overtly stated in most sermons, is that Muslims adopt and invite for the Islamic lifestyle, exemplified by Muhammad, in its perfection. They encourage Muslims to spend time out of their daily routine in the tablighi activities so that the rest of routine could be harmonised with Tablighi lifestyle.
In the Daa'wah tours, emphasis is laid on Ahadith about Virtues of action.That is those benefits that the messenger of Allah used to bring for human being. The message given by Whaee and the books of Allah has revealed these most truthful news and benefits. That we can name as Reward in life after death and pleasure of Allah. In the Ahadith of virtues and Fazail these has been called as Eemaan and Ihtisab and this is the most vital deriving force for a Muslim to strive and do good for reward in Akhirah Maulana Ilyas used to say that knowledge of Fada'il virtues take precedence over the knowledge of Masa'il (jurisprudence). The virtues gives the belief on the reward in the life after death. And this is the state of eeman to belief on unseen return blessing and reward. And a person get ready to do A'amalu-Saliha (Good Deeds and Actions). The requirement of knowing the jurisprudence detail will be only if a person is ready for doing that action. (If a person is not ready for offering Salat for him what is the use of detail of Fara'id (mandates) and Sunan (traditions) of Salat). In this background they suggest a series of book comprising Riyadus Saliheen, Muntakhab Ahadith (Collection of authentic Ahadith without commentary),Hayatus Sahaba and Fadhaa'il A'maal Vol 1 & 2 and other books.' etc. They insist that the best way of learning is teaching and encouraging others, with the books prescribed by Tabligi Jamaat Movement in the light of Quran and Hadith stories of Prophets, Sahaba (Companions of Prophet)and Aulia Allah.
Tablighi ethic discourages social enmeshments in customary and ceremonial rituals which are usually extravagantly followed in South Asia. For example, in such annual congregations and other similar mass meetings, marriages are performed by dozens sans the costly celebrations.
The method adopted by Muhammad Ilyas was to organise units (called jamaats, Arabic: جماعتِ meaning Assembly) of at least ten persons and send them to various villages. This jamaat would visit a village, invite the local Muslims to assemble in the mosque and present their message in the form of Six Principles. These six principles were derived from the lives of the companions of Muhammad. It is said in one narration ,"My Sahabah are like guiding stars, whosoever follows one of them will be guided." Muhammad Ilyas articulated six demands in the form of Six Principles which are quintessential to Tablighi Jamaat's teachings. These six principles are:
- Kalimah: Imaan - An article of faith in which a Muslim accepts that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his last messenger".
- Salat: "Prayer - Five daily prayers that are essential to spiritual elevation, piety, and a life free from the ills of the material world"
- Ilm and Zikr: "The knowledge and remembrance of Allah - conducted in sessions in which the congregation listens to preaching by the emir, performs prayers, recites the Quran and reads Hadith from the books comprising Riyadhu As-Salehin,Muntakhab Ahadith (Collection of authentic Ahadith without commentry),Hayatus Sahaba and Fadhaa'il-e A'maal Vol 1 & 2 and other books.
- Ikraam-e-Muslim: "Honoring a Muslim - The treatment of fellow Muslims with honor and deference"
- Ikhlas-e-Niyyat: "Sincerity of Intention - Reforming one’s life in supplication to Allah by performing every human action for the sake of Allah and toward the goal of self-transformation"
- Dawat'o' Tableegh (Dawah): "Inviting and Preaching - The sparing of time to live a life based on faith and learning its virtues, following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad, and taking His message door to door for the sake of faith. "
Tablighi Jamaat follows an informal organizational structure and keeps an introvert institutional profile. It keeps its distance from mass media and avoids publishing details about its activities and membership. The group also exercises complete abstinence from expressing opinions on political and controversial issues mainly to avoid the disputes which would accompany these endorsements. As an organisation, Tabligh Jamaat does not seek donations and is not funded by anyone, in fact members have to bear their own expenditures. Since there is no formal registration process and no official membership count has ever been taken, the exact membership statistics remain unknown. The movement discourages interviews with its elders and has never officially released texts. Even though there are publications associated with the movement, particularly by Zakariya Kandahalwi, the emphasis has never been on book learning, but rather on first-hand personal communication. A collection of books, usually referred as Tablighi Nisaab (Tablighi Curriculum), is recommended by Tabligh Jamaat elders for general reading. This set includes four books namely (Hayatus Sahabah, Fazail-e-Amaal, Fazail-e-Sadqaat and Muntakhab Ahadith).
The organisation's activities are coordinated through centres and headquarters called Markaz. Tablighi Jamaat maintains its international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, in the Nizamuddin West district of South Delhi, India, from where it originally started. It also has country headquarters in over 213 countries to co-ordinate its activities. These headquarters organise volunteer, self-funding people in groups (called jamaats), averaging ten to twelve people, for reminding Muslims to remain steadfast on path of God. These jamaats and preaching missions are self funded by their respective members.
Ameer is title of leadership in the Tabligh Jamaat and the attribute largely sought is the quality of faith, rather than the worldly rank. The ameer of Tabligh Jamaat is appointed for life by a central consultative council (shu'ara') and elders of the Tabligh Jamaat. The first ameer, who was also the founder, was Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi, the second was his son Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalawi and the third was Maulana Inaam ul Hasan. At present, there is a council of known scholars like Haji Abdul Wahhab Sb, Maulana Saad Kandhalawi etc.Maulana Zubair Ul Hasan the son of Maulana Inamul Hasan sahab died in Delhi on March 18, 2014. He was one of the members of the Shurah (Council) of Nizamuddin Markaz Delhi.
Activities and traditions
The activism of Tablighi Jamaat can be characterised by the last of the Six Principles. This principle, Tafrigh-i-Waqt (English: sparing of time) justifies the withdrawal from world, though temporarily, for travelling. Travel has been adopted as the most effective method of personal reform and has become an emblematic feature of organisation. They describe the purpose of this retreat as to patch the damages caused by the worldly indulgence and occasionally use the dry-dock parable to explain this.
These individual jamaats, each led by an ameer, are sent from each markaz across the city or country to remind people to persist on the path of God. The duration of the work depends on the discretion of each jamaat. A trip can take an evening, a couple of days or a prolonged duration.
Tablighi Jamaat is active in Hong Kong, operates from great Kowloon Mosque, Jamaats come to Hong Kong from different countries for dawath, From Hong Kong Many leaving to neighboring counties for teaching and dawah. Mazhar Pasha, Omer Farooq, Naveed Ahmed, Shabbir ahmed and other are active jamaat activities. Great Kowloon mosque in regional markaz for Hong Kong and nearest counties.
Khurūj - proselytising tour
largest islamic movement, Tabligh Jamaat encourages its followers to follow the pattern of spending "one night a week, one weekend a month, 40 continuous days a year, and ultimately 120 days at least once in their lives engaged in tabligh missions". During the course of these tours, members are generally seen dressed in simple, white, loose-clothing, carrying sleeping bags on their backs. These members use mosques as their base during this travel but particular mosques, due to more frequent tablighiyat activities, have come to be specifically associated with this organisation. These mosques generally hold the periodic, smaller scale convocations for neighbourhood members.
During their stay in mosques, these jamaats conduct a daily gasht, which involves visiting local neighbourhoods, preferably with the help of a guide. They invite people to attend the Maghrib prayer at their mosque and those who attend are delivered a sermon after the prayers, which essentially outlines the Six Principles. They urge the attendees to spend time in tabligh for self reformation and the propagation of Islam. Also the regular activities like eating, sleeping etc. are also carried out in the mosques.
Generally, the assumed role of these jamaat members cycle in a way that they may be engaged as a preacher, a cook or as a cleaner at other times. Among Tabligh Jamaat members, this is generally referred to as khidmat which essentially connotes to serving their companions and freeing them for tablighi engagements. The members of the Jamaat are assigned these roles based on the day's mashwara. The markaz keeps records of each jamaat and its members, the identity of whom is verified from their respective mosques. Mosques are used to assist the tablighi activities of individual jamaats that voluntarily undertake preaching missions. Members of a jamaat, ideally, pay expenses themselves so as to avoid financial dependence on anyone.
Ijtema - annual gathering
An annual gathering of followers, called ijtema, is summoned at headquarters of the respective countries. A typical ijtema continues for three days and ends with an exceptionally long prayer. These gatherings are considered moments of intense blessings by Tabligh Jamaat members and are known to attract members in excess of 2 million in some countries. The oldest ijtema of the World started in Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India. It attracts people from all over World. Almost 2 million people gather for this annual gathering. The largest of such annual gatherings is held in Bangladesh. The Bengali gathering, called Bishwa Ijtema (World Gathering), converges followers from around the world in Tongi near Dhaka, Bangladesh, with an attendance exceeding 3 million people. The second largest Tabligh Jamaat gathering takes place in Raiwind, Pakistan which was attended by approximately 1.5 million people in 2004. In 2011 Pakistan divided the Ijtema into two parts and total 1 million People attended each of the two Ijtema.
Role of women
Women were encouraged to participate since the beginning of the movement. Some scholars objected to the participation of women but Muhammad Ilyas slowly gained their support and the first jamaat of women was formed in Nizamuddin, Delhi. Accompanied by a close male relative, women are encouraged to go out in jamaats and work among other women and family members while following the rules of modesty, seclusion and segregation. They observe strict rules of hijab by covering their faces and hands. Jamaats of women sometimes participate in large annual meetings; otherwise, they commonly hold neighbourhood meetings. Since South Asian Islamic culture discourages women from going to the mosque and saintly shrines, these venues offer an opportunity for women to pray together and congregate religiously.
In many modern Islamist movements, women have been relegated to a domestic role. Tablighi Jamaat tends to blur the boundaries of gender roles and both genders share a common behavioural model and their commitment to tabligh. The emphasis is on a common nature and responsibilities shared by both genders. Just as men redraw the gender roles when they wash and cook during the course of da'wa tours, women undertake the male responsibility of sustaining the household. Women do not play any role in the higher echelons of the movement but their opinions are taken into due considerations.
Due to orthodox nature of Tablighi Jamaat, they have been criticised for being retrogressive. The women in the movement observe complete hijab for which the Tablighi Jamaat is accused of keeping women "strictly subservient and second string".
Tablighi Jamaat has also been criticised within Islamic circles and the major opposition in the Indian subcontinent comes from the Barelvi movement. One of the main criticisms against them is that the men neglect and ignore their families, especially by going out on da'wa tours. Tablighi Jamaat participants, in response, argue that both genders should be equally engaged in Tabligh. They further say that women, like men, are also urged to carry the responsibility of Tabligh and that men should facilitate women's participation by providing childcare.
Many critics, especially those from Hizb ut-Tahrir and Jamaat-e-Islami, criticise Tabligh Jamaat for their neutral political stance. They say that Islamic forces, during their decisive conflicts with un-Islamic forces, could have gained reinforcement from the Tabligh Jamaat followers. They criticise the Tabligh Jamaat's neutral attitude towards crucial issues like the introduction of an Islamic constitution in Pakistan (1950s), Islam vs Socialism (1969–1971), communal riots in India in the 1970s and 1980s, the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Movement (1974), and Nizam-e-Mustafa Movement (1977). The Tablighi Jamaat, in response, asserts that it is only by avoiding the political debates that the Tablighi Jamaat has been successful in reawakening the spiritual conscience of the followers. The apolitical stance also helped them operate in difficult times, such as during the governments of Ayub Khan (1960s) and Indira Gandhi (1975–77), when other sociopolitical Islamic groups faced restrictions. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, the former grand mufti of Saudi Arabia had changed his position later in life about Jama’atul-Tableegh and stated "Jama’atul-Tableegh do not have with them sure-sighted knowledge in issues of ‘Aqeedah,..." The elders of tablighee jamat are of the view that there are different schools of thoughts in muslims (like other religions), if we discuss differential points in our gathering than in place of uniting the Ummah (Muslim community) we will segrigate (disamalgamate) the muslim community. The difference of opinion regarding political participation also marks the fundamental difference between the Tablighi Jamaat and Islamist movements. While the Islamists believe that the acquisition of political power is the absolute requirement for the establishment of a pristine Islamic society, the Tablighi Jamaat believes that merely the political power is not enough to ensure effective organisation of the Islamic social order. The exclusive focus of the Tablighi Jamaat's attention is the individual, and members believe the reformation of society and institutions will only be effective through education and reform of individuals. They insist that nations and social systems exist by the virtue of the individuals who form them; therefore, the reform must begin at the grass-roots with individuals and not at the higher level of political structure.
Also, some notable people hold opinions contrary to terrorism allegations.
"peaceful and apolitical preaching-to-the-people movement." —Graham Fuller, a former CIA official and an expert on Islam, (author of The Future of Political Islam)
"completely apolitical and law abiding." —Olivier Roy, a prominent authority on Islam at the French National Centre for Scientific Research
"an apolitical, quietist movement of internal grassroots missionary renewal" —Barbara D. Metcalf, University of Michigan, (While comparing its activities to the Alcoholics Anonymous for the efforts to reshape individual lives)
The Tablighi Jamaat has no membership lists or formal procedures for membership which makes it difficult to quantify and verify affiliations.
Former President of India, Dr. Zakir Hussain who was also associated with this movement. The former chief minister of Punjab Pervaiz Elahi is also a strong supporter of the Tablighi Jamaat..
Maulana Tariq Jameel is a prominent member of Tablighi Jamaat. Former singer and pop star Junaid Jamshed has close links with Tabligh Jamaat, and his departure from his professional singing career is attributed to his inclination towards this movement. Singers, actors and models, including Naeem Butt,Ali Afzal,Attaullah Essa Khailwi, Gulzar Alam, Bacha, Alamzeb Mujahid, are also affiliated with the movement.
Former Lieutenant General, and heads of Inter-Services Intelligence, Javed Nasir and General Mahmud Ahmed of the Pakistan Army became a member of Tablighi Jamaat during his service. The Tablighi Jamaat also has a notable following among Pakistani professional cricketers: Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf and the former cricketers Saqlain Mushtaq, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Saeed Ahmed are active members. Mohammad Yousuf's conversion to Islam is widely attributed to the influence of the Tabligh Jamaat.
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- Marty, Martin E.; R. Scott Appleby (1994). Fundamentalisms observed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-50878-1. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- Rabasa, Angel (2004). The Muslim world after 9/11. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. ISBN 0-8330-3712-9. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- Masud, Muhammad Khalid (2000). Travellers in faith. BRILL. p. 268. ISBN 90-04-11622-2. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
- Roy, Olivier; Antoine Sfeir (2007). The Columbia world dictionary of Islamism. Columbia University Press. p. 430. ISBN 9780231146401. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- Marty, Martin E.; R. Scott Appleby (1994). Fundamentalisms observed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-50878-1. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
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