–Written By Apoorv Mishra
“Tabligi” means teachers and “Jamaat” means society. So, Tablighi Jamaat means “Society of teachers”. It was founded by Deobandi Islamic scholar Mohammed Ilyas Al-Kandhlawi in Mewat, British India in 1926. Al-Kandhlawi’s goal was establish a group of dedicated Muslim preachers as a Muslim revivalist society with the aim of purifying and reviving the “TRUE ISLAM”. The slogan of Kandhlawi was “Oh Muslims, become true muslims!”
Inspired by the Deobandi creed, the Tablighis urge fellow Muslims to live like the Prophet. They are theogically opposed to the syncretic nature of Sufi Islam and insist on its members to dress like their Prophet did (the trouser or robe should be above the ankles). Men usually shave their upper lip and keep long beard. The focus of the organisation was on purifying the Muslim faith. Their society has a loose structure in which the “Emir” (currently, Maulana Saad Kandhalvi) is the leader of the international movement and is always related to the group’s founder Mohammed Ilyas Al- Kandhlawi. The group also has a Shura Council with different National units and headquarters. They say The Prophet Muhammad has commanded all muslims to convey the message of Allah and the Tablighis take this as their duty. They divide themselves into small Jamaats (societies) and travel frequently across the world to spread the message of Islam to Muslim houses and promote conversions into fundamentalists or pure Islamists.
Al-Kandhlawi’s mission was to revive his faith but based on its core teachings and lifestyle of its early leaders. Also in Mewat where the tablighi was founded, the Meos Muslims, a Rajput ethnic group had followed syncretic tradition. Al-Kandhlawi wanted to end it all through his “Dawa” that is proselytising or conversions.
This Tablighi Jamaat is present in 150 countries with their largest national wing in Bangladesh and millions of followers across the globe. It is safe to assume that the national boundaries are much smaller in comparison to their international movement. That’s why out of around 2900 cases of Covid-19 in India, 1023 cases(as per Health Ministry) are from the Tablighi Jamaat meet-ups which had more than 2000 attendees. These 2000 odd people (out of which 275 were Maulanas from countries like Gambia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, China, etc.) were at the Markaz (centre) which serves as an international headquarters of this revivalist sect.
As on April 3, there were 9000 Tabligi Jamaat workers who have been quarantined, out of which 1306 were foreigners. Inspite of their declared and determined negligence to not follow the social distancing during the lockdown, their ruthless behaviour with the nursing and medical staff continues all throughout India. This ranges from abusing and spitting on doctors, beating and throwing stones on health workers and even stooping to the level of harassing the nurses with obscene songs, lewd comments to even walking without pants.