Tablighi Jamaat (Taken from Wikipedia mainly)
Tablighi Jamaat (Urdu: تبلیغی جماعت, Arabic: جماعة التبليغ, English:Society for spreading faith) is a transnational religious movement which was founded in 1926 by Muhammad Ilyas in India. The movement primarily aims at Islamic spiritual reformation by working at the grass roots level, reaching out to Muslims across all social and economic spectra to bring them closer to the practices of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) came forth as an offshoot of the Deobandi movement and its inception is believed to be a response to Hindu revivalist movements, which were considered a threat to vulnerable and non-practicing Muslims. TJ gradually expanded from local to national to a transnational movement and now has followers in over 150 countries.
TJ maintains a non-affiliating stature in matters of politics and fiqh (jurisprudence) so as to eschew the controversies that would otherwise accompany such affiliations. Although, TJ emerged out of the Deobandi sub-school in Hanafi Islam, no particular interpretation of Islam has been endorsed since the beginning of movement. TJ has largely avoided electronic media and has emphasized a personal communication for proselytizing. The teachings of TJ are mainly rudimentary and the Six Principles put forward by Muhammad Ilyas influence most of their teachings. Tablighi Jamaat's role as a springboard to terrorist organizations has been questioned several times and despite its pacifist stance, TJ has appeared on the fringes of numerous terrorism investigations. TJ attracted significant public and media attention when it announced plans for the largest mosque in Europe to be built in London, United Kingdom.
The emergence of Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) represented the intensification of individual reformation aspect of the original Deobandi movement. It was also a continuation of the broader trend of Islamic revival in India in the wake of the collapsed Muslim political power and the consolidation of the British rule in India in the mid-nineteenth century. This emergence also coincides with the rise of various Hindu proselytizing movements which launched massive efforts in the early twentieth century to reconvert former Hindus that had previously converted to Islam. Notable among these Hindu revivalist movements were Shuddhi (purification) and Sangathan (consolidation) movements. The Tabligh movement aimed to reaffirm Muslim religiocultural identity of these borderline Muslims who still carried customs and religious practices from their Hindu past. Unlike common proselytizing movements, TJ never strove to convert non-Muslims to Islam, rather it exclusively focused on making Muslims 'better and purer'.
Main article: Tabligh Movement in Mewat
Tablighi Jamaat originated in 1926 in Mewat, in north India, which was inhabited by Rajput tribes known as Meos. At the time, some Muslim Indian leaders feared that Muslims were losing their religious identity to the majority Hindu culture. There is evidence that several Meos converted to Islam, followed by re-conversion to Hinduism when Muslim political power declined in the region. Meos were generally benighted Muslims before the emergence of TJ, and lacked the necessary acumen required to resist the cultural and religious influence of Hindus.
Muhammad Ilyas, the founder of TJ, wanted to set forth a movement that would exemplify the Quranic decree, "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."[Qur'an 3:104] The inspiration for devoting his life to Islam came to Ilyas during his second pilgrimage to the Hejaz in 1926. His initially strove to establish a network of mosque-based religious schools to educate Mewati Muslims about correct Islamic beliefs and practices. Shortly afterwards, he was disappointed with the reality that these institutions were producing religious functionaries but not preachers.
He abandoned his teaching profession at Madrasah Mazharul Ulum in Saharanpur and started on his life as 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 prophet Muhammad at the dawn of Islam. Muhammad Ilyas put forward the slogan, Urdu: "!اﮮ مسلمانو! مسلمان بنو", "O Muslims! Be Muslims". This expressed the central focus of Tablighi Jamat; their aim to renew Muslim society by uniting them in embracing the lifestyle of Muhammad. The movement gained a phenomenal 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, and within two decades the group reached Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Initially it expanded its reach to South Asian diaspora communities, firstly in Arabic countries, and then in Southeast Asia. The first foreign missions were sent to Hijaz and Britain in 1946. Before entering Europe, the movement first established itself in the United States. It established a large presence in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, construction of the Markazi mosque in Dewsbury, England, commenced, which subsequently became the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat. This centre holds one major gathering annually, generally in Dewsbury itself. It has also constructed a busy madrassah, called the Islamic Institute of Education.
Introduced in France in 1960s, it grew prominently in during 1970-80s. TJ declined around 1989, although some members still represent it in the French Council of the Muslim Faith. In the few years before 2006, TJ's influence has exponentially grown in France, which now has around 100,000 followers. However, the United Kingdom is the current focus of the movement in the West, primarily due to the large South Asian population that began to arrive there in the 1960s and 1970s. By 2007, Tabligh members were situated at 600 of Britain's 1350 mosques.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the movement made inroads into Central Asia. As of 2007, it was estimated 10,000 TJ members could be found in Kyrgyzstan alone. The FBI believes that nearly 50,000 members of Tablighi Jamaat are active in United States. By 2008, organization had a presence in nearly 150 countries and with a global following of 70 to 80 million people, it has now become the largest Muslim movement in the world. However, it maintains a majority presence in South Asia.
Following the fundamentals of Sunni Islam, TJ claims no beliefs exclusive to them. Although, TJ itself is deeply imbued in ethos that permeate the Deobandi sub-school of the Hanafi Islam, the scope of their activities is not limited to the Deobandi community. 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 Da'wa which literally means 'to call' connotes to an invitation to act. In religious context, it implies to a call towards prayer which may also refer to a 'mission' if used in reference with religious prophets and other people who were assigned such mission. TJ interprets Da'wa as 'enjoining good and forbiddin evil' and defines its objective within the framework of two particular Quranic verses which refer to this mission. Those two verses are:
"And who speaks better than he who calls to Allah while he himself does good, and says: I am surely of those who submit?" [Qur'an 41:33]
"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."[Qur'an 3:104]
The only objective of TJ, overtly stated in most sermons, is that Muslims adopt and invite for the Islamic lifestyle, exemplified by Islamic prophet 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 harmonized with Islamic lifestyle. They insist that the best way of learning is teaching and encouraging others.
Muhammad Ilyas devoted to what he described as “the mission of the prophets”. The method adopted by him was simple. It was to organize units (called jamaats, Arabic: جماعتِ meaning Assembly) of at least ten persons and send them to various villages. This unit jamaat, would visit a village, invite the local Muslims to assemble in the mosque and present their message in the form of Six Principles. Muhammad Ilyas articulated six demands in the form of Six Principles which are quintessential to TJ's teachings. These six principles are:
1."Kalimah: An article of faith in which the tabligh accepts that there is no god but Allah and the Prophet Muhammad is His messenger.
2.Salah: Five daily prayers that are essential to spiritual elevation, piety, and a life free from the ills of the material world.
3.Ilm and Dhikr: 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.
4.Ikram-i-Muslim: The treatment of humans with honor and deference.
5.Ikhlas-i-Niyyat: 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.
6.Tafrigh-i-Waqt: The sparing of time to live a life based on faith and learning its virtues, following in the footsteps of the Prophet, and taking His message door-to-door for the sake of faith."
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 TJ elders for general reading. This set includes three books namely Hayatus Sahaba, Fazail-e-Amal and Fazail-e-Sadqaat.
The organization's activities are coordinated through centers and headquarters called Markaz. Tablighi Jamaat maintains its international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, in the Nizamuddin West district of Delhi, India, from where it originally started. It also has country headquarters in over 120 countries to coordinate its activities. These headquarters organize volunteer, self-funding people in groups (called jamaats), averaging ten to twelve people, for reminding Muslims to remain steadfast on path of Allah. These jamaats and preaching missions are self funded by their respective members.
Ameer is the title of leadership in the TJ and the attribute largely sought is the quality of faith, rather than the worldly rank. The ameer of TJ is appointed by central consultative council (shoora) and elders of TJ. First ameer, also the founder, was Muhammad Ilyas, second was his son Muhammad Yusuf and the third was Inaam ul Hasan. At present, there is a council of two people (Zubair ul Hasan and Saad Kandhalawi) performing as ameer.
Activities and traditions
Man is a ship in trouble in tumultuous sea. It is impossible to repair it without taking it away from the high seas where the waves of ignorance and the temptations of temporal life assail it. Its only chance is to come back to land to be dry-docked. The dry-dock is the mosque of the jamaat.
— from the book Travellers in Faith The activism of TJ can be characterized 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 organization. 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.
This withdrawal is generally compared to the Hijra, where Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers left behind their worldly pursuits for religious concerns and migrated to the city of Medina in 622 AD. 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 Allah. 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.
Khurūj - proselytizing tour
TJ 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". These members use mosques as their base during this travel but particular mosques, due to more frequent tablighi activities, have come to be specifically associated with this organization. These mosques generally hold the periodic, smaller scale convocations for neighborhood members.
During the course of these tours, jamaats conduct a daily gasht, which involves visiting local neighborhoods, 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.
Generally, the assumed role of these jamaat members cycle in a way that they may be a preacher, cook or a cleaner on occasions. 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 TJ members and are known to attract members in excess of 2 million in some countries. The largest of such annual gatherings are held in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Bengali gathering, called Bishwa Ijtema (World Gathering), converges followers from around the world in Tongi near Dhaka, Bangladesh and with an attendance exceeding 2 million people, it is assumed to be the second largest annual Muslim gathering in the world after Hajj. The second largest TJ gathering takes place in Raiwind, Pakistan which was attended by approximately 1.5 million people in 2004.