By Syed Jamaluddin Waqar
(Translated from Urdu by Ghulam
Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam)
In view of the number of
activists and geographic expansion, the movement of Tableeghi Jama’at is seen
as the largest proselytizing Islamic movement in the world. Founded in 1920 in
Mewat in north India, the Jama’at embarked on its mission in almost every country
where of Muslims live in considerable numbers. No doubt, the Jama’at has played
a pivotal role in spreading the teachings of Islam and raising religious
awareness at the grassroots level. Some
years ago, I came into contact with some Tableeghi activists in Mumbai, a city
of India. They exhorted me to take time off to travel for tableegh
(Islamic preaching works). Later on, I took several Tableegh trips, travelling
to remote villages and small towns, where I came across Muslim communities who
knew of nothing about Islam. I also met some Muslims who did not even know the
fundamental doctrine of Islam: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah
and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. However, the Tableeghi activists
taught them the basic tenets of Islam such as the kalima shahada, the
rules of prayers and fasting and so on. I took cognizance of the commendable
role that the Tableeghi Jam’at was playing. They were helping the sections of
the Muslim community whom no other Muslim organization or movement had reached
Although I appreciate the
important work that the Tablighi Jama’at is engaged in, I would say that the
movement could play a more constructive role in the affairs of the community if
it had incorporated certain corrections in its methods of working. But I know
that some sections of the Tableeghi leadership are vehemently opposed to any
changes, considering them as antithetical to their vested interests.
The Tablighi movement has a
widespread network all over the country. The Tableeghi activists are massively
active within India and abroad. In the course of their work, they come across
vast numbers of people. One can imagine how deep impact this network could have
left if it was aimed at promoting social awareness, the importance of modern
education, women empowerment and the message of communal harmony, in addition
to the basic Islamic beliefs and practices. On the contrary, the Tableeghi
activists do not concern themselves with any such thing. Besides preaching the
basic tenets of the Islam, their only work is to tirelessly repeat to their
captive audiences fanciful tales and concocted stories which they falsely
attribute to the Prophet (pbuh). Fazail-e-Amal, the basic Tableeghi curriculum
written by the founding Tablighi ideologue, Maulvi Muhammad Zakariya, is
replete with weak and fabricated Hadiths. This is the fact that several Muslim
scholars have pointed out.
Fazail-e-Amal is the book which the Tableeghis
place at a pedestal above the holy Qur’an in practice, if not in theory. The
crux of this book is the exhortation for disdain and hatred for this world. The
Tablighis often preach: “The world is like a toilet or a prison”. They take
great pride in loudly claiming that they “speak only about what is in the
heavens above or in the grave below and nothing at all about the world in
between”. In other words, the motto of the Tableeghi movement is to promote the
rahbaniyat (monasticism) which is explicitly prohibited in the Qur'an.
The Tableeghis’ hatred for the
world causes them to remain oblivious to other people's sufferings. Typically,
the Tableeghis explain people's sufferings as God's punishment for their
misdeeds, which then conveniently absolves them of any responsibility to do
anything to reduce human pain. Thus, they turn a blind eye to the actual source
of oppression, playing into the hands of oppressors. For instance, I have heard
numerous Tablighis explain the brutal killing of Muslims in Palestine, for
instance, as a result of their having strayed from the path of Islam. To tackle
the Zionist imperialism, Tablighis offer just one simple solution: If the
Palestinian Muslims simply perform their daily prayers, brush their teeth with
the Islamic tooth-brush (miswak) and
go for regular Tableeghi tours, their sufferings will immediately vanish. No
wonder then that while other Islamic movements are so harshly suppressed in
Israel, the Israeli authorities give a cold shoulder to the Tablighis, who work
to promote apathy and indifference among the Muslims.
Even at a very local level,
where efforts to prevent sufferings do not run any risk of life or wealth, I
have found Tablighis disinterested and completely alienated. However, there may
be exceptions, but they share this attitude in common. To better understand my viewpoint,
take the case of the Alami Markaz (the global headquarters) of the Tablighi
Jama’at, based in the Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin in New Delhi. Scores of
physically disabled people, leprosy patients and drug addicts assemble outside
the Markaz every day, pathetically begging for alms. I asked a Tablighi leader
who spends most of his time at the Markaz what the Tablighi leaders were doing
to help the suffering people living at their very doorstep. He gave me a tough
look and said: “What nonsense! Can't you see that we are gifting the people the
greatest wealth possible? We are teaching them the basics of Islam, which will
bestow them direct entry into heaven after death. There, they will rejoice all
bounties and pleasures living in big palaces with plenty of servants and will
have thousands of houris as their wives. What more wealth can one give them?”
I rendered patient hearing to
his outburst, but then reminded him of some verses of the Quran as well as the
Prophetic traditions that stress the need to help the poor in material terms,
not simply building pies in the sky and imaginary castles in heaven for them.
He rudely interrupted me and said: “You want us to start a school for them, set
up a business to help them? Things that the Christian missionaries do? But we believe that all this is of no value
at all. We bestow them the wealth of the hereafter, compared to which what the
Christians offer is a pathetic pittance.
The Tablighis consider the
region of Mewat, the birthplace of their movement, as their most successful experimental
ground. The land of the Meo tribe, Mewat, is a culturally distinct area that
includes parts of the Gurgaon, Faridabad districts of Haryana, the Alwar and
Bharatpur districts in Rajasthan. The Tablighi movement has been actively
engaged in the region since the mid-1920s. As a result of the movement's work,
the Meos have undergone considerable change. They have given up their local
customs and beliefs and established numerous mosques and madrasas in the
region. This speaks volumes of the untiring efforts of the generations of
While the Tablighi Jama’at has
brought about radical reforms at the religious level among the Meos, it has
made no tangible achievement at the social level. Meo women continue to toil
hard like chattel in the fields. They don’t receive their religious right and
share in property. Dowry is rampant. The literacy rate among the Meos is a mere
10 per cent and only two among a hundred Meo girls are literate. In fact, the
community as a whole is steeped in poverty and illiteracy. But the Tablighis,
rather than playing a role in ameliorating the pathetic plight of the
community, have only worsened their conditions with their preaching of hatred
for worldly affairs. Even now when a number of NGOs have reached out to Mewat to
promote literacy and economic development, Tablighis have shown no interest at
all. Interestingly, the Mewati Tablighis often speak out that the Meos were
righteous and God-fearing when they were poor and illiterate, but now when some
of them are better off they have forgotten God. Although it may be the case
with the Meos, it also shows how the Tablighis view the religion of Islam. They
consider Deen (religion) as something diametrically different from and vehemently
opposed to Dunya (the world). To my view, it is obviously an un-Islamic way of
thinking about religion as well as secular worldly affairs.
Islam gives paramount
importance to the service of the poor, as we all know. Merely preaching the
virtues of Islam and the comforts of heavenly abode is not sufficient enough.
The Tableeghis, who are particularly obsessed with the pleasure of houris in
heaven, should assist the poor in financial terms too. For Islam exhorts Muslims
not only to fulfil their duties to God (Huquq Allah) but also their duties
towards God's creatures (Huquq al-Ibad). It is appreciable the Tablighis are doing a
wonderful job by preaching the former, but they are turning a blind eye to the
latter. They do preach the virtues and obligations of helping others as enshrined
in Islam, but miserably fail to do anything of the sort in practice. Imagine the impact on its image if the
Tablighi Jama’at at its global headquarters in Delhi could set up a model
school disseminating secular as well as Islamic education, or a hospital for
the poor or an industrial training centre for the unemployed. Hundreds of
thousands of Tablighi members who visit the Nizamuddin Markaz every year could
witness social and ethical Islamic teachings being actually practiced. They would
be encouraged to engage with similar projects when they would go back home.
However, as I mentioned earlier, Tablighi leaders at Nizamuddin headquarters
have no such interest at all. It clearly suggests that they simply don’t
concern themselves with the pathetic plight of the community as well as the
humanity living just next door to them.
My own study of the Qur’an and
the life of the Prophet (pbuh) apprised me of the reality that the path to
salvation in Islam does not simply lie in endless prayers and supplications (as
the Tablighis do). Rather, while fulfilling the ritual duties, we need to work
for the material as well as spiritual betterment of the poor, Muslims and
non-Muslims alike. However, it does not imply that we should distribute charity
to the poor who don’t strive to remove their poverty, but only reinforce it
further. In fact, service to the poor in Islam means to help them stand on
their own feet so that they, too, move on to serve people more needy than
themselves in times to come. However, this logic seems totally alien to the
Tablighi mindset. According to many Tablighi members, the path to salvation or
heaven is secure if one regularly goes on Tablighi tours, grows a long beard,
regularly counts one's beads and uses the miswak (Islamic tooth-stick) to brush
one's teeth as the Prophet is reported to have done. They are in a
misconception that merely imitating the external forms of the Prophetic sunnah
in trivial matters of personal life will earn them an abode in heaven.
Recently, I came across a book
by a Pakistani Tablighi author who loudly claims, without any reliable source,
that if one were to regularly take Tablighi Jama'at tours, he would be assured
entry into heaven, where, among other delights, he would enjoy 300,000 beautiful
houris as wives. Such petty bribes are held out to common Muslim masses to
instigate them to join the Tabligh Jama’at. Understandably, this can be the
major reason behind the massive growth of the movement worldwide.
The Tablighis believe entry
into paradise is assured by constantly performing the most basic external
ritual actions. With heaven being secured so cheaply, naturally few of them
take any interest whatsoever in working for the poor and the oppressed, which, I think, is the actual way
to secure God's mercy, both in this world and in the hereafter. The Qur'an
repeatedly exhorts the believers to follow the ideals of the Prophet (pbuh) to
The Tablighis do not disagree
with it, but simply reduce the Prophetic Sunnah to the performance of a few
external practices. They insist that one can go straight to paradise simply by
following them. Therefore, Tablighi nisabs (curriculums) and other text books
are replete with the exhortations for imitating the way the Prophet ate,
smiled, washed, brushed his teeth, put on and took off his shoes, clipped his
moustache and grew his beard, etc. It seems as if the Sunnah of the Prophet
consisted only of these daily routines. By reducing the Sunnah to these
external practices, they rob it of its basic spirit.
It is too unlikely for the
present Tablighi leadership to show any signs of self-criticism or willingness
to change their methods of working. Since the Jama’at’s methods of working
(what they call tariqa-e-tabligh) and its foundational text, the Fazail-e-Aamaal,
have become its definitional features, the Tablighi ideologues would be
reluctant to allow any changes in these, for fear of diluting the identity of
the Jama’at. It would, in turn, only undermine their claims to authority.
Tablighi leaders and ideologues repeatedly insist that their tariqa-e-tabligh
(preaching method) is not a human invention but rather divinely inspired
through ilham (divine inspiration) to the Jama’at’s founder, Maulana
Ilyas Kandhaulwi. Therefore, they claim that any change in it would be
tantamount to the opposition to the Will of God. Obviously, this is the best
way to keep away from any introspection, self-criticism or calls for reform.
URL for Urdu article: http://www.newageislam.com/urdu-section/tablighi-jamaat-and-social-aspect-of-religion--تبلیغی-جماعت-اور-دین-کا-معاشرتی-پہلو/d/100005
URL for this article: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-human-rights/syed-jamaluddin-waqar,-tr-new-age-islam/tablighi-jama’at--focus-on-huququllah,-not-the-least-on-huququl-ibaad/d/100257
Rational says, "no matter how much truth is unpleasant to you, its posting will be continued." . . You are distorting the truth to serve your hate war against Sufis and against moderate Islam.
You say, "The Shari`ah is of fundamental importance to the Sufi path." You forget to mention that Neo-sufis do not require adherence to Shariah. The Universal Sufism movement, founded by Inayat Khan, teaches the essential unity of all faiths, and accepts members of all creeds.
You say, "GM is dwarf before his knowledge of Islam, Shariah and Sufism." If your supposed superior knowledge is being put to use to perpetuate a war of hatred against Sufis and moderate Muslims, you will continue to be denounced as a charlatan.
following is the example of how Sufis took apostasy. they fabricated apostasy stories to punish the infidels.
of course truth of Islamic history and of sufism will never be pleasant to modern mullah.
no matter how much unpleasant it to him, the truth is truth. it is not going to leave him.
this history is not recorded by non-Muslims but by Muslims.
"Later on in 1519, Malik Kaji Chak rose to the rank of military
commander under Sultan Muhammad Shah. And ‘one of the major commands of
Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad Iraqi carried out by him (Kaji Chak) was the
massacre of the infidels and polytheists of this land,’ says
Baharistan-i-Shahi. Many of those, converted to Islam by force during
the reign of Malik Raina, later reverted to polytheism (Hinduism). A
rumor was spread that these apostates ‘had placed a copy of the holy
Quran under their haunches to make a seat to sit upon.’ Upon hearing
this, the enraged Sufi saint protested to Malik Kaji Chak that,
Rational says, "So one has to be Sufi to become pious free from vices.". . . . . No!
Rational adds, "the prophet warned his companions against excesses and these sufis introduced the same excesses into Islam." . . . There is no such thing as an excess of love or an excess of inclusiveness.
Rational also says, "one example of fruit of Sufism is Muslim Brotherhood." . . .
If Hassan al-Banna was a Sufi, it does not mean Sufism spawned the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna himself moved away from Sufism during his middle years. The Brothers, Banna insisted, belonged to no sect or school. Rational should stop using such spurious arguments in his hate war against Sufism and against Islam.