Thursday, 23 August 2007

Tablighi Jamaat has many enemies

August 2007
Guntur in 2000. Malegaon in 2006. Hyderabad 2007. Coincidentally or otherwise, a bomb always goes off around the time the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) holds its ijtema (congregation). The TJ, an Islamic movement for the reawakening of Muslims, has enemies among Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
The TJ drew attention in the recent past because of its many high-profile followers in the Pakistan cricket team led by former captain Inzamam-ul Haq. The TJ group in the team was accused of trying to convert players and spending much of its time in prayer.
Founded in the 1920s by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi of the Deoband school of Islamic thought, the TJ functions in two ways. In India it concentrates on Muslims but in the West where it has spread in the last three decades it takes up proselytising among non-Muslims.
Because of its missionary style, right-wing groups like the VHP and the RSS have always opposed the TJ and have even issued "stern warnings".
Senior educationist Yaser Amri points out, "The emergence of Tablighi Jamaat was a direct response to the rise of aggressive Hindu proselytising movements as Shuddhi and Sangathan, which launched massive efforts in the early 20th century to reconvert Hindus who had converted to Islam in the past. The Jamaat founder believed that only a grassroots Islamic religious movement could counter it."
Many Muslim organisations do not see eye to eye with the TJ not because of ideological differences but because of their one-upmanship.
TJ activists are not allowed into mosques by many mosque communities and this has forced the organisation to have its own mosques or Markaz.
A notable feature of the TJ is its regular congregations around the world. The Bangladesh ijtema is the biggest gathering with a turnout of more than 40 lakh people. The last ijtema in Hyderabad was held in 1994. It is now holding another international conference after a gap of 13 years.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the important states for the TJ, where it has a strong following in Hyderabad, Kurnool, Kadapa and Guntur. Unlike other Muslim religious organisations, the TJ believes in reawakening of faith and purification of the self and community.

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