Tablighi Jamat at crossroads

By *M. Burhanuddin Qasmi for

In the 20th century era, Tablighi Jamat has been the most successful Muslim revivalist movement. It was architected and painstakingly nourished by Hazrat Maulana Ilyas (ra) in 1927, British India. Later it was polished and documented by a bunch of scholars like Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Yusuf (ra), Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Zakariya (ra) and Hazrat Maulana Inamul Hasan (ra) during their tenures as Amir (leader) or mentor. Stalwart scholars like Hazrat Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (ra) and Hazrat Maulana Manzoor Ahmad Nomani (ra) have penned down books and jeweled this movement with the Qur’an and Sunnah.

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This movement has been playing a central role in spreading Islam and reviving its core values among the Islamic faith holders, particularly in the grass root level, for last one century. It has a door to door approach from a humble peasant to a high profile intellectual. The Jamat said to be subscribed, undocumented, by more than 200 millions adherents in 213 countries of the world, spreading across all the continents. Maulana Tariq Jamil and likes are some of the present Tablighi scholars who attract thousands across the world from all spectrums of life by their preaching.

Jamat at-Tabligh or Tablighi Jamat is an offshoot of Deoband School of Thoughts. The members of Jamat have always been very simple, pious and sincere. They are also called as Allahwale (Godly people) by commoners for their down to earth attitude, out of controversy working style, and for their deeds but for Allah only. Their aim is to please Allah alone and make their, and their fellow believers’ lives in hereafter better. The movement has always been exceptionally peaceful – spreading peace and inviting people towards the Masjid are the principal themes of Tablighi Jamat. The method of reformation introduced and practiced by the movement is unparalleled and very close to the ways of Prophet Mohammad (saws).
The Jamat does not maintain a register, nor a membership receipt or a bank account.

However, its members travel village to village, city to city, country to country and even from continent to continent, and they stay 3 days, 40 days, 4 months and even one year out of home. They spend millions as necessary expenses on travel and food but from their own pockets. ‘Apni Jaan, Apna Maal aur Apna Waqt’ (personal presence, own wealth and own time) is a tagline prerequisite for the members to sacrifice for their self-purification and better understanding of practical Islam.

The Jamat functions on the basis of Mashwara (mutual consultation) thus; it does not have formal office bearers as in other organizations. It does not have a president, nor a secretary or a treasurer; it is not a registered body either anywhere in the world.

In the early days, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi (1886 – 1944) being the founder was leading the movement and thus was the Amir-e Jamat. Prior to his death, he and his close mates unanimously suggested for Maulana Mohammad Yusuf (ra) as leader of the movement. The 2nd Amir-e Jamat – Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalvi (1917 – 1965) led the movement successfully and in his tenure he compiled the famous book Hayatus Sahab. In his period, the mission of Tablighi Jamat reached beyond the shores of Indian Ocean and touched Atlantic, Pacific and Southern shores successfully.

After the demise of Hazrat Maulana Yusuf (ra), Shaikhul Hadith Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Zakariya (ra) (1898 – 1982), the author of many Hadith books including famous Fazail-e A’mal, following a Mashwara (meeting) and advices from senior members of the Jamat, has appointed Hazrat Maulana Inamul Hasan (ra) as 3rd Amir-e Jamat. Hazrat Maulana In`amul Hasan Kandhlawi (1965 – 1995) led the movement supremely well and protected it from disputes. Since the work reached far and wide and in every nook and corner of the world, he made a Shura (an executive body) in every country for smooth functioning of the mission.

In some countries the Shura was formed with an Amir and in some other countries the Shura was without any Amir due to logistic reasons. Similarly all local and state workers and even workers from countries where members of the Jamat were not in big numbers were asked to appoint an arbitrator or Aimr-e Mashwara for their regular Mashwara or consultation on business of Jamat from Masjid level, to district, to state and even in some cases to country level work. The Amir-e Mashwara or the local Amir is selected by Mashwara itself, with opinions from all present in the meeting as the first assignment, for a limited time period only; and it goes on transferring to others by turn.

Hazratji Maulana Inamul Hasan (ra) has also formed a Shura or an executive body for Tabligh headquarter at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz, New Delhi which consisted of 10 members to observe and promote the growing activities of Jamat throughout the world.

Thus he firmly established the Shurai Nizam or the consultative system of functioning in Tablighi Jamat in his life time. And all Shura bodies from Masjid level to country level smoothly kept on working under his patronage.

Following the sad demise of Hazrat Maulana Inamul Hasan (ra) in 1995, this Shura system went on fulfilling the noble responsibility of Dawah and Tabligh across the globe on the marked lines set by the three predecessors till 2015. However, during this long period between 1995 and 2015 most of the members of the Shura Body have passed away.

In the meantime, following the death of Hazrat Maulana Zubairul Hasan Kandhlawi (1950 – 2014), one of the most senior Shura members, controversies among his followers and the followers of Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhalawi, another senior most Shura member, started to surface in Public. Therefore, all the senior members of the Jamat from around the world held a meeting last year on 16th November, 2015 at Raiwind Markaz, Lahore, Pakistan to fill up the eight vacant places in the Worldwide Shura Body.

The meeting at Raiwind passed some important resolutions, copy is available with us, for the smooth functioning of this great revival mission worldwide. Most importantly, the Tablighi Mashwara or the meeting at Raiwind emphatically resolved to continue its business on the Shura (consultative) system only and negated a particular Amir or leader for future.

As per the Mashwara and following opinions and suggestions from all seniors of the Jamat present, the meeting resolved that the present Shura Body would consist of 13 members. (1) Haji Abdul Wahab from Pakistan, the most senior member alive, who has been working with Tabligh ever since its inception, (2) Maulana Mohammad Saad, India, (3) Maulana Ibrahim Dewla, India, (4) Maulana Ahmad Lat, India, (5) Maulana Mohammad Yaqoob, India, (6) Maulana Mohammad Zuhairul Hasan, India, (7) Maulana Nazrur Rahman, Pakistan, (8) Maulana Abdur Rahman, Pakistan, (9) Maulana Ubaidullah Khurshid, Pakistan, (10) Maulana Ziaul Haq, Pakistan (11) Qari Mohammad Zubair, Bangladesh, (12) Maulana Rabiul Haq, Bangladesh, (13) Janab Wasiful Islam, Bangladesh. International Tablighi Shura body thus comprises 5 each members from India and Pakistan and 3 from Bangladesh.

The meeting also resolved that these members would follow and protect the noble method of the functioning of Jamat and if they need to add any member in the Shura or make any changes, whatsoever, they would do it with mutual consultation (Mashwara) and no major decision in the policy matter should be taken in Nizamuddin Markaz, India, Raiwind Markaz, Pakistan or in Kokrail Markaz, Bangladesh in autonomy without the Mashwara with existing Shura body. The meeting also resolved that in future when any member of this Shura passes away, a new member would be selected by the Rai (opinion) of two third members of the present Shura – thus making 2/3 as quorum of the present Alami Tablighi Shura (International Executive Body of Tablighi Jamat). The meeting minutes also noted that the meeting was deliberating and passing these resolutions to protect the Shurai Nizam of the work and to keep this noble mission collective one for whole of the world.

Maulana Mohammad Saad of India allegedly did not accept the above resolutions thus not singed on the document. Sadly, he disagreed with that Shura and declared himself as Amir-e Jamat, an audio clip viraled on social media reportedly from him, at least confirms this. As a consequence, Jamat members at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz, India divided into two – some supporting Maulana Mohammad Saad and some others are supporting Maulana Mohammad Zuhairul Hasan, a supporter of Alami Shura and son of former senior member Hazrat Maulana Zubairul Hasan.

The followers of both the individuals are taking extreme views. The situation is worsening each passing day. They are even taking laws in their hands and resorting to violence. All peace talks, sacrifices for each other, love and respect for fellow human, let alone your own brother in the work of Dawah, seem to be the stories of past! All the bad news are continuously coming from inside Nizamuddin Markaz for last several months.

Common followers, friends and well-wishers of Tabilighi Jamat are very anxious over this adverse situation at their world headquarter. Intellectuals, media and local administration, initially ignored it, as trivial rifts are common in every organization but on 19th June 2016, (13th Ramadhanul Mubarak) this rift took an extremely serious and ugly turn when some supporters of one of the individuals attacked their opponents with lethal weapons following a short argument on a petty issue over Iftar mat. 15 people were reportedly injured; some of them were very serious, admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi. Some of the very senior members, who support Alami Shura, have received death threat; their rooms were reportedly smashed. They left Nizamuddin Markaz putting the blame over Maulana Saad’s supporters, the letter addressed to Maulana Mohammad Saad dated 19 June, 2016 by Dr. Sanaullah Khan with sorrow and anguish indicates this.

It is time, rather it is a clarion call for ulama of Deoband, Kandhla, Mazahir, Nadwa and senior members of Jamat from Aligarh and across the world to come forward and settle the dispute before it is too late. The most successful movement of 20 century Islam – Tablighi Jamat is at the crossroad. It is here, it may take a serious but ugly turn.

[M. Burhanuddin Qasmi is Editor of Eastern Crescent and Director of Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Centre, Mumbai.]


Tussle over Tablighi Jamaat global leadership leads to violence