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By: Er.Ishfaq Khaliq

Saudi government bans Tabligi Jammat claiming that it not only preaches faith in a wrong way but also encourages terrorism. Recently the news was making rounds on social media and other news platforms. The move triggered massive spate of discussions across the Muslim countries which generally criticized the move since the Tablighi jamaat is a historic organization- a Sunni Islamic missionary movement that has been actively involved in spreading the message of Islam across the globe trying to reach out to Muslim community to refine and better understand the faith. The proselytizing movement aims to reach out to ordinary Muslims and revive their faith, particularly in matters of prayers, ritual, dress, and personal behavior nothing more than that. Its roots lie in the Deobandi version of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.

The Jamaat was launched by a Deobandi cleric and prominent Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandhalavi in 1927 in Mewat, when he taught at the Mazaharul Uloom in Saharanpur in the mid-1920s. it was situated a few hundred kilometers away from Mewat were the economically and educationally backwards Meo peasants, mostly traditional Muslims lived. Maulana Ilyas began bringing Meo Muslims back into the fold of the actual path of Islam and trained several young men from Deoband and Saharanpur and sent them to Mewat, where the Tablighi Jamaat established a network of madrasas and Mosques. In two decades after its launch, the Tablighi Jamaat had spread beyond the Mewat region. In the first Tablighi conference held in 1941, approximately 25,000 people from across North India attended.

The Tablighi Jamaat is based on six principles. The first is the kalmia, an article of faith in which the Tablighi accepts that there is no God but Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is his messenger. The second is salaat, or prayer five times daily. The third is ilm and dhikr, the knowledge and remembrance of Allah conducted in sessions in which the congregation listens to preaching by the imam, performs prayers, recites the Quran and reads the Hadith; the congregation also uses these sessions to dine together, thus fostering a sense of community and identity. The fourth principle is Ikram-i-Muslim, the treatment of fellow Muslims with honor. The fifth is ikhlas-i-niyat or sincerity of intention. And the sixth is dawat-o-tabligh or proselytizing and is nothing concerning jihad etc. It therefore focuses on preaching true beliefs.

Arabia has banned the Tablighi Jamaat, terming it a “danger to society” and “one of the gates of terrorism”. The country’s Minister of Islamic Affairs made an announcement on social media directing the mosques to warn people against associating with them during the Friday sermon. But facts say that it focuses on exhorting Muslims and encouraging fellow members to follow the pure form of Sunni Islam and no mention of terrorism is ever made by the Jamaat.

It has often been criticized by other groups for being too apolitical, however, scholars suggest that the secret of the sustained growth and spread of this missionary movement is being away from politics. Right now Maulana Saad Kandelvi is heading the Tablighi Jamaat in the Indian subcontinent and you will never find a any written or spoken word about terrorism from him. It is impossible because Tablighi Jamaat has a strict policy of complete dissociation from politics which is known to everybody so much so that even the CIA officials appreciated this aspect of Tablighi Jamaat.

The ban is not only unjustified and baseless but it also threatens the initiatives of the Jamaat which will now be seen with suspicion and doubt. After all, Saudi’s charities have been the chief source of funds for the movement which was launched in India to “purify” Islam. Some governments may also follow Saudi decision and choke the organization of the funding as well as moral strength it needs.

It seems that the main reason of the ban was that it was contradicting the Saudis principal movement of the ideology of Islam. After the outcry regarding this decision by Saudi Arabia, Muslims across countries are seeking the lifting of the ban- some have even gone to the extent of seeking an apology from the Saudi government about its decision.

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