The realpolitik of Tablighi Jamaat

by April 29, 2020 0 comments

The Tablighi Jamaat members claim to be non-political but they tacitly support “secular” political parties in India to protect their interest after partition of the country

The Tablighi Jamaat (society of Preachers) was founded by a Deobandi Islamic scholar Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in Mewat, India, in 1926 with the objective of establishing a group of dedicated preachers as a Muslim revivalist society, who could reclaim “true” Islam, which he felt was not being practiced by many Muslims. The slogan Al-Kandhlawi coined for his new organization captured the essence of its activities — “O Muslims, become true Muslims.” By the mid-1930s, Tablighi Jamaat had a programme of belief, which included, beyond the five pillars of Islam and Islamic doctrinal tenets the following: Islamic education, modest Islamic dress, and appearance, rejection of other religions, high regard for Muslims ( yet allowed to operate in India since 1947 ), propagating Islam, self-financing of Tablighi trips, lawful means of earning a living, and strict avoidance of divisive and sectarian issues. Tablighi Jamaat is often considered extremely orthodox in its interpretations, with the ability to convert Muslims into radical believers.

The organization grew fast in British India. In its annual conference held in November 1941, some 25,000 people attended. After Partition, it grew stronger in Pakistan and East Pakistan (lately Bangladesh). Now, Tablighi’s largest national wing is in Bangladesh. The group has a presence in 150 countries and millions of followers. Incidentally, it was our great Mahatma Gandhi who convinced Maulana Ilyas to stay back in India at the time of partition and India continues to pay a huge price for Mahatma’s sin.

The Tablighi Jamaat has been banned in some Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, whose governments see its puritanical preachings as extremist.

The Tablighi Jamaat members claim to be non-political but they tacitly support “secular” political parties in India to protect their interest after the partition of the country. They say the Prophet Mohammed has commanded all Muslims to convey the message of Allah, and the Tablighis take this as their duty. They divide themselves into small Jamaats (societies) and travel frequently across the world to spread the message of Islam to Muslim houses. During this travel, they stay in local mosques. This free spread has enabled them to meet vulnerable deprived section of Hindu population in India and backed up by the power of petrodollars & ISI dirty money machine including the vast network of Dawood Ibrahim and other anti-national entities, they have converted a large section of the population in the last 70 years with ease and without coercion with the tacit support of secular political outfits in India.

The group’s modus operandi is deceptively peaceful, so much so that it outsmarted even super cop Ajit Doval, now India’s National Security Adviser and a former intelligence boss, said in 2013— “The movement was never viewed adversely by the government.” But the Tablighi Jamaat has been banned in some Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, whose governments see its puritanical preachings as extremist.

Radicalism and Role in Acts of Terror

Some TJ followers have worked as allies of Jihadi and sectarian organizations. However, once they joined the militant organizations, they cut off their links with the Tablighis. The terror groups have used the TJ congregations as recruitment camps. Tablighi Jamaat has been a sympathizer and supporter of Jihadi organizations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda and Taliban. “As per WikiLeaks, some of the 9/11 Al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, years ago”. According to Pakistani security analysts and Indian investigators, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) members, involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999, were members of Tablighi Jamaat.

The 2011 U.S investigation reports suggest that Tablighi Jamaat had supported members of Al Qaeda to get visas and funds to travel from Pakistan. Moreover, there are many more such cases from Kenya, Somalia, and Pakistan. It leads us to the conclusion that Tablighi Jamaat is used as a conduit by Islamic terrorist organizations to facilitate travels for their members. The Tablighi Jamaat has become Jihadi spotter as they exhort the Muslims to devote themselves to religion[1]. One of the attackers in the 2017 London Bridge AttackYoussef Zaghba, was associated with the Tablighi Jamaat. Mohammed Siddique Khan, leader of the 7th July London Bombings in 2005, was also a member of the Tablighi Jamaat[2].

Saad claims to have 100 crore followers in 214 countries; this includes almost 3-4 crore converts in Western UP that his Jamaat has successfully targeted in the last 70 years in connivance with the so-called secular political parties of India in general and UP specifically.

Saad-The new Khalifa

Born on May 10, 1965, Maulana Muhammad Saad is the Amir (chief) of the Tablighi Jamaat. He is the grandson of Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, who founded Tablighi Jamaat. Maulana Saad became the chief of the Tablighi Jamaat on November 16, 2015. He was a member of ‘Shura’ (central consultative council) of Tablighi Jamaat from 1995 to 2015. He studied Maulviyat from the madrasa Kashif-ul-Uloom located in a part of Markaz. A former head of the Tablighi Jamaat Inamul Hasan Kandhlawi had formed a 10-member committee before his death in 1995 to look after the Tablighi Jamaat affairs and this committee (commonly shura) was in place until 2015[3][4]. Most of the scholars in this group passed away during these 20 years including Zubair ul Hassan Kandhlawi[5]. A meeting was held in Raiwind Markaz on 16 November 2015 to fill up the vacant spaces of the shura legislation and a new shura consisting of 13 members including Muhammad Abdul Wahhab was formed[6]. Kandhlawi did not agree with this shura and declared himself as the head of Tablighi Jamaat, Kandhlawi leads the Nizamuddin Markaz faction of the Tablighi Jamaat[7]. Some of the intemperate statements of Kandhlawi led the Deobandi scholars to issue a Fatwa against him.

Saad claims to have 100 crore followers in 214 countries; this includes almost 3-4 crore converts in Western UP that his Jamaat has successfully targeted in the last 70 years in connivance with the so-called secular political parties of India in general and UP specifically. Tablighi Jamaat has changed the religious landscape of UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Kerala, and Maharashtra extensively by targeting vulnerable and marginalized section of Hindu population with the power of petrodollars aided by secular ruling elites of India by creating vote bank for secular parties and in return, converting millions of Hindus by exploiting a weakness of Article 25(1) ( this article guarantees to every person, and not merely to the citizens of India, the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion). Tablighi Jamaat used “not merely to the citizens of India” weapon extensively over the years under the nose of the Indian state for the last 70 years by inviting many radical preachers and import of petrodollars to facilitate the growth of Muslim population from less than 7% In 1947 to 14.5% in 2011 to likely 16.8% in 2021[8].

Furthermore, there are indeed some links between Tablighis and the world of Jihadism. First, there is evidence of indirect connections between the group and the wider radical/extremist Deobandi nexus composed of anti-Shiite sectarian groups, Kashmiri militants, and the Taliban. As per intelligence reports, Rohingyas residing in camps in different parts of the country, have a direct link with Tablighi Jamaat and they took part in a religious congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz. There are around 40,000 Rohingyas living in different parts of the country and only 17,000 have registered as refugees with the UNHCR. The government has repeatedly insisted that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, even those registered with the UN refugee agency, and would be deported. But Tablighi Jamaat and it’s Muslim Ummah (brotherhood) slogan is playing a dangerous game by offering means and ways to assist Rohingyas to secure ration cards, Aadhar cards, ID proof to facilitate the permanent stay in India.

Coronavirus pandemic 2019-2020

Amid Coronavirus Lockdown[9], a number of patients from Nizamuddin were tested and found to be positive for Coronavirus, which resulted in the Kejriwal Delhi Government reluctantly registering an FIR against Kandhlawi for arranging a Tablighi Jamaat program despite restriction of such gatherings after March 16 at the Nizamuddin Markaz[9]. The Tablighi Jamaat congregation took place between 13 and 15 March 2020. They had sought help from authorities for vacating the premises on March 25. On 31 March 2020, FIR was filed against Kandhlawi and others by Delhi Police Crime Branch under Section 3 (the penalty for offense) of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897[10] and Sections 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) and 120b (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Later the police have slapped 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder): ED has filed a PMLA case and the IT department is scanning the bank accounts and suspicious transactions of Tablighi Jamaat. Over 2,000 people, including foreigners with a tourist visa and radical Indians from across the country, participated in the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin which violated lockdown guidelines and exposed many to COVID-19. Nizamuddin Markaz has been the international headquarters of the Jamaat for nearly 100 years. As per reports, over a large number of attendees began showing symptoms of COVID-19 after attending the congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz, acted with criminal intent to spread the virus across the country.

Why Tablighi Jamaat Antagonized their Defense?

Spitting and pelting stones have almost become weapons of war for the Tablighis. It make one question as to what can be the reason for this kind of deplorable behavior? According to some news reports, there have been protests against medical staff, and resistance against going to hospitals is not related to COVID-19. Some of the issues cited by them are CAA, NRC, Triple Talaq, Babri Masjid, etc. Unfortunately, the community is still hanging on to the political matters with a focus on discrediting the Narendra Modi government at any cost while the entire nation is combating the national health emergency. The country must take the threat of the Tablighis as an eye-opener for future planning that must include the complete ban on Tablighi Jamaat in India, seizers of entire assets base of Tablighi Jamaat, identify ancillary units of Tablighi Jamaat so that they can be stopped in operating under different names, punish the traitors of COVID 19, immediately amend Article 25(1) so that the money and preachers from outside the country can be restricted in their operations ( it is a national security threat ), set up an expert committee to re-examine provisions under Article 25-30 in the Indian constitution and give additional power to the police in IPC & CRPC to identity and book the anti-national culprits. It is important that Deoband, Barelvi, Salafi ideologies managing the network of the mosque in India must be brought under government supervision and control as the temples of India are supervised under Religious endowment Act 1873. India is the only place on the earth where Hindus can claim as their own; it is the last chance for the Hindu community to save themselves from the onslaught of the ever-increasing threat of monotheistic cult.

But there are few questions that the nation would be keen to know from the government of the day:

  • The role of Indian foreign mission issuing tourist visas with impunity and without proper verification of the person travelling to India.
  • The role of the bureau of immigration staff at the international airport for allowing seamless entry of mentally and physically sick persons in India.
  • The role of IB desk dealing with Tablighi Jamaat & other related similar organizations operating in India with zero restriction, here it is important to mention that Narendra Modi government is in its sixth year of existence.
  • The role of the Delhi government that failed comprehensively in allowing the assembly of over 3000 jokers at a single place despite there was an international red alert.
  • The role of Delhi police under MHA for sleeping over a month till the situation became out of control and the country is paying a huge penalty for the incompetence of irresponsible government agencies.

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.


[1] Tabligh-e-Jama’ at Under the Scanner of German Intelligence – MP-IDSA

[2] Tablighi Jamaat: An Indirect Line to Terrorism – Jan 23, 2008, Stratfor

[3] Tablighi Jamaat – Wikipedia

[4] Inamul Hasan Kandhlawi – Wikipedia

[5] Zubair ul Hassan Kandhlawi – Wikipedia

[6] Muhammad Abdul Wahhab – Wikipedia

[7] Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque – Wikipedia

[8] India’s population at 1.21 billion; Hindus 79.8%, Muslims 14.2% – Aug 26, 2015, Business Standard

[9] 2020 coronavirus lockdown in India – Wikipedia

[9] Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque – Wikipedia

[10] Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 – Wikipedia

(Writer: Prashant Tewari can be contacted at twitter# prashanttewari11 & OR – Courtesy: PGURUS)

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