The understanding of such a movement which has had a global effect, changing the ideology of millions of people and made them better understanding Muslims, was important. The realizing of the different ways of conveying the message of Islam that we can use is very important and since the “Tablighi Jamaat” is one of the most successful movements in modern times, a short introduction is presented here. The aims of this article is to give a brief understanding of where this movement originates from and what are its aims and purposes.
The founder of this movement is the great scholar of Islam, Maulana Muhammed Ilyas. Dr Mumtaz Ahmed writes: “Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat of South Asian subcontinent, is arguably one of the most influential, yet least well-known, figures of twentieth century Islam. Despite his enormous contribution towards the development of a powerful grass root Islamic Da’wah movement, Maulana Ilyas has not received much attention in literature regarding modern Islamic movements. Most of the Western, and even Muslim, scholarships have remained occupied with the more dramatic manifestations of Islamic revivalist upsurge. The available literature on Maulana Ilyas and his Tablighi movement is mostly in Urdu and that too consists mainly of inspirational works by its leaders and devotional writings by its followers and supporters.” Great Muslims of the Twentieth Century” (1998:86)
Maulana Ilyas was born in 1885 in a small town in the United Province of British India in a family of religious scholars. He received his early religious education at home and later went to the famous centre of Islamic education in Deoband where he studied the Qur’an, Prophetic traditions, jurisprudence and other Islamic sciences under the early Deoband luminaries. After completing his education at Deoband, Maulana Ilyas took up a teaching position at another famous school Known as Mazaharul Uloom in Saharanpur (U.P., India).
It was at this point in his life that Maulana Ilyas became aware of the ‘miserable Islamic situation’ in the Mewat region near Delhi where the majority of Muslims were living a life that had very little to do with Islamic teachings and practices. Maulana Ilyas fully aware of the difficult task ahead was determined to bring the Meo Muslims back to the fold of true Islam. In the early 1920s, he prepared a team of young Madrasa (Religious school) graduates from Deoband and Saharanpur and sent them to Mewat to establish a network of Mosques and Islamic schools throughout the region.
The new movement was met with dramatic success in relatively short period of time, due to Maulana Ilyas’s utmost devotion, determined efforts and sincerity of purpose. As a result many Muslims joined Maulana Ilyas’s movement to preach the message of Islam in every town and village of Mewat. The rapid success of his efforts can be seen from the fact that the first Tablighi conference held in November 1941 in Mewat was attended by 25,000 people many of them had walked on foot for ten to fifteen miles to attend the conference.
His eagerness and strong determination to reach every Muslim and remind him of his obligations as a believer took priority over every thing else. His passionate concern for the spiritual welfare of his fellow Muslims caused him great grief. A friend once came to visit him while he was on his deathbed. Maulana Ilyas greeted his friend by telling him. “People out there are burning in the fire of ignorance and you are wasting your time here inquiring after my health!”
The aim of the movement is to present the world with such a beautiful living image of Islam that all people being attracted to it’s peaceful and balanced message eventually practice Islam. This is achievable, the movement believes, only when Muslims are made to see this life as temporary, gifted by God only for a fixed time span in order to prepare for a perpetually fully satisfying reward, or for a never ending unbearable punishment in an everlasting afterlife .
The typical daily routine at the Masjid begins with Fajr prayers at dawn followed by a talk that gets over at 8.00am . At this talk the listeners are told of the necessity of purifying their own following of Islam from all non-Islamic practices, and also of the necessity of visiting Muslim communities in order to spread true Islam among them through an example that emulates the way of Prophet Muhammad and his companions . From 8.00 to 11.00am the visitors are slowly divided into groups of roughly ten people each, and asked to choose a leader from among themselves, preferably an elderly person. Then they are given a destination; the distance depending on how much money the individual members of the group have been able to bring along for this purpose. At 11.00am there is another talk lasting until Zuhr (after noon) prayers that tells them what propogation work they should focus on when they reach their determined destinations. After Zuhr prayers there is lunch and the groups leave. Between 3.00 to 5.00pm (punctuated by Asr prayers) there is a talk on certain aspects of Islam for newcomers, those who started arriving after 10.00am . After the Maghrib prayers there is some recitation from the Qur’an, and from the life of the Prophet and his companions with explanations and exhortations. After supper and Isha prayers there are meetings in language based groups, where individuals recall the events of the day, their attitudes at those times, and subject themselves to correction. About an hour after Isha prayers everyone goes to sleep.
The elders of this movement have recommended that every Muslim should give time for this work.
Abul Hasan Nadawi (1983) “Life and mission of Maulana Muhammed Ilyas” 2 nd edition, Academy of Islamic research Lucknow India.
Muhammed Tahir (1987) “The History of Jamaate Tabligh” Printing press Karachi
Mufti A. Haq (1987) “The Tablighi Jamaat Movement” Aziz Printing house Lahore, Pakistan