Not in God’s hands: why Tabligh Jamaat’s actions are indefensible | Opinion – analysis
‘Jahiliat“It is the only adequate word to explain the indefensible actions of the Tabligh Jamaat leaders and their followers, who became one of the main vehicles for the spread of Covid-19 cases in India. Ignorance is a much broader term. Softer for this South Asian organization that has spread its tentacles in several countries around the world. Not only in India, but also in Pakistan, the organization received criticism from its authorities after about 2.5 lakh Tablighis gathered at its headquarters at Raiwind, near Lahore, on March 11. ijtema it was finally discontinued the next day, pushing everyone back, but not without the expected consequences in terms of the spread of the disease.
Bangladesh is also facing similar problems from this organization, but fortunately for this, the ijtema was held there in January this year. Tabligh holds the second largest gathering of Muslims after Hajj each year in Tongi in Bangladesh. But in the center of Islam, Saudi Arabia, it is still prohibited, since the rulers there would find it inconvenient to treat and control their Ulemas, which are located in South Asia. The Saudi muftis allege that it is related to Sufism and ask the faithful to remain faithful to their form of Puritan Islam by joining the Ahle Hadis school, which they can easily handle by issuing fatwas as the ruling family wishes.
The Tabligh movement, a branch of the Deobandi school of Islam, was formed in 1927 in Mewat, Haryana, which demanded Islamic responses to challenges to the personal and collective lives of Muslims under British imperialism. He rejected the two theories of emulating Western ideas or assimilating Western and Islamic concepts, which various Muslim scholars, including Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, were propagating. Tabligh’s founders believed that their religion was threatened by Western ideas and values on the one hand, and by Hindu revival movements like Arya Samaj on the other.
Unlike Hizb-ut-Tehrir and the Muslim Brotherhood, Tabligh remains an apolitical and non-sectarian organization, thus avoiding repression by autocratic rulers in the Muslim world. Tabligh remains largely a proselytizing organization that invites the people (Dawah) to Islam and also preaches the “true and puritanical” form of religion among the faithful. His followers proceed to proselytize and spread out in various mosques and Muslim towns. In India, it did not attract the attention of security agencies, as it did not play into the hands of the Pakistani security apparatus for sponsoring ‘jehad’ against India or supporting its narrative on the situation of Muslims in India.
But that should not be the reason to allow such organizations to continue to preach obscurantist thoughts among people, regardless of the religion to which they belong. At the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, a population that lacks scientific character can create an unprecedented crisis for the authorities and put the health infrastructure of any country under pressure. Furthermore, that of a developing country like India.
The facts remain that the gods of all religions are closing their doors to the faithful. The Vatican has issued a decree calling on priests around the world to observe the observance of Easter (April 12) without meetings. It says “in countries that have been affected by the disease and where restrictions have been imposed around the assembly and the movement of people, bishops and priests can celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of people and in a right place …”
Hajj, the largest gathering of Muslims in Saudi Arabia, could be in jeopardy as authorities there have asked worshipers to delay plans to visit Mecca in late July. It is a rare occurrence with the latter more than 200 years ago. Mecca and Medina, the pilgrims’ visit from the two cities, closed a month ago and the Saudis closed their borders to foreigners and restricted movements within the Kingdom.
History is no different for Hindu shrines. Among the shrines that draw large crowds that have been closed are the Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu, the Tirupati Temple, the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati and the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Maharashtra.
So there is no point in looking up to heaven for some miracle to happen. If it happens, it will be in laboratories around the world where scientists are burning midnight oil to save people’s lives, regardless of the religions to which they belong.
Like Tabligh, anyone who preaches that everything is in God’s hands would be hurting his own community and humanity in general at this critical juncture. These thoughts can wreak havoc on their communities and on those who live in the surrounding areas. A support population that understands the pitfalls of violating the restrictions would be an asset to any government in dealing with this unprecedented pandemic. A regular briefing by those on the front lines of fighting the disease is a better way to keep people up to date on the latest developments and keep them well informed for better compliance. This will restrict the space for preachers of all religions to deceive people.
(Avinash Mohananey managed the Jammu and Kashmir desks and Operations in the Intelligence Office. He has also served in Pakistan and retired as DGP Sikkim)