Written by Shreya Panda, a grade 11 student
The Jamaat’s founder, Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandhalawi, once famously said, “Oh Muslims be good Muslims” – and that is in essence, the organization’s main objective – to promote the ideals of Islam among Muslims.
What is the Tablighi Jamaat?
The Tablighi Jamaat, which means society of preachers, is a non-political, global religious movement stressing individual faith, introspection, and spiritual development. They reach the ordinary Muslims and revive their faith, mainly in matters of rituals, dress, personal behaviour, and so on. Inspired by the Deobandi creed, the Tablighis urge fellow Muslims to live like the Prophet did.
The organization doesn’t focus on converting people from other religions to Islam. Rather, the try to “purify” the Muslim faith. Even though they’re critical about violence in the name of religion, the Tablighi Jamaat preachings have been considered extremist in many governments due to their puritanical ideas.
The organization was established during British India, around the same time as its Hindu counterpart; The Shuddhi Movement. Today, the Tablighi Jamaat is still prominent in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, with its largest national wing in Bangladesh.
Why is this organisation now in news?
We are all aware of the annual congregation in Delhi of followers of the Jamaat. Of about 4,400 COVID-19 positive cases in India, nearly a third are related to the religious gathering at the Markaz, as the Jamaat headquarters is known. The government claimed more than eight thousand people, including foreigners, visited the headquarters in Delhi in March.
However could this have been prevented? Was there a better way the situation could have been handled? Truth be told, the religious gathering in Delhi was highly irresponsible but the central government shares the blame too. This gathering in Delhi is one of the several such cases involving large gatherings after the first case of Covid-19 being reported; to begin with, the Namaste Trump rally and then the migrants gathering in cities including Delhi a few days before the Markaz gathering. It is alarming to note that many places of mass worship and religious significance were still open even after WHO declared the pandemic. Each such event could have potentially seeded the virus into the population and should have therefore been cancelled or prevented.
Very clearly, community leaders have been highly irresponsible but while that is true, the government didn’t take strict measures after the incident either. The State Health Ministry didn’t consider the coronavirus as a health emergency despite having above seventy cases reported already. The government didn’t do anything other than banning gatherings of masses over 200 people a week succeeding the event. What stopped the State Government from adhering to the Centre’s advice of restricting and avoiding all mass gatherings until the pandemic was contained?
Hence, while such careless events shouldn’t be supported at such times of crises, proper preventive measures and implementation of procedures have to be taken care of by the government. But the truth remains that it’s only the citizens who can take careful steps and protect themselves. The Tablighi Jamaat incident sure was irresponsible, but the matter has to be taken into our own hands for our own life’s sake.
Written by Shreya Panda
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