Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tablighi Jamaat and Jihadi terrorism: a Pakistani's view

Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement that focuses on urging Muslims to return to primary Sunni Islam; it was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi in India.

The organisation -- which maintains its international headquarters in Nizamuddin West in Delhi -- is currently estimated to have between 12 million and 150 million adherents (the majority living in South Asia), and a presence in somewhere between 150 and 213 countries.

It has been called "one of the most influential religious movements in 20th century Islam".

In recent years, security and intelligence experts across the world have discovered a number of links between Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis, including in cases of terror attacks in San Bernardino (California, December 2, 2015), and Orlando (Florida, June 12, 2016)

I have pasted below an interesting article on Tablighi Jamaat, which I have translated from Urdu to English.

Presumably written by a Pakistani, the article explains how initiation into Tablighi Jamaat can make one bump into a Jihadi or two and may even lead one into becoming an active Jihadi.

This article was posted in Feb. 2016 on

This site appears to carry some of the material originally posted on Facebook page Bhensa, which has been blocked by Pakistani authorities for acting as a forum for people who have allegedly been blaspheming against Islam.

From Tablighi Jamaat to Taliban
(Posted on February 3, 2016 by Bhensa)

It’s crucial to look at Tablighi Jamaat’s thinking in relation to that of Jihadis in order to be able to have an idea about its links with the latter.

Both (Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis) think that the majority of us Muslims have lost our way. Both think that the age in which the Prophet of Islam lived 1400 years of ago was the best of times and we all should endeavour to bring back that age.

Both believe strongly that Muslims are superior than all other nations of the world.

Both think that it’s the right of the Muslims to rule over the entire world – Islam will one day dominate the globe and we will have to struggle to achieve that end.

Both view this word as perishable and the promised world as eternal.

That being the case, they say, we should not to be too concerned with this world, but prepare for the end of the world.

This view not only takes a common man away from science, technology and progress, but also helps to prepare the minds of would be suicide bombers.

Both (Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis) believe that the entire non-Muslim world is engaged in conspiring against the Muslims and is scared of the power of Islam.

Both often talk about the Prophet’s prediction that a righteous people will rise one day, carrying the message of Allah.

Both are absolutely certain that Islam is the only right religion in the world and that people can attain salvation only by accepting Islam.

Both say it often that it’s incumbent upon them to carry the message of Allah to the world – and that they would be strictly held to account on the Day of Judgement if they failed to discharge this duty.

Both talk a lot about the blessings to be had in the Jannat.

Many times things are told in such an exaggerated manner that an unbiased person is left astonished – stories about the (promised) houris, palaces and other amenities to be provided in the Jannat, and the severe suffering that awaits the non-Muslims and the sinful Muslims.

Both have similar views about Islamic punishment.

Both insist on keeping a beard and have similar views on keeping women in purdah.

Both consider modern education, science and technology as secondary, often calling them not important and incompatible with Islam and so Haram (forbidden).

(Let’s see) How Tablighi Jamaat makes common people, especially the youth, Jihadi or supporters of Jihadis.

Suppose you are a susceptible young person exposed to the media that tells you that Muslims are being persecuted everywhere in the world.

You have also grown up on a diet of Islamic legends – Islam is the final religion of the world, the torment of the Day of Judgement would be severe, the life in the Jannat would be very cushy, and so on.

You are also pained by the injustices that happen around you. You want to end falsehood and deception in the world and bring peace and justice.

You are also born in a Muslim household that conditioned you to start going to a mosque to pray.

There you often see people associated with Tablighi Jamaat, who look decent, well behaved individuals with pleasant faces.

You see in them a reflection of all those stories you have been fed about Islamic piety and purity.

When they tell you post-Namaz about the need to learn about Quran and Hadith, you allow yourself to stay on in the mosque for the Sawab (rewards) that will accrue to you.

They tell you that Allah’s religion did not come in our own lifetimes and (so) everything that’s wrong around us is attributable to the distance that lies between us and the religion.

Having already felt the angst of all that you feel is wrong and been impressed by their ostensible piety, you tend to agree with them.

They then tell you that all evil could be eradicated if Islam were to be put into action – but first we will have to assimilate religion into our own selves.

We will have to learn the religion and work hard to bring Islam into the lives of all human beings – and then this hard work will lead to…

That is one well-worn phrase that every Tablighi utters when he gives you the Da’wah (invitation).

So you begin to mix with them. 

They then persuade you to start conducting Bayaan (speech) first and then Gasht (visiting local neighbourhoods), followed by Shab e Juma (spending Thursday night at a Tablighi centre for sermon) and Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission).

It’s said that Deen (religion) requires an atmosphere and in seeking such an atmosphere you begin to hobnob with such people.

After certain amount of mixing with them, the second phase of your education begins.

You are told how Muslims across the world are being victimized. Kashmir and Palestine are cited as examples.

Having already heard of such issues through the media, you find yourself readily agreeing with them.

Then you are told that there are two reasons behind the decline of Muslims: their being away from the path of Islam and the conspiracies hatched by others.

You are told that the Kuffar (those who don’t believe in Islam) across the world have got together to plot against Islam.

Islam will have to be made to dominate the world so that iniquity can be wiped out from the world – something that’s also incumbent upon us as Muslims.

So here you are, away from most of your family and friends, absorbing all this learning and undergoing a subtle transformation.

If anyone cautions you, you suspect that you are being sought to be turned away from the path of Allah. So you turn a deaf ear to such a caution.

Then comes a day when you start to take part in Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission). Here you are taught about Prophet’s life, Taqwa (cultivating fear of Allah and abstinence from sin), Jannat (heaven) and Dozakh (hell), etc.

You are on your way to assuming an attitude of aversion towards this perishable world. 

Tablighi missionaries consistently cite a Hadith in each of their Bayan (speech): that of the Prophet deeming this world as insignificant as the hair on the body of a mosquito.

Meanwhile, you also meet some Tablighi missionaries who are either active members of a Jihadi outfit or are friends with some active Jihadi.

Your mind has already been conditioned; you view Islam as the only solution, the world as having gone astray, the reformation of the world as your religious duty, and the pleasures of Jannat you will earn in return for all that effort.

At the same time, you begin to look intent on bringing non-Muslims, whom you consider the root cause of all evil, to the right path, and on destroying them if they resist.

In this situation, a Jihadi Tablighi brother tells you about some outfit working for the glory of Islam, mentioning the fight against the enemies of Islam, such as India, America, and Israel.

He tells you stories – with varying degrees of truth or falsehood – about how the Mujahideen have been hitting the enemies.

He then draws a parallel between those fights and Ghazwa-e-Badr (the battle fought in 624 CE in western Arabia between Muhammad and his followers and his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca; it has been passed down in Islamic history as a decisive victory attributable to divine intervention) in order to establish that Allah has been helping the Mujahideen because they are on the path of truth.

By now you have become an habitué in Tablighi Jamaat; you very often attend the Shab e Juma (spending Thursday night at a Tablighi centre for sermon) and also take part in Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission).

You have become quiet socialized and have gotten into the swing of things.

You listen to them on a daily basis; you have grown your beard and begun to consider it a wrongdoing to have one’s beard shaved off.

You start to exhort women to strictly remain in purdah and think that anyone not offering Namaz is a sinner.

You begin to view Islamic law – i.e. enforcing of Islamic punishments – as the solution for all kinds of evil and spend your days and nights thinking how Islam can influence the whole wide world.

The Jihadi brothers have all along been with you, explaining to you that Islam is in danger, enemies have been plotting against us, Allah’s Deen has been in jeopardy.

Your Namaz and Roza will earn rewards for you, but the responsibility you have to make Islam dominate the whole world can only be discharged through jihad.

So here you are – initiated on to the Jihadi road. If you have the daring, you will go for training and jihad. Otherwise, you will pray for the Jihadis, render them financial assistance when needed, provide them sanctuary, and help them in other ways.

You will exult over Islam’s victory when Jihadi attacks, such as the one on the World Trade Centre (in New York on 11 September 2001), are reported on TV, and may even shout Allahu Akbar on such an occasion.

All of this happens in real life just as simply as described here.

(That’s primarily because) very few people in our society look askance at Tablighi Jamaat and so you easily get attracted to them.

And then the extremist views don’t sound strange to your ears because the Maslak (sect of Islam or school of law) of the Tablighi Jamaat is either the same as that of Taliban and Al Qaeda or very similar.

Further, Jihadis have no problem in associating themselves with the Tablighi Jamaat because it allows freedom in joining and leaving.

The top leadership of the Tablighi Jamaat always get Dua (invocation or prayer) performed for the success of the Jihadis in its speeches.

Members of the ‘agencies’ who have been nurturing Jihadis enjoy close relations with Tablighi Jamaat, such as General Javed Nasir (former director-general of ISI who is said to have played an instrumental role in uniting the scattered mass of warring Mujahideen groups after the Soviet retreat) and Colonel Imam (another Pakistan Army and ISI officer who is widely believed to have played a key role in the formation of the Taliban; he was reported to have died in 2011, ironically while being in the custody of Taliban).

So Tablighi Jamaat gets a ‘clean chit’ from every agency.

Despite Tablighi Jamaat’s strong protestations that it has no links with terrorists and assertion that it has no responsibility for a terrorist, if any, being associated at some point with it, there are indications to the contrary.

There has never been a clear condemnation of terrorists by the Jamaat. Moreover, all terrorists have, at some point and in some manner or the other, been associated with the Jamaat.

So it won’t be an incorrect inference to draw that it’s Jamaat’s assent and support that has allowed this situation.

Tablighi congregations have also been the principal means of the terrorists’ meetings, movements and activity.

Various kinds of terrorists are sighted in the annual congregations of the Jamaat.

(End of matter)

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