Tablighi Jamaat draws widespread condemnation from Muslim society

A. M. Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 31, 2020 Published on March 31, 2020

People who attended the Tabligh-e-Jamaat congregation earlier this month at Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, board a bus to be taken to a hospital for coronavirus screening.

But there is also concern at the attempt to paint a community as responsible

Minority organisations, Muslim clerics and academics tracking developments in the Muslim society condemned the act of the Tablighi Jamaat, which held a congregation in Nizamuddin here, defying the warning of authorities in mid-March. The congregation resulted in the spread of Covid-19 among many people who attended it. They, however, expressed concern at the attempt to paint a community as being responsible for the spread of the disease for the “foolish act” of an organisation.

Jamiat Ulema I Hind, arguably the largest organisation of Muslims in the country, said the Tablighi Jamaat should not have held such a meeting at a time when the whole world is fighting the epidemic. Jamiat’s general secretary and former MP in Rajya Sabha Maulana Mahmood Madani told BusinessLine that the guilty should be punished. “But it should not be done through a media trial. Governments and legal systems should decide the punishment. Their version should also be heard. Lakhs of people were on the roads after the lockdown. This is one reason why some hundreds of people were stuck in their office. The mismanagement in carrying out the lockdown is also to be blamed for what happened,” Madani said.

Madani said there are ten lakh mosques in the country. “We all decided to accept the Governments’ orders and closed down the mosques. But if four or five mosques opened during the lockdown, the entire community should not be blamed. Already, there is Islamophobia in the country. Such incidents should not add to this problem,” he said. Jamiat spokesperson Niaz Farooqui added that the community should not get a feeling of witch-hunting. “The gravity of the problem is large. Instead of addressing this problem, we are engaging in blame-game. Positivity is needed,” he said.

Author and researcher Mahmood Kooria, who teaches history at Ashoka University, said minorities should have been extra careful in situations like this, especially as one of the first deaths in the country was also related to Islamic pilgrimage. “The Shaheen Bagh protesters are the best example, as they discontinued the struggle in the face of the pandemic. Religious gatherings across Asia have been at the forefront of spreading the virus, whether churches or mosques in South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, and we see that happening in India too now. Tablighi Jamaat is particularly blamed in Malaysia for a mass gathering they did in Sri Petaling, and in Indonesia for going ahead with another massive gathering till the last minute. Their counterparts in India should have been extra careful given the experiences in Malaysia,” Kooria said.

Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary group, said V Shefeeque, who teaches political science at Muslim Educational Society College, Mampad, Kerala. “They claim that they spread the teachings of Prophet Muhammed among Muslims, who have been ‘polluted’ by the material conditions. They don’t work for the establishment of an Islamic state like Jamaat-e-Islami or generally do not take the ‘hardline’ path of organisations such as the Popular Front of India. By and large, they consist of working professionals, small and large businessmen,” Shefeeque, who has done research on the activities of various Islamist organisations, said.

He added that religious gatherings, especially by Semitic religions have resulted in the spread of Corona virus in many countries, especially in South Asia. “In the light of these developments, this programme should have been cancelled. Provided, many of the followers and leaders of this group belong to educated classes including doctors and teachers,” he said.

Published on March 31, 2020

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