Muslim leaders, clerics to Tablighi Jamaat workers

New Delhi: Muslim leaders across the country have advised Tablighi Jamaat workers to not “shun modern science or technology, be informed and restrict Deen ka kaam (religious work) to your own families for now”.

Most of the Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders that ET spoke to unequivocally condemned the approach of the group even as they questioned the role of the administration in not taking adequate steps to disperse the crowd earlier.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Farooqui said the Jamaat head Maulana Sa’ad has to apologise and not just to the community but to the nation. “He should take responsibility, come forward and own up to what has happened. This is the time we should have been fighting this together. Not making it difficult for others.”

Farooqui said the members of Tablighi Jamaat have never been associated with anti-social activities. “But now, if the reports that are coming up, of some people disregarding the efforts of medical professionals, are true, then that behaviour is condemnable. This is not what the legacy of the group is.”

Cleric Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, Imam of Lucknow Eidgah said “an impartial and a time-bound enquiry” into what happened at the Markaz would reveal a lot. “But it has to be told very clearly that the Quran encourages you to research. The Prophet himself has asked to take precautions, follow community guidelines at the time of crisis. It is non- Islamic to dishonour the efforts of doctors.”

Chairman of All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council, Syed Naseeruddin Chisty of Ajmer Dargah told ET that the members of the Tablighi Jamaat, by accompanying international tourists to Indian households and mosques, had risked several lives.

“The need of the hour is for the members to understand the gravity of what they have done. The Jamaatis need to keep themselves informed of the situation around them and see how they can help,” he said.

Members associated with the organisation, however, said the activities of the Jamaat were “voluntary”. They refuted allegations by some experts, who said the group largely followed a non-consultative approach with other Muslim organisations.

According to an IT professional who works in Gurgaon, “Engaging with real Muslims as friends, showing the world that Islam as an accountable social entity – this is all we do. We don’t get into any political talk. Not even NRC or Ram Temple. Where else can you find professionals and fruit sellers stay, eat and pray in the masjid,” the professional said, on condition of anonymity.

Defending Sa’ad’s call to occupy mosques in wake of COVID-19 spread Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Arshad Madani said it has to be seen in perspective as “no religious leader will let his place of worship get abandoned”

“But once the intensity of the crisis emerged, he did ask his followers to abide by rules.”

Madani also said there was no difference, his organisation -considered among the most popular muslim groups, had with Tablighi Jamaat.

Tablighi Jamaat, known to focus on personal practices of Muslims, has also been criticised by Muslim preacher Zakir Naik who had said that the group’s unwillingness to indulge in conversion of Non Muslims to Muslims, and focus only on its own community was against the message of the Quran.

Several others have blamed the group for promoting “weak hadith” and being overly insistent on their ways as being pure Islamic.

“It was our forefathers who started the Jamaat and we don’t think they have done anything wrong. We focus on Islamic training, they focus on those who don’t have training which is an important work too. The Jamaats are known to go to the most backward places, making the Muslims, better Muslims. But this religious work should now be restricted to their their families alone, till this pandemic gets over.”

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