The 21st Century Phenomenon



Tablighi Jamaat (Conveying Group in Urdu, which is a Persian dialect) was founded in 1926 in India by Muhammad Ilyas, a Muslim religious scholar in the Deobandi school of Islam, an Eastern parallel version of Wahhabism in the Arab world of the Middle East. 


The aim of Tablighi Jamaat is spiritual reformation of Muslims through the grass roots level and reaching out to all Muslims of the world to bring them closer to the directives of Allah (god) and life practices of Prophet Muhammad.


Tablighi Jamaat began to expand its activities outside India in 1946, and within two decades the group reached Southwest and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Before Europe, the movement first established itself in the United States. It established a large presence in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, with the construction of the Dewsbury Markaz (center) in England, UK became the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat with a strong branch in France, primarily due to the large South Asian population that began to immigrate to Europe. By 2007, Tablighi Jamaat members were situated at 600 of Britain’s 1350 Mosques.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991, the movement expended it activities into Central Asia. By 2008, the organization had a presence in nearly 120 countries and had become a leading revivalist movement. However, it maintains a majority presence in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with its international headquarters in the Nizamuddin West district of Delhi, India, called Nizamuddin Markaz. The Tablighi Jamaat condemns and opposes “extremism and militancy in the name of Islam” and any attempt to enforce Shariaa: “Shariaa cannot be enforced at gunpoint” said the local leader (Emir) of Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan when referring to the Taliban and the Swat-Crisis, in 04/29/2009.  


Despite its pacifist stance, Tablighi Jamaat has appeared on the fringes of numerous terrorism investigations. One of the London 7/7 suicide bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, studied at the Deobandi seminary in Dewsbury and Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the London 7/7 terror plot, was a regular worshipper at the adjoining mosque. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was said to have been influenced by Tablighi Jamaat, several of whose adherents were also among those arrested last year over an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.


Currently, there is a council of two people performing as Emir: Zubair ul Hasan and Saad Kandhalawi in India. In Pakistan the duties of the Emir are being served by Muhammad Abdulwahhab.
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