The Tablighi Jamaat has recently become a sensational news topic for their catalytic role in the spread of COVID-19 in India. The Jamaat was founded in 1926 by Muḥammad Ilyās ibn Muḥammad Ismā‘īl Kāndhlawī Dihlawī when he noticed that neo-Muslims in India were subscribing to Hindu culture and traditions, and weren’t being easily enchanted by the orthodox and inappropriate Arabic traditions that Islam preaches.
Kandhlawi, in his tour to the Mewat region of Harayana, noticed that the Indian Muslim adherents were following certain traditions of the rich Hindu culture. Infuriated, he decided to create his own branch of the Deoband sect (a further classification of the Hanafi branch of Sunni Islam) that would attempt the inculcation of foreign Arabic practices and traditions Indian Muslims. As per Kandhlawi, those Muslims who were being inclusive and following the traditions of the locals weren’t “real” Muslims. His idea of “real” Muslims were those who followed the traditions of their Prophet Mohammed, who lived 1400 years ago.
The Tablighi Jamaat has been active in the “othering” of Muslims from the local Hindu population. They choose to follow what their Arabic counterparts discarded years ago to be more ritualistic and orthodox (in a bid to follow “real” Islam). This branch of Islamic adherents have regularly been involved in rioting, communal hatred and instigation of terrorist activities. The convicted terrorists involved in the 7/7 London bombings that shook the United Kingdom were also believers of this sect.
The United States and United Kingdom’s intelligence agencies too are concerned over the use of Tablighi Jamaat members as sleeper cells for the dreaded terror organisations such as Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror outfits.
As per a Wikileaks report, the known terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda used the Jamaat to procure visas for their operatives. The Jamaat follows an extremely violent and orthodox version of Islam, which sympathises with Radical Islamic terror outfits and calls for the exclusion of “non-believers and their sympathisers”. The Jamaat has on numerous occasions proved to be breeding ground for terrorist sympathisers, and used for recruitment purposes by terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The branch is hostile to any reform in Islamic society, including the criminalisation of Triple Talaq and a very aggressive supporter of the imposition of Sharia law in countries where Muslims are in majority.
The Ministry of Home affairs has also been suspicious of the group and advised the Ministry of External affairs to not give visas to those who intend to participate in missionary activities from foreign countries. There’s also a separate investigation being conducted on whether the Tablighi Jamaat receives any funding or favours from banned Islamic organisations.