My forty days with Tableeghi Jamaat

By Caeser Ali Khan

tableeghi jamat

Do we love our children enough to give them the education which they actually need? Only the wise parents understand that the education of character begins at a very young age. For further intellectual education we send them to schools and other institutions. Further education we learn from our experiences in life and the world.
They need skilled guidance but they need companionship and freedom too otherwise, some essential elements of education must be lacking. But there is politics. We are driven step by step into that sphere of politics. That is the dilemma that in our country the conscientious parents being not satisfied with many institutions and the over-all environment are compromising on educating their children.
Reasoned opposition to the system and dogma in this country is need of the day but it is one of the most dangerous challenges. If I am reluctant to expose my children to evils in our society, I have no other option but to choose the lesser evil. Whether the reader shares or rejects my views, I am sharing my personal bad experience with one of the most influential institutions of the day which works on moral education of the community and social uplift of the society. It is located in Raiwend, Lahore with a network of Tablighi maraakaz all over the country. I joined them (Tabligh) when I was 21. I gave it up for so many years but rejoined them to see whether it has improved over the time or not. Unfortunately, no improvement. Although when seen from outside, it seems totally apolitical but politics is running through its veins. The systematic incitement of religious hatred and the idea that only “experts” can speak up on such urgent matters has ruined everything through NOT questioning the status quo. To me the purpose of Tabligh in Pakistan is to mentally brainwash people for sacrificing lives of the many for the comforts of the few. Their campaign starts and ends with a message, “If you were a good and true Muslim, you would not care so much about your worldly losses.”
They roam around in the streets and grab you by your ears with Assalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuhu. My first day started with facing them out of nowhere while I was on my way towards our football ground. If you are from a well to do family, they have a special package for you which they call Ijtema-e-khawaas. Nothing impressed me during my forty days with them but their style, exaggerations and bluffing. For them their ‘Six numbers’ are more than enough to give you a complete code of life. At times you find them totally not well in head. They push you back to the medieval times. They strongly believe in and pass on the myths which their elderly Tablighis have propagated since ages. For example, they believe that nothing can harm you if you recite Ayatul kursi before going to sleep. They eat and sleep well, by the way. Eat as much as sweets you can no matter how much seriously diabetic you are. Anyone selected randomly by the tablighi volunteers becomes your team lead. Most of them don’t know Quran and history of Islam. They have built a parallel universe of myths for the simple laymen and educated goofs. Their typical style of narrating stories is another interesting aspect of Tablighi Jamaat. I do remember an interesting story which our Ameer, Team lead, narrated to us in a very much classic way. Let me share how they speak about the story of Satan and God.
“Satan is our worst enemy from the very onset when he was residing up in heavens among other pious angels. He was allowed to freely move from first heaven to the seventh and also he shared his abode with Gabriel. But only one mystifying billet, on top of the seventh sky, was inexplicably prohibited area. The very front door baffled Satan every time he sneaked if he could avoid omnipresent God. Neither he could slink nor God showed any sign of slackness. Being loud-mouthed and pushy angel, he was pushing God’s wrath on the kingdom of aliens (jinn) on earth. After the devastation, God needed someone for ruling on earth on His behalf. Satan was hankering for ruling the seven earths, far away from God. It was a golden chance for him to be a ruler in his own right. Satan rubbed his forehead black for seven hundred thousand years till the door was opened. Driven mad, purring with anticipation, he was twitchy and jumpy and finally cataleptic. Seven hundred thousand years could not slacken his fortitude. He entered the cavernous small room where it was nothing but only one door on the front wall. Another seven hundred thousand years on his knees but again an extension of that cave into another room.
Thus he wobbled for forty nine hundred thousand years till he found himself in front of a startling phrase crafted on Arsh-e-moallah: La Ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad ur Rasolallah.
Satan was ordered to bow before Adam on earth. But Satan replied that he was made of fire and called it his insult to duck before a fool and below his dignity. Therefore, he started insulting Adam. He was shouting that most of the time Adam sleeps and the time he does not, he is intoxicated with grapes. He knows not his own name, he stares like an owl, wobbles like a dog and he stinks like shit of a goose, and the extension in his legs spits on his own self, almost daily in the morning.
But Satan knew not that God loved the horrible smell of man, his earthly roots, his impotent knowledge of things, the yearning in his puppy eyes, his covetous nature and the madness in his crazy lout.
And Satan roamed like a vagabond from hell to hell, to deserted ruins, to darkness in the gloomy nights, to devastated invisible land of jinnee, and finally to dark chambers in the heart of man where he embellished an abode for himself to stay and compete with God.
Other messengers lived and died but Muhammad (pbuh) is eternal, he knew. A huge mountain trembled with fear and melted under the heavy weight of Quran but Muhammad shouldered it and promised its fruit for his posterity, for the East and the West, for the poor and the rich and for the white and the black.”
I was startled after listening to a story which was more like watching a movie.
My personal experience with Tablighi jamat was a nightmare. It kills the creativity, confidence and human dignity. In tabligh you are all after earning Sawab rather than learning and gaining knowledge while it is knowledge that liberates man from the clutches of natural forces. The young boys displaying beards of their grandfathers on their faces are brainwashed five times a day, every day, to kill their time because this world, this life and their bodies don’t belong to them. It is God’s Amanat and better be kept untouched in seclusion till death engulfs them. What a pity. But the irony is that we as a community absorb this pain and suffering with pride. Mostly Pashtuns and Punjabies are volunteering for this work. Interestingly, Sindhies and Baluch are not as much affected as others.
Rather than teaching the pleasures of spirituality which the modern man is in dire need, they prepare people to enjoy their dullness and uselessness. Therefore, people who are depressed or those looking for an easy escape from hardships in life join them. It serves the rightwing political parties on one hand and the extremist groups on other. And no wonder if you see some cricket stars and others becoming moralists with hollowed heads. Junaid Jamshed is one of the recent cases of ignorant moralists who fled away after committing a blunder.
If instruction is wisely given by an intelligent and wise person, it will be a joy rather than task to be fulfilled. After rejoining Tabligh, I went to see a few of the Ameers that this is something very serious that you guys are ignoring to let totally uneducated and ill-educated people preach Islam. It is damaging our image around the globe.
Why would a well read Muslim listen to the so-called lecture of an ignorant man? is a question to be answered. Without knowledge we would not be able to build a world of our hopes.

  • gul bibi

    I could be classified as a tableeghi. I preach the importance of the qualities of sahaba karam ra, do Taleem on a daily basis, entertain jamats in my house, I visit the ones in our locality, attend and hold Ta’leem in my house and I go in jamat regularly.
    I learnt this system when I got married.

    I have learnt a lot.
    But in today’s world we have to take everything with a pinch of salt.

    Tablighi jamat is a concept to remain connected to deen but it is not a lifestyle- many ppl have adopted a tunnel view and have taken it as the only lifestyle.

    I say this because my father in law is a hardcore tableeghi but he has no time for our family. He is a well to do surgeon. Financially there is no problem. But emotionally and spiritually several problems have occurred in our house due to his negligence. He being the Ameer of this house is absolutely oblivious to what is happening here.

    My husband has been in all sorts of wrong activities and my father in law believes he could do no wrong. And similar is the case with my brother in law who after losing out in studies due to carelessness from parents is now in a madressah- doing the work of deen. There is a strange abnormal environment in our house where everything is portrayed as a perfectly happy home to him which he blindly and foolishly believes.
    This is not Islam.
    Nabi Kareem SAAW has called each one of us a shepherd for one’s flock.
    Financial provision is not the only responsibility of a man.
    His wife is emotionally deprived.
    His son has learnt a similar pattern and even though he is not in the work of jamat he has learnt to ignore us.
    It is as if my mother in law and I are spouses.

    It is abnormal.
    I love the work of tableegh.
    But I hate how hardcore jamatis have treated this work.
    Ppl have lost balance.

    Please do the work of tableegh but at least maintain a balance.

  • so we can only learn from people who have command over arabic language? that’s really narrowing it down