Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held despite ban on events with more than 50 participants

The fact that the sudden spurt in COVID-19 positive cases on Monday and Tuesday is attributed to Tablighi Jamaat, a large congregation with its headquarters in Nizamuddin West, gives rise to some questions about the group, its belief, and its activities.

Over 3,000 of them, preachers and followers from about a dozen countries and from almost all parts of India had gathered for three days, from 13-15 March at Nizamuddin Markaz Masjid.

 Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held despite ban on events with more than 50 participants

Several people who attended an event in Nizamuddin have been quarantined. PTI

Apologists argue that the religious congregation happened when there was no lockdown. They, however, conveniently ignore that though a full lockdown had not been ordered, by then, schools and colleges in India had already started closing, all offices government and private had issued work from home directive, and all visas were cancelled.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind had canceled their public engagements, Holi milans were canceled and Holi either was not played by individuals and societies, or, it was very subdued. Both the Union and the Delhi government had already issued orders that no function hosting more than 50 persons be held.

Unmindful of these restrictions Tablighi Jamaat went ahead with their huge religious congregation. Was it a question of their faith, the belief that nothing would be done to them or they simply were not bothered or wanted to defy government orders due to COVID-19?

They also didn’t care that Iran had cancelled the weekly Friday prayers and Saudi Arabia had stopped closed the holy Ka’aba.

The fact the group still decided to hold the event could be indicative that the heads of the Jamaat believe that their faith is stronger than that of the rulers of many Islamic countries and that withholding congregational sermons and prayers owing to a viral disease, howsoever deadly, would mean repudiating Allah’s command.

An article titled, 'How Pakistan became a coronavirus super-spreader to the entire Muslim world' dwells at length the Tablighi Jamaat’s 25,000 people congregation in Lahore in Pakistan in mid-March.

Ryan Naqash in Kashmir Observer details how a debate was going on among Muslim clerics in Kashmir on whether to follow faith or follow government orders on Friday prayers congregation at mosques.

The Tablighi Jamaat was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in undivided India. This orthodox group has since then grown rapidly, and is said to have established its roots in over 150 countries with over 80 million followers.

Brahma Chellaney, a well-known strategic affairs expert, claims that the group was founded “to wage global jihad”. He then goes on to ask “why not hold the negligent law enforcement officials to account" referring to the group's session in Nijamuddin.

In another tweet, Chellaney claims that the group came under scrutiny in the US after the 9/11 attack for "serving as a recruiting ground for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups. FBI said it found that Al Qaeda was using Tablighi Jamaat for recruiting new terrorists".

It’s a fact that after the congregation was over, the preachers who had come from aboard, violating their Visa conditions, travelled to various parts of the country and gave sermons at mosques.

The number of people they contracted is being scrutinised. The infected people have travelled to almost all parts of the country, so much so that a place like the Andaman and Nicobar islands reported 11 COVID-19 positive cases; ten out of the total cases had attended the Nizamuddin markaz congregation.

Updated Date: Apr 01, 2020 00:26:38 IST



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