Tabligh, Religion, and Corona

MHA says 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi event in 2020 ...

by Asif Ibrahim 4 April 2020

Tabligh men organised a congregation of 250,000 participants near Lahore in Pakistan on March 11, despite the request of the Pak authorities to postpone or cancel it. And they gifted the perils of Corona virus, and deaths to whole of the Muslim world from Gaza to Malaysia. They have orchestrated a similar affliction in India, and brought death and gore to many families across the country. 

The arrogance comes to the Tabligh men from the belief that they are doing God’s work, and God is their refuge.  Care and caution, the advice of the medical practitioner, a directive of the government– go to hell. 

The situation reminds me of the Bible.  A tempest in the sea disturbed the balance of the ship in which Jesus’ followers were travelling. The men got scared, and rushed to Jesus Christ demanding safety. Jesus rebuked them and said, ‘Why are you fearful, O men of little faith.’ Then the sea was calm. 

But in real life, things do not work if we merely believe. Storm in the sea require a life jacket or a rescue operation. 

Black Death, the epidemic of bubonic plague in the 14th century,  wiped out almost half of the population of Europe. The disease was so contagious and deadly that ‘the mere touching of the clothes appeared to itself to communicate the malady to the toucher.’ A healthy person who went to bed at night could be found dead in the morning. 

One of the reasons for massive deaths in the Middle Ages Europe was mass assembly of the people at the churches for prayers and repentance. From there, they carried the infection. Roman Catholic Church told people that the plague was God’s retribution for people’s sin and insubordination. Prayer at a church would propitiate the angry, unremitting God. But the result was the opposite. Plague continued to rage and destroyed more lives. 

Today, in the age of Covid-19, the saving grace for us is science, medicine, and information. We know how the virus spreads, and how to fight it. 

But Tabligh people are redoing the Catholic Church of medieval Europe. They believe that Corona virus is a curse of God let loose on the sinful humans to teach them a lesson; and a solution to this problem is religious rites, prayers, and visit to a mosque.  The punishment has descended from God on people for being too much with the world, and for absenting from the mosques/temples. The answer to this threat is not closing the gates of mosque/church, but opening them to allow people bow before the altar of God. 

I heard one person say that because Muslims do not go to the mosques for offering five times obligatory prayers, upset God has shut the gates of his house for them.  

The problem of Tabligh Jamaat is not only a lack of knowledge about the modern world and how it works, but also of religion, which it champions. The illiterate clerics feed the common Muslims that Corona virus is a conspiracy to damage the religious traditions of the Muslims. Mosques are ‘deserted’ because Muslims have no love for or fear of God, and they are mandated to ‘populate’ it.  

Though many Muslims associate themselves in India with the activities of the Tablighis, which is a puritanical movement, and seeks to drag the Muslims 1400 years back, most of the Muslims are very critical of it, and oppose it tooth and nail. They call it ‘Taklifi Jamaat’, as, according to them, it maximises difficulties of its followers and of the Muslims. They see it as an enemy of the Muslims, since it persuades the Muslims  to  renounce the world, and take to prayers and propagation of the puritanical form of religion as a full-time activity. The Tablighis move in cities, towns, and villages, and stay in the mosques, and engage with the Muslims of the locality. They tell the young minds to distance themselves from the world, education, career, and wallow in the opium of religion.

Many Muslims believe the Tablighis indulge in what the worst enemy of the Muslims would dream to do. They emaciate the community, preaching them to shun academics, politics, business, and so on, as they are irrelevant in the eyes of God. 

They tell the followers what the Bible says: See the birds in the air. They sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet God feeds them. Are you not much better than them?  

Inference of this is: there is no need to open your shop, earn money, plough field. Allah would take care of everything, even of the children they give birth to.

They inform the participants about what happens after death, in the grave, and thereafter, and how to prepare for that. This worldly life is too insignificant to bother about. Once one becomes Tablighi, nothing interests him, except religions and its precepts. Mostly, lower class Muslims, who see no hope of making good through mainstream channel, seek achievement and redemption through this route.

The irony is that when the grand mosque Kaba in Mecca is closed, Tablighis are ‘propagating’ correct form of Islam going door to door among the Muslims during a pandemic. 

The touchstone of religion is belief, the strength of science is doubt. Science questions and doubts everything it arrives at. By this method, it evolved, discovered secrets of nature and gave humans solutions to problems like plague, measles, small-pox, etc. But, if you doubt a religious precept, or the Zeus himself, you are a friend of Satan. Older the percept, and the temple, the closer you are to God, and his mercy. 

Yuval Harari, writer of the celebrated book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’,  says ‘When a thousand people believe some made-up story for a month–that is fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years–that is a religion, and we are admonished not to call it fake news in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful.’

Interestingly, most communities moved away with time. They threw religious directives, and scriptures out of their window. Muslims are the only community on the earth shouldering the burden of religion in its pure form, and not surprisingly, they are the most backward people on the earth.

The article appeared in the Easter Link on 4 April 2020

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

4 Comments

  • jssidhoo@gmail.com'
    jssidhoo
    April 5, 2020, 2:27 am

    Good Sir the logical moderates in each community need to speak up .

    REPLY
  • HABIB SIDDIQUI
    April 12, 2020, 12:16 pm

    Dear editor,
    I was simply shocked to read the remarks of the author Asif Ibrahim in your journal:

    The touchstone of religion is belief, the strength of science is doubt. Science questions and doubts everything it arrives at. By this method, it evolved, discovered secrets of nature and gave humans solutions to problems like plague, measles, small-pox, etc. But, if you doubt a religious precept, or the Zeus himself, you are a friend of Satan. Older the percept, and the temple, the closer you are to God, and his mercy. Yuval Harari, writer of the celebrated book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, says ‘When a thousand people believe some made-up story for a month–that is fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years–that is a religion, and we are admonished not to call it fake news in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful.’ Interestingly, most communities moved away with time. They threw religious directives, and scriptures out of their window. Muslims are the only community on the earth shouldering the burden of religion in its pure form, and not surprisingly, they are the most backward people on the earth.

    – See more at: http://southasiajournal.net/tabligh-religion-and-corona/

    One could surely understand the author’s disapproval of what the tabligh does or even their foolish decision to hold a big gathering in Lahore last month for a number of reasons, esp. given that he is a former Director of Indian Intelligence. Many of those positions in the Indian service is denied to non-Hindus, esp. Muslims, unless the person has been sufficiently ‘Hinduized’ or has been programmed to think more anti-Muslim than a die-hard Hindu fanatic. Asif’s piece has sufficient internal evidence, notwithstanding the above quote I have cited from his article, to prove his anti-religious, and surely anti-Islamic sentiments. Such sentiments are typical of the so-called mukto-monas (free thinkers), agnostics and atheists that are at war with religion, esp. with Islam in the post-9/11 days. Their insecurity as a minority has robbed them of their empathy and critical intelligence to look beyond the apparent and see things more objectively. They fly with the wind like a dust and try to pollute the environment everywhere they settle in.

    In India, thanks to the barrage of fascist Hindutvadi propaganda, the spread of the Covid-19 has been equated as Corona-jihad very similar to how love affairs between Hindu girls with Muslim boys have been termed Love-jihad. The ISRC, the India scientist community, has strongly condemned such attempts within India pointing out the lapse within the Central and Delhi governments, which permitted a Tablighi gathering in Delhi on March 13. This event was permitted two days after the Academy winning actor Tom Hanks was reported to have contracted the virus in Australia.

    It is hurtful to see someone with a Muslim-sounding name to fall to that trap of Modi-surrogates trying to communalize the pandemic. But nothing should surprise us any more in the post-9/11 era when secular fundamentalists, let alone the anti-Muslim brigades and bigots within the non-Muslim communities, saw it an opportune time to mount savage attacks on Islam and Muslims from all the angles imaginable, even borrowing hateful innuendos and diatribes from the medieval times. One can only pity such irresponsible acts of those zealots that divide our world by breeding hatred and intolerance. They seemed to have forgotten the time-honored karmic theory – What you sow today, you will reap tomorrow.

    I am also surprised to see reposting of Asif’s article in your journal, which if I recall from our exchange months ago that you don’t like to see. Explaining your reason for not posting my articles, you wrote that I cross-post in a number of major Internet sites. I hope you were fair and sincere in that selection process. Not only is this posted article from Asif posted in other websites (like Easter Link) but many of your authors have similar cross-postings. That is what one would call plain discrimination or unfair practices and surely not a healthy sign in these days of Internet superhighways. [Please, don’t assume that my serious objection to the offensive article of Asif has anything to do with your decision not to post my articles (which are, by the grace of Allah, well received and read in some of the major Internet sites around the globe).]
    I am simply disappointed with your decision to post Asif’s article, which is an affront to organized religion, esp. Islam. Such articles are an irritation and slap to your religious-minded readers who are not extremists. They don’t have to be a follower of Tabligh to smell rotten rats in Asif’s article.
    As we all know now, governments around the globe were caught flat-footed with the Covid-19 since its emergence. Its latest strand emerged last year (that is why it has been called Covid-19 and not Covid-20). But what did Modi’s fascist government do before the lockdown in India? It was guilty of ignoring the deadly pandemic, and more interested in organizing and carrying out pogroms against Muslims in Delhi.
    On February 1, Modi was busy preparing for Trump’s visit to India: Namaste Trump.
    On Feb. 23, Delhi pogroms were triggered against Muslims by his fascist party members.
    On Feb. 24, the Namaste Trump event was held while Muslims were slaughtered in Delhi by BJP’s hoodlums.
    On March 4, the first government meeting was held to discuss the Corona virus issue. On March 9, for the first time, screening tests began at the airports in India. While the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a ‘pandemic’ on March 11, the BJP MLA (members of the legislative assembly) were taken to resorts in a bus on March 11-12.
    The BJP government declared on March 13 that it is not a health emergency and in the following days it was busy in toppling the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government.
    On March 16, Modi convened a SAARC meeting to discuss the pandemic.
    On March 19, he addressed Indian people for the first time and announced a 1-day Janata (public) curfew.
    On March 20-21 BJP formed government in MP after BJP legislators in that state celebrated the fall of the Kamal Nath government on Friday with sweets and bursting of firecrackers at the party headquarters in Bhopal.
    As the virus problem spread, Modi extended the Janata curfew on March 22 and banned all flights on March 25. The next day, March 26, India was put on a lockdown until April 14.
    In the USA, President Trump, too, was busy campaigning and visiting India, and then haughtily stating that the infection was not a danger, the risk being very little to Americans and could well be managed, even touting the idea that the US doctors could help China combat the pandemic, if asked.
    On Feb. 7, he claimed that The coronavirus would weaken “when we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”
    On Feb. 27, he falsely claimed that the outbreak would be temporary: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” When the country’s testing capabilities are severely limited, he claimed on March 6, “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. We—they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”
    Now, not only the damn-caring, arrogant leaders like Trump and Modi but all the governments in our planet know better. They are sounding alarm, preaching the wisdom of social distancing. As we know too well if those snobs like Boris Johnson had learned to walk their talk rather than mastering the art of finger-pointing and communalizing the nasty pandemic, we would have contained or isolated the deadly pandemic much earlier. Insha-Allah! Yes, I use here the Islamic phrase to say that this virus has forced us, believers and non-believers alike, to be humble and kneel down and to pray and wish for safety of us all.
    It is simply criminal, if not irresponsible, to now put the blame on a particular religious community or a segment therein for the spread of the virus. Just like the governments, it is safe to assume that the leaders and organizers of the Tabligh were caught unprepared. Had they known better they would not have done the mistake of gathering in large numbers.
    May Allah protect us all. Ameen.
    Enough said,
    Habib Siddiqui

    REPLY
  • zhfarook@yahoo.com'
    Zahid Khan
    April 15, 2020, 4:43 am

    Dear Mr.A Ibrahim,
    I really wonder why your concept regarding religion is so much unworthy. Your so called idols whom you suppose to be your savior are now in a dismay and trying to catch a straw while drowning. They are also praying in abundance. Following suggestions of medical expert are indeed to be taken into consideration with due diligence. That does not mean you do not keep your prayer to your creator.along side. Name sake Muslim are a disgrace to our society.Your approach is not to attack a group of believing people but to degrade Islam. Shame on you.

    REPLY
    • yunusrykt@gmail.com'
      RADIO PARK@Zahid Khan
      April 18, 2020, 12:24 pm

      How conservative are the thoughts of Mr Ibrahim.The so called the topmost officer once upon a time and such narrow minded concept.Perhaps the opium of post he once held made him blind.
      I only request him to take out his coloured glasses and see the facts as they are
      1.Blaming a particular sect without knowing the ins and out of the situation is what we strongly condemn.Nodoubt thesituation was grave which nobody and no country predicted.Maybe there is negligence on the part of a few jamatees without a forecast which even our prime Minister could not predict.First of all let us accept that it was never the intention of anybody to spread the virus.Its behaviour is so far not understood by scientists.our Prime Minister is also struggling tooth and nail to curb the spread.He has consultations with every one irrespective of his affiliation to any political party or caste those that we Indians could come out of this problem to save the humanity and save the economic crisis.My appreciation for Prime minister for his broadminded approach and foresight for his countrymen.But what r u doing instead of helping the country and down trodden at times of distress by organising ur good teams to feed the poor and starving labours to fight the pandemic collectively.Educating the masses what best could be done to save themselves and our country India.My honoured sir wake up from ur phobia of finding who is right or who is wrong.The necessity of the day is to save yourself yourself and the whole nation.Dont comment on a jamaat or organisation as bad or responsible.or else there will be no difference between you and Shakespearean Here in his play Hamlet calling the whole women folk as
      FRIALTY THY NAME IS WOMEN. and in one occasion as WOMEN THY NAME IS JEALOUSY.
      We have no right to generalise statements like this.Rather at such difficult times try to give suggestions the recourse one can follow to boost one’s knowledge shedding ignorance.Donot sow the seeds of communal virus which are more dangerous to our beloved India and Indians.It ismy humble plea

      REPLY

SAJ on Facebook

SAJ Socials

   

Top Authors