I was around fifteen or sixteen years old when the first time I encountered with Tablighi Jamaat. I was kind of skeptical about them. As soon as I entered the masjid a few of the members of Jammat stepped forward to embrace me. One of them was very respected and quite popular in the area for his yeoman service, Naqi Ahmad. His smile had so much purity and love that it made me think that I must have met him before.
But in reality, it was the first time I have ever met him. When I went inside the masjid a few more priest-looking people welcomed me to their coterie. I was flabbergasted after being introduced with them. The man, in shabby and scruffy dress, washing the utensils, was a highly qualified IIT graduate and an electrical engineer by profession.
That was the time I got bemused. I asked my father. Why do they come here?
They come here to learn the basics of the religion. He answered.
I was a bit curious, that how they would teach me the religious practices.
Everybody sat in a circle. The leader, I mean Ameer started reciting the basics of namaz and everyone followed one after another.
I have seen people talking about that the whole and sole is Allah. Allah is the one who does everything, who controls everything. They had six fundamentals for themselves.
1. Kalma, the explanation they came up with was, God is empowered over each and everything, they also explained that shops can’t give you your earnings, jobs can’t give you the prosperity, only Allah is almighty and empowered to give you everything. The shops and jobs are just the sources to get his blessings they can’t conjure your destiny.
2. Namaaz, they explained, bowing before Allah is important, so, just bow down before him and thank him for everything you have and seek him only, everything you need, because he the only worthy one to be sought for.
3. Ilm-o-Zikr, learning good things and getting knowledge. And talking about doing good stuff. By talking about the good stuff you inspire yourself and persuade others for doing good deeds.
4. Ikram – e-Muslim, respect each other. Believe that everyone is special as everyone is created by Allah.
5. The purity of intention. It explains, don’t ever have an ulterior motive or any hidden agenda while doing all good deeds. Don’t ever have any supposition or expectation from any human being. Seek all the rewards from Allah only. And the last point of these 6 points, they told me was
6. Preaching, that explains that call other Muslims towards the right path, doing and believing the same, what you do or believe.
Two changes immediately came in me as soon as I joined them. One was ‘smile while talking’ means polite behaviour and the other one was patience as I started believing that whatever happens, happens for good. And Allah will fix everything.
Then I saw some disciplinary points as well. Like always help yourselves, don’t ever think about seeking help from anyone else besides Allah. Like, wash your hands well before eating food. Sit in a certain way, (nicely) before you start eating. Eat in the name of God. After finishing the food thank God for providing food. Never ever complain about the food, always be thankful.
They carried one book named “Fazaail-e-Aamal” this book has the details of the rewards if you follow and punishment if you don’t follow the above-mentioned six points. Some Muslims don’t like this book as they believe that this does not have to do anything with Islam. The book has a lot of excerpts of Quraan and Hadith though, with reference.
One day we went to preach about joining us means TJ. I learnt a new lesson there. That if you go in a group, only one person of the group must talk and rest would patiently listen. If the person refused to listen then make dua for him and go from there.
In Tablighi Jamaat, If they lose something they say “everything belongs to Allah and everything will return to Allah” and forget about it.
A few more things, I remember learning from there; don’t ever touch anyone’s belonging without taking permission. If you go to someone’s house don’t ever stand at the door always stand aside and keep your eyes down. Always carry your luggage, even carry your companion’s luggage as well if possible. Don’t ever stay at any other place except Masjid when you are in jamaat. When you are walking on the way if you see anything that may hurt people take that thing away from the way.
If you feel like you are in trouble then help the needy people, give away your money in the way of God, as this is the best way to make the problems away from your life.
They never talk anything related to politics, they never criticize any individual or any group or any religion. They always promote help in society and never skip thanking Allah for providing everything they have. They preach always to save water.
In short, I learned a lot there.
After a week of association with them, they started calculating the cost of the food we were to eat in the next week. And then the estimated amount we had to deposit.
For me, the most surprising thing was that every work including cooking was done by all of us, even doctors and Executive Engineers and well-qualified people were seen washing dishes and sweeping.
One day, I heard about the word Ijtema. We were getting ready to go to ijtema. Before that, I had to participate in the preparation meeting of that ijtema. In that meeting, the job was being distributed who would do what. People were raising hands for giving their services. All the cost was borne by themselves. No press was involved to announce the date of Ijtema date and place were announced by one masjid and then the news circulated by jamaat from one masjid to another masjid. Lakhs of people gathered without media propagation. All the traffic and administration was managed by themselves.
In the ijtema the most impressive worship is dua. They start crying. They burst into tears. They pray for the whole humanity irrespective of religion caste creed or countries.
They praise their lord for everything they break themselves before him for their faults or mistakes. They try hard not to hurt anyone. They respect every individual. This whole system doesn’t have a sole master. They have the ameers for every small group of three or five or seven not more than twenty-one. That too is hardly seen.
The worldly affairs hardly ever impress them. People and members from all the schools of thought participate in their congregation.
If they are offended by something or someone, they seek Allah for mercy they start crying before Allah. They never believe in taking revenge for anything from anyone!
This jamaat has changed many lives around the globe. I have met a few people who were drinkers, gamblers or even robbers before joining Tablighi Jamaat but after going there they were taught the value of ethics and they became God-fearing and honest people.
If you want to join them you need to go for three days, ten days, forty days or four months. In a group. They go from one masjid to another masjid. They call people to come out of hatred to love, intoxication to peace, stress to joy, from greed to satisfaction, astray to the right path.
This was my experience with Tablighi Jamaat. Whatever goodness you can see in me, most of them was because of that Jamaat.
Dr. Anwarul Haque is Chairman at ‘The Wings Foundation, New Delhi’. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org