Tabligh an arabic word that means to reach out, to make known or to let people be informed. To make Islam's message known to people is called tabligh. Tabligh Jamat (proselytizing or conveying group) is a Muslim missionary and revival movement and they put forward the slogan 'O Muslim, Be Muslim'. Tabligh movement tries to inspire everybody to do virtuous acts, and refrain from doing misdeeds and to call others to follow the true path of Islam. Allah has sent prophets in different times for tabligh and in the absence of prophets, the responsibility is believed to have been devolved upon the tabligh.
Tabligh Jam'at was founded in 1926 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi (1885-1944) in north India. The movement came forth as an offshoot of the Deobandi movement. Tabligh Jamat took its impetus from a desire to move dissemination of Islamic teachings away from the madrasa to invite Muslims to share the obligation of enjoining others to faithful practice. Maulana Ilyas and his family had long association with Deoband and its sister school in Saharanpur, sought a way to reach peasants who were nominal Muslims being targeted by a Hindu conversion movement. He prepared a team of young Madrasa graduates from Deoband and Saharanpur and sent them to Mewat to establish a network of Mosques and Islamic schools throughout the region. At the beginning the movement had no name. Maulana Ilyas believed that it is the duty to each and every Muslim of the world to give Dawah (missionary efforts). The people of South Asia started calling the devotees as Tablighi. Due to Ilyas efforts many Muslims joined his movement to preach in every town and village of Mewat. As a result the first Tabligh congregation was held in Mewat in 1941 and around 25000 people attended the meeting.'
Today the Tabligh movement has transcended the borders of the subcontinent and taken the shape of an international organisation. Ever since its inception, the movement has been working for strengthening the belief of Muslims in the fundamentals of Islam and inspiring them to abide by them.
The Tabligh Jam'at is one of the many organisations that are operative in Bangladesh for promotion of the appropriate norms of Islam. It began its activities in Dhaka and nearby places in the 1950s at the initiative of Maulana Eusuf. Its activities gained momentum after the liberation of Bangladesh. At present, Tabligh Jam'at is active all over the world and its activities are extensive in Bangladesh.
Six usuls (six basic principles) of the Tabligh Jam'at are: 1. kalima (iman or vow of belief), 2. salat (namaz or prayers), 3. ilm (acquiring knowledge) and dhikr or zikr (remembrance of Allah), 4. ekramul moslemin (cordiality among Muslims or respect for Muslims), 5. ikhlas-e-niyat (faithful intention) and 6. Tabligh (spreading the message of Allah) Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil. The tabligh curriculum has been designed in keeping with these six principles. The prime objective of tabligh activities is to instill these six principles into the minds of the people and to ensure their application. Tabligh Jam'at is a group of people who gather together to implement the principles of tabligh. Their activities are directed to raise the consciousness among people about their responsibility towards religion. Tabligh Jam'at promotes mutual co-operation, encourages people in discharging their duties, and disseminates knowledge about living together according to principles of Islam.
Tabligh Jam'at is an international organisation with its headquarters in Delhi. The main centre of Tabligh Jam'at in Bangladesh is the Kakrail Mosque, Dhaka. Tabligh Jam'at has expanded its activities to almost all parts of Bangladesh. Activities of its local units are coordinated from the mosques of the respective localities. People of all strata, irrespective of gender, can take part in Tabligh Mission. There is no separate jam'at for women. Tabligh does not maintain any affiliate organisation.
Throughout the world, the activities of the Tabligh Jam'at are conducted from mosques, which the tabligh activists call the markaj. The routine of tabligh activities is so designed as to enable every member to be in touch with markaj daily. The central markaj coordinates the activities of all these local markajes.
The Tabligh Jam'at attaches importance on ijtema or assembly, where members gather to participate in zikr, hear religious sermons and discuss their activities. The viswa ijtema, an international congregation of the Tabligh Jam'at is held every year at Tongi near Dhaka. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all parts of Bangladesh as well as delegates from many foreign countries take part in the ijtema. It is indeed the world's biggest tabligh assembly and therefore, called the Viswa Ijtema. Weekly ijtemas (usually on Thursday evenings) are also held at places where tabligh work has a firm footing.
The Tabligh Jam'at lays special emphasis on jimmadari (leadership). A jimmadar (leader) must have all the qualities of a guide as enjoined by Islam and is to be especially patient, modest, soft speaking, morally sound, and determined. Only those persons who possess these qualities and devote maximum time in tabligh work are inducted as leaders. At every stage of the tabligh organisation, shuras (counseling assemblies) are constituted to advise the leaders. Bixwa Amir, the world tabligh leader, conducts all his affairs in consultation with the shura members and the participants respect his decisions and directives.
The followers of the Tabligh Jam'at consider it obligatory for every Muslim to serve and protect Islam and that this can be best performed through tabligh. The responsibility can be discharged in two ways: Mokami ie, working at home and in places around; and tabligi safar ie, working in distant locations through tabligh journeys. A few persons in any locality can form a mokami jam'at, which can work everyday at a given time in a local mosque. Members of the local tabligh visit, at least once a week (usually on Thursdays), their own areas or the neighbouring ones to invite the people to join the tabligh. [Hasan Mohammad]
Bibliography' Aswar Ali, Dawate Tabligh Part I, Tablighi Library, Dhaka, 1980; KM Mohsin, 'Tabligh Jama't and the Faith Movement in Bangladesh', Rafiuddin Ahmed (ed), Bangladesh: Society, Religion and Politics, South Asia Studies Group, Chittagong, 1985; AZM Shamsul Alam, The Message of Tablegh and Dawah, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1993; Hasan Mohammad, Tabligh Andolon O Tabligh Jam'at, Qaumi Publications, Dhaka, 2000; Maulana Ilyas Khandalvi, Six Points of Tabligh (Translated from Urdy by Maulana Sadruddin Amir Ansari), Darul Ishaat, A5, PB.
See also viswa ijtema.