From remote villages to cities, they are seen everywhere. Clad in long white kurtas over pyjamas and wearing skull caps, they move around in groups doing 'gasht' or going door to door to personally meet Muslims, invite them to namaz and emphasizing the need to follow the true path for success in life after death.
Tablighi Jamaat has been active in undivided Andhra Pradesh for decades. Working with a simple objective of helping Muslims revive their faith, Tablighis or members of the organisation have been carrying out their activities in almost every town and village.
After inviting Muslims to 'namaz' followed by 'ijtema' or gathering at the neighbourhood mosques, they exhort them to introspect and remind them of their responsibilities as Muslims and their duty to work for propagation of the faith. The participants in 'ijtema' are urged to devote their time to join 'jamaat' for going to another place for a similar preaching mission. Thus the chain of missionary mission continues.
The jamaats or group of preachers from one city or state go to the other city or state. They stay in mosques and in some places cook the food in the mosque premises. The announcements of the visit by 'Jamaat' from outside are often made in mosques.
While the organization has no formal structure, every 'Jamaat' or group of preachers will have an 'Ameer' or leader who guides through the tour, interact with people and address 'ijtema'.
The uninitiated are exhorted to leave homes, remain away from families for a certain period and sacrifice their time and money in the path of Allah. Some people spend 24 hours in Jamaat while others join the groups for 3 days, 10 days or more.
Jamatis are told to give 40 days in a year and at least one year in their lifetime for preaching.
Unlike some other leading Muslim organizations working to spread the message of Islam among non-Muslims, Tablighi Jamaat works only among Muslims. They stay away from politics and controversies and confine themselves to the single point agenda of inviting ordinary Muslims to namaz and Tabligh or preaching.
Though in existence for over 90 years, the organization was never in the limelight as publicity or media is a big no no for the organization.
Tablighis often face criticism for being cut-off from the world. Despite the differences other Muslim sects or groups have with Tablighi Jamaat for its style of functioning, the general perception is that they are non-controversial people purely dedicated to preaching.
Muslims from a cross section of the society are associated with Tablighi Jamaat. Floated by Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ilyas in 1926 in then Mewat province, Tablighi Jamaat is believed to have millions of active members in more than 150 countries.
"It is their sincerity which attracts people. It activates an individual's mind and makes him realize the purpose of life and understand how he can achieve success in the hereafter by becoming a true Muslim," senior journalist and a Jamaat sympathizer J.S. Iftikhar told IANS.
He pointed out that Jamaat brought transformation in the lives of many people who were earlier drinking liquor, gambling or indulging in other vices.
"One comes to know many things after coming closer to Jamaat. It inculcates discipline among its members and teaches them to become practicing Muslims by regularly offering namaz, serving their parents and respecting others," he said.
The fact that more than 2,000 people from the Telugu states travelled to Delhi to attend the congregation shows how wide is the organisation's network in both the states.
Hyderabad is one of their key hubs in India. Operating from Mallepally mosque in the city, the organization runs its activities across Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Jamaats from various parts of the country and even abroad stay at the mosque throughout the year.
The 'jamaats' coming from abroad first reach Tablighi headquarters in Delhi, from where the organization Asends them to different parts of the country.
One such group of 10 Indonesians visiting Karimnagar town tested positive for COVID-19. Another group of eight Indonesians and 12 nationals from Kyrgyzstan were found in Mallepally mosque but none of them showed any symptoms of COVID-19. As a precautionary measure they were all sent into quarantine.
Another group of 12 preachers from Tablighi Jamaat from Vietnam were traced in Nalgonda town. They too were quarantined but showed no symptoms.
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