After having spent much time with the Tablighis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablighi_Jamaat) in Kenya when I was there I decided to write a small post on them with my personal opinion and experiences on them and their da’wah.
In my own country I have had few encounters with the Tablighis, I remember to have seen and met them only twice in our local mosque (and once in another mosque) although I know there are (Moroccan) Tablighis in a neighbouring mosque who live in the neighbourhood around that mosque. So before I met many of them in Kenya I didn’t have a clear picture of this movement and I was influenced by the somewhat negative things I heard about them from befriended brothers but who never went into details only that they refused to give salams (??) to Tablighis (speaking of Ahl ul-Bid’ah) and that they referred to somewhat condemning fatawa from some (“Salafi”) Saudi scholars they follow. That was it. Then I went to Kenya for four months in 2008 (and 2 months spread over 2009 and 2010) and I sat with Tablighis daily in our local musalla or small mosque. This musalla was founded by my father in law and the amir of the Tablighis in our area. My father in law apparently went for Tabligh in Pakistan when he was younger and also did my brother in law, he is the amir of the Tablighis in the village he lives in. Now I had close encounters with members of the movement. Everyday after salaat al-maghrib and ‘ishaa they read from “Fadaa’il ‘Amaal” and I was asked to read too several times, which I did. The musalla always had Tablighis coming in from all kinds of countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, the Comores, Malawi, South-Africa and some other countries I forgot. I sat with them, ate with them and talked to them up to the moment I even went for three days with them in the end. It was a great experience alhamdulillah.
Last year when I was in Kenya I spent some time again with Tablighis and I even went to a big 3-day ijtima’ of the movement which was being held in Nairobi (dec. 2009), I really loved it. I got to know a lot of people through my experiences with the Tablighis and the ijtima’ was just amazing, I saw Tablighis from countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and some other countries. There were bayaans (lectures) and afterwards we ate together.
I don’t consider myself a Tablighi but I do sympathize with them and their da’wah. From my own experience I can tell that I saw nothing but good in these people and the things they do. Their jihad, their humility, their call, their stress on prayer, their following of the Sunnah in every aspect, their avoiding of controversial and sectarian issues and fiqh issues, not going into politics, their reverence for the scholars and elders, their respect for every human being, their attachment to the mosque and many more things which can be mentioned and for which they deserve nothing but praise. I can say they are truly the people of the Sunnah and they have made a big change in the lives of many people all over the world. They have some amazing stories to tell.
Then I recently came across this wonderful poem on the Tablighi movement (on the site of brother Abu Eesa Ni’matullah) which I want to share with everyone, check this link: http://alternativeentertainment.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/in-defence-of-the-tjs/ You really need to read this poem. It is a poem in defense and praise of the movement, better of the people who go out, leaving everything behind, forgetting about the dunya and trying to purify and rectify their souls. May Allah give them tawfiq.
Here is a blog with poems on the movement: http://tazkiyya.wordpress.com/category/poems-about-the-jamah-tableegh/
Now as we know the movement originated in Deoband, India and their founder was Muhammad Ilyas rahimahullah, a scholar (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ilyas_al-Kandhlawi.)
The wonderful book Fadaa’il ‘Amaal (for a review see here: http://truelife200vi.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/review-fazail-e-amaal/) was written by the Tablighi muhaddith Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Zakariya_al-Kandahlawi), rahimahullah, and this book is the cornerstone of this movement. In Kenya we read from that book many times to educate ourselves and those in the mosque, t’alim is what it is called. I have an old copy at home from my wife. There is some controversy about this book saying that it contains weak ahadith (next to the fact some people say it is not allowed to read at all, that it contains bid’ah and shirk; this is a manifest lie!). Weak ahadith can be used for fadaa’il especially and moreover, the author was an established and recognized muhaddith, he knows best why he used those ahadith. An English translation of this book can be read online here:http://www.fazaileamaal.com/ The book is translated in many languages but not in Dutch yet (may be in Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa, which I have to check from a brother).
Here is an article which deals with the questions if there are any fabricated ahadith in the Fadaa’il: http://www.al-inaam.com/dhadith/ffaamaal.htm
Answering objections of objectors of the Fadaa’il: http://jaamiahamidia.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/answering-objections-to-objectors-of-fazaile-amaal/
Some fatawa from the imam / mufti of al-Inaam in South Africa:
A fatwa from Mufti Muhammad al-Kawthari: http://www.daruliftaa.com/question.asp?txt_QuestionID=q-23350053
– A fatwa from Faraz Rabbani: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=1705&CATE=91
There is a good thread on the Fadaail and the Tabligh movement on Sunniforum with a lot of links to articles which provide answers to questions and objections: http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?29176-Objections-on-Fazail-e-Aamal-Answered-by-Darul-uloom-Deoband&p=368849
It needs to be mentioned that shaykh Kandhlawi wrote another great book which I can really recommend to anyone: “The Differences of the Imams” (in English and published by White Thread Press). Last but not least there is a wonderful two volume autobiography of the shaykh with the title: “Aap Beti”, which I bought in Indian print (Idara) in Kenya. There is weblog on this book with the naam Aap Beti: http://www.aapbeti.blogspot.com/