The Global Super-spreaders

    15-Apr-2020
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Tablighi Jamaat congregations during the Corona virus pandemic have been identified as the single cause for spreading the virus not only in India, but both in Pakistan and Malaysia

-Shri Ram Shaw

 
 
 
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Muslims boarding vehicles before their departure from the three-day annual Tablighi Ijtema religious gathering in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore on March 13, 2020. Now Pakistan places Raiwind under complete lockdown after Tablighi Jamaat members tested coronavirus positive 
 
 
 
Did you remember the famous couplet penned by noted lyricist Bashir Badr? ‘‘Koi haath bhi na milayega, jo gale miloge tapaak se/ Yeh naye mijaj ka shaher hai, zara fasle se mila karo.’’ True to the sense, the mijaj (mood) of the national capital, the country and other nations as well is already changed now-a-days because of the novel Corona virus pandemic. And, they are in the complete mode of protecting their people from the dreaded COVID-19 disease, which originated in Wuhan city of Hubei province of China in December. But, members of Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic proselytising group, in a strange pattern, were found unrestrainedly preaching in large religious gatherings amid the Corona virus pandemic restrictions in several countries in Asia, leading to hundreds of infections and thus putting the lives of millions of people in various countries at risk. Tablighi Jamaat congregations held in Singapore, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and India during the Corona virus pandemic have been blamed for spreading the virus to other nations.
 

What is Tablighi Jammat?


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Tablighi Jamaat Headquarter (Markaz) at Nizamuddin, Delhi. Maulana Saad  
 
 
The largest group of Islamic proselytisers, Tablighi Jamaat is deemed as one of the world’s largest and most influential faith-based movements in the Muslim world, with millions of followers, particularly in South Asia and South-East Asian countries. It sends preachers to countries to spread Islam’s ideas and proselytisation programmes. It rejects modernity and preaches a code of conduct as practised during Prophet Mohammad’s time, on the same lines as Wahhabi-Salafist ideology which many Islamic terror groups follow. Tablighi Jamaat Headquarter (Markaz) is located in Nizamuddin, Delhi. The sprinter group of the Tablighi Jamaat has headquarters at Dariyaganj in Delhi in Masjid Faizilahi which runs in the name of Shura-e-Jamaat.Founded by Deobandi cleric Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi, the great grandfather of Maulana Saad Khandhlawi, the present chief of Tablighi Jamaat, in 1927 in Mewat, India. It was an offshoot of Deoband movement and aims at revival of the true Islam as perceived by the Prophet Mohammed.
 
 
Maulana Saad, who claims to have over 100 crore followers in nearly 200 countries, functions from Nizamuddin mosque, which serves as a global Markaz (centre) of Tablighi Jamaat. Bypassing rituals and regulations of Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Saad ignored all orders of Shura (central council) of Jamaat, and declared himself the Amir to capture the coveted seat at the Markaz Nizamuddin in November 2015 as he turned 50.
 
 
Tablighi Jamaat grew in prominence in Pakistan under General Zia ul Haq’s Islamisation of the country. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s father was a prominent Tablighi member and financier.
 
 
 
 
 
Tablighi Jamaat is facing the heat not only in India, but this particular Jamaat has now been blamed by both Pakistan and Malaysian governments for the spread of Corona virus in their respective countries. After the outbreak of novel coronavirus, many countries imposed travel restrictions. However, Jamaat went ahead with its pre-planned celebrations. Their adamancy and stubbornness of the clergy deteriorated and aggravated the situation further. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, time and again in his televised address to the nation said that even those nations with the best of the medical facilities could not contain the virus and that the social distancing is the only option to mitigate it. Cautioning of those who are careless, he said, “carelessness of a few, ill-conceived notions of a few can put you, your children, your parents, your family, your friends, the entire country in grave jeopardy. It will be impossible to estimate the price India will have to pay if this carelessness continues.” But Tablighi members not only defied the government instructions given to contain the pandemic but also made a mockery of PM’s call for a complete lockdown of the entire nation for 21 days.
 
 

INDIA

 
 
The cases of COVID-19 positive related to Jamaat have risen and over 30 per cent cases are related to the Nizamuddin congregation in India. The government has traced almost 22,000 persons who have a direct link to the Jamaat.
 
 
Usually, all the foreign nationals visiting India as a part of Tablighi team come on the strength of the tourist visa. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had already issued guidelines that they should not indulge in missionary work on a tourist visa. But Jamaat didn’t adhere to.
 
 
Under the directions of Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, the MHA has blacklisted 960 foreigners, present in India on tourist visas, for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat. CP, Delhi Police have been asked to take necessary legal action against all such violators, on priority, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005.
 
 
According to MHA, on March 21, approximately 824 foreign Tablighi Jamaat workers were in different parts of the country for missionary work. Besides, around 216 foreign nationals were staying in the Nizamuddin Markaz. Also, over 1530 Indian Tablighi Jamaat workers were also staying in the Markaz to attend a religious congregation while around 2100 Indian Tablighi Jamaat workers were touring different parts of the country for missionary work. On March 25, lockdown was strictly imposed in the country. Many foreign members, traveled to various states for preaching Islam, even as they were on tourist visas.
 
 
When Maulana Saad ignored suggestions: Caught in the eye of a storm over sheltering more than 2,000 religious followers in the Markaz during the lockdown, Maulana Saad ignored the suggestions given by veterans of the religious cult for postponing the congregation. An FIR has been registered against Maulana who led the religious congregation. He has been accused of organising a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the area, flouting the social distancing norms.
 
 
An audio clip which went viral on social media stunned the authorities, as someone can be heard saying that “there is no need of social distancing also it is not written anywhere in our religion”. There were claims that this voice is of Maulana Saad Kandhawali, the head of Markaz Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin, which is now said to be the epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak.
 
 

PAKISTAN

 
 
The Tablighi congregation has wrecked havoc in neighbouring country Pakistan too. Pakistani media has criticised the Jamaat saying despite the travel restrictions in many countries in the wake of corona pandemic, Tablighi went ahead with its pre-planned celebrations. The leading English daily Dawn has said in its editorial, “At a time when social distancing and lockdowns are buzzwords in the effort to stop the spread of the contagion, the congregation was a recipe for disaster. Major administrative lapse has affected the battle against COVID-19. Things were further complicated when Tablighi preachers were allowed to spread throughout the country.”
 
 
Editorial further said, “There are lessons that can be learnt from this fiasco. Where matters of public health are concerned, the state must be gentle but firm. The COVID-19 crisis should be prevented from snowballing further. The ban on congregational prayers must be enforced as long as the crisis lasts.”
 
 
And Pakistan quarantines 20,000 in Lahore: Pakistan has quarantined 20,000 people and is still searching for thousands more who congregated at the Lahore event held by Tablighi Jamaat, between March 10-12, undeterred by government requests for it to be cancelled under the circumstances. More than 100,000 people went to the meeting despite the worsening Corona virus pandemic. Numerous foreign nationals attended this year from countries including China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine and Afghanistan, media reports said.
 
 
Tablighi mosques and the movement’s other places of ibaadat were shut down or marked as quarantine centres. At least 154 people who went to Jamaat had tested positive for coronavirus, with two fatalities. Coronavirus has killed at least 45 people in Pakistan but, with only limited testing available, observers worry the number is far higher.
 
 
Pakistani media reported that 36 cases of community transmission among the members of the Tablighi Jamaat in Hyderabad, Sindh were detected. At least two deaths from the Corona virus were directly linked to Tablighi Jamaat’s gathering in Raiwind, the Headquarter of Jamaat in Punjab province of Pakistan. It’s been now sealed off. It’s been converted into a cantonment area so that the virus does not spread further. The cases were also reported from Noor Mosque, where around 200 Jamaat members were initially quarantined. Noor Mosque is the second-largest centre of the Jamaat in Sindh.
 
 

Muslim Rashtriya Manch Demands
Strict Action Against Tablighi Jamaat

A premier organisation of Indian Muslims termed the misdeeds of Jamaat as the murder of the Constitution of Bharat and also insult of Islam and humanity’

-Dr Pramod Kumar

 
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New Delhi: Demanding a strict action against Tablighi Jamaat for spreading Corona virus in the country and repeatedly violating the the law of the land, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), a premier organisation of Indian Muslims termed the misdeeds of Jamaat as the murder of the Constitution of Bharat and also insult of Islam and humanity. In a statement, released on April 7, MRM national convener Mohd Afzal condemned the anti-Islam and anti-humanity actions of the Jamat leaders. “When the entire country was responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on April 5 night by lighting lamps with a firm resolve to fight the war against the virus, the Tabligh Jamaat members were spreading deadly infection by totally ignoring government instructions to follow social distancing. It put the lives of countless people in danger,” the statement said.
 
 
The MRM asked when people of all religions cancelled their programmes and activities, even the largest organisation like the RSS cancelled its annual meeting of the representatives scheduled in Bengaluru in March, why the Tabligh Jamaat failed to cancel its meeting in the interest of the nation? “The head of the Markaz Maulana Saad should have vacated the Markaz much earlier, but he did not and committed a prima facie crime. By doing so he acted against the Islamic tenets,” Mohd Afzal said. Commenting on the misbehave with doctors and nurses by Jamat people during treatment, the MRM said by indulging in such filthy actions, the Jamat people have defamed Islam, which is known as a religion of peace, brotherhood, and security. In view of the ‘Shabe Barat’, the MRM urged the Muslims of Bharat to remain in their houses and perform ‘dua’ and prayers for their ancestors by strictly adhering to the government directive of physical distancing.
 
 
Meanwhile, responding positively to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to light lamps at 9.00 pm on April 5, 2020 to express solidarity, unity, and resolve of the people in the war against Coronavirus, crores of Muslims all over Bharat proved that they love India are with the Prime Minister Modi at this hour of global crisis.
 
 

MALAYSIA

 
 
It’s not only India and Pakistan that is facing problems because of Tablighi Jamaat, but other countries as well. Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia are the three countries that saw spikes in Corona cases. These countries did concede that one particular Tablighi Jamaat’s event, a similar one that was held at Markaz in Nizamuddin, was linked to spikes in the corona cases.
 
 
Malaysian media reported that more than half of the country’s known Corona virus cases were traced to a Tablighi Jamaat gathering outside Kuala Lumpur, in late February and early March. The New York Times reported that the Islamic missionaries who participated in the congregation in Malaysia spread the virus to Brunei and Thailand as well.
 
 
Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reported that on March 17, 673 corona cases were identified in the country and two-third were linked to Jamaat. Tablighi Jamaat has become super spreader not only in India but in these countries as well. The irony is, these countries have neither banned the organisation as yet, nor preachers have been sent to jail.