Tablighi Jama'at

Q636 :Members of an organization called Tablighi Jama'at travel for varying periods, extending at times to four months, when they go around the country, and to foreign countries, to preach Islam. Their aim and objective is to invite their Muslim brothers to the mosque for prayers. They take leave from their work and leave their families in order to go on these missions, often living and sleeping in mosques. Please comment on this practice.

A636 : The propagation of Islam is the duty of all Muslims. The name tabligh means conveying the message of Islam. Hence, the idea of this organization is sound. To go from one place to another in order to explain Islam to people and to call on Muslims to be more conscious in the fulfillment of their Islamic duties is commendable.However, to say such activity is done in practice by some people leaves much to be desired. The system followed by the Tabligh organization is to ask its members to devote a certain portion of their time to the propagation of Islam.A member is expected to devote one hour a day, or one day a week, or one week every month or two, or one month a year, when he would go out and call on people to attend more conscientiously to their Islamic duties. At times, some missions spend four months with the sole purpose of conveying Allah's message.Members who go out on these missions are supposed to pay for their transport and their living expenses. Members who are well off can support those who are not, when the latter intend to go on a mission. The strongest emphasis is based on prayers because the society believes that when a Muslim attends regularly to his prayers, he is set on the way to be a better Muslim and his prayers will have a positive effect on his behavior making him a better person. All this is sound in theory, when people take an active part in the propagation of Islam, they feel that they themselves must be more diligent in observing their Islamic duties. It is true that some people may think, after completing a task in the service of Islam, that they have done their duty and may become a little lax in their observance of Islamic duties or in doing what they need to do in order to improve their own understanding of Islam and work better for it.What is important is to follow a successful mission with actions which are calculated to enhance one's commitment to the cause of Islam, and to make the next mission even more successful. Furthermore, important as it is to remind Muslims that they must attend regularly to their prayers, it is not sufficient. People must learn what while prayer is the cornerstone of Islam, building an Islamic community requires much more than a cornerstone. Going on extended mission of four months or so raises a few questions. It may be that the leaders of the society have made in clear it their guidelines that anyone who wants to go on such a mission must meet certain conditions, such as having acquired a minimum standard of understanding Islam, having provided well for his family during his absence, and not allowing equally or more important duties to be neglected during his absence. Take, for example, a man who has a young family, with two or three children still at school and a young wife.He may leave his wife enough money to look after the family for the whole period of his absence, and he may ask a close relative, such as a brother, to look after his family, but I do not think that such a prolonged absence in such case is justified, especially when we consider the fact that there is much to be done within the local Muslim community. The man will render a better service to Islam if he concentrates his efforts on bringing up his children as good Muslims and using his spare time to help his local Muslim community understand Islam better. An example of misuse of this system is found in the fact that some people who live in Europe may take themselves out of work, get registered with the state as unemployed and draw social security benefits for their families to live on while they go abroad, or even travel within the same country, on their propagation work. Such an arrangement cannot be approved by Islam. I am certain that the leaders of the society of Tabligh would not approve of it either. Still it is done.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )