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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tabligh Jamaat

The emergence of the Tabligh Jamaat as a movement for the reawakening of faith can be seen as a continuation of the broader trend of Islamic revival in North India in the wake of the collapsed Muslim political power and consolidation of the British rule in India in the mid-nineteenth century. The emergence of Tabligh Jamaat was also a direct response to the rise of such aggressive Hindu proselytizing movements as the Shuddhi and Sangathan, which launched massive efforts in the early twentieth century to reconvert those Hindus who had converted to Islam in the past. Maulana Ilyas, the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat, believed that only a grassroots Islamic religious movement could counter it.

The Tablighi Jamaat originated in Mewat, in North India, inhabited by Rajput tribes known as Meos. There is evidence that there were several Meo conversion to Islam, followed by re-conversion to Hinduism whenever Muslim political power declined in the region. When Ilyas started his religious movement in Mewat, most Meos were Muslim in name only. They worshipped Hindu deities in their homes and celebrated Hindu religious festivals. They could not recite Shahadah or say their daily ritual prayers. Their birth, marriage, and death rituals were all based on Hindu customs.

Maulana Ilyas, a religious scholar of the orthodox Deoband, and a follower of the Naqshabandiyah, learned the situation. His initial effort was to establish a network of mosque-based religious schools to educate Mewati Muslim about correct Islamic beliefs and practices. But he became disillusioned with the reality that these institutions were producing religious functionaries but not preachers. Following this, he quit his teaching position at Madrasah Mazharul Ulum in Saharanpur and moved to Basti Nizamuddin in the old quarters of Delhi to begin his missionary work. Tablighi movement was formally launched in 1926 from this place.

Maulana Ilyas devoted to what he described as “the mission of the prophets”. His message was simple: “Ai Musalmano Musalman bano”. The method adopted by him was equally simple. It was to organize units of at least ten persons and send them to various villages. These units (jamaat), would visit a village, invite the local Muslim to assemble in the mosque and present their message in the form of six demands;

1. Every Muslim must be able to recite Shahadah correctly in Arabic.

2. A muslim must learn how to say the Shalat correctly.

3. To learn the basic teaching of Islam and to do dhikr.

4. To respect the fellow Muslims

5. To inculcate honesty and sincerity of purpose in such endeavors.

6. To spend some times and travel from place to place spreading the words of God.

Maulana Ilyas later added another rule asking members to abstain from wasting time in idle talk and from sinful deeds.

The movement met with spectacular success in a relatively short period. Thousands of Muslims joined Maulana Ilyas to propagate the message of Islam throughout Mewat. There were signs of Islamic religious revival everywhere in the area. Jamaat workers are rigid in following the orthodox and observing the shariah. They stayed away from politics and political controversies. Instead of publishing books, they go door to door and invite people to join their work.

Maulana Ilyas was succeeded by his son, Maulana Yusuf. During this time, this informal association with no written constitution, no standardized organizational rules and procedures, was spread beyond India to countries of Southeast Asia, the middle east, Africa, Europe and north America. The Jamaat has become a truly global Islamic movement. Its influence has grown significantly over the past two decades. Today it has followers all over the Muslim world and the West. Its 1993 annual international conference in Raiwind near Lahore, attended by more than one Million Muslims from 94 countries has become the second largest religious congregation of the Muslim world after the Hajj.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind

Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind is an organization of Muslim religious scholars of India, established in November 1919, when numerous ulama from all parts of India participated in the Khilafat Movement conference in New Delhi. Many of the members were associated with the Darul Ulum of Deoband. The organization came into being when Indians of all religious affiliations were united in the anti-British struggle. When most Muslim leaders participated in the non-cooperation movement with the Indian National Congress, Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind, in contrary, maintained its pro-congress attitude through out the struggle for independence and supported the idea of a united India and opposed the Pakistan movement.

The main contribution of the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind to Indo-Muslim thought is the theory of “composite nationalism” to counter the “two nations theory” of the Muslim League, which formed the ideological basis of the Pakistan movement. According to the theory of “composite nationalism”, nations can be created by various factors, such as religion, race, homeland, language or color. In modern times, the most important nation-building factor has been the homeland, therefore, the Muslims of India belong to the same nation as other Indians, and India constitutes a nation despite its religious diversity.

The Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind thus accepted the idea of territorial nationalism. To provide with Islamic legitimacy the Ulama used classical Islamic precedent, the covenant of Madinah, in which the prophet agreed to the conclusion of non-Muslims in the same nation with Muslims. The history of Mughal India is also seen as vindicating the composite nationalism theory. The Mughal period knew no communalism; all Indians were treated equally by the rulers. Communalism emerged in India only as a result of British policy.

In order to expel the British from India and to achieve independence, there was the demand that Muslims cooperate with the Indian National Congress. The Ulama envisaged that in an independent and united India achieved with Muslim cooperation, the Muslim would have significant influence, their family, law and religious institutions would be maintained, and governments with a Muslim majority would be established in several provinces. On the basis, they appealed to Muslim not to join the Muslim League.

The Ulama were convinced that the western-educated element in the League’s leadership would never be able or willing to establish an Islamic state compatible with the traditional religious ideal of the Ulama. They held that the creation of Pakistan only worsened the communal problem. Many Muslim would remain in India and live in an atmosphere of hate due to partition. On the other hand, the establishment of a unified India, in which the Muslim would be influential and significant, would benefit not only Muslim in the subcontinent but also Muslims of the world.

In independent India, the Jam’iyatul Ulama-I Hind acquired increased importance in the new political structure. Shortly after independence, the Ulama called upon Indian Muslims to declare their loyalty to India. Several of the ideas adopted by the Ulama after partition were quite bold from traditional Islam. They accepted the idea of a secular state. They gave qualified support to the idea of a composite India culture. They supported Indian policies even on issues that were sensitive from the Muslim point of view, such as Kashmir and Hyderabad.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shah Wali Ullah

In the eighteenth century, Islam in the sub-continent was faced with menacing problems. Sectarian conflict, low moral of society, poor understanding of the Holy Quran, general ignorance of Islam as well as political conflicts were the prevailing situation. These were valid grounds for fearing that political disintegration would be followed by religious collapse. Due more than anything else to the activities of Shah Wali Ullah and his family, the worse condition can be prevented, moreover, an era of religious regeneration was inaugurated.

Shah Wali Ullah Ibn Shaikh Abdur Rahim Ibn As-Shahid Wajihuddin Ibn Mu’azzam Ibn Mansur Ibn Ahmad Ibn Mahmud Dahlavi was born on Feb 21, 1703 A.D., at Delhi. His father was a Sufi and theologian of great repute. Shah Wali Ullah received his early education under his father, and later he taught at his father’s Madrasah Rahimiyah for twelve years. He left for Arabia in 1730 A.D., for higher studies, where he obtained his sanad. At the time, Muslims in India were divided into many sects and groups. When he was in Hijaz he decided to reinterpret Islam, to popularize Islamic values among the Muslims, and to present Islam in rational manner.

In order to reform the creed and call to the Quran, he translated the Holy Quran into Persian language to be understood by the people in the subcontinent. His writings of all school of thought, to understand their viewpoint, then wrote comprehensive volumes about what is fair and just and worked out a system of thought, belief and values, providing a spiritual basis for national cohesion.

His other reformative efforts were to propagate hadith and Sunnah and integration of fiqh with hadith, to reinterpret the Islamic shariah and exposition of the wisdom underlying hadith and Sunnah. Thus he recommended the application of ijtihad against blind taqlid, and interpreted Quran and hadith in the context of times. He elucidated the theory of caliphate and its basic characteristic. In this regard he refused the view of the Shi’ite.

During the era of confusion before the decline of Mughal Empire, Shah Wali Ullah played a leading role. He kept himself engaged in literary pursuits and religious reform unmindful of his surroundings as if everything normal, though Delhi was almost continuously being ravaged by the Marathas, Jats, Sikhs and invaders. He encouraged the Mughals and their nobles to get rid its disruptive elements and even preserved its independence against the British.

Shah Wali Ullah directed his teachings towards reorienting the Muslim society on the basis of social justice and removing inequalities and iniquitous distribution of wealth. He established several branches of his school at Delhi for effective dissemination of his ideas. In his book “Hujjat Allah al-Balighah”, he pinpointed the cause of chaos and disintegration of the Muslim society. They were pressure on public treasury, the emolument given to various people without doing any service to the state, heavy taxation on peasants, merchants and workers. According to him, a state can prosper only if there were light and reasonable taxes.

He wrote open letters to:

· Mughal rulers, to give up their corrupt and inefficient practices.

· Soldiers, for forgetting to inculcate within themselves the spirit of Jihad.

· Artisans, workers and peasants, reminded them that on their labors the economic prosperity of the state depends.

· The Emperor, to teach a lesson to the Jats threatening the Mughal Empire and also wrote to him not to give jagirs to mansabdars, who were not loyal to the state.

· Masses, to be conscious of their duties and not to indulge in the accumulation of wealth.



He wrote to Ahmad Shah Abdali to give up the life of ease, draw the sword and not to sheath it till the distinction is established between true faith and infidelity. His efforts resulted in Maratha debacle at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Najibud Daula in the third battle of Panipat in 1761 A.D.

Shah Wali Ullah’s teachings created a new awareness of the present dangers and what the future had in store for the Muslims of the subcontinent. This was a psychological preparation for the revolution of 1857-58 A.D., after which turned Muslims mind to new remedies.

One of the distinctions enjoyed by Shah Wali Ullah was that he had been blessed by God with sons and successors who kept burning the torch lit by him. His sons and successors propagated his mission that innumerable treatises written on the correct teachings of Quran and Sunnah. These writings created an enthusiasm among the people for the study of religious branches. His three gifted sons named Shah Abdul Aziz, Shah Abdul Qadir, Shah Rafi’uddin, carried ahead the reformatory endeavors of Shah Wali Ullah.

Shah Abdul Aziz translated Quran into Urdu, after 50 years of the Persian translation by Shah Wali Ullah, when the Urdu language had started to replace the Persian. He completed the exegesis of his father from Surat al-Maida to the thirteenth verse of al-Hujurat.

According to Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, the renovatory endeavors of Shah Abdul Aziz can be divided into five categories:

1. Popularization of the message of the Quran through its exegesis in order to reform the popular creed of the masses by creating a direct link between them and the scriptures.

2. Promoting the study of hadith by making arrangements for its teaching and preparing teachers for its further diffusion.

3. Controverting the heterodoxical Shi’ite creed by exposing the conspiracies designed by them.

4. Revival of Jihad in order to prepare Muslims to safeguard their freedom.

5. Grooming a group of such persons who could carry on his reformatory works in the future.
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Muslim Educational System in Medieval India


Before the advent of the Muslims in India, they had already developed a system of education suited to their genius. By the eleventh century AD. , The institutions of higher learning in the Muslim countries, called Madrasahs, had developed into centers of learning with a distinct religious bias. In India, these Madrasahs were founded by Sultans, nobles, and their influential ladies. The main objective of this education was to train such ulama or scholar who would become eligible for the civil service as well as performing duties as judge or qadhi.
Iltutmish was the first to establish a madrasah at Delhi, naming it “Madrasah-e-Muizzi”, after the name of Muizzuddin Muhammad Ghori. Balban, the Chief Minister of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud, founded “Madrasah Nasiriyya” after the name of his master. Minhajus Siraj, the author of “Tabaqat Nasiri”, was appointed its principal. Gradually many madrasahs came into being. In Muhammad Tughlag’s period there were 1000 madrasahs only in Delhi. Sultan Firoz Shah founded “Madrasah Firoz Shahi” on the southern side of the Hauz Khaz in Delhi. There were many Madrasahs in small and big, rural and urban areas. However, the important scholars were only in the madrasah of important centers.

The grants, which were given to ulama in the form of Madad-e-Ma’ash (financial support) lead to the foundation of many madrasahs. The education was given in Sufi centers also. This trend of education continued during the Khilji Dynasty. Though Alauddin himself was uneducated and it was proved as a threat to the future of his dynasty. However, Delhi continued to project as an important center of knowledge, scholars and writers. Due to the influence of Hz. Nizamuddin, there was demand for religious and mystic teachers as well.
The minister of Alauddin Khilji, Shamsul Malik patronized the knowledge. During this period there was a tremendous progress in fiqh, theology, lexicography and exegetic writing during this period. The study of Greco-Arab medicine was also given special attention. The most important physician of this period was Badruddin Dimashqi and Juwaini.
From the time of Iltutmish to the reign of Sikandar Lodhi the curriculum of the madrasahs followed a set pattern. According to Barani, the main subjects taught at the Madrasah Firoz Shahi were tafsir, hadith and fiqh. In ma’qulat, Sharhi Shamsiah and Sharhi Shafia were included. Besides these subjects, grammar, literature, logic, mysticism and scholasticism were also taught.

Sultan Sikandar Lodhi brought some changes in the system of education. Apart from religious educations, rational educations were also included. Under him the progress of philosophy took place. The students used to copy themselves since the books were rare. Learned men from Arabia, Persia and Central Asia were invited to take charge of education in India. The tendency that started in the time of Sikandar Lodhi found its culmination in the reign of Akbar. He introduced reforms in the curriculum of primary schools and included the logic, arithmetic, moral, mensuration, geometry, astronomy, agriculture, physiognomy, and public administration, in the course of study. In studying Sanskrit, students ought to learn the Bayakaran, Niyai, Vedanta and Patanjal.

The system of education was then under the control of ulama who were in favor of Akbar’s curriculum. However, Hakim Fathullah Sirazi and his followers claimed a significant role in this system. Fathullah Sirazi was a philosopher, mathematician and scientist. His system was in later period developed by Mullah Nizamuddin. The curriculum of Mullah was known as “Dars Nizami”. The salient feature of the curriculum is to relate religious education with the Greek philosophy. For the practitioners of medicine, syllabus was different. They began their education with Arabic literature, grammar and philosophy, and then they start study “Canon fi al-Tibb” and “Kitab al-Shifa” of Ibn Sina. For the accountants and secretaries a separate curriculum was prepared at the end of Akbar’s reign.
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