Why is the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi in the news?
The Nizamuddin Markaz Masjid, also known as Banglewali Masjid, a mosque located in Nizamuddin West in South Delhi, is the global center for the Tablighi network and the origin of the Tablighi Jamaat.
As per some reports, The building isn’t a mosque. It’s a facility with bare dormitories. “It’s actually a transit point, where logistics are planned,” said Navaid Hamid, the president of All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushwarat.
The Tablighi Jamaat, founded in 1927, is a Sunni Muslim missionary movement that focuses on urging Muslims to return to practising their religion during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, and particularly in matters of ritual, dress, and personal behavior.
The organisation is estimated to have 150-250 million followers (the majority living in South Asia, and a presence in 180 to 200 countries. It is considered one of the most influential religious movements in 20th century Islam.
The movement’s stated primary aim is spiritual reformation of Islam by reaching out to Muslims across social and economic spectra and working at the grassroots level, to bring them in line with the group’s understanding of Islam. The Tablighi Jamaat believes that Muslims are in a constant state of spiritual Jihad in the sense of fight against evil, the weapon of choice is Dawah (recruitment or conversion to their cause or faith) and that battles are won or lost in the “hearts of men”. They do not preach violence and thus CANNOT be compared with ISIS or other violent Jihadist organizations.
However, since the 9/11 attacks, the group has been under scrutiny everywhere, including in India, because terror outfits have been found to disguise themselves as Tablighi Jamaat members.
Like Salafists, the Tabligh seek a “separation in their daily life from the ‘impious’ society that surrounded them”. The only objective of Tabligh Jamaat, overtly stated in most sermons, is that Muslims adopt and invite others for the Islamic lifestyle, exemplified by Muhammad, in its perfection. This involves dressing like the Prophet, sleeping as he did on the ground, on one’s right side, entering bathrooms leading with the left foot but put pants on leading with the right foot, using one’s hands instead of a fork when eating, men shaving their upper lips but letting their beards grow, pants or robes should be above the ankle, etc. The movement encourages Muslims to spend time out of their daily routine in Tablighi activities so that the rest of their routine could be harmonised with Tablighi lifestyle.
In its early days, the Tabligh movement aimed to return to orthodoxy and “purify” the Muslim religious-cultural identity of heterodox or “borderline” Muslims who still practised customs and religious rites connected with Hinduism.
So why are they suddenly not just in the news, but also the subject matter of a lot of hatred on social media as well as on certain media outlets? At least one TV channel is broadcasting an audiotape in which the 55-year-old head of the Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi, is openly asking people to boycott the lockdown. However, this tape is unlikely to be authentic, as the congregation was held from March 8 to 10, much before the lockdown. Maulana Saad is great grandson of the Tablighi Jamaat founder Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi
Apparently, almost 8,000 people from 19 states (including at least 309 foreigners from 16 countries) had congregated in the Markaz earlier this month, during which many of them supposedly contacted the Coronavirus disease. More than 1,000 people attended from Telangana alone.
441 of those who attended the meet (most of them showing symptoms for the disease) have been taken to three government hospitals in Delhi alone and about 2,000 have been home quarantined.
A hunt is on for members who returned to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Andamans. Six people have died in Telangana and one man died in Srinagar. Ten more, who returned to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, have tested positive. More than 100 people from Kashmir attended the gathering and a massive exercise is on to track them down.
As per unverified reports and TV broadcasts, at least 130 people who attended the Nizamuddin gathering have been tested positive for COVID-19 across India. More than 820 people who attended the gathering have attended other gatherings across India since then. There are already at least 10 deaths relating to the gathering, which is more than 20% of all Coronavirus-related deaths in India.
A statement from the Markaz said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22, the ongoing programme was discontinued immediately, but a large number of people were stuck in the premises due to the closure of railway services on March 21, adding there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions.
“Before the Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9:00pm, the Chief Minister of Delhi announced lockdown of Delhi beginning at 6:00am on March 23 till March 31, thereby further diminishing any chances of these visitors availing road transport for their journey back home,” the statement said, adding that around 1,500 people left the Markaz on March 23 by “availing whatever meagre transport was available”.
Eight Indonesian Islamic preachers, who attended the meet at the Nizamuddin Markaz, were today found staying at a mosque in Nagina block of Bijnor District of Uttar Pradesh, and have been picked up by the U.P. Police and moved to an isolation centre.
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