Tablighi Jamaat (Conveying Group) (Arabic: جماعة تبليغ, also Tabliq) is a Muslim missionary and revival movement. They limit their activities to within the Muslim community itself, the groups main aim is to bring spiritual awakening to the world's Muslims.
The Tablighi Jamaat was founded in the late 1920s by the Deobandi cleric Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi in the Mewat province of India. The inspiration for devoting his life to the preaching of Islam came to Ilyas during his second pilgrimage to the Hijaz in 1926.Maulana Ilyas put forward the slogan, ‘Aye Musalmano! Musalman bano’(in Hindi which translates O Muslims! Be Muslims in English).
The group originally started out with the aim of being a non political movement, with the main aim being to work at the grass roots level reaching out to Muslims across the economic and social spectrum.
For nearly two decades, the Tablighi Jamaat operated mainly within South Asia. With the ascent of Maulana Yusuf, Ilyas’ son, as its second emir (leader), the group began to expand activities in 1946, and within two decades the group reached Southwest and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Initially it expanded its reach to South Asian diaspora communities, first in Arab countries then in Southeast Asia. Once established, the Tablighi Jamaat began engaging local populations as well. Although the group first established itself in the United States, Britain is the current locus of the group in the West, primarily due to the large South Asian population that began to arrive there in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Jamaat claims It is strictly a non political movement. The Tablighis work at grass roots level reaching out to Muslims across the economic and social spectrum.
The Jamaat claims that it does not solicit or receive donations. Rather it is self funded by its members and operates on a very efficient model where administrative expenses are almost absent or taken care of by donations from senior members. As early as 1978, the World Muslim League subsidised the building of the Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, England, which has since become the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat in all of Europe.
Ameer or Zimmadar are titles of leadership in the movement.
The first Ameer, also the founder, was Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi (Maulana Ilyas) (1885-1944). All subsequent Ameers have been related to Ilyas, thus keeping the leadership in the family. The second was his son Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalawi (1917-65). The third one was Maulana Inaam ul Hasan (Inamul Hassan) (1965-95). Now there is a shura which includes two leaders: Maulana Zubair ul Hasan and Maulana Saad Kandhalawi.
The six principals
Tabligh in Arabic means "to convey (the message)" and Tablighi Jamaat strive to revive this duty which they consider as one of the primary duties of a Muslim. They encourage people to follow Islamic principles and the life of the prophet Muhammad through his teachings. Going out for months or years was not the way he neither followed nor preached for becoming an anchorite. But it is established sharia law doesn't prohibit, going out for months in this way.
Tablighi Jamaat base their work on a 6 point programme which was laid down by the founder of the movement. These 6 principles are:
Kalimah An article of faith in which the tabligh accepts that there is no god but God and the Prophet Muhammad is His messenger 
Salaat Five daily prayers that are essential to spiritual elevation, piety, and a life free from the ills of the material world 
Ilm and Dhikr The knowledge and remembrance of God conducted in sessions in which the congregation listens to preaching by the emir, performs prayers, recites the Quran and reads Hadith. The congregation will also use these sessions to eat meals together, thus fostering a sense of community and identity 
Ikram-i-Muslim The treatment of fellow Muslims with honor and deference 
Ikhlas-i-Niyat Reforming one’s life in supplication to God by performing every human action for the sake of God and toward the goal of self-transformation 
Tafrigh-i-Waqt The sparing of time to live a life based on faith and learning its virtues, following in the footsteps of the Prophet, and taking his message door-to-door for the sake of faith 
Constitution and activities
Members of any given Jama'at usually hail from varied backgrounds. Each Jama'at is usually constituted in a village or town mosque. They decide upon a route and time period of the Journey by Mash'wara or group counselling.
Each Jama'at has 8 to 15 members with one leader or Amir who is chosen by the members themselves before the actual journey. They stay in Masjids (Mosques) along the way, and preach to the people who attend the Mosque. During the day, members of the Jama'at visit Muslim houses door to door and roam the markets of the town or village they have stayed in and exhort Muslims to lead a pure religious life and invite them to attend a sermon in nearby Mosque after certain prayers. Usually after the sermon, they encourage the attendees to come forward and join them on the spiritual journeys for a number of days they can spare.
Since they encourage other Muslims to join in their spiritual journeys, any Muslim can easily join. There is no membership rules to be part of Tablighi Jamaat. In fact there is no 'membership' at all and there is no background check for newcomers. Any Muslim can join the group in a mosque.
The Jamaat as a missionary organization is popular in South Asia and has many adherents internationally. The main headquarters for Tabligh Jamaat (known as a Markaz) is in Nizamuddin, New Delhi, India. Europe's main Markaz is in Dewsbury, England. East Asia's main markaz is located in Jakarta, Indonesia. The main African markaz is in Johannesburg, South Africa. The group has also given lectures in the majority of mosques in the world.
When a "Tablighi" returns from his journey, he should try to implement what he has learned into his life. He should also invite others towards it so they can also spiritually benefit from it. Daily Taalim (which means teaching and learning) is recommended to be done at home so that the women folk and children can also benefit from what the men have learnt. However there is a Jamat for women called a Masturat Jamat. Unlike the men, the women stay outside the mosque in the house of a well known tablighi worker following full sharia'h rules with pardah and learn and also teach the women of that locality who may come to join them. Men do not join the Masturat Jamat as they are separate and stay in nearby mosque.
Apart from preaching, followers are also encouraged to spend 2.5 hours every day serving others for the sake of Allah(swt). Typically this involves encouraging other Muslims to do join the Tabligh effort[the way prophet(saw) did] and call others toward Allah(swt) and towards the prophet's sunnah. These 'hours' are also used to meet sick people and help the needy. In the local mosque, there is a daily 'Taalim' (which means teaching or learning) and one person reads from a book. 'Taalim' is also done in homes with wife and children. This teaching is generally done with a few books, but mostly Fazai'l A'amal is used.
Most hamlets in the Indian subcontinent usually have a mosque called the Markaz, or center, where weekly meetings occur. Preachers during these meetings urge people to go in Jama'at for as many days as their condition permits. The recommended period (but not necessary) is four months once in a life-time, a periodic planned tour schedule of 40 days in a year and 3 days in a month.
A strong grassroots support for the movement can be found in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Central Asian countries, East Asian countries, North and Central African countries, South American countries and the Gulf countries.
In Pakistan the movement is based in Raiwind, near Lahore. The annual Tablighi congregation in Bangladesh, the Biswa Ijtema, attracts over 3 million devotees from around the world. A large participation in Tabligh efforts are also seen in Europe, North America, South Africa, North Africa and East Asian Muslim countries.
Political & celebrity links
The Tablighi Jamaat is a professedly non-political movement. Despite this, due to its popular stature, many prominent politicians in Muslim and non-Muslim countries from both the right and the left associate themselves with the Tabligh. Many entrepreneurs in the Muslim world have been Tablighis. Among others, former Pakistani Prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and former Pakistani President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar have been associated with the Tablighi movement. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency was formerly headed by Javed Nasir, also a Tablighi.
Other than politicians, many celebrities in Pakistan have also associated themselves with the Tablighi Jamat. Acclaimed musician Junaid Jamshed reverted to Islam through the Jamat. Members of the Pakistani cricket team, including Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Yousuf (convert-formerly Yousuf Youhana), Inzamam-ul-Haq, Saqlain Mushtaq, Salim Malik, Mushtaq Ahmed & Shahid Afridi frequently attend the Jamat's lectures.
In Indonesia, Tabligh has also touch the life of Sakti, a member of Sheila on 7, a famous Indonesia Pop Band. During 2006 he has conducted a four months journey to International Markaz in Nizzamudin, New Delhi, India. He already quit the band completely., and practices the amalan maqaami and amalan intiqaali quite intensively.
Governments normally intolerant of independent movements often make an exception for Tablighi Jamaat. Pakistani military officers, even allow Tablighi missionaries to preach in the barracks. The main reason is that Tablighi jamaat preach such a image of Islam that it is totally acceptable to ruling elite whether in Muslim countries or non-Muslim countries. Their preaching is limited to the six points mentioned above and that's it. As described, it is encouraged as a religious party so that Muslims learn about true nature of Islam and how it solves the problems of not only common people but also of the society.
Criticism within Islam
Some groups within Islam, like the Salafis and the Jamaat-e-Islami, accuse Tablighi Jammaat for its policy of refraining from warning its followers of activities that could be labelled as forms of shirk (polytheism) in Islam. On the other hand, anti-Wahabi groups like the Barelvis accuse the Jamaat of propagating the Wahabi beliefs and associating with them.
The Jamaat claims to adhere and follow the thought of Ahlus'Sunnah and has the basic Islamic creed.
The book used by Jamat for "Taalim" (or teaching) Fazail-e-Amaal is criticized by Salafis and Wahabis for it's weak hadiths and other contents. Tablighis refute the charge saying that weak hadith narration is allowed for teaching virtues of already established practices in Islam.
Comments by prominent personalities
Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA official and expert on Islam, (Author of "The Future of Political Islam") characterized Tablighi Jamaat as a "peaceful and apolitical preaching-to-the-people movement."
Barbara Metcalf, a University of California scholar of South Asian Islam, called Tablighi Jamaat "an apolitical, quietist movement of internal grassroots missionary renewal" and compares its activities to the efforts to reshape individual lives by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Olivier Roy, a prominent authority on Islam at Paris's prestigious Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, described Tablighi Jamaat as "completely apolitical and law abiding."
An article in National Interest Online Alexis Debat of the The Nixon Center stated: "The organization is present in more than 80 countries, and about 99.9 percent of its activities are legitimate, peaceful and apolitical... It’s dedicated to improving society through individual development... They claim it’s not a political goal, but I’d argue that trying to change a society’s values is a political project, philosophically speaking." Attending a gathering, known as ijtima, in Pakistan he claimed, "I was told that, in the compound, Al-Qaeda came to raise money from Arab sheikhs and recruit foreign Muslims." Noting the difficulty separating out the violent extremists from the generally peaceful members, Debat added, "The question is how to root out the 0.1 percent that are terrorists without antagonizing the rest of the community."