The term Da’awah, or Dawah, is used in abundance by various Muslim proselytizing groups both on and off social media. It is the more puritan, Arabic version of another word Tabligh, which means spreading the message (of Islam). The literal meaning of Da’awah is invitation (Daawat), and the person who extends this invite is called ‘Daaee’. Mainly, this is used to invite non Muslims into Islam. In case there is a doubt that Dawah can also include inviting people to other religions by non Muslims, this is not how it works. Quran talks about Dawah, and specifies that it only works when the Muslim God is called. For all Gods of disbelievers, it just ends up being a futile exercise.
“To Him [alone] is the supplication (دعوة) of truth. And those they call upon besides Him do not respond to them with a thing, except as one who stretches his hands toward water [from afar, calling it] to reach his mouth, but it will not reach it [thus]. And the supplication of the disbelievers is not but in error [i.e. futility].” 13:14 Quran
Dawah is extended not only to non Muslims, but also to Muslims, as there is this concept of making true Muslims out of those who are already in the circle of Islam. In other words, it is a revivalist approach to Islam. The religion welcomes internal as well as external purification of soul In many Muslim majority countries like Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh this practice is quiet common. A group of bearded fellows would turn up outside the houses and invite the male members of the household to come to the mosque nearby, where they could be taught the true meaning of Islam, discussions on Quran and other related areas. In addition to Muslim majority nations, the Tablighi Jamat is very active in western countries like Australia, USA, UK and many other parts of Europe. In these countries also they use the same modus operandi. They divide into two separate groups and the mosque instructs them to divide their focus between Muslims and non-Muslims. A lot of Muslim migrants from Pakistan, India and other countries in these countries are targeted to become ‘purer’ by group A, while group B turns its focus towards the Kafir locals of the area. These Tablighi groups hold seminars and talks on Islam, where other more radical foreign speakers are invited. Visas are granted easily to these people because anything else would come under Islamophobia. So the Tablighi Jamaat is free to spread its wings and take as many people under them as possible.
Once a person is part of a Tablighi Jamaat, they are assigned tasks and duties to bring others into the fold. Missions are organised where the Tablighis are formed into jamaats of approximately ten people who then travel to influence people. These Tablighis’ missions last three days, forty days (chilla), four months, or one year. The Jamaat organises get together in cities where thousands of followers come together to listen to the Molvis. These get togethers are 3-day (Seh Roza), 40 days, or 3 months. During this time, people leave their occupations and families behind to connect with Deen. Food and accommodation is provided free of cost. At many times, specially in Pakistan, recruitment for terrorist organisations is also done at these get togethers.
Dawah is done through many other means including using all famous personalities and units to influence people. Pakistan Cricket team is famous for carrying the message of Tablighi Jamaat wherever they go. The Jamaat found it as a perfect means to advertise their message after Pakistan won the World Cup in 1990. Until that time, the cricketers were mostly famous for their playboy images. Imran Khan is famous for having a westernised lifestyle back in the day, whereas other members of the team at that point were never seen publicising their faith. All cricketers prior to Imran were either from elite class or from very common village type backgrounds. None of them were seen praying in public view. Yes, there were occasions when Miandad and maybe one or two others would fall in Sajda on the ground upon scoring a 100 or winning a match, but that was the end of it. Miandad would, in fact, use the Quran to look important back when he stepped into the arena of cricket. In one incident, he was seen carrying Quran in a briefcase he carried to look equally important as other senior players, who would carry their credentials and documents indicating their flourishing status; county contracts, travel papers, sponsorship deals. At the time, none of the cricketers carried beards or the mark of Namaz on their forehead. However, after 1990 World Cup, Maulana Tariq Jameel slowly started to garner influence on the cricket team, and by the 2000s, things changed forever. In 2021, an article which appeared in DW, talked about this phenomena. From this article, one can understand the cricket team was nothing more than a reflection of the Pakistani society, which was adopting Tabligh and faith gained through it as its identity. One can say that a country which had no cultural identity of its own, decided to fill the gaping hole with religion.
“There hasn’t been much research on this topic, but few academics and journalists have tried to understand the phenomenon of why Pakistani cricket team turned Tablighi,” Farooq Sulehria, a researcher and journalist, told DW.
“We must understand that cricketers are part of society, and Islam has become the ‘monoculture’ in Pakistan. Cricketers, film stars and other celebrities simply jump on the bandwagon,” he added.
Slowly, Inzamam ul Haq, Saeed Anwar, and many others became brand ambassadors of Tablighi Jamat. Afterwards, Younis Yohana was influenced to leave Christianity, and became Muhammad Younis. Hindu Danish Kaneria was forced to convert and side lined when he didn’t. Other people with an alternative point of view faced in-team politics. Pakistan team became famous for trying to influence cricketers from other faiths to Islam. Lately, the team is trolled by its own countrymen for becoming a better Tablighi Jamat than it is a cricketing unit.
The Tablighi Jamaat has its origins in India in the 1920s, from where it spread to the broader Muslim world. Many studies have come to the conclusion that this organistion leads the followers to the edge, from where it becomes the logical choice for them to become a terrorist. The organisation has been under watch for being on the fringes of several terrorist organisations. Some known western terrorists who came out of Tablighi Jamaat are Jose Padilla, Richard Reid and John Walker Lindh.
In addition to the Tablighi Jamaat, there is also the Salafi Dawah, which is more direct in calling out non believers, and uses the direct dialogue approach. In Britain as well as some other European countries, some mosques are famous for being led by Salafi Dawah groups, These mosques run their own YouTube channels where they can be seen giving clear directions to followers of Islam as to how the non believers should be treated. Some debates which have gone viral on social media, have included one Salafi Daaee telling a former Muslim that according to Quran, he is bound to be killed. In the aftermath of October 7th attacks by Hamas on Israel, a number of mosques have released controversial videos with Imams openly praising the acts of Hamas, some even calling them ‘an inspiration’. Many of these Imams are Salafi Daees who find times like this as opportune moments to spread their word, find relevance, and raise money for their own agenda. To connect, these Islamic leaders are giving Dawah to accept their ideology to both Muslims as well as those seculars, liberals and Leftist who are pro Palestine. Some of these sermons openly all for Jihad against the Jews who are ‘our biggest enemy’. The reason why they are able to get away with this narrative and are not arrested or label terrorists themselves, is that most governments are unable to label Hamas as a terrorist organisation. It is one of those grey areas where Muslims and supporters of Palestine cite atrocities to justify the acts of Hamas, hence these Imams who are blatantly anti semitic and anti non believers, are being mainstreamed under the label of pro Palestine.
All of these are evils of Dawah and Tabligh, which is something the non believer countries and their governments have failed to act against all of this time. They fail to understand that the Islamic Dawah is literally spreading the message of Islam, with its 60 odd verses of hatred against non believers and calls for Jihad against the secular, infidel governments. From the looks of social and mainstream media, they are making great progress in achieving their objectives.
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