Although Tablighi Jamaat has already been outlawed in Saudi Arabia, activities of this dangerous group continue in most nations in the world, including India, Britain, the United States, the European Union, the Middle East, and even the State of Israel.
After many years of my continuous investigative articles, exposing the notorious faces of Tablighi Jamaat, Saudi Arabia has banned this vessel of jihadism, religious extremism, and notoriety. According to media reports, the Saudi government has banned the activities of Tablighi Jamaat on December 10, 2021, and termed it as one of the gates of terrorism. Saudi authorities have asked Muslim clerics to warn people about the danger posed by Tablighi Jamaat.
In a Twitter post, the Ministry said, "His Excellency the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dr. Abdullateef Al-Sheikh, the preachers of mosques in which Friday prayers are held, are instructed to dedicate the next Friday sermon 6/5/1443 AH to warn against (the Tablighi and Da'wah group)". It may be mentioned here that the Tablighi Da'wah group also is known as the Al Ahbab group.
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs also suggested that the preachers, where Friday prayers are held, talk about four major points. These included, "Declaration of the misguidance, deviation and danger of this group, and that it is one of the gates of terrorism, even if they claim otherwise; Mention their most prominent mistakes; Mention their danger to society; Statement that affiliation with partisan groups, including (the Tablighi and Da'wah Group) is prohibited in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
What is Tablighi Jamaat?
Originated in India in 1926 during British rule, Tablighi Jamaat is an orthodox missionary movement. As per reports, it calls Muslims to follow the religion, especially in matters of rituals, dress and even behaviour on a personal level. The Tablighi Jamaat group is estimated to have somewhere between 350 to 400 million members across the globe. They collectively claim that their focus is only on religion and strictly avoids political activities and debates.
United States Institute of Peace has described Tablighi Jamaat as an "Islamic revivalist organisation" before noting that, in nations such as UK, France and America, the group has appeared on the fringes of several terrorism investigations, leading some to speculate that its apolitical stance simply masks' fertile ground for breeding terrorism. Although Tablighi Jamaat has already been outlawed in Saudi Arabia, activities of this dangerous group continue in most nations in the world, including India, Britain, the United States, the European Union, the Middle East, and even the State of Israel.
Tablighi Jamaat, gateway to religious extremism and jihad
One of the gravest challenges in countering global terrorism and jihadism is the disturbing rise in the number of lone wolves. Many people may ask–is there such a lone-wolf terrorist? There are two ways for Muslims to become lone wolves. In most cases, a lone wolf jihadist is perceived to act independently without the support of a jihadist organisation for logistics, weapons, or indoctrination.
The jihadists coordinate an executed attack by themselves, usually telling no one. But, many Muslims are turning into lone wolves, being brainwashed by Tablighi Jamaat, for example, or radical Muslim preachers like Dr. Zakir Naik.
In my understanding, a lone wolf poses a much greater threat than a known jihadist because, in most cases, lone wolves would adopt any policy or take any disguise for achieving success in its notorious agenda of causing harm and destruction to the non-Muslims. A lone female wolf may enter any club or cabaret under the disguise of a sex worker or strip dancer and execute its dangerous agenda.
According to the counter-terrorism community, lone wolf attacks are a relatively rare type of terrorist attack but have been increasing in number.
While the lone wolf acts to advance an extremist group's ideological or philosophical beliefs, they act on their own, with no outside command or direction. The lone wolf's tactics and methods are conceived and directed solely on their own; in many cases, such as the tactics described by Curtis, the lone wolf never has personal contact with the group they identify with. It is considerably more difficult for counter-terrorism officials to gather intelligence on lone wolves since they may not come into contact with routine counter-terrorism surveillance.
Scholarship and news reports have used the terms stochastic terrorism and scripted violence to describe how lone-wolf terrorism functions to mobilise an attack with no direct connection between the rhetorical call to action and the date or time of the act of terrorism.
A 2013 analysis by Sarah Teich, a research assistant at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, found five emerging trends in Islamist lone wolf terrorism in North America and western Europe between 1990 and 2013:
There was an increase in the number of countries targeted by lone wolves from the 1990s to the 2000s. An increase in the number of people injured and killed by lone wolves. Increased effectiveness of law enforcement and counter-terrorism.
Consistency in the distribution of attacks by "actor types" (loners, lone wolves, and lone wolf packs). An increase in the number of attacks against military personnel. In countries like India, Britain, and the United States, lone wolves may present a greater threat than organised groups, and terrorists have not been limited to Muslims.
Lone wolf terrorists are highly likely to be afflicted with mental illness. Studies have found that over 40 per cent of lone-wolf terrorists have been diagnosed with a mental illness. This puts lone wolves as being 13.5 times more likely to suffer from a mental illness than members of an organised terrorist group, such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Let me remind my readers that a major segment of the participants of Tablighi Jamaat is from madrassa education. We are aware of the rampant cases of child molestation and sodomy inside the madrassas, which ultimately puts tremendous stress on the students' minds, thus finally forcing them towards mental illness. Because of such illness, most of the madrassa students bear tremendous hatred towards the affluent class in the society and even consider them as infidels or cohorts of the enemies of Islam. To any madrassa education individual, the best way for heaven is to become a 'martyr' and kill Jews, Christians, and non-Muslims.
Just imagine the degree of threat these madrassa educated people pose, especially when they either lead Tablighi Jamaat or participate in it.
Tablighi Jamaat should be immediately banned
With the disturbing media report of Islamic State (ISIS) calling upon youths to launch jihadist attacks on Christians and "non-Muslims" during Christmas and the same global terrorist outfit openly calling for the destruction of idols of Hindu deities in India, it is essential for the Indian authorities to immediately launch extended intelligence surveillance and actions on jihadist operatives in the country while outlawing Tablighi Jamaat, which is being used as a convenient vessel of jihadist recruitment by several radical Islamic militancy groups such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State etcetera. Tablighi Jamaat has been branded as a wolf in sheep's clothing by most counterterrorism experts.
According to reports, the latest cover of the Voice of Hind magazine, a mouthpiece of the Islamic jihad terrorist organisation, has recently surfaced online and from the looks of it, it does not augur well for India. The now-viral cover features the 123-feet-tall idol of the Hindu deity Shiva installed at a temple in Murudeshwara, Karnataka. It is a major pilgrimage destination and a tourist attraction in South India. The iconic idol was digitally torn down and beheaded in true ISIS-style; the black ISIS flag was planted at the apex, and the message "It is Time to Break the False Gods" was written underneath.
The cover raises serious security concerns. India is surrounded by Muslim neighbours and has many jihadi elements within it. They could team up to take down one of the largest secular democracies of the region.
Voice of Hind, a joint venture by the pro-ISIS media outlet Al-Qitaal Media Center and Junudul Khilafah al-Hind, can be defined as an India-centric online propaganda magazine. Launched in February 2020, it has been a regular menace with a strong and obvious hatred for India. It canonises the jihad terrorists of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K, or ISKP) and has made a saint of Pakistani national Huzaifa-al-Bakistani, who was a key recruiter for the Islamic State and was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan in 2019.
In its previous editions, the magazine wrote extensively about attacks on the Indian security forces, sought revenge for the 2020 anti-Hindu Delhi riots, and elaborated on how to make the most of the pandemic situation by attacking India when the country of 1.3 billion was at its weakest.
For the last several years, the notorious agenda of Ghazwa e Hind has been on the rise, especially within West Bengal of India, where the ruling Trinamool Congress party is accused of maintaining deeper ties with several jihadist outfits, including Hizbul Mujahideen.
There is a phrase that Pakistani militant leaders have used against India for decades–Ghazwa-e-Hind or a holy raid on India. Ghazwa in Arabic implies a war that is guided by faith rather than materialistic or territorial gains and is widely attributed to an Islamic concept derived from the hadiths — a set of sayings by Prophet Mohammad. The phrase is used to refer to Muslim warriors conquering the Indian subcontinent.
Both radical Islamists in Pakistan and jihad-confronters have propagated this meaning. It is also frequently used as a trope to put devout Indian Muslims on the defensive. Their loyalty is questioned–will they put religion first or India?
Now, 'Ghazwa-e-Hind' has made a noisy return among scholars, security analysts and rabble-rousers, especially after the Narendra Modi government's action on Article 370 and Pakistan's isolation in the international theatre. But what has gone unnoticed is that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading body of Muslims in India, has already called out the error in this popular interpretation. The group has supported the government's decision on Kashmir.
Maulana Mufti Salman Mansoorpuri, a Jamiat scholar, insisted late last year that Pakistan has been erroneously and mischievously linking the term to their rift with India. Mahmood Madani revealed this at an Observer Research Foundation (ORF) conference last month, sparking renewed interest in the theological interpretation of the phrase.
In a video posted on Facebook on August 31 by Zaid Hamid of Pakistan, a radical who fancies himself as a security analyst, said: "We are entering Ghazwa-e-Hind, the war which was prophesied by Prophet Muhammad." The video shows him brandishing a Kalashnikov as if ready to march off to the "Great War between believers and non-believers".
He then added: "After what Narendra Modi and the infidels of India have done to Kashmir, no one should have any doubt that in the coming times. The final battle of the Ghazwa-e-Hind will soon be fought between Muslims and infidels."
Zaid Hamid may be from the fringe, but over 13 lakh viewers have watched his video. More mainstream Pakistani individuals, like a minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, referred Ghazwa-e-Hind while speaking in parliament and thundered: "Pakistan didn't make an atom bomb for fun and games [khel tamasha]. We will show you if it becomes necessary."
Pakistan-based terror groups, notably Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), have been using Ghazwa-e-Hind as a hadith to recruit, fund and justify its audacious terror strikes as a religious holy war against India. The Jaish and others falsely propagate that Jihad against India is considered holy in Islam and that those participating in it [the battle against "infidels"] will be granted an easy entry into paradise.
In a widely-circulated note by Jamia Qasmia Shahi of Moradabad, Maulana Mufti Salman Mansoorpuri debunked Jaish's assertions and argued prophecies and sayings of Prophet Mohammad should not be used for political or material gains.
Not to be left behind, actress Veena Malik also tweeted a Hadith on Ghazwa-e-Hind on September 1. In a recent interview with Samaa TV, she said: "If you look at history, Ghazwa-e-Hind is mentioned…. It is also true that there comes a point when Muslims had to raise their swords and had to fight." Veena Malik is now a born-again after famously posing with a grenade and an ISI tattoo for an Indian magazine.
Amir Rana, director of Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, told Samaa TV: "It has been going on for years… whenever things get bad in Kashmir you will hear it."
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, firmly rooted in Islam is a leading body of nationalist Muslims and clergy in India. It opposed the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan, and since 2001, is effectively using renowned Islamic seminary Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband to issue comprehensive fatwas declaring terrorism as un-Islamic. Last month, it had adopted a resolution backing the Narendra Modi government's decision to abrogate the special status given to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Hadiths on Ghazwa-e-Hind, according to Mansurpoori, reads: "The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said–'Allah has saved two groups of my Ummah from the hellfire; the group that will invade Al-Hind (the subcontinent) and the group that will be with Eesa (Jesus), the son of Mariam.' Quoting the narration of Abu Hurairah [the narrator of over 5,000 hadiths]–'The Messenger of Allah promised us the conquest of Al-Hind (the subcontinent). If I am able to join it, I will spend on it my wealth and my life. If I am killed, I will be the best of martyrs and if I return, I will be Abu Hurairah, the freed one (i.e. from hellfire)'".
The Hadiths are a primary source of guidance in Islam. Muslims unanimously agree that the authority of the Hadith is second only to that of the Qur'an.
According to Mansoorpuri, several Hadiths mention Ghazwa-e-Hind and its virtues, but the chain of narrators is weak, confusing and relies upon persons who are little known in the authentic collection of hadith.
India and the world at risk
The latest information of the Islamic State calling upon its members for the destruction of idols of Hindu deities in India is a matter of grave concern. Indian authorities should understand that this is a declaration of so-called jihad against the 966.3 million Hindu populace in India and millions of Hindus around the world. It is time for India to declare an all-out war against radical Islam and jihadist notoriety. India should immediately cease its relations with Palestinian terrorists and distance itself from terror-patron Iran. First, for the sake of national security, India should impose a total ban on the activities of Tablighi Jamaat and dismantle Tablighi bases in New Delhi and other parts of the country. Simultaneously, countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Britain, the United States, European Union, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Maldives, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt, etcetera should immediately impose a ban on Tablighi Jamaat and evacuate various mosques, which are being captured for continuing activities of the dangerous organisation. The Bangladesh government also needs to impose a ban on holding the annual congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in the country.
(The writer is a multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz)