Other States

Tablighi Jamaat episode | Muslims fear more ‘social distancing’

Health workers prepare to sanitise an area in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin on Wednesday after reports of virus cases.   | Photo Credit: -

The action against Tablighi Jamaat for allegedly hiding information about COVID-19-infected persons on its premises in Delhi’s Nizamuddin has evinced a mixed response from Muslim intellectuals, clerics and professionals. Some fear it will lead to more social distancing with Muslims, others suggest Tablighi Jamaat would no longer be able to function in isolation.

Criticising the organisation’s leader Maulana Saad, Zainus Sajidin Siddiqui, Sheher Qazi, Meerut, said he was no authority on Islam. “When most prominent mosques in the world are shut, when top clerics of Deoband and Nadwa have appealed to Muslims to offer prayers at home, why he didn’t come forward in time? He didn’t understand the spirit of Islam. Science and Islam are not at loggerheads. Not taking medicine or not making an effort to get cured during illness, particularly when it could spread to others, amounts to taking one’s life, which is a sin in Islam.” Mr. Siddiqui, who retired as a professor of Sunni theology from Aligarh Muslim University, said the Delhi police should also have acted in time. He appealed to all the Muslims who had been to the Tablighi Jamaat centre in Nizamuddin to come out on their own and get tested.

Talking about its political fallout, Mirza Asmer Beg, professor of political science at AMU, said the way a large section of the media was reporting the incident, it would add “fuel to the fire”.

“As an outsider, if you watch television, you will feel that the Jamaat was completely at fault. There is hardly any nuance. An indiscretion is being reported as motivated. It will only further the stereotypes against Muslims and widen the gulf in society,” he said.

Beyond the headlines, Prof. Beg said, it looked like a ploy to divert attention from the bad optics that the government faced after it failed to address migrant exodus in time. “Also, in Delhi, the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party are engaging in competitive communalism and Muslims are at the receiving end.”

He said the Tablighi Jamaat didn’t represent all Muslims. “Many don’t like the way it maintains distance from political issues. It didn’t take a stand on issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and perhaps that is why governments find them harmless.”

Atif Khan, a mass communication professional who attended Tablighi Jamaat meetings for several years before parting ways, echoed Prof. Beg’s views. “The Jamaat makes you self-sufficient in every manner, be it public speaking, personal hygiene, understanding of holy books, following a routine and acceptance of human fallacies. However, over a period of time, I realised those who run the show lack in understanding contemporary challenges. The leadership doesn’t think in line with what is going around, technological advancements and imminent changes.”

Community cooperation

He said community cooperation in natural disasters could have given them a more inclusive image in society. “It is something Sikhs have been doing for years,” he said.

Supreme Court lawyer Fuzail Ayubbi, who has been engaged by the Tablighi Jamaat centre, agreed ignorance of the law excuses no one but he underlined that in hindsight anybody could be wiser.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 3:04:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/muslims-fear-more-social-distancing/article31231474.ece

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