The reviver of Tabligh in this specific form Moulana Muhammad Ilyas (Ramatullahi Alayhi) [d.1944] is reported to have said; "If I had to give this work/movement a name I would have given it the name "The reviver of iman"
Tabligh literally means ‘to convey’. Contextually, it refers to conveying the message of Islam. This is the sunnah of all the prophets. The most important rule of tabligh is hikmah. Allah Ta’ala says in the Holy Quran:
ادع إلى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة
Invite (people) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good counsel.
Whosoever does tabligh must adopt hikmah. It is only then, that people will understand and accept.
The system conducted by the Tabligh Jama’at was initiated by Moulana Ilyas Saheb (Rahimahullah). He observed that people were too engrossed in their worldly activities and had forgotten the objective for which they had been sent to this world. He realized that they had to free some time from their worldly engagements, to sit and ponder about Allah Ta’ala and their purpose for being sent to this world. Therefore, he started calling people to the masjid, and reminded them about Allah Ta’ala and His greatness. Initially people rebuked him, they discouraged him and used to say that they had no time for all of this; but as time went by, they realized the truth behind it and the need for it, and started joining him in calling others towards Allah Ta’ala. Thereafter, when more people started joining this work, a few guidelines had to be set, to make sure that the work was done in a proper manner. Different time periods of 3 days, 40 days, etc. were set, so that people knew for how long they had to be away, and could make the necessary arrangements for that period.
Their objective is that each and every Muslim adopts the Islamic way in all aspects of life. They do not advice anyone to leave all their daily activities and join this work, but they encourage people to take out some time from their daily engagements so that the rest of the time could be spent in accordance to the teachings of Islam. Spending time in the path of Allah is not the objective of the work, but rather it acts as a motivation to practice on all other aspects of Deen.
Proof from Quran and Hadith
It is incorrect to say that the work of tabligh ‘has no basis in sunnah’ or that ‘it was not found in the time of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)’. There are numerous verses of the Quran and the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that support the practice of tabligh. Hereunder are a few of them:
From the Holy Quran:
ادع إلى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة
Invite (people) to the way of your lord with wisdom and good counsel.
ولتكن منكم أمة يدعون إلى الخير ويأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر
And there has to be a group of people from among you who call towards good and prevent from evil.
ومن أحسن قولا ممن دعا إلى الله وعمل صالحا وقال إنني من المسلمين
And who is better in utterance than the one who called people towards Allah, and acts righteously and says, “I am one of those who submit themselves (to Allah Ta’ala).
From the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
فقال أبو سعيد أما هذا فقد قضى ما عليه سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من رأى منكم منكرا فليغيره بيده فإن لم يستطع فبلسانه فإن لم يستطع فبقلبه وذلك أضعف الإيمان
Hazrat Abu Sa’eed (Radhiyallahu Anhu) narrates that he heard Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying, “Whosoever witnesses a forbidden act being committed, he should prevent it by the use of his hands; if he is unable to do so, then he should prevent it with his tongue; if he is unable to do so, he should at least consider it a vice in his heart; and this is a very low level of Iman”.
(Sahih Muslim Vol.2 Pg.211/2 - Darul Ma’rifah)
عن النعمان بن بشير رضي الله عنهما عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال مثل القائم على حدود الله والواقع فيها كمثل قوم استهموا على سفينة فأصاب بعضهم أعلاها وبعضهم أسفلها فكان الذين في أسفلها إذا استقوا من الماء مروا على من فوقهم فقالوا لو أنا خرقنا في نصيبنا خرقا ولم نؤذ من فوقنا فإن يتركوهم وما أرادوا هلكوا جميعا وإن أخذوا على أيديهم نجوا ونجوا جميعا
It has been reported on the authority of Nu’man bin Bashir (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “There are people who do not transgress the limits (laws) of Allah Ta’ala, and there are others who do so. They are like two groups who boarded a ship; one of them settled on the upper deck, and the other on the lower deck of the ship. When the people of the lower deck needed water, they said, “Why should we cause trouble to the people of the upper deck when we can have plenty of water by making a hole in our deck”. Now, if the people of the upper deck do not prevent this group from such foolishness, all of them will perish; but if they stop them, they will be saved”.
(Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.3 Pg.152 - Darul fikr)
The Shaykh then disagrees with the method of da’wa that is carried out by the Tabligh Jama’t. He says that it was not found in the time of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
We also agree that the manner in which da’wa is coordinated by the Tabligh Jama’at (e.g. specifying the time period of 40 days, stipulating time for ta’lim and gusht, etc.) is not proven through sunnnah, but it is not necessary that the method of each and every ruling of Shari’a is stipulated through sunnah. There are some commandments in Shari’a in which the method is not stipulated. For example, it is a commandment of Shari’a to acquire knowledge, but the manner in which the Madrasas are established today, is not proven through Quran and Hadith. Up until the recent past, the scholars used to teach in the masjids of their respective towns and villages. The students had to go to different scholars to learn the different sciences. No arrangements of food or boarding were made. However, the zeal for knowledge had decreased as time went by, and the scholars felt it necessary to establish the system of Darul Ulooms as is established today. Nobody regards such a system to be bid’ah.
Similarly, Shari’a has commanded us to do the work of tabligh. This work used to be done on an individual basis. The learned people used to preach people and prevent them from all vices. As time went on, vice started prevailing, and people had stopped doing the work on an individual basis; therefore, a collective effort had to take place, and rules had to be set up for the work to carry on in order.
Importance of seeking knowledge
We accept the fact that it is important to seek knowledge, and certain aspects of Deen are such that it is compulsory for each and every Muslim to know them. There are millions of Muslims in the world. It is not practically possible that all these Muslims join Darul Ulooms and madrasas or (as mentioned by the Shaykh) sit in the masjid and acquire knowledge, as is the custom in , etc. All the Muslims in the world will not be prepared to do this, nor can the Darul Ulooms and madrasas accommodate such a big body of students. Therefore, a different mechanism had to be adopted.
It was observed that only the minority that were in Darul Ulooms and madrasas were acquiring knowledge, and the vast majority was too engrossed in worldly activities, resulting in the ignorance of even the basic principles of Deen. Therefore, a method was engineered where the Muslims were requested to take out some time from their daily engagements and come to the masjid. Here they were reminded about Allah Ta’ala and how ignorant they were of the teachings of Islam. This led them to spending more time in the path of Allah and eventually they were educated with the basic teachings of Islam. It is apparent today that anyone who spends atleast 40 days in the path of Allah is acquainted with the basic rulings of salat, wudu, etc. and also learns to recite those suras of the Quran that are read frequently in salat. Moreover, the work of Tabligh has created awareness for the lack of knowledge in Muslims in the past few years, resulting in more students joining madrasas and the opening up of more Darul Ulooms and madrasas.
Therefore, we concur with the Shaykh’s advice on educating the Muslim masses with the teachings of Islam; but it wouldn’t have been practical to expect all the Muslims to disengage themselves from their worldly activities and be engrossed in acquiring knowledge. Rather, a practical method had to be adopted, which the Tabligh Jama’at succeeded in accomplishing. However, we do not deny the fact many of the brothers fail to adhere to the set of rules given to them by the seniors of Tabligh Jama’at, and do not attain the full benefit they would have otherwise attained.
The position of knowledge in Tabligh Jama’at
Tabligh Jam’at does not discourage people from acquiring knowledge, but rather it acts as an encouragement for people to go seek knowledge. The teachings of Tabligh Jama’at are based on “six points”, the third point of which is “’ilm (knowledge) and zikr (remembrance of Allah Ta’ala)”. When the brothers who go out in the path of Allah, the virtues of knowledge are read to them and they are encouraged to go to the scholars of Deen to acquire knowledge of the rulings of Islam. The students and teachers of schools and madrasas are discouraged to disrupt their studies for the work of da’wa, but they are inspired to give their free time for this work. There are extremists that give preference to da’wa over knowledge, but this is totally against the teachings of the seniors of Tabligh Jama’at.
Propagating without knowledge
It is true that one should not preach what one does not know. However, not having knowledge in one field does not mean that one cannot propagate at all. There is no one present on the face of the earth who can say that he has mastered all fields, or even one field for that matter. Knowledge is so vast that no creation can encompass it. Therefore, we cannot say that one should wait till he has perfected his knowledge in order to propagate it. It is enough for a person to know one aspect of Deen to propagate that aspect to another person. We also understand from the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that he ordered the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) to propagate whatever they heard from Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), even if it was one sentence.
عن عبد الله بن عمرو أن النبى - صلى الله عليه وسلم - قال « بلغوا عنى ولو آية ... » .
It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah bin Amr (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single verse or sentence (from the Quran or the Sunnah …”.
(Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.4 Pg.175 - Darul fikr)
Similarly, the brothers who go out in the path of Allah discuss the “six points” with those who have spent more time than them. After they are well acquainted with the “six points”, they are allowed to give talks in the mosque. They are advised to speak only within the “six points” and not speak anything besides that. In this way, they propagate only what they know and not what they do not know. Only the qualified scholars are allowed to elaborate on issues other than the “six points”. This is the reason why most of the brothers that take part in the work of tableegh do not answer questions posed on aqeedah and rules of Islamic jurisprudence. Anyone who poses such questions is asked to consult an ‘alim for an answer.
It has also been the concern of the seniors of the work of tabligh that many of the jama’ats go out in the path of Allah without a single ‘alim in the whole jama’at. They are trying to rectify this situation by inviting more scholars to do this work. However, they make sure that there are atleast one or two ‘alims in every jama’at that is sent to another country.
The incident of the companions giving fatwa to the injured man does not prove the impermissibility of propagating one’s knowledge. It only proves that one should not comment on a matter that one has no knowledge of. This does not stop him from propagating what he knows.
Misquoting the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
It is a great sin to falsely attribute anything to Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:
ومن كذب على متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار
Whoever tells a lie against me intentionally, then surely let him occupy his seat in the (hell) fire.
(Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.4 Pg.175 - Darul fikr)
It is a sad fact that scholars and the general masses are all involved in this malpractice of misquoting the Ahadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Incidents and sayings are taken from books and other talks, and attributed to Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) without trying to figure out if they are authentic or fabricated. This malpractice is not found only amongst those brothers who are involved in Tabligh Jama’at, but is a common practice of many of the speakers who want to spice up their talks with interesting stories.
The seniors of Tabligh Jama’at discourage the others from quoting such narrations, but there are many who do not adhere to this advice. However, it will not be advisable for one to abandon the work of tabligh because of these speakers, but rather join the work and correct this malpractice.
It is because of the fear of misquoting the narrations of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that the brothers of Tabligh Jama’at attribute the narrations to their seniors and say that ‘so and so said it’. In this way they are saved from attributing those narrations to Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) of which they have no knowledge.
The ones nearer to you have more right
We accept the fact that the ones nearer to you have more right, and you should propagate to them before you start propagating to others. Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Holy quran:
وأمر أهلك بالصلاة واصطبر عليها
Bid your family to perform Salāh, and adhere to it yourself.
However, this does not mean that one has to wait till everyone in his family and locality has come totally upon Islam before he could propagate to others. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) did not wait for the whole of Makkah Mukarramah to accept Islam before he went to Taif. All madrasas do not wait till everyone in that town or village becomes an ‘alim before they accept students from other towns or countries. Similarly, the brothers involved in tabligh go out in the path of Allah, but they are also doing this work in their locality when they are not out in the path of Allah.
Moreover, this objection needs to be justified only if we assume that the brothers go out in the path of Allah to rectify the others, whereas, their objective of going out in the path of Allah is to rectify themselves. We have mentioned above that spending time in the path of Allah is not the objective of the work, but rather it acts as a motivation to practice on all other aspects of Deen. The objective is to be involved in masjidwar a’mal after they return home. Masjidwar a’mal includes doing gusht (going door to door) in the locality and reading ‘the book of virtues of good deeds’ at home.
Ref: Taken mainly from Fatawa Mahmoodiyah Vol.4 Pgs.228-243 (Jami’a Farooqiyah)
Taqleed and following a Mazhab
Shaykh Albani is known for not following a mazhab. He believed in deriving the rulings directly from Quran and Hadith. This is the reason why he objects to those who follow a mazhab. A full clarification of the importance of taqleed and the harms of not following a mazhab requires a detailed article. However, we will try to explain the basic points as briefly as possible.
Obedience, in its true sense, belongs to Almighty Allah alone. This is the logical requirement of the doctrine of Tawheed (belief in the Oneness of Allah). Even the obedience of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) (about which the Shaykh repeatedly mentions that the best of guidance is the guidance is the guidance of Muhammed (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) has been prescribed for us because he is the messenger of Allah Ta’ala and conveys to us the divine commandments; we are ordered to obey and follow him only because Allah’s pleasure has been epitomized in his sayings and acts. Therefore, we are required to follow the Holy Quran, being the direct commandment of Allah, and the Sunnah of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), being the indirect form of revelation.
However, the interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah is not an easy job. It requires an intensive and extensive study of both the sacred sources of Shari’a, which cannot be undertaken by every layman. If it is made obligatory on each and every Muslim to consult the Holy Quran and Sunnah in each and every problem rising before him, it will burden him with a responsibility which is almost impossible for him to discharge. The inference of the rules of Shari’a from the Quran and Sunnah requires a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and the knowledge of many other sciences, which a layman usually does not posses. The only solution to this problem is that a group of persons should equip themselves with the required knowledge of Shari’a, and the others should ask them about the injunctions of Shari’a in their daily affairs. This is exactly what the Holy Quran has ordained for the Muslims in the following words:
فلولا نفر من كل فرقة منهم طائفة ليتفقهوا في الدين ولينذروا قومهم إذا رجعوا إليهم لعلهم يحذرون
So, a section from each group of them should go forth, so that they may acquire the knowledge and the perception in the matters of religion, and so that they may warn their people, when they return to them, that they may be watchful.
This verse of the Holy Quran indicates that a group of Muslims should devote itself for acquiring the knowledge of Shari’a, and the others should consult them in the matters of Shari’a.
This is exactly what the term “Taqleed” means. A person, who has no ability to understand the Holy Quran and Sunnah, consults a Muslim jurist, often termed as Imam, and acts according to his interpretation of Shari’a. He never deems him worthy of obedience, but he seeks his guidance for knowing the requirements of Shari’a, because he has no direct access to the Holy Quran and Sunnah, or does not have adequate knowledge for deducing the rules of Shari’a. This behaviour is called taqleed of that jurist or Imam.
The qualified Muslim jurists have devoted their lives for the study of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and have collected the rules of Shari’a, according to their respective interpretation of Shari’a, in an almost codified form. This collection of the Shari’a rules, according to the interpretation of a particular jurist, is called the mazhab of that jurist. Thus the mazhab of an Imam is not something parallel to Shari’a, or something alien to it. In fact, it is a particular interpretation of Shari’a and a collection of the major rules, inferred by the Holy Quran and Sunnah by some authentic jurists, and arranged subject wise for the convenience of the followers of the Shari’a. Therefore, the one who follows a particular mazhab actually follows the Holy Quran and Sunnah according to the interpretation of a particular authentic jurist, whom he believes to be the most trustworthy and the most knowledgeable in matters of Shari’a.
As for the difference of the mazahib, it has emerged through the different possible interpretations of the rules mentioned in, or inferred from, the holy Quran and Sunnah.
In order to understand this point properly, it will be pertinent to know that the rules mentioned in the Holy Quran and Sunnah are of two different types. Some rules are mentioned in these holy sources in such clear and unambiguous expressions that they permit only one interpretation, and no other interpretation is possible thereof, such as the obligation of Salat, Zakat, Fasting and Hajj, the prohibition of pork, wine, etc. With regards to this set of rules, no difference of opinion has ever taken place. All the schools of jurists are unanimous on their interpretation, hence there is no room for ijtihad or taqleed in these matters, and because every layman can easily understand them from the Holy Quran and Sunnah, no intervention of a jurist or imam is called for. But there are some rules of Shari’a, derived from the Holy Quran and Sunnah where either of the following different situations may arise:
The expressions used in the holy sources may permit more than one interpretation. For example, while mentioning the period of ‘iddah (waiting period) for the divorced women, the Holy Quran has used the following expression:
والمطلقات يتربصن بأنفسهن ثلاثة قروء
and the divorced women shall wait for three periods of Qur
The word quru used in this verse has two meanings lexically. It covers both, the period of menstruation and the period of purity (i.e. tuhr). Both of them are possible in the verse and each one of them has different legal consequences. The question that requires juristic effort is which of the two meanings are intended here. While answering this question, the juristic opinions may naturally differ and have actually differed. Imam Shafi’ (Rahimahullah) interprets the word Qur as the period of tuhr (purity), while Imam Abu Hanifa (Rahimhullah) interprets it as the period of menstruation. Both of them have a number of arguments in support of their respective views, and no on interpretation can be rejected outright. It is in this way that the differences among certain mazahib have emerged.
Sometimes there appears some sort of contradiction between two traditions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and a jurist has to reconcile them or prefer one of them over the other. In this case also, the viewpoints of the jurists may differ from each other.
For example, there are two sets of traditions found in the books of hadith, attributing different behaviours to Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) while going for ruku’ in prayer. The first set of ahadith mentions that he used to raise his hands before bowing down for ruku’, while the other tradition mentions that he did not raise his hands except in the beginning of the salat.
The Muslim jurists, while accepting that both methods are correct, have expressed different views about the question which of the two methods is more advisable. This is another cause of difference between various mazahib.
There are many problems and issues which have not been mentioned in the Holy Quran or Sunnah in specific or express terms. The solutions to such problems are sought either through analogy or through some expressions found in the holy sources which have an indirect bearing on the subject. Here again the jurists may have different approaches while they infer the required solution from the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
Such are the basic causes of difference between the mazahib. This difference is in no way a defect in Shari’a; rather, it is a source of dynamism and flexibility.
A Muslim jurist who has all the necessary qualifications for ijthihad is supposed, in the aforesaid situations, to exert the best of his efforts to discover the actual intention of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. If he does this to the best of his ability and with all his sincerity, his obligation towards Allah is discharged and nobody can blame him for violating the Shari’a, even though his view seems to be weaker when compared to the other ones.
Therefore, the mazhab of a Muslim jurist is nothing but a credible interpretation of the Shari’a. Another competent jurist may disagree with this interpretation, but he can never accuse him of the violation of Shari’a. Similarly, no one can blame the followers of that particular mazhab for following the imam of the mazhab instead of obeying Allah and His messenger; because, they are following the mazhab as a credible interpretation of Shari’a, and not as a law making authority.
The next question which may arise here is what a layman should do with regards to this different mazahib, and which one of them should be followed. Answer to this question is simple. All of these mazahib, being sincere and competent efforts to discover the true intention of Shari’a, are equally true. A layman should follow the mazhab of any one of the recognised mains, whom he believes to be more knowledgeable and more pious. Although the Muslim jurists who have undertaken the exercise of ijtihad are many in number, yet the mazahib of the four Imams are more comprehensive, well arranged and well preserved. The Muslim Ummah as a whole has taken them as the most reliable interpretations of Shari’a. The rest of the mazahib are either not comprehensive or have not been preserved in a reliable form. This is the reason why majority of the Ummah follows any of the four mazahib. If a layman adopts any one of the schools, in the matter of interpretation of Shari’a, his obligation of following the Shari’a is discharged.
Ref of taqleed query: Contemporary Fatawa – Mufti Taqi Uthmani Saheb Pg.317 (Idara-e-Islamiyat)
And Allah knows best
Ml. Abu Yahya,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah