Tablighi Jamaat’s Criminal Recklessness Is Symptom Of A Larger Malaise—Indian State Giving In To Islamic Bullying
The Tabligh has to pay for its criminal recklessness. But the malaise is much larger.
It is the capitulation of a state at various levels in front of Islamic fanaticism.
Stressed situations elicit emotional response.
The shock delivered by Nizamuddin Markaz, which houses the headquarter of Tablighi Jamaat in India, in its role as the super spreader of coronavirus has predictably caused a massive uproar.
Many people have come up with different conspiracies and the sudden burst in number of Covid-19 patients owing to Tabligh's intrasigence has been labelled angrily as ‘Corona Jihad’ and ‘Bio Jihad’.
Human follies such as consumption of paracetamol has been seen as conscious inimical acts of malefactors. The rage of the nation has been heightened by the impertinent behaviour of quarantined Tablighis who were seen misbehaving with health officials and spitting on them.
While the outrage is quite expected in an unnerved nation going through a lockdown, India is not the only country facing the wrath of Tabligh's recklessness.
Most of Pakistan's corona cases now owe to a similar Tablighi Jamaat centre in Raiwind, Lahore and not to Shia pilgrims who entered the country through Taftan.
While the Nizamuddin Markaz is estimated to have been visited by 8000 people in three-day duration, the Lahore congregation is believed to have drawn anywhere between 70,000 to 1,50,0000 members from within and outside Pakistan.
The rate and quantum of Tablighi members testing positive for corona is also much higher in Pakistan. To give an example, according to a Geo News report, 116 out of 128 corona positive cases in Hyderabad (Pakistan) owe it to the Tablighi ijtimaa in Lahore.
Similarly, about 60 per cent of corona positive cases in Malaysia are being traced to a Tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque in February end.
Indonesia, which had very few cases also saw a big surge in corona virus cases after a Tabligh congregation in South Sulawesi.
Surely the Tabligh wasn't conspiring against India to wage a corona war. The Tablighi Jamaat, in fact, is a Muslim congregation which focuses more on religious rather than political aspects of Islam. It was, rather, practicing in its Nizamuddin Markaz the normal course which Muslim bodies all over India do.
The real problem here is what India has allowed over the years to be that normal course. While temples across the country were closed to pilgrims, congregations of Namazis kept flocking to mosques.
An already stressed administration coaxing and cajoling the Maulvis gave an impression of supplicants seeking favour from their bosses. In Delhi, despite orders to ban large gatherings having come in force on 16 March itself, the Markaz went ahead with the Jamaat.
The flagrant violation of visa rules by foreign participants and the knowledge of a huge gathering in violation of the government directions were ignored for the fear of raking trouble. It was the same fear which makes authorities who otherwise show great enthusiasm in arresting minors bursting crackers, ignore dargahs in the middle of the roads and traffic violators who happen to be Muslims.
It is common knowledge that the fear in administration which has roots in appeasement politics has been further strengthened by rights activists, intellectuals and journalists who keep justifying and apologising for stone pelting and violence in the name of downright immoral agitations.
Attempts to bring Muslims in the modern pale of humanity on some very basic human aspects have also been vehemently opposed. As a result, we have a scenario where the community stands aside and in some ways above the bounds of Indian ethos and governance. The situation is such that when Muslim bodies come out to join national festivities or support national causes it becomes an occasion for celebration.
Capitulation to Islamic sectarianism and community belligerence has time and again caused tragedies ranging from Kashmiri Hindu genocide to hardships as in the NRC challenge. At the same time, at a seemingly venial level, the national acquiescence in front of Islamism has allowed radicalisation and regressiveness in the community to go unchecked.
Identity assertiveness has reached a level of obstinacy where Muslims aren’t ready to even follow Saudi Arabia's example of closure of mosques or Iraq's mode of burial for corona deaths.
Coming back to India, this obduracy, coupled with a belief in Islamic infallibility, contempt for modern scientific values and defiance of authorities - amidst the frightening corona virus crisis, has revealed a Frankenstien’s monster in the form of Tablighi Jamaat.
A congregation which emphasises communal eating from common utensils, sleeping in dormitories and drinking and ablutions from common tanks, Tabligh, in the current vulnerability, was a disaster waiting to happen.
For an organisation which believed in obliterating physical and social spacing, social distancing was an absolute anathema. And that is why it required pressure at the level of National Security Advisor to sort out the mess. It is shocking to note that while the Markaz kept sending scores of Tablighis with symptoms to hospitals from March 26 to 29, it neither agreed to vacate the mosque nor revealed the presence of foreigners in its premises.
The Tabligh has to pay for its criminal recklessness. It has inflicted massive cost on a nation already reeling under the epidemic-induced economic catastrophe. But the tragedy will be wasted if whole thing is reduced to "investigating" one organisation for its wrongdoings, present and past, as alleged by many.
The malaise is much larger.
It is the capitulation of a state at various levels in front of Islamic fanaticism. Ordering an enquiry in Jamaat's doings might be sensational but will achieve precious little in the end.
Addressing the latter, however, will require strong political will and courage. The Tabligh's role as super spreader of corona virus also shows that regressive religious practices of any group cannot be tolerated as a community or sect's internal affair because one never knows when the affects will spill over to others and raise a cost for the nation.
While incompatibility of Islam with modern constitutional values needs serious consideration, any show of brazen community strength to undermine democracy should also be dealt with a heavy hand.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.