Tablighi Jamaat, one of the most prominent and influential transnational Islamic movements, was founded by Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas (1885-1944) in Mewat in northern India in 1926. The movement emerged in the context of a systematic and aggressive campaign launched by an extremist Hindu organization, the Arya Samaj, in the northern part of India to convert Muslims to Hinduism. Another factor that prompted Mawlana Ilyas to launch the movement was the wide prevalence of un-Islamic social and cultural practices among Muslim communities whose ancestors had converted to Islam in the past. These communities were awfully ignorant of basic Islamic teachings and worship.
Tablighi Jamaat sought to stem the tide of apostasy and to disseminate Islamic teachings and values among the marginalized Muslim groups in Northern India. Mawlana Ilyas, who had an exemplary spirit of dedication, devoted his entire life to the spread of Islamic teachings through grass roots work among the Muslim masses. He was succeeded by his son Mohammad Yusuf (1917-1965). Tablighi Jamaat follows the orthodox Islamic tradition. Its primary and preeminent goal is the reaffirmation of Islamic identity and the reawakening of faith among Muslims. It does not aim at the conversion of non-Muslims to the Islamic faith.
Tabligh Jamaat has adopted a simple, direct method of reaching out to the Muslim masses. Small units of about ten persons spread out into different areas in villages, towns and cities, interact personally and cordially with common Muslims and invite them to join them in daily prayers at the local mosque. After prayers, one of the more knowledgeable members of the group gives a short speech on basic Islamic teachings with a particular emphasis on the daily prayers. A set of books, known as Tablighi Nisab, is widely circulated in Tabligh circles. These books encompass selected Hadith that emphasise righteous conduct and charity, and biographies of the Prophet’s Companions. One of the texts on the lives of the Prophets’ Companions, written by an eminent scholar, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyah, is regularly read in Tabligh gatherings.