Tablighi cleric’s political meetings raise eyebrows

Jamaat insists Maulana Tariq Jameel has no plans of entering politics, says his advice has been sought after by many.

Saba Imtiaz August 22, 2011


In what appears to be a direct violation of proselytising organisation Tablighi Jamaat’s principles, prominent Jamaat member Maulana Tariq Jameel recently addressed rallies and met with political figures in Karachi.

However, according to Maulana Akbar, a Karachi-based spokesperson for the Jamaat, Jameel’s activities have the organisation’s consent.

Akbar denied that Jameel’s recent meetings had left the impression that he was dabbling in politics. “Everything he does is with the consultation and approval of the Tablighi Jamaat’s shura.”

Jameel spoke at a peace rally led by clerics and also met with representatives of political parties. His itinerary included speeches in Lyari, Azizabad and Banaras Chowk.

The Tablighi Jamaat says it has no role in politics or the government.

The preacher also visited Nine Zero, the Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) headquarters. According to MQM’s Wasay Jalil, “The visit was arranged by Jamia Binoria’s Mufti Mohammad Naeem as Jameel had expressed a desire to visit Nine Zero.” Jalil said the preacher did not speak about politics and kept the discussion limited to religious teachings and prayers.

According to Akbar, “Maulana Tariq Jameel was called on by Karachi’s ulema to address the situation of divisions on ethnic and nationalistic lines by using the teachings of the Holy Quran. His meetings at Nine Zero and public addresses were a part of that.”

He emphatically declared that “there were and are no plans for Maulana Tariq Jameel entering politics”.

While the Jamaat’s official stance is that Jameel is acting with its approval, the preacher has become a celebrity in his own right. As one of the Jamaat’s most prominent figures, he was responsible for bringing in former musician Junaid Jamshed and several cricketers to the Jamaat’s fold.

Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Director Amir Rana disputes Akbar’s statement. “I believe Maulana Tariq Jameel is doing this in his individual capacity,” he told The Express Tribune. “Because he has a lot of influence on the bureaucracy as well as people like Junaid Jamshed, they try to involve Jameel in these activities.”

The Jamaat, which prefers to stay out of the public limelight, reportedly once stopped Jameel from addressing the annual congregation at Raiwind, for fear of cultivating a personality cult. Akbar said it was possible this occurred as the Jamaat’s shura – which comprises experienced elders – consults and decides on who will address the congregation. Rana said the issue of Jameel’s meetings with politicians was taken up in the past by the Jamaat’s elders, but he does not believe Jameel will try to seek a role in politics.

Akbar diplomatically praised Jameel’s gift of speech and said his recent meetings were nothing new, since Jameel’s “counsel” has been sought by several politicians, including former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shaukat Aziz, as well as former Sindh chief minister Arbab Rahim.

Tablighi Jamaat members have tried to intervene in the political process before. One notable example is the failed coup attempt in 1995 by army officers who wanted to install the caliphate system in Pakistan. Several of the plotters were members of the Jamaat.

Jameel also played a role in the campaign against the Women’s Protection Bill. Weeks after the bill was passed in 2006, he told then-president Musharraf that certain clauses contravened the Holy Quran and Sunnah. According to news reports published at the time, Musharraf decided to consult with other religious scholars after Jameel voiced his concerns.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2011.


md ulhaq | 12 years ago | Reply

Now the democratic & secular system in Pakistan is not functional enough that they now need help from extreme religious leaders who already claimed as 100% non-political. Why don't we just come-out and accept the fact that we can't function when neutral. What kind of precedent we are setting here?

Khan | 12 years ago | Reply

TJs are all about leaving your responsibilities, i.e. getting a job, taking care of your family, getting to know people who are different than you, and shirking them for 40 day retreats with like-minded cult followers. It is not a movement suited to the needs of the 10th century, much less the 21st. The example of blending an Islamic identity and a modern one, as expounded by the Turks, Indonesians, Malays and even the Bangladeshis, is a better example to follow.

The religious clergy has done nothing for this Ummah. Look at the Arab Spring - people have shed the shackles of the past and are looking boldly to a new era. Why can't we? Why should we keep wearing leather boots and short shalwars?

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