Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jamaat Islami

Jamaat Islami is one of the oldest Islamic movements and has been influential in the development of Islamic revivalism across the Muslim world in general and India and Pakistan in particular. It was founded in Lahore on 26th August 1941 through the efforts of Maulana Sayyid Abu al-A’la Mawdudi (d. 1979), an Islamic thinker and political activist who worked for the revival of Islam in India.

Mawdudi had been involved with the struggle since 1938 and opposed the Congress Party, believing that Hindu rule behind the secular nationalism would bring the end of Islam in India. He had been equally opposed to the Muslim League, which he believed to be a secularist entity. Mawdudi was supported by a number of Ulama who joined him in Lahore to form the new organization. Among them were Maulana Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi and Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani of Deoband. Soon after its creation, the party established its headquarters in Pathankut, in east Punjab, led by Mawdudi as its first president. Between 1941 and 1947, the Jamaat spread its messages across India through its widely distributed literature, rallies, conventions, and public sessions.

The Jamaat followed the teachings of Mawdudi, which emphasize the exoteric dimensions of faith, disparage traditional Islam, rationalized faith, and predicate eschatology and salvation on social action. Since the 1960s the party has also developed a women’s wing as well as semi autonomous organizations such as publication houses and unions, especially a student union, Islami Jam’iyat Tulaba.

Following the partition of India, the Jamaat divided into three separate units for India, Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan. Mawdudi, along with the bulk of the original party leaders and members, left India for Pakistan and established the headquarters of Jamaat Islami of Pakistan in Lahore, and soon became fully immersed in Pakistani politics. Mawdudi and the Jamaat quickly approached the Ulama and other self-style religious movements in pressing the newly formed state for an Islamic Constitution, most notably in Objective Resolution of 1949. Jamaat’s activism in these years culminated in an open confrontation with the government over the role of religion in politics.

In 1951 the Jamaat became directly active in politics by taking part in the Punjab election. The anti-Ahmadiyah agitation in Punjab enhanced the party’s political standing. Although the agitations were led by the Ulama and religious groups such as Anjuman Ahrar, the Jamaat’s role proved critical in providing juristification for them, especially in the form of a book, “Qodiyani Mas’alah”. In 1957 the Jamaat declared that it would participate in the national elections of 1958 as a full-fledged party. But during Ayub Khan’s rule, the Jamaat’s offices were closed down, its leaders were excoriated in government-sponsored publications, its activities were restricted and Mawdudi himself was imprisoned. The Jamaat became more concerned with the removal of Ayub Khan and the restoration of a political climate that would be conducive to religio-political activism. Therefore, the Jamaat joined the alliance of political parties that advocated restoration of democracy and an end of Ayub Khan’s rule.

During the issue of Bangladesh, the Jamaat spearheaded a political movement that consciously appealed to religious sentiment to weaken the Bhutto regime. It was the Jamaat and the movement of Nizami Mustafa that undermined the Bhutto government and in 1977 provoked a military coup d’etat. In Zia ul-Haq period, Jamaat leaders occupied important government offices, including cabinet posts, and the party’s views were reflected in government programs.

By the end of the Zia period it was apparent that the Jamaat had become a powerful political force with significant social and cultural influence, due to its organizational structure and ability to manipulate the religious factor in Pakistan’s political balance. The Jamaat remains an important political party capable of influencing the course of politics through the use of its organizational muscle.


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  2. Salam alaykum
    Nice introduction.
    Warm regards

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    Tablig Jamaat concentrates on preaching and teaching the rituals of Islam. It performs its programmes on the basis of the following the six points.
    1. Imaan (faith)
    2. Salaat (prayer)
    3. 'Ilm and Dhikr (knowledge and remembrance of Allah)
    4. Ikram-i Muslim (respect to every Muslim)
    5. Ikhlas-i- Niyyat (sincerity of intention)
    6. Tafrigh-i-Waqt (to spare time)

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