Tablighi Jamaat (In and outside India) and the politics around it.

Updated: Jan 21

Tablighi Jamaat is a cult in Sunni Muslims which focuses on urging Muslims to return to practicing their religion as it was practised during the lifetime of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Tablighi Jamaat was founded by a Deobandi Islamic scholar Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in Mewat, India, in 1926.

What has happened in Delhi?

A congregation was organized from March 13th-15th by Tablighi members which was attended by many people from all over the world (including preachers from different countries). On March 13th Delhi government passed an order that no seminars, conferences, or any big events shall be held. Police gave permission to the members of Tablighi. There was a clear miscommunication happened between state authorities and police. Ignorance by Police of Delhi (as it was under central government) had a big role in this disaster. On March 22, A Filipino has died in Mumbai due to COVID-19. He was a part of a 10 member group from Philippines who attended the congregation. Two more in the group tested positive. On the same day Delhi government announced curbs on the movement of people. Authorities shut the doors of Markaz with about 2500 work shippers still inside (they were brought out after thorough testing and were quarantined).

People who were dead due to this virus in other states (mainly Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka) had a previous history of attending Tablighi congregation. This led the officials tracing people who attended this congregation. The entire Nizamuddin West in Delhi was cordoned off by police as of March 30. Medical camps were set to test each and every individual. About 30% of the cases till April 5, were related to Tablighi Jamaat and this has increased the rate of positive cases by two times.

Similar incidents like Tablighi happened in India which no politician or media (Television media) questioned.

Incident no 1:

Baldev Singh, a preacher who has a travel history of going to Italy, Germany on tour for religious purpose has showed up some symptoms of virus when came back. He hided his travel history from officials but officials have ordered him to be in home quarantine. He didn’t do it and continued with his usual religious congregations here. For instance, he attended his devotees houses blessing them. In this manner he attended an event called Hola Mohalla congregation which takes place on Holi where tens of thousands of people would gather. This became a grave situation for the government in Punjab as the cases were increasing thereafter. Majority of the people who tested positive had direct or indirect contact with Baldev Singh.

Incident no 2: 

Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Yogi Adityanath planned a week long celebration (starting from March 25) on Ram Navami at Ram Janma Bhoomi, Ayodhya. Fortunately it was stopped by Janata Curfew and lockdown. But on same night (March 25), CM Adityanath held an event (performed puja) at Ayodhya which broke all the rules of social distancing. Although there is no official data which says people present at that event got affected, but we can see the blind faith similar to Tablighi Jamaat.

Did Tablighi Jamaat only happened in India? 

Between February and March, the movement organized an international mass religious congregations in other countries namely Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines. Cases in these countries were also reported to be linked with those congregations. Malaysia (620), Thailand (10), Brunei (73) are some of them. 

Is India the only country which got affected due to such congregations?

No, similar incidents have happened in the world. 

Case 1: Patient 31 (South Korea)

A 61-year-old woman had mild symptoms of cough and cold like flu got admitted in a hospital. When tested, she was found negative for the virus. She was discharged then. After 10 days, she came back in much more bad condition. The symptoms were severe. She tested positive this time. This was something horrible for South Korea as in those 10 days she attended two religious congregation held by a church called Shincheonji located in Daegu.

Shincheonji is a cult in South Korea. It is headed by an 88-year-old man who describes himself as immortal. While COVID-19 cases were being controlled in South Korea, he announced that the world is going to end and people who wanted to survive shall come into church and pray for their life. The bunch of bhakts ran for these congregations. The 61-year-old woman was one of them. Now imagine the situation, there were thousands of people who attended these congregations. Officials contacted every person who came in contact with the woman. There were just 30 cases of COVID-19 in South Korea before these congregations. The number increased all of a sudden. First day, twenty people were tested positive, Second day the number went to forty and within a week it was in thousands. This is the reason why 61 year old woman got a name as Patient 31.

Case 2: Cases in Iran

Iran has around 72000 cases now. Do you know why? They had many large religious congregations in previous months. For instance, they had a congregation at Fatima Masumeh Shrine and Imam Reza Shrine (considered as a sacred place in Iran). People there do prayers for 24 hours, all 7 days in a week together. They kiss the shrine. Now because of such things majority of those people has now tested positive. Iran took so long to close these places and by the time they did the virus spread at a rapid pace. Iran is one of the most horrible places to be in as it is under red zone under WHO standards (i.e. virus is present in any place of the country). Authorities in Iran are spraying the disinfected sprays in every street with large machines.

Timeline of events which occurred from March 13–March 30

  • March 13:

Ministry of Health issues a circular which says COVID-19 is not a health emergency.

Tablighi Jamaat congregation starts at Markaz headquarters.

  • March 15:

Tablighi Jamaat congregation ends

  • March 16:

Hindu Mahasabha conducts Gau Mutra party by making cow dunk cakes in the name of curing COVID-19 (hundreds of people attend it).

Delhi government issues notification to close all religious institutions.

  • March 17 & 18:

40000 people visit Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. (No government questions this act)

  • March 19:

Tirupati gets closed

  • March 22:

Janata Curfew implemented and at 5:00 pm hundreds of people gather in many rallies beating Thallis.

  • March 24:

Prime minister announces lockdown

  • March 25:

Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Yogi Adityanath conducts Ram Lalla event.

  • March 30:

Six people who attended Tablighi Jamaat congregation die


Unfortunately, the issue is being communalized. People in India celebrated Holi even after prime minister ordered not to. What made them to do these all? Just one thing, superstition and blind faith in religion.

एक बार बाहर जाने से कुछ नहीं होता। Translation: Nothing happens, if we go out for one time.

People used this phrase when authorities alerted. Now they are paying the price. Religious beliefs or superstitions are the most dangerous things right now. All churches, mosques, temple etc authorities had initially opposed closings them but at last they had to bow down to the virus. Religion is a thing which doesn’t agree with science. But time has proven again and again that Religions and superstitions don’t work, science does. Richard Aldington once said,

Religious belief is a great excuse to get people do bad things.


(Opinion expressed by the author is his personal. The Generalist Insights take no responsibility of the opinion expressed.)