Azhar Vadi | Cii News, 28 March 2013
Thousands of South African Muslim men are expected to gather once again for a weekend of spiritual rejuvenation at the annual Ijtima or mass gathering organised by the Tablighi Jamaat movement.
This year’s Ijtima will take place at “Mia’s Farm” located in Midrand just off the N1 highway, starting on Friday afternoon (29 March 2013) and concluding on Sunday.
People are expected from Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumulanga, the North West and the Free State provinces. Also in attendance will be a number of international guests.
During the Ijtima, senior Islamic scholars will address the gathering encouraging people towards self-reformation and adherence to an Islamic way of life as espoused by the final Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).
The traffic heading into Mia’s Farm is expected to be heavy, especially on Friday morning as people make their way to the site for the Jumah Salaah or Friday prayer.
The Tabligh Jamaat is the largest Islamic movement in the world and adopts an apolitical stance. It calls for Muslims to improve themselves in character and correct their relationship with their Creator. Attendance numbers at Ijtimas in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh range between 1,5 million and 3 million people.
This non-controversial approach of the Tabligh Jamaat is based on the development of six qualities in the lives of Muslims. These include:
Correction of conviction in the belief that there is no God but God and that Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) is the final Messenger of God.
The performance of Salaah (prayer).
The acquisition of beneficial knowledge and its application.
Honouring fellow Muslims and service to the rest of humanity and creation.
Correction of intention.
And striving with one’s own health and wealth for the establishment of these qualities.
The strict adherence to these fundamentals has seen the movement successfully operate in almost every country of the world.
In the past two decades the number of people, especially young Muslim males, attracted to the manner in which the Tabligh Jamaat operate has swelled in South Africa and around the world.
The attendees at the Ijtima will see people from all racial, economic, ethnic and social backgrounds come together in a sea of humanity, understanding and tolerance rarely seen at any other gathering of this magnitude.
From the Ijtima groups of Muslim men will then be called on to volunteer their time to spread the same message to the Muslim public throughout South Africa and the rest of the world.
They are constituted into a jamat or group, with an ameer or responsible person, appointed as a leader from amongst them. They are then directed to head out along a predetermined route where they will meet other Muslims and pass on these key Islamic messages.
The movement has a long history. It was revived in 1926 by Moulana Muhammad Ilyas Khandlawi in the rural Mewat villages surrounding New Delhi in India. Distressed by the lack of Islamic knowledge and practice amongst the Meos people, the Moulana set out under trying circumstances to invite these villagers to accompany him and start learning Islam once again. His efforts soon spread and his message reached out to Muslims across all social and economic strata.
The movement is viewed by many as one of the greatest tools and possibly the only organisation that can unite the Muslim Ummah because of their policy of steering clear from any controversial issues and politics.
The followers of the group, commonly known as Tablighis, are encouraged to respect and be tolerant with Muslims who differ ideologically as well as with other religious groups. It is not uncommon to find followers of the different schools of Islamic jurisprudence in one active group or Muslims from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds moving from place to place. Europeans, Africans, Asians, Hanafis, Shafi’ees and even Salafi’s all work together and effectively for the upliftment of their faith.