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Shunned by Saudi Arabia, Tablighi Jamaat gets support in Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly

The Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi (Photo: IANS)

The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution in support of Tablighi Jamaat and expressed dismay over Saudi Arabia's decision to ban it.

The resolution was moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam (PMLQ) Khadija Umar. The resolution said that the Tablighi Jamaat is apolitical and is engaged in the duty of preaching Islam. It added that the organisation has no connection with terrorism.

The resolution said: "Tablighi Jamaat is an organised global organisation. It has nothing to do with terrorism. History has shown that these people have never been involved in such activities. They are earning goodwill for Pakistan with preaching of Islam all over the world. This is an organisation which includes people of all classes", reported The Nation newspaper.

Pakistani media reported widely on the Punjab assembly resolution.

In a special move, Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi allowed Khadija Umar to move the resolution out of turn. Speaking strongly in favour of the Tablighi Jamaat, the Speaker said that people from 72 countries, including Saudi Arabia, attend the annual congregations of the Tablighi.

Elahi added that he met with the ambassadors of Muslim countries regarding the Tablighi Jamaat issue and the Saudi envoy has promised to look into the matter. He even went on to say that the resolution had been moved on the advice of the ambassadors.

An expert told India Narrative on the condition of anonymity that with nearly 20 crore members, including large numbers in Pakistan, the government cannot afford to displease the Tablighi Jamaat. "The Tablighi has huge influence in Pakistan which creates pressure and competition among the political parties. This is Pakistan's way of placating it after the Tablighi faced negative news in Saudi Arabia", says the expert.

He adds that this is Pakistan's way of putting down Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world as their rift continues over geo-political matters. "Pakistan has completely moved into the Chinese camp while the Kingdom is still allied to the US. The Saudis want Pakistan to align with them and be close to the Arab world. They have also been portraying themselves as modern while Pakistan is accommodating Islamic ideologies where the government has been trying to please all kinds of radical groups", he added.

The Saudi decision over Tablighi is a natural corollary to putting distance between itself and the Taliban. Marching into the opposite direction is Pakistan which has embraced the Taliban completely. Now it has demonstrated its support to the Tablighi Jamaat also. 

The Tablighi Jamaat was in the news last week when the Ministry of Islamic Affairs (MOIA) of Saudi Arabia tweeted instructions to its mosques about issuing warnings against the Tablighi and the Da'wah groups in their Friday prayers. The ministry's tweet said that these groups are a gateway to terrorism, even if they claim otherwise.

The MOIA tweet said that the groups are a danger to society and affiliation with these groups "is prohibited in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

The Tablighi Jamaat has been a controversial organisation, which came into the limelight during the Covid-19 spread in 2020 when it was holding religious congregations. Once again the Tablighi is in the news for its ideology that generates suspicion among governments.