Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhlawi, the emir of Tablighi Jamaat, gave a series of speeches in which he told his followers to reject social distancing, a key recommendation by government officials and doctors worldwide to fight the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic. His organization has attracted international headlines for transmitting the Coronavirus epidemic to different Indian states.
Maulana Mohammad Saad, the emir of Tablighi Jamaat.
Tablighi Jamaat is a transnational revivalist Islamic movement that landed in controversy for organizing conferences in mid-March 2020 at its international headquarters in New Delhi. It appears that thousands of devout foreign and Indian Muslims who attended these conferences spread the Coronavirus across other Indian states.
Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhlawi, who took over as emir of the revivalist group in November 2015, was born on May 10, 1965, and has three children. The Tablighi Jamaat was founded by his grandfather Maulana Muhammad Kandhlawi in 1926 in Mewat, a region near Delhi. Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhlawi completed his religious education at Madrassa Kashif-ul-Uloom, which is part of the Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat.
According to one report, Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhlawi "has roughly 100 crore [2 billion] followers in 214 countries. By some measures, this makes the Tablighi Jamaat the largest Muslim movement in the world. The majority of the followers of the Tablighi Jamaat live in South Asia."
Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhlawi delivered three speeches on the Coronavirus epidemic at the Nizamuddin Markaz on March 20, 22, and 25. The Indian government had declared a national curfew on March 22 from 7 am to 9 pm and began a 21-day lockdown on March 25. Following are translations, produced by Delhi-based New Age Islam group, of the cleric's three speeches.
Following are excerpts from the March 20 speech:
"This Is The Time For Repentance And For Reciting The Koran And For Reverting Towards God; This Is The Time To Bring The Ummah To The Mosques, Not Of Leaving The Mosque"
"The point is that in the current situation every Muslim should think that Allah has directly put his hand on me. This should also be kept in mind that it can never happen that the wrath of God will inflict the Kafirs [unbelievers] and the Muslims will also be afflicted by it. Some people have got the wrong belief that the contagion was meant for the 'others' but Muslims fell prey to it. God directly deals with every momin [believers].
"In the light of faith and belief, we cannot subscribe to the idea that the wrath of God had descended on the 'people of the world' but Muslims also got trapped in it. The Koran says that, we know who will be afflicted by our wrath and who will not. All will not be afflicted by our wrath. However, if we bring our wrath on others as well, it is because we bring it as a warning to them and to drive them towards good deeds.
"Therefore, these circumstances inspire us to learn a lesson. But it does not mean that we should leave namaz [prayer] for some time or suspend other religious duties for some time and the calamity will be taken away. Oh really! (Recites a verse) In this verse of the Koran Allah says that, such contagions and calamities will not hold any lessons for these people. They don't think that this is a transitory period and will pass on. So, let's go ahead and do. Exhortations do not benefit such people.
"Even today many Muslims believe that this disease is a temporary affliction and will disappear soon. Allah says (recites a verse) that, we shall remove the calamity for a short period; we know that you will return to the sinful ways saying the calamity is over. Therefore, my friends, this is the time for repentance and for reciting the Koran and for reverting towards God. This is the time to bring the Ummah to the mosques, not of leaving the mosque. This is a matter of extreme perversion of faith and ignorance."
"I said in the beginning that only an animal runs away from his master after seeing a stick in his hand. You know that the master of the buffalo shows his stick to scare it and to bring it back. No one would drive his milking buffalo away. Sometimes you will see that he tries to get past the buffalo so that he can drive it towards home. And this is the degree of ignorance of the Muslims. We thought that the Kafirs would not prevent you from performing Amal (religious duty). If the Kafirs prevented you from your Amal, Allah will destroy them.
"Islam will suffer damage at the hands of Muslims, not Kafirs. This is a false belief of people that Islam is being harmed by 'others'. Not at all. Whatever harm Islam will suffer, it will be at the hands of Muslims. Others cannot do any harm to Islam. If the entire Falsehood comes together against even a single Sunnat of 'istinja' (ritual cleansing after urination), it is sufficient to destroy the Falsehood. Simple. So, imagine, if it tries to prevent the 'faraiz' (mandatory rites) what degree of destruction will befall them. But it is the Muslims who are preventing the faraiz (religious duties). Instead of thronging the mosques, they are saying, 'leave the mosque, for if you gather in the mosques, the disease will spread.'
About 1,000 followers were evacuated from the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters
"What a pity! The wrath of God has descended on you because you had assembled for acts of sin, so why won't the wrath of God be removed if you congregate for good deeds? They are fools. The wrath of God in the form of the calamity has struck them as a punishment because they had collected at the places of sins, but they are looking for the remedy of the calamity by leaving the mosques. Will the calamity be removed or aggravate! They say, 'Don't pray in mosques, pray at home.' Though there is a Sahih Hadith [saying of Prophet Muhammad] that the calamity that has been decreed, is removed thanks to those who gather in mosques.
"Will you deny the authenticity of this Hadith? Then they will say that we are doing it temporarily. Temporarily? The purpose of the wrath of God that descends is to bring people towards good deeds. It's not without purpose. It's not like, 'We have brought this calamity for a few days. So, after we remove the calamity, you can come back towards your religious duties.' It's not so. The Aamal (religious deeds) are for removing the calamity, not that deeds are to be suspended till the removal of the calamity. Therefore, my friends, this is the time to populate the mosques with deeds."
Following are excerpts from the March 22 speech:
"If, God Forbid, Muslims Prefer Remedial Measures Over Fate, I Swear, These Remedial Measures [Against Coronavirus] Will Drive You Away From Mosques"
"They [i.e., the government] have adopted measures to fight the wrath of God and advised us to adopt the same measures and then believe in Fate. What is the use and justification of believing in Fate after adopting remedial measures? Only the person who prefers obedience to God, his worship and dawah [preacehing, invitation] over Fate can claim to have faith in Fate.
"If, God forbid, Muslims prefer remedial measures over Fate, I swear, these remedial measures [against Coronavirus] will drive you away from mosques. You will cause the azaab (i.e., wrath of God) to intensify and not to diminish. Your resources for remedial measures will drive you against the system of God whereas the injunctions of God, the Sunnah [sayings and actions] of the Prophet, the routine of the sahaba [i.e., the companions of Muhammad] and the practices of the four rightly guided caliphs enjoin on you that whenever a calamity befalls on you, you should be running towards the mosque.
"It's a false belief the disease spreads through assembling in the mosques. Therefore, I say that even if you observe that man dies after entering the mosque, there cannot be a better place to die. What an irony it is that the holy companions (sahaba) would wish that they may die while propagating Islam, they would wish that they may die while offering prayers (namaz). On the contrary, these people perceive dangers in namaz. They will run away from namaz to ward off the calamity (azab). Allah has brought the calamity as a punishment for leaving the mosques, and they think they can ward off the calamity by leaving the mosque. Think over it. How ridiculous!...
"This is only the mischief of Satan and all the believers in falsehood cash in on the opportunity and say that we the worldly wise know, you maulvis [i.e., imams] and ulema [Islamic scholars] will never know, how to fight diseases. Do the doctors know? No, the advice of only those doctors who are pious, religious minded and God-fearing and are punctual in the observance of religious practices will be followed. Even then, if the doctor gives an advice which causes a religious duty to be suspended, his advice will not be complied with, leave aside the advice of a scholar or an educated man to lock down the mosques. Shrug off the idea from your heart.
"Of course, precautionary measures are good, but leaving the mosque due to the belief that the calamity will intensify by going to mosques is against the injunctions of God, the routine of the rightly guided caliphs, the ways of the sahaba and the Sunnah of the holy prophets and Messengers. As for these holy men, they would consciously rush towards mosques in times of every calamity and every contagion, and here in this age we leave the mosques to ward off the calamity. It is a very wrong way of thinking. May God reward 'ulema-e-Haq' (Ulema on the right path meaning ulema of Tablighi Jamaat) who are steadfast in the opinion that in the current situation, there is no question of and justification for locking down the mosques."
"The Satan is using this opportunity as it has always done to lead us astray from our religious duties in the name of precautions, treatment and protection. Whenever a calamity strikes, Satan makes the victims of calamity commit such acts which destroy their rewards and add to their woes. This is the time to populate the mosques and to invite the ummah towards repentance. As I have already said, this is the time to make our supplications effective. This is not the time to pay heed to false remedial measures.
"Satan has inculcated whims and deep fear in the hearts that if you do this, that will happen, and if you do that, this will happen. [The fourth Islamic caliph] Hazrat Ali would say that if someone says that if I had done this, that would have happened, he must put a burning piece of coal on his tongue so that it would burn his tongue. It would be better for him than saying that if he had done this, that would have happened. No, always think over what God expects from us and what was the routine of the sahaba. The false fear of disease has embedded itself in your hearts. Tell me a place where deaths don't occur? And how many deaths are caused by diseases.
"Always remember that it is the belief of a momin that no death occurs due to a (worldly) cause. True, sometimes God brings death with some (worldly) cause. My statement needs attention. Death is not driven by a (worldly) cause, though sometimes death does occur apparently due to some cause. Why are there causes for deaths? God brings death with causes not because God wants someone to die due to some cause. Because God does not need cause to show for someone's death, nor does the Malakul Maut (Angel of death) need a cause to draw the soul out of the body.
"When the time of death comes, God decrees the cause only to see if the dying man or his relatives attribute his death to some cause or to God's will. As simple as that. You will see in the whole world, when the time and God's decree comes, no one says that the time has come. They ask, 'What had happened?' 'Was he suffering from some disease?' Hazrat Aysha's brother suddenly died. She said, 'Alas! No one dies like that. I doubt that people buried my brother Abdur Rahman without death. He did not die. He neither fell ill nor did he have any pain? I always had this feeling. One day I saw from my chamber that a healthy man came and alighted from his carriage. He entered the mosque and putting his sheet under his head he lay on the floor. After a while the time for namaz came. People tried to wake him up but he was dead.' She said that after that incident, my doubt was cleared forever.
"So as I said, death does not come with a cause. If really death came with a cause, there are more causes for death than for life. And the more the world progresses, apparently the more we saw the causes of death. That's why I said that Satan has put the whim and the fear in our hearts. We keep thinking about the laws, and precautions. There is no room for evading Amal (religious duty). Yes, taking precautions is a Sunnah (practice of the Prophet) and there is no room for denying a Sunnah or considering it against the belief in God, but saying that if we do this, that will happen is perversion in faith and belief. This is the time to bring the Ummah towards repentance, towards Allah and His mosque instead of taking precautionary measures."
"Muslims Are The Essence Of This Universe; Kafirs Are Not The Essence Of This Universe; The System Of This Universe Will Run Thanks To The Muslim"
"And faith in God? How will they have faith in God, when they don't read the Koran? They read newspapers, poor folks. They read a news item and lose heart. They read another news item and panic. They read some other news and they run away from their religious duty (Amal). They read some news and lose hope in the benevolence of God. God causes a calamity or a contagion only to see what his slaves do in that situation. If he spends all his energy in taking remedial measures, he cannot benefit from Nature (God's benevolence). But if he is absorbed in Aamaal God will provide him remedies or solutions through intuition. You may not even imagine that even in this age God may help the Muslims against calamities or enemies as it had helped the sahaba against the Zahir (material might)...
"What will you say about today's Muslims? They want to deal with God's wrath with their own resources. Thus, when man loses faith in the unseen powers of God, and of angels and God's army, they rely on their army, and weapons and material resources to defend themselves. But remember what I say: The ways and principles of these material forces are such that they will compel the Muslims to abandon their Aamaal (religious duties).
"The ways of the 'others' are such that they will make Muslims leave their own ways. They will ask the Muslims to follow their scheme and their scheme is that Muslims should lock down their centres of learning and suspend prayers in mosques. They will say, 'Hand over your system to us and we will cure your malady.' Never, never. Muslims are the essence of this universe. Kafirs (infidels) are not the essence of this universe. The system of this universe will run thanks to the Muslim. All the inanimate and animate objects and all the creatures will benefit from the good deeds of Muslims, and they will suffer due to the wrongdoings of Muslims.
"Muslims are the core of this universe. Muslims don't need to think on what they should do in the current circumstances. Only those who don't know the Supreme Being need to think how to defend [against] this calamity, this disease. It's only the Kafirs who rely on the material remedies and resources. Muslims rely on Aamaal (religious deeds) and prayers. If Muslims too follow them then he will also say that the circumstances require us to abandon this and this duty for the time being.
"If you abandon your religious duties in view of the current calamity, it will only aggravate. The holy Prophet had brought the Muslims so close to the mosque that they did not find the solutions of any of their problems outside the mosque. Coming towards God is actually coming towards the mosque in the same way as going towards the lawyer means going towards his office and going towards a minister means going towards his ministry. Just imagine, if a non-Muslim had asked Muslims to leave mosques because he did not know what a mosque is. Where there is health and solace thanks to the descent of angels, they perceive disease there. It's sheer blindness, it's sheer blindness."
Following are excerpts from the March 25 speech:
Violating The Law Of The Land And The Instructions Of The Police Is Against The Principles Of The Dawah And Tabligh [Preaching]": "It Is Not Against The Shari'a"
"My friends. Do fasting and chant God's name abundantly. This is the only remedy for this calamity. As for the doctors' advice and precautions, following them is not against the faith and Shari'a; rather if you suffer losses due to noncompliance of precautionary measures, only you will be blamed. Therefore, we should follow the doctors' advice and take precautionary measures only to the extent that your religious duties are not sacrificed. If your Aamaal (religious duties) are sacrificed, God will leave you to the mercy of the doctors and pull His hand off you.
"I am telling you again: follow the doctors' advice and the government directives. It's our responsibility. It is our fundamental principle to follow the law and the doctors' advice. It's the fundamental principle of Dawat and Tabligh. Violating the law of the land and the instructions of the police is against the principles of the Dawah and Tabligh [preaching]. Therefore, I have said that following it is not against the Shari'a and the faith in God, rather it is in conformity with the Shari'a.
"If we consider precautions a violation of the faith in God, then we will have to develop the faith of the prophets and sahaba, to be very clear. It is a dangerous proposition if we take it lightly. So, as I said, that even the prophets and sahaba took precautionary measures for their safety. Despite God's promise of protecting the holy Prophet, his wearing protective gear and safety measures taken by the sahaba all came under precautionary measures. Denying it and showing complacence is not sensible behavior."
"Follow The Precautionary Measures Prescribed To You But... Precautionary Measures Should Be Followed Only To The Extent That They Do Not Cause Suspension Of Your Religious Duties"
"Therefore, my advice to you is that you should follow the precautionary measures prescribed to you but at the same time I will reiterate my position that precautionary measures should be followed only to the extent that they do not cause suspension of your religious duties.
"If you abandoned any of your religious duties due to your zeal to take precautions, God will pull His hand off you. Your religious deeds are based on your faith. Remedial measures are not faith-based, religious duties are. Remedial measures are akin to precautions. And religious acts are based on faith. You should keep it in mind and pray at night. Instead of discussing the disease, remember God.
"I will also remind you that the jamaats [Tablighi Jamaat delegations] are returning to their destinations. They should return but wherever you are, you should offer nafil namaz (prayers that are not obligatory), roza (fasting) and offer Tahajjud (late-night non-obligatory prayers) at night and pray abundantly. Do not miss any routine deed. This is not the time to waste.
"And remember that sometimes, Satan makes you say something that amounts to contempt for God's wrath. This angers God all the more and increases his wrath. This has happened with previous nations. Whenever any nation did not repent and reform itself and joked about His wrath and inflictions, God destroyed that nation. This is not the time that we should discuss different types of diseases and joke about them. This is the time to practice penance and pray to God as much as possible."
 Youtube.com/watch?v=x_pFv-NDL-Q&t=32s, April 1, 2020.
 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 212, Indian Officials: Delhi Meetings Of Islamic Revivalist 'Tablighi Jamaat' Group May Be Source Of Coronavirus Spread Countrywide, April 2, 2020.
 IndiaToday.in (India), April 1, 2020.
 IndiaToday.in (India), April 1, 2020.
 NewAgeIslam.com (India), April 5, 2020.
 NewAgeIslam.com (India), April 5, 2020.