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November 19, 2018

A humble, non-controversial Muslim scholar: Tableeghi Jamaat Ameer Abdul Wahab passes away

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November 19, 2018

LAHORE: The third ameer of Tableeghi Jamaat Pakistan, Haji Abdul Wahab, who died on Sunday, was laid to rest in the Raiwind cemetery beside veteran spiritual elder and his senior in the mission, Maulana Muhammad Jamshed.

Funeral prayers which was participated by tens of thousands of grieved but disciplined followers were led by his deputy, Maulana Nazrur Rehman, who is also being tipped as his successor and fourth ameer of the Tableeghi Jamaat. The funeral was attended by noted religious scholars coming from all over the country and those guests from other countries who had attended the last week’s annual congregation at Raiwind but had stayed back for consultations with other scholars. A large number of people coming from other parts of the country could not reach in time for the funerals due to traffic jams on all sides of Raiwind.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, his son Rasikh Elahi, Punjab Minister Hafiz Ammar, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Jamaat-e-Islami acting ameer Hafiz Idrees, JI naib ameer Dr Farid Paracha, Jamia Ashrafia principal Hafiz Fazle Raheem, Maulana Tariq Jameel, Maulana Jameel Ahmad, and tens of thousands of followers, preachers, and students of Tableeghi Jamaat attended the funeral. Due to unusual rush and large attendance, the funeral prayers were delayed many times.

Before the prayers began and after the assembly of mourners, the will of Haji Abdul Wahab was also read out to those present at the moment. He wrote his will in December 2015 when he fell seriously ill, and with the instructions that it should be released after his death. But he survived that illness. The gist of the will was his instructions to all those who loved and followed him that they should devote their thoughts, vision, capabilities and time to the path of Allah. The will also contained the guidelines and advices to the heads and managers of 53 departments of Raiwind Markaz for the better management and promotion of preaching activities in the country and world over.

The Tableeghi Jamaat is a global movement with a primary purpose of encouraging Muslims everywhere to be more religiously observant with an emphasis on reformation. It has no political or divisive objectives. It currently operates in roughly 150 to 200 countries around the world. According to Wikipedia, the Tableeghi Jamaat is thought to be one of the world’s largest religious movements involving millions of people, the majority living in South Asia.

The movement was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlavi in India in accordance to the teachings and practices that took place in The Prophet's (SAW) Masjaid (Masjid-e-Nabvi) and Ashabus Suffah.

The founder of Tableeghi Jamaat wanted to create a movement that would enjoin good and forbid evil as the Qur'an decreed as his teacher Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi dreamed of doing. The inspiration for this came during his second pilgrimage to Makkah in 1926.

Muhammad Ilyas abandoned his teaching post at Madrasah Mazahir Uloom in Saharanpur and became a missionary for reforming Muslims. He relocated to Nizamuddin near Delhi where this movement was formally launched in 1926 or 1927.

Pew Research Center citing teachings of the Tableeghi Jamaat, says the reformation of society is achieved through personal spiritual renewal. To this end, the group encourages its followers to undertake short-term preaching missions to reinforce the religious norms and practices that underpin a moral society. These missions typically last from a few days to a few months.

The movement largely comprises small groups of preachers – usually no more than 10 per group – who travel, live together and observe strict regimens relating to dress and their action. When these groups of lay preachers arrive in a new area, they reach out to Muslims of all social strata in an effort to remind them of the core teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and encourage them to attend mosque prayers and listen to sermons.

Haji Rao Muhammad Abdul Wahab was known as a sweet, humble, soft spoken and non controversial Muslim scholar, who devoted all his life for preaching Islam across the world. Despite that he adhered to the Deobandi school of thought, is held in highest regard as one of the top spiritual leaders by all schools of thought, and is considered as a symbol of love and peace, who called the entire mankind towards the basic practices and ideology of Islam.

He was born in 1922 to a devout Islamist Rajput family in Delhi. His ancestors hailed from Karnal, in Haryana, India. He joined preaching Islamic activities during his teenage, and was among the disciples of Maulana Mohammad Ilyas Kandhalvi, the founder of Tableeghi Jamaat, and had the honour of receiving direct preaching training from him. He was among the five people in Pakistan who had promised Maulana Muhammad Ilyas to devote entire life for preaching Islam, and remained true to his promise until his last breath.

During his student life, Maulana Abdul Wahab first became a spiritual devotee of the noted spiritual leader of the Indian Sub-continent Maulana Shah Abdul Qadir Raipuri, and remained a spiritual assistant all his life. He also became a member of Majlis-Ahrar-e-Islam, the then largest Islamist party which rose all over the Sub-continent to purge the religion of impurities. He also remained a regional leader of Majlis-e-Ahrar after coming to Pakistan for some time.

When he was a student, he migrated to a village in Burewala, District Vehari, along with his family, and also lived in Jhang District for a brief period. He graduated from Islamia College Lahore, and joined the revenue department as Tehsildar. He quit the job after few years to devote entire time for preaching Islam.

He joined the group of preachers trained by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalvi during the early years of Tableeghi Jamaat in the-then united India and went on a series of preaching journeys far across the Sub-continent. He remained associated with noted scholars like Maulana Yusuf Kandhalvi and Inamul Hasan Kandhalvi.

After coming to Pakistan, he joined those Islamist workers who were entrusted the tough task of organising and spreading Tableeghi Jamaat and its activities in the new country established for practicing Islam. He served under the first ameer of Tableeghi Jamaat, Maulana Haji Shafi Qureshi (1903-1971), and also the second ameer Haji Babu Bashir Ahmad (1919-1992), who was the father of renowned scholar Maulana Ehsanul Haq. Maulana Abdul Wahab became the third ameer of Tableeghi Jamaat in 1992 after the death of Haji Babu Bashir Ahmad. During the last five decades of his life, he remained based at Jamaat's headquarters in Pakistan, Raiwind Markaz, and headed the movement's shoora (executive committee), which undertakes and regulates the preaching activities in the country and all over the world. He was also a member of global shoora of Islamic movement, whose headquarters are at Markaz Nizamuddin, Delhi, India.

In view of the fact that Haji Abdul Wahab was held in the highest regard by all Muslims, his name was suggested for supervising the proposed peace negotiations among the different factions of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who also adhered to Deobandi school of thought. His name also came in the reports as being suggested for the peace talks with Afghan Taliban. But he declined to participate since he had refrained from indulging into politics all his life. It is still not known who has succeeded him as the fourth ameer of Tableeghi Jamaat in Pakistan.

Death of Haji Abdul Wahab was widely condoled by religious scholars and leaders from all schools of thought, who termed it a great loss for Muslims not only in Pakistan but the world over. The leaders from all schools of thought praised him as highly revered, humble and softspoken person who led all his life in the line of the mission of Allah’s messengers for the propagations of His divine message.

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