Islam’s Largest Missional Group
In recent years three to five million Muslims made their way to Tongi, just north of Dhaka, where the Bangladeshi government has set aside 160 acres (0.65km2) for an annual event. They came from over 80 countries for a three-day “Ijtema” meaning “gathering.” After the Hajj, this is the biggest worldwide Islamic gathering. The ‘Bishwa Ijtema’ (global gathering) is sponsored by the Tablighi Jamaat movement (the society for spreading faith).
70 to 80 Million
The gathering focuses on prayers and meditation. “Political discussion is not allowed at the gathering” claim the Tablighi Jamaat. Often referred to simply as TJ, the Tablighi Jamaat are the largest missional Muslim group worldwide (In Africa, North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere). There are no exact figures on the numbers of TJ followers, but estimates put the number at 70 to 80 million people making it officially the largest single movement within Islam.
The Tablighi Jamaat focuses attention on “correcting” Muslim practice and doctrine. Part of that involves isolation from non-Muslims. “We tell our brothers and sisters living in secular societies that mixing with non-Muslims makes them weak Muslims,” says Naeem, a spokesperson in Canada. “We tell them to separate, to build their own schools and spend their time with other Muslims. This is the only way to battle the forces of secularism.”
The TJ have become hugely successful, partially since one of their six “Steps” requires that followers go away in groups for days or weeks at a time spend time rejuvenating their own faith. They are also involved in talking to other Muslims to increase religious practice. They are criticised by some Islamic groups as an exclusive sect “whose teaching exclude all other Muslims who do not follow its peculiar definition of what it means to convey the message of Islam.
Winning Locals of Bangladesh
The TJ are self-professed pacifists who tend to stay off the Internet and away from the cameras. But their message has been very successful in places like Bangladesh, where natural disasters and conflicts have forced tens of thousands into refugee camps. “They are the only ones helping people,” says Anwar. “The government has done nothing, but the religious groups have been there since the beginning. They are winning over the local people.”
- As the TJ members move throughout the world, pray they will meet Christians who will reflect the life and love of the Messiah to them. (Col. 4:3, Ps 9:20)
- Pray for Bangladesh, a country which is about 85% Muslim, and which suffers more than most in the world. Serious overpopulation, widespread poverty, and catastrophes including flooding, cyclones and famine have touched the country strongly. God is opening the hearts of Muslims to respond to the Gospel (See Acts 16:13-14).
- Pray that strong congregations can be established as God is working in the nation. Cross centred discipleship of those interested in the Messiah is needed.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 30 – Tablighi Jamaat in Bangladesh