Tablighi Jamaat in Mewat-3: Early Success, Meos Had No Concern for Their Islamic Identity
By Yoginder Sikand
Having devised or learnt, whether by divine or other means, the Tariqa-i-Tabligh, Ilyas called a meeting of Meos at Nuh in 1926 sometime after his return from his second Haj. Along with some of his Meo disciples and Deobandi 'Ulema from Delhi and elsewhere, he then set about visiting the neighbouring villages to spread his message among the Meos. Initially he seems to have met with considerable opposition. On several occasions people threw stones at him, beat him with sticks and chased him out of their villages. Yet, it is said, he did not for a moment relent.
'He accepted this persecution gracefully and thanked God that he had made him pass through the same trials and tests as the prophets had undergone in the past for the sake of spreading the din' (Mazhari 1972:40).
After Ilyas had managed to establish a firm base in the area around Nuh, he formed a Jama’at composed of six Meos—Hafiz Muhammad Ishaq and Numberdar Mehrab Khan of Ferozepur-Namak, Chaudhri Namaz Khan of Raisina and three children. The titles of the first three suggest that they, as in the case of the Jama’at referred to earlier, were influential local leaders and this is probably why they were chosen to join this first preaching party of what was to become the TJ. Ilyas instructed this group to spare a few days, travelling to neighbouring Meo villages to preach the Kalima and ritual prayers.
This Jama’at is reported to have faced considerable opposition from Meos in some villages, but they attempted to win their opponents over by humbling themselves before them. Thus, it is said that,
“They begged, with great humility, those who did not pray to follow them, so much so that they removed their own turbans and placed them at their feet, pleading that they should come to the mosque. This is how the work of Tabligh actually began” (Baliyavi n.d.:54).
The first Tablighi Jamaat’s tour lasted three weeks. They visited several villages, performing the Friday prayers on the way at Sohna, Taoro and Nagina, all in the Gurgaon district. Ilyas, along with some other 'Ulema, attended these congregational prayers, giving the missionaries advice and encouragement, and helping to strengthen their zeal for what they believed was a great divine mission.