(Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullahi alayhi))
[From Aadaabut Tableegh – The Etiquettes of Tableegh)
(Addressing a gathering consisting of mostly students of the Deen – Talabah – and teachers – Asaatizah, Hazrat Thanwi Rahmatullahi alaih said):
Like Namaaz and Roza (Salaat and Saum), Tableegh is also Fardh. However, the ways of Tableegh fluctuate with the circumstances. For instance, your learning (O Students) is also Tableegh provided that your intention is good, for “Actions are judged according to intentions.”
If your intention is to make Amr bil ma’roof having completed your studies then this course of study is a branch of Tableegh. If this is not your intention then your learning is not Tableegh.
Consider a person who makes no intention when offering Namaaz. He is not credited with any Namaaz. Similarly, if a person does not make intention of Roza but stays the whole day away from food, there is no Roza for him.
It is astonishing that we learn and teach day-in and day-out but due to not having the intention of A’maal and Taa’aat (good deeds and acts of obedience unto Allah Ta’ala) we are deprived of reward. Thus, with a good intention learning these kitaabs in these times is undoubtedly a branch of Tableegh.
I said, “In these times,” because the illustrious Sahaabah and Taabi’een were not in need of the educational methods of today. They achieved the objective without the system of education today. Their memories and minds were par excellence and they were devout. The system in place now is necessary for this reason that if kitaabs were not compiled, and considering that retentive abilities are at a low, not to mention the lack of faithfulness to the Deen, the statements and words of those teaching the Deen would not be trusted. Speaking out of memory, listeners would not be satisfied. They would be in doubt as to whether the one imparting Hadeeth and Fiqh is speaking correctly or speaking all muddled.
If kitaabs were not compiled there would have been a complete mix up. There would be corruption and interpolation in the Deen. It is a great favour of Allah Ta’ala that he instituted the compilation of kitaabs, established Madaaris and provided the necessary means for the running of these intuitions.
Among the means for the running of these institutions is the collection of funds for the Madrasahs, but on the proviso that the funds donated are with a happy heart. Without the compilation of kitaabs the statements of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) would not have reached us and without the Madrasahs these kitaabs would not be taught. Thus, in view of the necessity of these avenues it is established that this is not a bid’at, in fact it is a Sunnat because the purpose here is also Tableegh, whether it is direct Tableegh or indirect.
Directly the Tableegh is to the students and indirectly to the public. Thus, the teaching and learning of these kitaabs is an august branch of Tableegh, yet we are deprived of its thawaab for not intending Tableegh. Therefore, the Mudarriseen and Talabah (teachers and students) should have intention of Tableegh.
If Tableegh is sub-divided into three divisions; one: Tableegh of the Fundamentals and Tenets of Islam to the kuffaar, the second: Tableegh of the particulars that is, the Masaail of the Deen to the general Muslim public, and three: to prepare a group to competently make Tableegh then teaching and learning are palpably part of Tableegh.
Now, since there are departments of Tableegh it does not follow that every person involves himself in all three departments. In fact, allocation of responsibility is necessary. Thus, the various branches should be entrusted to specific individuals. In other words, in proportion to ability and competency responsibility should be allocated as every person is not competent at everything.
Sharing responsibility of the departments of Tableegh is furthermore understood from the Qur’aan Majeed. Allah Ta’ala says:
“It is not appropriate for all the Mu-mineen to go out (in Jihaad). Why not a group from every region go out…” (Surah Anfaal, 122)
Here Allah Ta’ala has condemned every one going out in Jihaad. He says: One group should go out in Jihaad and a group should stay behind to study the Deen. This Aayat does not discuss who should do what. In other words who should go out in Jihaad and who should stay behind to study? Nevertheless, what it does state is that the work of Deen should be allocated.
In like manner, since Tableegh has different departments, some should attend to one department whilst others should look after another. All should not jump into one department for this will erode the foundation of Deen.
And I maintain that whatever you do, carry it out under the guidance of your senior. Your seniors will lay down what each person should do. Whoever they instruct to study, should study; whoever they instruct to conduct activities in the field of popular Tableegh, they should become a muballigh. Then whatever sphere of Tableegh is entrusted to you, fulfil its duties. For example, some will be advised to provided financial support, some physical help, some the work of writing and authoring books.
Therefore, do not think that these are not Tableegh. All these avenues are branches of Tableegh, for the preliminaries of Tableegh are incorporated to Tableegh. Thus the donor is also a muballigh, the lecturer is also a muballigh, and the writer of articles is also a muballigh.
To illustrate this point: A person is asked, “How much do you spend for your food?” He will say, “X amount of money”. Then he will go into the details; the cost of the meat, dry spices, the rice, the oil, the firewood used to cook the food, etc. Now the one asking will not reject the cost of the firewood being included, otherwise he will be told that he is a fool. Since the meal cannot be prepared without a fire (or gas or electricity as in our times) the cost of this is included in the cost of the meal. This is readily understood in our day-to-day life. It is furthermore established by the Principles of the Shariah. It is an established principle that the preliminaries of something are incorporated to the principal objective. Thus, Allah Ta’ala states:
“Aid and assist each other in righteousness and faithfulness.” (Surah Maaidah, 2)
Thus, assisting is also included in righteousness because it helps to produce the primary injunction which is an act of righteousness.
Be that as it may, there are several services to be carried out in the Field of Tableegh. Therefore, one group should spread the teachings of Deen; one group should provide financial help to them, and so forth.
I have reiterated this point because when it comes to work we go beyond the limits. We all flow with the tide. Thus I fear that speaking on the virtues of Tableegh the Mudarriseen and Talabah will abandon their teaching and studying. Ask your seniors what you should do; whether you are fit for Tableegh or better capable for teaching.
In short, do not do anything unilaterally. Otherwise, instead of any good there will be corruption because I see those Talabah who are not even qualified with their studies jumping on the Tableegh bandwagon. In my opinion they should firstly complete their studies. This is of prior importance. If this studying and teaching are abandoned then all Tableegh and writing, etc. will be in vain.
The reason for this is that such persons will be incompetent. And the ‘tableegh’ of an incompetent person is worthless. In fact, if this carries on (students devote themselves to Tableegh instead of their studies) then in a short time our heritage of Ilm will be lost. Thus, the education in the Madaaris is also a branch of Tableegh.