New Delhi: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has hit out at the Tabligh-e-Jamaat, a Muslim body, for organising a massive religious congregation at Nizamuddin in the national capital at a time when the coronavirus crisis is wreaking havoc across the world.
Following the death of at least nine people who attended the event and several testing positive for COVID-19, the centuries-old centre has turned into one of the biggest virus hot spots in India.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Khan refused to acknowledge the maulanas of the Tabligh as religious scholars and claimed the members of the organisation are seeing the government's efforts on social distancing as a conspiracy behind shutting mosques.
While there has been a bar on offering namaz at the jamaat, a congregation of so many people was allowed, Khan said, adding those with some common sense would heed to words of caution in these times.
“We do not need any special appeal to be cautious in these times. I would not call them religious scholars and extend any support with a prophetic narration. ‘Alim woh hota ha jo apne zamane ka jaanne wala ho’ (a scholar is the one who is aware of the times he is living in and acts accordingly),” the governor said.
“Knowledge of some facts alone is not sufficient to be an alim. An alim has been defined as the one who knows whatever is happening at that time. I don’t know if the tablighis can fall in that category. These people have put all efforts to keep people away from knowledge and encouraged superstition. They want ensure that people don’t know what is happening in the world.”
The markaz (centre) in Nizamuddin is the international headquarters of Tabligh-e-Jamaat for the past 100 years. Over 2,000 delegates, including from Indonesia and Malaysia, attended the congregation from March 1-15, officials said.
Several people have tested positive cases with links to the gathering. So far, nine people with links to the event at the mosque have died across the country – six in Telangana, one in Srinagar, one in Mumbai and one in Tumkuru in Karnataka. On Tuesday, it was sealed and a team of WHO officials and doctors is working there.
When asked about the organisers hiding the information of the gathering from the administration, Khan said, “Not only did they hide the information, they also made fun of the ongoing concerns (regarding coronavirus). A vaccine (to treat the virus) is not yet found. We do not know the behaviour pattern of the virus. Why are we practising social distancing? It is because the medical fraternity has not been able to figure out the behaviour of the virus. And, here, we have such an event. The tablighi members are seeing a conspiracy in this to shut down mosques,” Khan said.