[by Majlisul Ulama]
This is the first characteristic of the place to draw the newcomer’s attention. He realises how different this missionary centre is from the headquarters of other organisations and movements, whether religious or secular, which have virtually turned into offices. No one who goes there finds a trace of dynamism. They are just places of business where clerical and administrative work is done.
It is not an ordinary difference. This is what makes the Bangle Wali Masjid of Nizamuddin resemble the Prophet’s Mosque at Madinah. The Prophet’s mosque was the centre of the Islamic movement during his time and that of the blessed Companions. It was not the central office for routine work, as the case is with the headquarters of the present-day organisations, but the rallying point of Islam and the Islamic way of life itself. There Namaz was offered, people collected together for God-remembrance, earnest entreaties were made to the Lord of the Worlds, the Qu’ran was recited, the Sunnah was discussed, and ways and means for the propagation of Islam were thought of. It was like an oasis in the desert, a haven of peace. During the early days the Prophet’s Mosque was shorn of all adornments. Its structure was very simple. But people saw Islam in it; manifestations of God-consciousness drew the hearts. Solicitude for Faith was felt over there in all earnestness and the Qur’an took the shape of a reality. Whoever entered the mosque could not remain unaffected by its Islamic atmosphere.
The same atmosphere has been prevailing in Bangle Wali Masjid for over twenty-five years. It is an aspect of the revival of the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) which, perhaps, has no parallel in the entire world of Islam. Countless Islamic offices will be found in the world today. But an Islamic centre modelled after the Prophet’s Mosque is not to be seen anywhere. It is an event which alone is enough to attract the Help of Allah. It is related about Syed Ataullah Bukhari that once he came here and saw the whole thing. After it, he remarked in one of his speeches that “I thought that (the sufi-saint) Nizamuddin Aulia had died but on coming to Basti Nizamuddin it appeared to me that he was still alive. I on going there. Whoever wants to become a Muslim should go there”.
This mode of working is the most important part of the Tabligh Movement. The basic philosophy of this approach is that if you try to teach Faith to men in their fields, offices and factories — in the midst of their worldly pre-occupations and activities — they will not be able to understand it. So, get them away from the humdrum routine of their daily lives, bring them into the mosques and preach Islam to them by producing an intensely Islamic atmosphere over there. Their minds will be free and unhampered at that time, and, thus, they will readily absorb what is taught to them. The Bangle Wali Mosque of Basti Nizamuddin is the permanent, practical centre of this mode of working where an Islamic and Tablighi atmosphere constantly prevails. Nothing more and nothing less. Every moment there is just one idea, one ruling passion —the-forging of a living contact with Allah for He is everything; the Prime Mover, the Ultimate Cause. He is the Author of all things; nothing aside of Him has any control over gain or loss..
The task and duty of Tabligh workers everywhere, whether at home or in a journey is to create an atmosphere like it temporarily. When the Tabligh parties, which set forth everyday, arrive at a place their first talk is to invite the people to come to a mosque by moving among them and going from door to door. After gathering them together in the mosque they are asked to offer the Namaz and to recite the Qur’an. Events and incidents from the life of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the biographies of the Companions are related to them, they are made to learn by heart the more popular prayer-formulas, virtues of noble deeds are impressed upon them, they are kept occupied with prayer and supplication and their religious duties are taught to them.
When their hearts are mellowed to some extent, after spending a period of time in this atmosphere, they are invited to complete the Chilla. Let no one be alarmed at the mention of the word Chilla. It simply denotes an extension of the few hours spent in the mosque, i.e., to devote forty days exclusively to the Tabligh work by cutting oneself aloof from worldly interests and activities and living in the mosques, approaching the Muslims directly by making a round of their localities and calling them towards the Islamic way of life and attaining such maturity and solidity, through living for some time in an Islamic atmosphere and learning and grasping Faith by the direct method, that when one returns to the old environment he may continue to abide by the Islamic programme of life conscientiously. Chilla is, thus, a mobile training camp. It is pure action.
Remarkable results have flowed out of this programme of work that was inspired to Maulana Mohammad Ilyas (rahimahullah) by Allah. Innumerable persons have, without doubt, been influenced by it. Their lives have been transformed. Those who used to make a fun of Chilla and going the rounds became its ardent admirers when they were brought into religious environment and preaching was done to them. They had set forth clean-shaven and returned with a beard, they had begun the Chilla dressed in Western clothes but when they came back they were putting on simple Kurta and Paijama. Habitual defaulters of Namaz and Zakat, people soaked in sin and lewdness, quarrelsome, mean and ill-tempered returned so thoroughly changed that it became difficult to recognise them.
There are instances of men going out with a Tabligh party carrying bottles of liquor with them, since they insisted that they could not give up drinking, and breaking the bottles with their own hands before the Chilla was over and taking sincerely to the Islamic way of life for the rest of their days. A worker told us that when the first Tabligh party went to Africa they were dressed in Kurta and Paijama. The few persons they persuaded there to join them on their tours were in Western attire. They were impressed by the movement and decided to come to India, but by that time their appearance had changed so much that when the officers at the check post saw their old photographs on the passports they remarked, “Is it really your passport or someone else’s?”
At Nizamuddin a person greeted me with such warmth that I felt that he was an old acquaintance. He was a young man with a beautiful beard. On being introduced, I recalled that he was the same fellow with whom his elders were most dissatisfied during the student days.