Tablighi Jamaat means "The Outreach Society". The movement was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi in India.
Its stated primary aim is spiritual reformation of Islam by reaching out to Muslims across social and economic spectra and working at the grassroots level, to bring them in line with the group's understanding of Islam.
I met and interviewed Omar-Shariff, one of the oldest member of Tablighi Jamaat in Kyrgyzstan.
"- I served in the Soviet army for two years. Then after the army, I had a business and then it happens that I found connected to religion.
- What happened?
- My parents are muslims, my parents are religious, I know religion from my childhood so it was kind of normal for me, kind of natural. Then I have started to follow some religious courses from special people, not in the madrasah. Then I was the imam's right-hand man and the substitute of one of the imam. Then I join the Tablighi Jama'at and I have been in this movement for 18 years, starting from 1998.
- So you are like a gold member of the Tabligh-i Jama'at?
- In 1998, Tabligh-i Jama'at was just starting its operations in Kyrgyzstan. It has been actually calm in this country after the collapse of USSR in 1991. At that time, muslims had only one mosque in Bishkek. Now we have almost 100 mosques in Bishkek and more than 300 prayer rooms.
- Who did you meet at that time to enter the Tabligh-i?
- Initially the representatives from UAE came to our mosque and then we get to know each other.
- Were they coming from India and Pakistan?
- The first people I got to know were from UAE. The first people who arrived to Turkestan, they were Arabs, they were Pakistani or from Egypt. And then some representatives from India started to come."
Central Mosque, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan