What is the difference between the Tabligh Jamaat’s 40 day chilla, and the Barelwi’s 40 day khatam ceremony?
There is much difference between these two acts. The 40 day khatam ceremony of the Barelwis and of others besides the Barelwis is an accretion into the Deen. A new act in the form of ‘ibaadat’ has been innovated. It is elevated to the status of wujoob. It implies that the system of Isaal-e-Thawaab of the Sahaabah and the Salafus Saaliheen was deficient, hence the need to fabricate the 40 day custom.
The 40 day custom of the Bid’atis has not been introduced to protect any Masnoon act of ibaadat or Shar’i institution. It is in entirety a new practice innovated as an independent act of ‘ibaadat’, and which has been elevated to the status of wujoob. It is not a method to protect the Sunnah or the Shariah.
Further aggravating the villainy of this bid’ah is the accompaniment of other factors such as feasting after reciting the Qur’aan. In essence it is a merrymaking party promoted as ibaadat.
People died in the age of the Sahaabah and at all times. The Qur’aan existed from the age of the Sahaabah. Rasulullah ( Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah had adequate awareness of the method of despatching Thawaab for the amwaat. When the 40 day khatam custom did not exist in the noblest of ages among the noblest of people, the bid’ah and haraam status of the 40 day custom of the Qabar Pujaari sect should be quite manifest.
On the other hand, the 40 day Tablighi activity of the Tabligh Jamaat does not introduce any new act of ibaadat in the Deen. Its objective is not the fabrication of a new act of ibaadat. The objective of the 40 day excursion is to teach, promote and inculcate in people the very same fundamental acts commanded by Allah Ta’ala, namely, the Kalimah, Salaat, Saum and observance of the Sunnah in daily life. The 40 day Tablighi Jamaat programme is supposed to strive to secure these objectives which Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) propagated.
The 40 day programme of the Tabligh Jamaat is simply a method – a permissible method of Tabligh and Ta’leem of the very same teachings of the Deen taught by Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Just as the Madaaris have 5 year and 7 year study courses, so too does the Tabligh Jamaat have 40 day and one year Tabligh courses.
The ghulu’ of the Tablighi Jamaat is a separate issue. It is their attitude of ghulu’ which has despoiled their permissible methods. Shaitaan has managed to sidetrack and divert them from the Straight Path, hence they have come to believe that all other methods of Ta’leem, Da’wat and Tabligh are superfluous and that only their method is correct, and in fact Waajib.
If it transpires that they are promoting their 40 day programme or any other of their methods to be Waajib, then obviously it will enter into the domain of bid’ah and be condemned.[Answered by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]