A Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi has created a huge coronavirus hotspot, and aggressive contact tracking is underway across the country to track down those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Seven deaths have been linked to the religious gathering at "Markaz Nizamuddin", the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, and 24 cases have been confirmed.
Hundreds have moved out of the 100-year-old Markaz Nizamuddin building in Nizamuddin West, a densely populated area in southern Delhi, since Sunday evening. Over 300 are in various hospitals with coronavirus symptoms. Around 700 are quarantined in different parts of the city.
The Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement with members not only in India but around the world. The term "Tablighi Jamaat" means the society for spreading the faith.
The group was founded in 1926 to encourage Muslims to return to the ways of faith practiced in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad.
"Tablighi Jamaat is a religious organization that is spread all over the world. Its basic principle is to tell Muslims about beliefs about how people should behave with each other," said Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, Shahi Imam of Lucknow Eidgah .
Various reports say that it has around 150 million members and is present in many countries. It is known that they make spiritual trips in groups for 40 days in a row and often live together in crowded rooms
Because of its orthodox beliefs, the Tablighi Jamaat has often been criticized for being backward.
The organization reportedly held such gatherings in other countries when the coronavirus pandemic swept the world. An event in Malaysia was associated with several COVID-19 cases. Al Jazeera reported that of the 673 coronavirus cases in Malaysia, almost two-thirds were linked to the four-day meeting.
A Tablighi Jamaat meeting was also linked to virus cases in Pakistan, where over 150,000 people gathered outside of Lahore, which ended on March 12.