The Contentious Politics of Socio-Political Engagement: The Transformation of the Tablighi Jamaat in London
Pieri, Zacharias Peter
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To allow enough time for the publication of a monograph as well as have the document checked by a legal professional
The thesis examines the extent to which the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) as an Islamic, theocratic and social movement has negotiated and adapted to the British context, especially London in the post 7/7 period. TJ is the largest Islamic movement in the word and is characterised as an isolationist, disengaged, salvation oriented, apolitical organisation. The London branch of TJ has ambitions to construct a headquarter mosque in London – a project facing opposition across a spectrum of British society, and brandished as the “mega mosque”. As a means of ensuring the success of their project, London TJ leaders have embarked on a process of socio-political engagement aiming to demonstrate that the movement has changed its modes of operation, and trying to curtail allegations of radicalisation, after reports of terrorists passing through TJ mosques. Extensive observation research and interviews with TJ leaders, grassroots members and others involved in the on going contestation of the project, explain the adoption of the new strategy from the perspective of an elite and instrumentally aware leadership. In essence how the new strategy has been justified and re-framed, making it acceptable to a wider audience. The Public Inquiry over Enforcement Action of TJ’s mosque in Newham allowed for both TJ and opponents to highlight wider issues surrounding TJ and its stance towards engagement and commitment to community cohesion. Engagement may have initially been a tick-box exercise for London TJ leaders, but interacting with the wider community has had a transformative effect. TJ Leaders in London have emerged as a practical minded, demonstrating adaptability to local contexts, ensuring the survival of the movement. The durability of this, given the conservative and revivalist nature of the movement, will be a test of time.
PhD in Ethno-Political Studies