sects is a dirty word

I don’t like the word sect.  Although it can mean simply a religious group, it’s usually the second meaning that comes to mind:

a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition. 

Certain muslims are all too eager to declare people who have different understandings of the religions as deviant sects and therefore not saved.  Leaves an icky taste in my mouth, bleck.

So why mention this?  Because it appears that 5 pakistanis from Tablighi Jamaat were shot and killed in Somalia, while in jamaah, at a masjid!

Armed men in masks entered a mosque in Galkayo and ordered six Pakistanis and one Somali outside, they said.

The gunmen then opened fire, killing five men and seriously injuring two.

Tabliq is known to be peaceful.  Six religious leaders from the sect were killed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in 2008, during fighting between Ethiopian troops supporting the government and Islamist militants.

Getreligion, part of my daily blogstroll, often looks for the ghosts of religion in news stories.  There are a bunch here, in addition to just plain bad reporting.  Tabliq?  It’s  Tablighi Jamaat.  Tabliq itself is simply “calling” and isn’t really a proper name, to the best of my knowledge.  And why is it called a sect?  Perhaps in Britain, sect has a less negative connotation?   Certainly I’ve seen some extreme salafis label it as a deviant sect, but for the most part, it’s just a group of guys getting together for their 40 days to call other muslims back to the practice of Islam.  How is that a sect?

And as the guys at getreligion would ask, why not more coverage on who the Tablighi Jamaat are and why they’re in Somalia.  How common is it for the TJers to do their dawah in war torn areas?  How long had they been in country?  How does the local somali population receive them?

Reuters does a better job:

Residents said the attack took place after early morning prayers at the mosque in Galkayo town and targeted a group of 25 mostly Pakistani sheikhs who had arrived in the semi-autonomous northern region on Tuesday.

“Six Pakistanis died on the spot while another Pakistani died from his injuries in hospital. These men are Islamist preachers from Karachi, Pakistan,” Galkayo chairman Hussein Abdullahi told Reuters by telephone.

“Puntland forces have now surrounded the area around the mosque to protect the other sheikhs.”

Local Shabelle Media, however, said the mosque where they were staying often hosted members of the Tablighi Jamaat, a religious movement founded in India in 1926 that keeps a low public profile and says it does not get involved in politics.

A spokesman for al Shabaab told reporters in Mogadishu that the group was saddened by the killing of the religious scholars.

“They were preachers who spread Islam,” said Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage. “We shall get our revenge and get our hands on those who killed them. Let the Tablighi (preachers) also take up guns and fight the enemies.”


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