finally relented and gave him his consent. Thereafter, Ilyas approached a close disciple of his,one Maulana ‘Abdus Subhan, who was persuaded to let his wife begin missionary work amongMuslim women in Delhi, where Ilyas lived and where the TJ currently has its globalheadquarters. This woman is said to have, under Ilyas’ instructions, formed a small group of women who went off for a few days to Mewat in the company of their husbands and, under thesupervision of one Maulana Daud, started preaching among the Meo women of that region. Afterthat, we are told, women’s participation in the work of the TJ gradually picked up in many otherparts of the world as the movement began to expand outside the confines of South Asia(Ferozepuri n.d., 105-7).This is one of the only references we have in the available literature to the actual work of womenin the TJ, and even here they remain faceless, nameless people about whom we are told but little.We do know, however, what they and other TJ women activists were, and still are, taught andlearnt as participants in the movement, and to that we may now turn.
As in the case of Muslim men, the TJ sees every Muslim woman as playing a central and activepart in the effort for the revival of Islam. The method in which this is to be done – the tariqa-itabligh – is, for the most part, common to both men and women. Ordinary Muslim women areencouraged to take time off and form a women’s group or masturati jama‘at that travels tovarious places to do Tabligh work, preaching the message of reformist Islam among the Muslimwomenfolk in the areas they visit. To begin with, ideally, they should spend three days at astretch every two months in this way. After they have gained enough experience they should startto go on fifteen–day jama‘ats. Thereafter, this should be increased to a chillah, or forty days at astretch, or even longer, during the course of which they should be encouraged to visit othercountries to carry on Tabligh work there
.Only married women may go out on a jama‘at, and they always be accompanied by a malerelative. This should preferably be the husband. If, for some reason, the husband is unable toaccompany a woman, she must have her son, brother, father grandfather or some such mehramrelative with her
. The male mehram should, if possible, be one who has already spent a chillahdoing Tabligh work. In addition, he must have a beard, testifying to his commitment to Islam(Wali ul- Islam 1996, 17).Ideally, the jama‘at should consist of ten women and ten male mehram relatives (Ibid., 16).While on a Tabligh tour, all decisions regarding the working of the jama‘at are to be taken by themen folk accompanying the women. The head (amir) of the jama‘at must in all cases be a man.In consultation (mashwara) with the other men he is to oversee the working of the group.Decisions taken by him are relayed to the women through the medium of a woman whom thewomen choose among themselves. This woman is told of the amir’s decisions by her ownhusband or mehram relative who is accompanying her, and she, in turn, conveys this informationto the other women in her group (Ferozepuri n.d., 108).