Jamaat-e-Islami (Urdu: جماعتِ اسلامی, JI) was an Islamist political party and social conservative movement founded in 1941 in British India by the Islamist theologian and socio-political philosopher, Abul Ala Maududi. Along with the Muslim Brotherhood (founded in 1926), Jamaat-e-Islami was one of the original and most influential Islamist organizations, and the first of its kind to develop "an ideology based on the modern revolutionary conception of Islam".
Maududi was dissatisfied with the leaders of the Muslim League who sought an independent state (Pakistan) where Muslims would not be dominated by Hindus, following the withdrawal of the British from India, but who expressed no interest in ruling the state according to Sharia law, the traditional injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah. Maududi created Jamaat-e-Islami with the objective of making Pakistan an Islamic state, one in which sovereignty would be exercised in the name of Allah, and Islamic law or sharia, would be implemented. Although this would be an "Islamic revolution", it was to be achieved not through a mass organizing or a popular uprising but by what he called "Islamization from above", by winning over society's leaders through education and propaganda and putting the right people (JI members) in positions of power, incrementally and through legal means.(p122)
Mawdudi believed politics was "an integral, inseparable part of the Islamic faith", and the creation of an Islamic state would be not only be an act of piety but would be a cure for all of the many (seemingly non-religious) social and economic problems that Muslims faced. JI strongly objected to non-Islamic ideologies whether capitalism and socialism, liberalism or secularism. It opposed such practices such as offering bank interest.
Hezbi Islami, also based in Afghanistan, broke away from Jamiat-e Islami in 1975-6. Led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, its ethnic make-up was overwhelmingly Ghilzai Pashtun. It's less moderate stance won it the backing of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan president Zia ul-Haq) during the jihad against the Soviet military.
Maududi opposed British rule but also opposed the anti-colonialist Muslim nationalist movement led-by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He also opposed Muslim nationalist Husain Ahmad Madani for promoting unity through a combined governance and justice system or a majority based political system. Maududi initially opposed their plan for a "Muslim state" circumscribed to Muslim-majority regions. Maududi agitating instead for an "Islamic state" covering the whole of India—this despite the fact Muslims made up only about one quarter of India's population.
By 1940, at the time of the Pakistan Resolution, Maududi taught that Pakistan was destined to be an Islamic missionary nation. This was in comparison to scholars of the Indian Congress who promoted the formation of a sub-continent united against British rule. To Maududi, a united sub-continent would be worse than British rule.
Jamaat-e-Islami was founded on 26 August 1941, at Islamia Park, Lahore.(pli) Seventy-five people attended the first meeting and became the first 75 members of the movement. JI began by volunteering in refugee camps; performing social work; opening hospitals and medical clinics and by gathering the skins of animals sacrificed for Eid-ul-Azha.
Maududi saw his group as a vanguard of Islamic revolution following the footsteps of early Muslims who gathered in Medina to found the first Islamic state. JI was and is strictly and hierarchically organized in a pyramid-like structure. All supporters work toward the common goal of establishing an ideological Islamic society, particularly though educational and social work, under the leadership of the emir. Being a vanguard party, not all supporters could be members, only the elite. Below members were/are "affiliates", and "sympathizers" beneath them. The party leader is called an ameer (commander).(p70)
He compared his ideology to that of the fascist and communist movements ascendant in the era he developed his ideas. Like those movements JI had an ideology and its revolution would be established with a vanguard party despite the fact that it was made up of only a small minority of the population. Unlike those movements, once in power it would not be not oppressive or tyrannical, but just and benevolent to all, because its ideology was based on God's commands.
^Roy, Olivier (1994). The Failure of Political Islam. Harvard University Press. p. 35. "The origins of today's Islamist thought and organizations can be traced to the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood, created by the school teacher Hasan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928, and the Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan, established by Abul Ala Maududi..."
^Mortimer, Edward (1982). Faith and Power : the Politics of Islam. Vintage Books. p. 204. "The political doctrine which he based on this view [was] ... Islam had to be enforced, and all that was needed for that purpose was to ensure that the right people, holding the right ideas, should occupy the post of governors. ... He put implicit faith in the party which he founded.... His programme for the future of Pakistan was the expansion of the Jama'at-e Islami until it had absorbed the state and had, for all intents and purposes become the state."
^ abcdKepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad: on the Trail of Political Islam. Belknap Press. p. 34.
^Mortimer, Edward (1982). Faith and Power : the Politics of Islam. Vintage Books. p. 204. "The political doctrine which he based on this view [was] ... Islam had to be enforced, and all that was needed for that purpose was to ensure that the right people, holding the right ideas, should occupy the post of governors. ... He put implicit faith in the party which he had founded, the Jama'at-i-Islami, as a tool for achieving the Islamic revolution that would put such people into power; and he cited the Fascists in Italy and Germany, and the Communists in Russia, as examples of groups which though tiny minorities in a total population, were able to exercise effective control. His programme for the future of Pakistan was the expansion of the Jama'at-e-Islami until it had absorbed the state and had, to all intents and purposes, become the state. Such a totalitarian approach might justifiably cause alarm in the case of communism or fascism, but in the service of Islam, he thought, it need alarm no one, since God's commands working in the life of the state would be just and benevolent to all."
^Charles J. Adams (1966), "The Ideology of Mawlana Maududi" in D.E. Smith (ed.) South Asian Politics and Religion (Princeton) pp.375, 381-90.