The Tablighi Jamaat was founded in the late 1920s by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi in the Mewat province of India. The inspiration for devoting his life to Islam came to Ilyas during his second pilgrimage to the Hijaz in 1926. Maulana Ilyas put forward the slogan, ‘Aye Musalmano! Musalman bano’ (in Hindi / Urdu) which translates 'O Muslims! Become Muslims' (in English). It is not an officially recognised group or association but a movement for Muslims to become practising Muslims.
With the ascent of Maulana Yusuf, Ilyas’ son, as its second emir (leader), the group began to expand activities in 1946, and within two decades the group reached Southwest and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Initially it expanded its reach to South Asian diaspora communities, first in Arab countries then in Southeast Asia. Once established, the Tablighi Jamaat began engaging local populations as well. Although the Movement first established itself in the United States, Britain is the current focus of the Movement in the West, primarily due to the large South Asian population that began to arrive there in the 1960s and 1970s.
As early as 1978, the World Muslim League of Saudi Arabia which is a Salafi/Wahabi Organization subsidised the building of the Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, England, which has since become the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat. Ameer or Zimmadar are titles of leadership in the movement. The first Ameer, also the founder, was Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhalawi (Maulana Ilyas) (1885-1944). The second was his son Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalawi. The third one was Maulana Inaam ul Hasan. Now there is a shura which includes two leaders: Maulana Zubair ul Hasan and Maulana Saad Kandhalawi. In Pakistan the duties of the Ameer are being served by Haji Abdulwahab. Maulana Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi is also among the prestigious personalities of the jamaat, as he compiled the famous book Fazail-e-Amal.