By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
24 April 2015
Islam was facing baffling internal problems in 18th century India. Corrupt understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith, complete oblivion to the egalitarian values of Islam, sectarian conflict, moral depravity, caste-based prejudices and many more social vices were creeping into the Muslim society. Besides, there was gradual political decline and collapse in India’s Muslim sultanate. Muslim rulers, jurists and the clergy had also fallen in the pit of the moral and ethical decay. They became completely oblivious to the Qur’anic moral trajectories and Prophetic traditions. Muslim scholars and Ulema had literally done the “closing of the gate of Ijtihad” or independent reasoning. Muslim emirs and elites were busy with the enjoyment of their luxurious life. The situation of common Muslim youths was worse. They had set all value upon fulfilling their selfish whims and desires. In this situation, Shah Waliullah launched a project of Islamic reformation in India and concentrated his efforts on the moral, religious and ethical revival of Indian Muslim society and polity. Therefore, Islamic reformation in India in the eighteenth century is mainly attributed to Shah Waliullah Dehlvi.
Notable Reformation Works of Shah Waliullah
Shah Waliullah’s work can be divided into three major categories: (1) intellectual (2) ideological reformation and (3) political. Although Shah Waliullah concerned himself with politics of his era and had a vision to see a strong Muslim government, he is remembered primarily for his contribution to the religious reformation of Indian Muslims. Among notable reformation work of Shah Waliullah was his translation of the holy Qur’an into Persian. He was the first Indian scholar who translated the Quran into the literary language of the subcontinent of his time. He believed that the purpose of reading the Qur’an is to reform human nature and correct erroneous beliefs and practices. For his rendering the Qur’anic texts into Persian, he was severely criticised by the orthodox and ultra-conservative Muslim clergy of his time.
Being an outstanding Muhaddith (Traditionalist), he also left behind several seminal works on Hadith sciences, particularly his commentaries on "Mu'atta", a collection of the Prophetic traditions compiled by Imam Malik, in both Arabic and Persian. Most notably, Shah Waliullah owns the credit of being the first Islamic scholar in India who stressed the need for Ijtihad (rethinking) to find ways to solve the most intricate problems of his time from a theological perspective.
It was due to Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Ittehad and independent reasoning that eminent Ulema and theologians of almost all Indian Muslim sects claimed to be his intellectual heirs and true followers. Each of them quoted him, rightly or wrongly, to substantiate their own theological stands. Surprisingly enough, from the orthodox Ulema of the Deoband and the Ahle Hadis to the Muslim modernists such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-98), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1876-1938), nearly all Ulema and Muslim intellectuals laid a strong claim on him. However, their approaches to link with him were diametrically different. While Muslim modernists such as Sir Sayyid and Maulana Azad focused on his originality of thought, rejection of blind faith and endorsement of Ijtihad (individual reasoning), the Deobandi-Salafi Ulema stressed Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Hadith scholarship, stricter adherence to the Shari’ah and Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). It is interesting to glance through the views of many modernist Muslim scholars in India, like Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, who held rationalist and reformist ideas, and yet followed the tradition of Shah Waliullah.
As for the Sunni-Sufi Ulema, they were more inspired by Shah Waliullah’s spiritual inclinations and particularly his affiliation to the Naqshbandi Sufi order. Therefore, they continue to look up to him as a source of spiritual inspiration. Not to speak of Sunnis, even many Shias appreciate his work of reformation. His efforts at bridge-building and reducing the sectarian tensions between the Shias and Sunnis is considered a form of Islamic reformation in India. At a time when Shia-Sunni rift was acute, his writings on the subject, particularly “Izalatul Khifa” (removal of darkness) were a great help in reducing the Shia-Sunni tensions in his time. Moreover, he tried to reconcile the most ravaging sectarian tensions amongst different groups of the Muslims and considered the government as an essential agency for regeneration of the community.
In the jurisprudential issues (Fiqhi Masai’l), Shah Waliullah advocated the path of moderation. He gave preference to the Qur’anic verses rather than the Hadith reports in the contentious jurisprudential matters. His approach to interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah was balanced and opposed to the blind imitation (Taqlid-e-Jamid) of the medieval imams as well as the blind faith in Hadith reporters. However, while Shah Waliullah ostensibly criticised blind imitation in faith and Fiqh and objected on “the closing of the door of Ijtihad”, he maintained that the door of Ijtihad was not open to all and sundry. Rather, he opined that only those well-versed in the Islamic sciences with the required abilities can engage in Ijtihad. Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Ijtihad was also demonstrated in his efforts of renewal of the Shariah or Islamic law in tune with the modern times.
Shah Waliullah is also known as a social reformer in the Muslim community. Some of his writings are aimed at reorienting the Muslim society with the concepts of basic social justice, removing social inequality and balancing the distribution of wealth. In his book, Hujjat-ullahil Balighah, he mentioned the causes and remedies for degeneration and disintegration of Muslim society.
Pointing out to Shahi Waliullah’s social and political reform works, S. M. Ikram Chaghatai writes: “there were valid reasons for fearing that political disintegration would be accompanied by religious collapse. But that did not happen, due to more than anything else but the services of one man.” (Shah Waliullah: His Religious and Political Thought by M. Ikram Chaghatai)
Was Shah Waliullah Sufi or Wahhabi?
There is much hype over the theological orientation of Shah Waliullah. From most of his thoughts, it appears that he was imbued with the teachings of Sufism as he belonged to a Sufi family. But some of his writings, as produced and criticised in modern researches, underpin that he was influenced by Wahhabism..... This is perhaps why his thoughts and writings are considered as precursors for radicalism in the Indian subcontinent. For instance, Dr Farhan Zahid, wrote in his PhD thesis titled “Roots of Radical Islamist Ideologies in South Asia: “Shah Waliullah was inspired from Wahhabi Movement of Arabia. In fact he was a contemporary of Ibn-al-Wahhab, the leader of 18th century radical Arabian Islamist movement. Waliullah had personally come across Wahhab while on pilgrimage to Arabia. Wahhab's writings and thoughts greatly inspired him. " He further writes that “Waliullah's writings are precursors for providing sources for radicalism. He gave a distinct political thought previously absent in Muslim political thought prevailing during the times of semi-secular Mughal dominated India.”
Jamil Ahmad writes in his book titled “Hundred Great Muslims" under the subtitle “Shah Waliullah”: “in his early age, Shah Saheb came under the influence of Ibn-e-Taimiya, a great religious reformer. During his stay in Hejaz, he came into contact with scholars who were influenced by Wahhabism. This provided a check to his blind following of Sufism. But like Wahhabis, he did not totally discard Sufism. He was aware of the services rendered by Sufis in popularising Islam in the subcontinent and the spiritual self developed by the truly Islamic form of Sufism. But he was highly critical of the decadent and traditional form of Sufism which borders on the verge of asceticism and is, therefore, averse to true Islam. In his Wasiyat Nama (Will) he observes: “And the next advice (Wasiyat) is that one should not entrust one's affairs to and become a disciple of the saints of this period who are given to a number of irregularities”.
Dr Farhan Zahid wrote in his PhD thesis titled “Roots of Radical Islamist Ideologies in South Asia: “Waliullah's writings are precursors for providing sources for radicalism. He gave a distinct political thought previously absent in Muslim political thought prevailing during the times of semi-secular Mughal dominated India.”
According to Ayesha Jalal, “hailed as being at once a Muslim modernist and the architect of Sunni orthodoxy, Shah Waliullah left an intellectual legacy that casts a long shadow over all subsequent explications of jihad in theory and attempts to translate it into practice”. (Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia", Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore, pages 15-16)
R. Upadhyay writes in his book "Shah Wali Ullah's Political Thought: Still a Major Obstacle against Modernization of Indian Muslims" (South Asia Analysis Group, Paper no. 629) that "On principle Waliullah had no difference with his contemporary Islamic thinker Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1787) of Saudi Arabia, who had also launched an Islamic revivalist movement. Wahhab, who is regarded as one of the most radical Islamists had a wide range of followers in India”.
However, Shah Waliullah is known as a Sufi scholar among many Muslim circles of the Indian subcontinent. Most of the Sunni Sufi Muslims of India (also known as Ahl-e-Sunnat wa Jam’at) believe that Shah Waliullah was a reformist Sufi. They appreciate his contributions to major issues in Sufism, for instance, the theory of the unity of being (Wahdat al-Wujud) versus the unity of witness (Wahdat Al-Shuhud). The fact is that Shah Waliullah tried to strike a balance between the orthodoxy in Islam introduced by Ibn Taimiya and the Islamic heterodoxy championed by Sufis. He believed that Islam had two vital aspects. Its exoteric side was concerned with the protection of the public good but its esoteric aspect involved the purification of the heart through virtuous deeds.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.), acquired Diploma in Qur'anic Arabic from Al-Jamiat ul Islamia, Faizabad, U.P., and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies, Badaun, U.P. He has also graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
The following table is a
summary of the similarities and differences between the Deobandi, Barelvi and
the so called Wahabi. The Wahabi’s are being referred to as ‘the so called
Wahabi’ since no Muslim calls himself a Wahabi. They are now calling themselves
Salafi to distinguish themselves from the other Sunnis. However, all three
claim to be the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamat or the true followers of the sunnat (practice)
of the Prophet.
Ahmad bin Hanbal
Do not formally subscribe to
any of the four schools of jurisprudence
Taqlid or adherence to one of the four schools (madhabs) of
Sunni Islamic Law, and discouraging inter-school eclecticism
made obligatory. They are followers of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
as the Deobandis
known as the ghair-muqallid,
the nonconformists, because they eschewed taqlid in favor of the direct use of Quran
no innovation beyond what was crystallized into practice during the time of
the Prophet and the first four Caliphs
Introduced many innovations.
For example celebrating the prophet’s birthday, seeking intercession of
saints in their graves etc.
Same as for Deobandi
Qadri, Chisti and Suhrawardy orders
Qadri, Chisti and Suhrawardy
Consider Sufis as heretics
started as a reformist movement to strip Islam of the innovations such as
seeking the intercession of pious persons in their graves. However retained
many of the Sufi practices including mysticism and even limited monasticism.
The movement of Raza Ahmad
khan Barelvi was a reaction to the reformist movement of the Deobandis and
therefore he issued fatwas of apostasy against the leaders of the Deobandi
movement, declared the sect as heretics.
Yes, stripped Islam of the innovations since
the days of the last four Caliphs or the Salih Salaf.
closest phenomenon to so-called Wahabism or Salafism in the Indian subcontinent
is the Ahle Hadith movement (Followers of the Sayings of the
Prophet) which can trace its roots to the late 18th century Indian Muslim reformer
Shah Waliullah of Delhi. Ahle Hadith is a fringe phenomenon on the
subcontinent. While the Ahle Hadith are self-evidently the followers of the
ahadith, the Wahabis are “Ahle Quran”, meaning that the Wahabis attach less
importance to the Hadiths in their overall approach towards the Islamic faith. The
common factor between the Ahle Hadith and the Wahabis is that both are ghair
Muqallid or transcend the four Sunni Madhabs.
A comparison shows that the
Deobandis are closer to the Barelvis than to the other sects. However, since
Barelvism is a reaction to the Deobandi reformist movement, the hostility of
the Barelvi to the Deobandi is very intense. Raza Ahmad Khan Barelvi tried to
stem the tide of people accepting the Deobandi reforms. The Wahabi movement was
insignificant until it received support from the Saud dynasty, and was
considered heretic by most sunnis as they did not believe in Taqlid of any of
the Madhabs nor did they accept the authority of the ahadith. Raza Ahmad
prepared a document in which he portrayed the Deobandis as Wahabis despite the
fact that the Deobandis are neither ghair muqallid nor rejecters of the ahadith
and issued a fatwa in 1905 declaring the Deobandis as heretics and their
leaders as apostates which he got ratified by the prominent Ulema of Mecca
based on false premises. He also got Two
hundred and sixty eight (268) leading Muftis of Indian subcontinent
of that time to issue the fatwa of apostasy on the
following 5 religious leaders:
qadyani (founder of the qadiani/ahmadiyya sect )
Muftis were all leading muftis from the madarsa of Firang
mahal , Rampur , Hyderabad ( deccan)
, Sindh ,Lahore. Agra and Surat.
of the Barelvis against the Deobandis continues ever since and it is focused on
losing ground to the Deobandis. The outward justification of the war is on the
same false grounds used by Raza Ahmad Khan Barelvi to portray them as Wahabi
which as can be seen, is far from the truth. The only commonality between the
Deobandis and the Wahabis is that both sects consider seeking of favours from and
through dead “saints” as shirk or associating partners with God. The question
that may arise in one’s mind is why a Barelvi reacts so strongly to this
difference. The reason is as old as religion itself. The shrines of the saints
are a source of immense income and any move to stop the veneration of shrines
is a blow to an easy source of income for the descendants of the Sufi Saints.
Views of prominent Deobandis on Wahabism:
Please note that the source for this section is Barelvi)
1. Husain Ahmad Madani (1879-1957CE)
was a rector of the Darul uloom Deoband, penned a polemical tract,
al-Shahab al-Shaqab, in which he described Muhammad
bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Najdi as having preached ‘patent
falsehood’ (‘aqa‘id-i batila), killed numerous Sunni Muslims and forced
many others to accept his ‘false’ creed(‘aqa‘id-i fasida). He referred to
him as a ‘tyrant’ (zalim), ‘traitor’(baghi),
and ‘despicable’ (khabis), and labelled him and his followers as
the ‘despicable Wahhabis’ (wahhabiya khabisia).
in Mahfuz ur-Rahman Faizi, Shaikh Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Ke Bare Mai Do
Mutazid Nazren, Varanasi: Jami‘a Salafiya, 1986, p.i.]
He wrote that: “Mu-hammad
bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Najdi had
declared the wealth of all Muslims, including Sunnis, who did not follow him as
property that could be rightfully looted (mal-i ghanimat), and their slaughter
as a cause of merit (sawab), considering all but his own followers as
‘Undoubtedly’, Madani asserted, Muhammad
bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Najdi had committed such heinous crimes that ‘much hatred for
him is a must’. [Cited in Qadri, op.cit., p.136.]
Anwar Shah Kashmiri (1875-1933CE)
Anwar Shah Kashmiri, a leading Deobandi scholar
Insisted that Muhammed bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Najdi was‘stupid’ (bewaquf) and
had ‘little knowledge’ (kam
‘ilm), because of which he was ‘quick to declare other Muslims as kafirs’.
3. Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
Ahmad Gangohi, teacher and spiritual master of Husain Ahmad
Madani, issued a fatwa laying down that the
beliefs were ‘good’ (‘umdah)
and that they were ‘good’ people,
although he added that Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Wahhab’s views were ‘extreme’ (shiddat) and that when
his followers transcended the ‘limits’ it
lead to considerable strife (fasad).
[Cited in Faizi, op.cit., p.20.]
Gangohi’s views were contradicted by some of his own
Ahmad Saharanpuri considered the ‘Wahhabis’ as deviant, and
claimed, referring to Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Wahhab Najdi, that ‘neither he
nor any of his followers and clan are among our teachers in any of our chains
of transmission in Islamic knowledge, whether in jurisprudence, Hadith,
Qur’anic commentary or Sufism’. [‘Gangohi
Fatwas on Wahhabism’]
Likewise, Husain Ahmad Madani, also a
student of Gangohi, dissented
from his teacher’s opinion. Gangohi, he
said, did not have a proper,
complete and first-hand knowledge of Mu-hammad bin ‘Abdul Wahhab’s beliefs. [Faizi,
Deobandi fatwas on Salfism/Wahabism:
Fatwa: 124/68/L=1433 calls Salfiyat or Salafism as a fitnah. Another
fatwa says that if by Salafi belief it is meant the Ghair Muqallidin, then
since they have differences in some important and basic rulings with Ahl Sunnah
al-Jamah such as the refusal of Hujjiyat Ijmah and Qiyas etc, therefore they
are out of the Ahl Sunnah al-Jamah without any doubt. One should stay away from
them. Fatwa: 855/L=319/TL=1432 clarifies that Jama’at Islami or Ghair
Muqallidin are not out of the fold of Islam,
but these two sects are deviant due to their
difference with the majority of Ummah i.e. Ahl Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah on many
Deobandis and the Jammat-e-Islami
views of the Ulema of Deoband sharply differ from the views of Political Islam
groups such as the Jammat-e-Islami over the conditions required for delivering
effective Islamic education. The JI believes that truly effective Islamic
education and acculturation can only take place under an Islamic state, whereas
the Deobandis believe that such education can be delivered under practically
any conditions. The Deobandis also do not believe in political power as a
necessary goal of Islam and believe that Islam can thrive under any political
Who then is a Deobandi?
context of the subcontinent, both the terms Deobandi and Barelvi are loosely
applied to the sunnis from the subcontinent. The Barelvis are those who
practice innovations such as venerating the shrines of their pious forefathers
and the Deobandis are those who eschew all practices they consider as
Jamat-e-Islami also therefore get clubbed with the Deobandis although there are
serious differences as discussed and the Ahle Hadith with even more serious
doctrinal differences also get clubbed with the Deobandis.
term Deobandi is very loosely applied to mean a non-Barelvi, since the number
of ahl-e-hadith and Jamat-e-Islami are too few to be considered separately.
Major difference between the Deobandis and the
Barelvis in the Indian context
All Deobandis were and are
The elders of
Darul-Uloom, particularly the Shaikh (spiritual guide) of the group, Hazrat
Haji Imdadullah Muhajir-e-Makki, 42, and his closest disciples.Maulana Muhammad
Qasim Nanautavi, 25, and Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi, 29, had participated in
the war of independence in 1857. They remained loyal to the cause of India’s
independence till the end.
Ali Jauhar, a Deobandi, was one of the greatest admirers of Gandhi who he described
as next to the Prophet (pbuh) and was instrumental in a large number of Muslims
joining the freedom movement.
In 1919, Maulana
Madani founded the Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind an organization of the ulema.
The Jamat strongly opposed the creation of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan and saw nothing Islamic
in the idea of Pakistan. He said: "All should endeavour jointly for such a
democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis
are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam."
The Jamiat has an organizational network which
is spread all over India. They also have an Urdu daily Al-Jamiyat. The Jamiat has propounded a theological basis for its
nationalistic philosophy. Their thesis is that Muslims and non-Muslims have
entered upon a mutual contract in India since independence, to establish a
secular state. The Constitution
of India represents this contract. This is known in Urdu as a mu'ahadah. Accordingly as the
Muslim community's elected
representatives supported and swore allegiance to this mu'ahadah so it is the duty of Indian Muslims is
to keep loyalty to the Constitution.
In the meeting of the
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind at Calcutta, in 1926, which was well attended by the
students and graduates of Darul Uloom Deoband, a call was made for complete
independence of India from the British rule. Indian National Congress was to
declare complete independence as its goal three years later, in its session at
Lahore. Majlis-e-Ahrar-ul-Islam, also known in short as Ahrar, was a
conservative Sunni Muslim Deobandi political party in the Indian subcontinent
during the British Raj, founded in December 29, 1929 at Lahore. Chaudhry Afzal
Haq, Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, Maulana
Mazhar Ali Azhar, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan and Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi were the
founder's of the party. The Ahrar was composed of Indian Muslims disillusioned
by the Khilafat Movement. The party was associated with opposition to Muhammad
Ali Jinnah and establishment of an independent Pakistan as well as persecution
of the Ahmadiyya community. The famous freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan,
who visited Darul ‘Uloom during his visit to India in 1969, had said: "I
have had relation with Darul ‘Uloom since the time the Shaiykhul-Hind, Maulana
Mehmud Hasan, was alive. Sitting here, we used to make plans for the
independence movement, as to how we might drive away the English from this
country and how we could make India free from the yoke of slavery of the
British Raj. This institution has made great efforts for the freedom of this
opposition of the Deobandis to partition was based on the view that in the
present times, nations are formed on the basis of homeland and not based on
ethnicity or religion.
Barelvis on the other hand supported the British, did not join the freedom
movement and were strong supporters of Jinnah and the Muslim League. According
to Barelvi sources, Raza Ahmad Khan Barelvi mooted the idea of Pakistan even
before Iqbal and Jinnah, and this was based on his extreme distaste for living
under Hindu leadership. The Barelvis participated in movements which made
partition inevitable and migrated to Pakistan in large numbers. (Ref: The Light By Professor Dr.
Muhammad Masud Ahmed. Published by Idara-i-Tahqeerat-e-Imam Ahmad Raza.http://sunnirazvi.net/library/booklets/light.htm)
influence of Deoband outside India
Darul Uloom Deoband
was founded in 1866 and has no links to “Deobandi madrassahs” outside
India but such institutions, no matter where they are found in the world, can
trace their ideological and methodological roots to the core Deoband, which may
be referred to as the “mother” institution.
Darul Uloom Deoband is second only to Al-Azhar
university of Egypt in importance and influence. It is known to be the largest
Islamic Seminary to attract students from all over the world. The foreign
students have gone on to found many similar mandrasas across South Asia and
further afield. The followers of this school of theology are often described as
followers of the Deobandi school of thought.
To this day, no alumnus of the Darul Uloom
Deoband, has ever been implicated in violent struggles anywhere and not a
single student has ever been convicted of a crime in India.
its Indian birthplace, the Deoband movement has aroused controversy and become
entangled with complex sectarian and political conflicts but inside India, it
continues its quiet and benign existence as a centre of Islamic knowledge and
reformist Islamic thought.
Pakistan has been witness to drastic changes starting from
the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the involvement of the
governments of Saudi Arabia, US and Pakistan in preparing armies of civilians
called the “Mujahideens” for waging “jehad” against the aggressors. Since
religious justification was used to prepare civilians for war, madrassas best served
the purpose for indoctrination. Since Saudi Arabia were funding the effort and
they consider the Sufi/Barelvi, the Shia and the Ahmediyas as heretics, their
madrassas were left out and only the Madrassas belonging to the Jamat-e-Islami,
the Ahle-Hadith, the Salfis and the Deobandis were chosen.
The Barelvis opportunistically claim that they were left out
because of their peaceful Sufi ideology which is far from the truth. The
Barelvis have a record of violence during the partition of the country, when
the Deobandis on the other hand, played no role in it, having opposed partition.
Before the Deobandi movement of the 19th century they were all the
same - call them Sufis or whatever. As a matter of fact everyone was a Sufi
including the Kings. The conquest of India can itself be considered as a Sufi
conquest. Indians with their caste sysem tend to think of Sufis as equivalent
of Brahmins and the Kings as equivalent of Kshatriyas. There is no such
division in Islam.
Even if you consider the case of Deobandis of Pakistan, out
of 46 major Deobandi parties in Pakistan, 10 are militant in nature, with
jihadist and sectarian agendas. Moreover, these militant parties do not enjoy
popular support from the mainstream religious clergy. Even on the issue of
support for the Taliban, there are diverse contradictory views within the major
Deoband political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. A large faction of the party,
led by Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani and Khaleed Somroo, remained critical of
the Taliban, even when they were in power in Afghanistan. In 2007, concerning
the Lal Mosque issue in Islamabad, most of the Deobandi clerics from
religious-political parties and the Madressah Board had denounced the
activities of the students. (Source: Muhammad Amir
Rana, Perspectives on Terrorism, 2008).
Maulana Hassan Jan a leading Sunni Deobandi cleric of Peshawar was
the first among three ulema martyred by the terrorists for their opposition to
terrorism. He was the vice president of Wifaq ul-Madaris, the largest board of Islamic madrasas of the Sunni Deobandi
sub-sect of Islam which clearly shows that a majority of the “Deobandis” of
Pakistan oppose terrorism, extremism and even “jehad” by armies of civilians.
Please see the article in NAI “Jihad vs Terrorism” in which Dr
Farooq Khan, who may be considered a Deobandi, argues forcefully quoting
Maulana Maududi and Mufti Muhammad Shafi Deobandi
that there is no concept of ‘Jehad as war’ in Islam that can be waged by
private armies and individuals, and all such activities are outside the pale of
Islam and such groups are “terrorists” and not “Mujahideen”. Incidentally and tragically, Dr Farooq is
also a martyr to the cause of fighting terrorism.
Not only does Darul Uloom Deoband have nothing to do with the
ideology of the current day “Jehadists”, but the majority of the so called
Deobandis of Pakistan also actively oppose terrorism on a strong doctrinal
basis founded in Deobandi ideology.
The so called Deobandi Madrassas that have allowed themselves to
be converted into schools producing “Jehadists” may be called “Talibani” rather
than spoil the fair name of Deoband and the Deobandis. Mislabeling only helps
the extremists to spread confusion. They need to be isolated completely from
the majority of peaceful `Deobandis’ and dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Dear Naseer Ahmad saheb, you should have given the full picture. While the Sunni-Sufis or Ahle Sunnat wa Jama't took inspiration from the spiritual discourses of Shah Waliulllah, the Deobandis and Salafis or Ahle Hadisis were influneced by the religio-political thoguht of Shah Waliullah.
You could have stated the above fact honestly and clearly, if you had also reproduced the following two paragraphs from the same website, which are followed by your quoatations:
"The practical culmination of the religio-political thought of Sha Wali Ullah….[a] movement of religious purification and political revolution...[The movement marker] the progress of his Shah Wali Ullah’s program from theory to practice, from life contemplative to active, from instruction of the elite to the emancipation of the masses, and from individual salvation to social organization. (Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment)
The program of 'religious purification' was spelt out in detail in Muhammad Ismail’s Taqwiyat al-Iman (Strengthening of Faith), written in Urdu in 1820s and dealt with the centrality of the concept of tauhid (Allah’s transcendental unity), and denounced popular devotional ritual at shrines and other beliefs or practices regarded as shirk (polytheistic). As the name ‘Tariqa-e Muhammadiyya’ indicates, its leaders took as their model the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). The term ‘tariqa’ (sufi way of path) did not mean, however, that this was a new sufi order; rather, the leaders preached faithfulness to the prophetic sunna."
The Deobandis who were in Sufi terms
primarily Chishtis but shared Shah Wali Ullah’s affiliation to the Naqshbandi
order, also saw him and his successors as a ‘source of spiritual blessing’.
Finally the ‘ulema’ followed Shah Wali Ullah’s lead in their efforts to provide
moral guidance to the Muslim community.
The Deobandi renewal movement
was centered on the Darul-Ulum in Deoband, Saharanpur district and was
dominated in its early years by Maulanas Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi (1829-1905)
and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (1829-1905). These two men were united by a friendship
that went back to the 1840s when they had both been private pupils at Delhi
College and both became disciples of Hajji Imdad Ullah Makki (1817-99) in the
Chishti order (and secondarily in the Qadiri, Naqshbandi, and other
orders).Their common commitment to the reform of customary ritual practice, and
to an emphasis on hadis scholarship in the Shah Wali Ullah tradition, further
cemented the relationship.
1867, following the Revolt and the subsequent desolation of Delhi, both joined
in founding the Darul-Ulum in Deoband. As muftis (jurisconsults, one who issues
fatawa), the ‘Deobandi’ ulema attached great importance to the writing of
fatawa as a means of providing moral guidance and instruction at the personal
level. According to Barbara Metcalf, the fatawa reflected the Deobandi’s
concern for religious reform in the following important ways:
Fatawa in general reflected three underlying principles: to revive lapsed
practices such as undertaking the hajj and permitting widows to remarry,
second, to avoid fixed holidays like the maulud/milad-un-nabi [birth
anniversary] of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), the urs
(death anniversary) of the saints… and the elaborate celebration of Id [a Shia]
practice; and, third to prevent optional practices being made obligatory – for
example, the reading of certain passages in supererogatory prayers or the
distribution of sweets upon the completion of the reading of the Quran. On this
foundation the reformers built, point by point, to convey to their followers
the conviction that they conformed to the sunnat.
Shah Wali Ullah, the Deobandi ulema also integrated Sufism into their lives. In
their role as Sufi guides and masters, they sought ‘to influence people to
conform to the sunnat’, and emphasized aspects of sufi belief and practice that
reinforced the reformist message they sent out. The Deobandi’s insistence that
the prophetic sunna be the measure of approved belief and action indicates that,
as for the Tariqa-e Muhammadiyya of the early 19th century, so for them the Prophet
Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) was the ultimate model and
exemplar of human conduct. He was also the object of spiritual devotion,
approached through the experience of discipleship to a personal Pir. The
Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) intervened directly in the lives
of the Deobandi ‘ulema’, appearing to the in dreams, giving guidance, and
sanctioning their educational work at school.
centrality of the prophetic model was expressed rather differently by the
followers of the renewal movement of the Ahle Hadis, initially calling
themselves ‘Muhammadi’ to emphasize the importance they attached to the
Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) example, they later used the
name Ahle Hadis in response to criticism that they were exalting their
relationship with the Prophet over that with Allah. They believed that Muslims
should act in accordance with the injunctions of the Quran and the prophetic
sunna recorded in hadis, bypassing the opinions of the four Sunni law schools
as embodied in fiqh (jurisprudential) scholarship. It is better to study the
sources directly in light of the application of qiyas (analogy) and ijma
(consensus), as the founders of the law schools had themselves once done, they
argued, than to depend on commentaries, etc.
approach to the religious tradition, as Barbara Metcalf notes, could hardly
have come been advocated for the uneducated. The Ahle Hadis leadership consisted
overwhelmingly of the well-to-do and the well-connected people who had the
necessary learning to interpret the texts unaided. The Ahle Hadis preference
for direct access to the sources of religious authority was also transparent in
their disapproval for Sufism, believed to be a ‘danger to true religion’.
respect, as in their rejection of taqlid (authority of the Sunni law schools),
they differed dramatically from the Deobandis who, like the majority of Indian
Sunni Muslims, were followers of the Hanafi School. Yet these two groups to
some extent had common intellectual roots in their affiliation to the Delhi
reformists of the Shah Wali Ullahi family, in their disapproval of ritual
practices such as Urs and other shrine-related practices. The Ahle Hadis also
had friendly relations with certain Arab Muslims, which were followers of the
reform movement of Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab of Arabia (Wahhabi’s).