Deobandi dignitaries started struggle against the Imperial Subjugation on Indo Subcontinent at that time when nobody dared to breathe a word against British Rule. There seemed no solution of this problem to be found.
The predicament of the Indians was unspeakable. Whenever the history of the movement of India for independence is discussed, the names of the brave Deoband leaders are taken with great reverence and honour. Irony of fate is that today Deoband School of thought is the leading faction among all Muslim sects that is leading from the front in all extremist activities, inside Pakistan as well as outside.
The matter of fact is that today’s’ Deoband Ecclesiastes have entirely forgotten the lesson which was taught by their leaders in the past. Here is the brief sketch of few leading Deoband scholars who have rendered commendable services for Islam as well as for the Muslims.
Hanooz Nadand Rumooz-E-Deen, WarnaZa Deoband Husain Ahmad! Aen CheBu-ul-Ajabi As
The Ajamites(non arabs) do not yet know, The fine points of our faith;Otherwise Husain Ahmad of Deoband! What is this foolhardiness?
But the irony of fate is the Deobandi Ulema have strong conviction that all Muslims are a single nation regardless of their geographical, political,cultural and historical backgrounds. They have forgotten the lessons of their own mentors and senior religious scholars. Maulana madani said.
But today , the deoband clerics not only consider democracy as kufar , but are also famous for their atrocities against these communities.
Maulana Ubaid Ullah Sindhi was one of the leading religious scholars from Deoband school of thought. He was the protégé of Maulana Mehmoodul Hasan. He assisted his Mentor in organizing and launching a well planned struggle ” Silk Letter Movement ” against the Imperial powers. In this regard Maulana went to different countries. He visited USSR where the Marxist Revolution was at its conceptional stage. He was welcomed as a special guest there. When he offered his regular prayers , the socialists never stopped him although the practice of religious rites wasn’t allowed. The other socialists were confused more than ever as they could not believe if they were the die hard socialists or the Maulana. The Maulana tried to convince them that there was no other organized system to run a government but Islamic. They inquired Maulana if he knew any place in the world where Islamic system was quite functional with great success. Maulana Sindhi was speechless and failed to answer their queries about Islamic system and Islamic laws. They said this system was a theory and just confined within a Book. According to some sources (including Dr.Israr Ahmad ,he returned to India as a Socialist). The deobandies today, declare socialism as kufar.
There is none other than Abul Kalaam Azaad in the Indo Pak history who was par excellence in wisdom, erudition and clarity of thought. The nation aspire for such leaders and wait for centuries to have one like Abul Kalaam. He was an esteemed literary figure, poet, religious scholar and a unique statesman. Although he was not directly from the Deoband dignitaries yet he very much impressed the Deoband Ulema during the Khilafat Movement and got a very glorified place in their eyes. In the Freedom Movement against British Imperialism, Abul kalam Azaad’s voice was given attentive ears by these Deoband Scholars. He was holding a strong relation with Jamiat e ulemae Hind and he also contributed to introducing many Deoband Ulema to Political horizons in india. He was a secular and believed in Indian nationalist Struggle. But it is ironical that today’s Deobandi Cleric considers Secularism as an Un islamic and a western thought.
This movement was primarily meant for paving the path between Deoband School of thought and The Aligarh Movement. Its focal point was to have a blend of Theology and Rationality in Indian Muslim community. The pioneers of this movement were Maulana Mahmood ul Hassan ,Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi , Maulana Shibli Naumani and other scholars. Apart from Deoband School of thought, there were also other scholars from other schools of thought who joined hands with these Deoband ulema.
Maulana Habibur Rehman Sherani and Maulvi Hussain Batalvi represented Ahle Hadith(salafi) school of thought. Maulvi Ghulamul Hasnain was the focal person from Shia Sect. No other than Deoband school of thought did this great service for the Muslims of India. Our hearts bleed when today we see the genocide of Shia people in the hands of Deobandi Muslims. These people are absolutely detracted and oblivious of the true message of the Deoband Scholars. I request that please ignore these morons and study the books that carry the contributions made by the true Deoband religious Scholars. Their services and sacrifices can never be forgotten and the Sub-continent owe them a lot regardless they belong to any religion sect or tribe. We can disagree with them religiously but I think it would be inappropriate not to accept their sacrifices as far as Indian independence is concerned.
For instance, the Zam Zam Society (ZZS) is affiliated to the Deoband School of Wahabi Islam that draws its sustenance from Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Most of the Islamist militant outfits active in Af-Pak region like the Afghan Taliban which is active in Afghanistan, Pakistan Taliban which is drawing blood in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and its parent outfit, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which are mostly India centric, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Tehrik-I-Jafria Pakistan (TJP), and Tehrik-I-Nifaz-I-Shariat-I Mohammadi (TNSM), which are all Pakistan based subscribe to Deobandi fundamentalism and Wahabi Islam.
For example, candidates supported by both the Pakistan Peoples Party and the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) will be contesting elections under the banner of the ‘Awam Dost’ group.
“Awam Dost is a term that has been used by the PPP since the first elections were held on non-party basis during the Zia regime in 1985,” said PPP Islamabad President Syed Sibtul Hassan.
However, ASWJ Islamabad Spokesperson Hafiz Uneeb Farooqi also laid claim to the ‘Awam Dost’ name, saying that this had been used by the party in the past and they had already launched an election campaign under this banner.
Simultaneously, their counterparts from the Deobandi sect are also fielding candidates under the banner of ‘Rahe Haq’ or as part of the ‘Awam Dost Group’, if elections are indeed held on a non-party basis.
Deoband dignitaries started their struggle against the imperial subjugation of the Indo-Pak subcontinent at a time when nobody dared to utter a word against the British rule.
The predicament of the Indians was unspeakable. Whenever the history of Indian independence is discussed, the name of the brave Deoband scholars is taken with great reverence and honour. The irony of fate is that today the Deoband school of thought in Pakistan is heavily involved in extremism.
In the following lines we shall discuss the contribution of the Deoband school to the Indian communities.
Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani, a student of Shiekh-Ul-Hind Maulana Mahmood Ul Hassan, was a religious scholar who supported the Congress’ struggle for a united and secular India where all the communities were equal in the eyes of law. He taught hadith at Darul Uloom Deoband. He was given the title of Shaikh ul Arab wal Ajam (The sheikh of Arabs and Non-Arabs). He said:
“All should endeavor jointly for such a democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam”
As Indian independence approached in 1947, Maulana Madani stood as a staunch opponent of those calling for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Instead, he wrote, argued, and campaigned for the position that Muslims could live as observant Muslims in a religiously plural society where they would be full citizens of an independent, secular India. His importance rests in his being both a political activist and an influential scholar who made Islamic arguments to support his position. Maulana Madani’s life and thought thus challenge common assumptions about the incompatibility between Islam and democracy. More fundamentally, his life serves as an example of the varied and pluralistic ways in which traditionalist Islamic scholars can engage with their scholarly tradition to address the political and social issues of their day.
Maulana Madani opposed Pakistan as someone deeply committed to a Muslim presence in the whole of India. He couched his argument within the framework of modern territorial nationalism, asserting Muslim indigeneity and ties to the land. He thus challenged Hindu “communalists” who marginalized non-Hindus in their vision of Indian nationalism. In this, he also broke with Muslim separatists ready to sever their tie to the larger territory. In taking this position, he, like other Indians, moved beyond historic patterns of de-territorialized loyalties in favor of the modern commitment to national belonging defined by homeland.
Maulana Madani argued that India had had an Islamic presence from the beginning of human history; that the blessed soil of India was the repository of centuries of deceased holy men; and that India was Indian Muslims only and beloved home. To those who attacked him as a “slave” of Hindus who sacrificed the interests of Islam, he replied that he in fact visualized Islam’s true interest. Only by remaining within India could Muslims fulfill their obligation continuously to present the message of Islam to others. Far from seeing Pakistan as ushering in an Islamic utopia, he joined others in the Congress in dismissing its aristocratic and “feudal” leadership as reactionary in contrast to the progressive (taraqqi pasand) orientation ofthe nationalists. He had a strong debate with Allama Muhammad Iqbal on whether the identity of a nation depends upon its land or religion.
The Allama wrote a poem “Hussain Ahmad” in “Armaghan-e-Hijaaz’’, his book of verses in Persian:
Hanooz Nadand Rumooz-E-Deen, Warnaza Deoband Husain Ahmad! Aen Che Bu-ul-Ajabi As Saroad Bar Sar-E-Minbar Ke Millat Az Watan AstChe Bekhabar Za-Maqam-E-Muhammad(S.A.W.) Arabi Ast
[The Ajamites (non-Arabs) do not yet know, the fine points of our faith; Otherwise Husain Ahmad of Deoband! What is this foolhardiness?
A sermon-song from the pulpit that a nation by a homeland be! From the real position of the Arabian Prophet (PBUH), how sadly unaware is he!]
But the irony of fate is the Deobandi Ulema today have strong conviction that all Muslims are a single nation regardless of their geographical, political, cultural and historical backgrounds. They have forgotten the lessons of their own mentors and senior religious scholars. They also consider secularism as ‘kufr’.
Maulana Ubaid Ullah Sindhi was one of the leading religious scholars from Deoband school of thought. He was the protégé of Maulana Mehmoodul Hasan. He assisted his mentor in organizing and launching a well-planned struggle “Silk Letter Movement” against the imperial powers. In this regard Maulana went to different countries.
He visited USSR where the Marxist revolution was being conceived. He was welcomed as a special guest there. When he offered his regular prayers, the socialists never stopped him although the practice of religious rites wasn’t allowed. The other socialists were confused more than ever. The Maulana tried to convince them that there was no other organized system to run a government but Islamic. They asked the Maulana if he knew any place in the world where Islamic system was quite functional with great success. Maulana Sindhi was speechless and failed to answer their queries about Islamic system and Islamic laws. They said this system was a theory and just confined within a book.
According to some sources (including Dr Israr Ahmad) he returned to India as a socialist. The Deobandies today, declare socialism as “kufr”.
Abdul-Gaffar Khan while addressing the students of Darul-Uloom, during his visit to India in 1969, said:-
“I have had a relation with Darul-Uloom since the time the Shaikh-ul-Hind Maulana Mahmood 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 English. This institution has made great efforts for the freedom of this country”.
When the Al Saud dynasty was destroying the famous shrines of companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Deoband scholars were against it. People like Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and other scholars launched a campaign against it. But today Deoband scholars are die-hard fans of the extremist Saudian dynasty and are willing to protect their interests.
Others say preachers stoke the division. Most of the country’s 27 Muslim seminaries are Deobandi, a purist form of South Asian Islam. Once a minority among Pakistanis in Britain, with the young this puritanical tendency is gaining ground against the Barelvi tradition, whose colourful customs reflect the popular religious practices of Pakistan.
As something of a disclaimer, I must confess that my understanding of the Quran and Islamist politics is more disappointing than I would wish to admit. However, the barrage of coverage we have received about Islamic extremism in recent years has given me the opportunity to come to my own conclusions. While these terrorists certainly prescribe to a convoluted form of Islam, I do believe a majority of them have read the Quran, which others wish to contend. Critically, I believe their literalist interpretation of the Islamic holy book is fuelling their abhorrent ideology. This demonstrates that more needs to be done to address the manner in which Muslims are taught to read the Quran. Ultimately, Imams and community elders need to be emphasising to their congregations that the literalist interpretation of going out and killing kafirs or infidels, a derogatory term for non-Muslims, is simply unacceptable.
Though I’ve no doubt that many Mosques in the United Kingdom and across the world are doing laudable and effective work in combating Islamic extremism, there’s certainly a distinct number, especially amongst the Deobandi sect, a highly conservative strand of Islam, which continue to preach a divisive message. In the UK, this encourages members of their congregations to reject our democratic, secularist traditions which have long allowed us to be a country of religious tolerance and multiethnic harmony. Ultimately, while these terrorists are certainly Muslims, they are clearly uneducated ones. All the same, as Muslims endowed with a considerable understanding of the Quran, they are damaging their faith’s ostensibly peaceful reputation.
Madrassas come in many shapes and sizes: much as Christians go to Sunday school, almost all Muslims have learnt to read the Qur’an in a madrassa. Some of these seminaries are as small as a single class room. Others, like Darul-Uloom in Karachi and Deoband in India are more like universities. These larger schools are typically well funded thanks to tax free donations by wealthy individuals and organisations that claim donations as their ‘zakaat’ – part of their obligation as Muslims to give alms to the poor.
For parents mired in poverty and forced to work long hours with limited breaks, madrassas serve a vital role in ensuring their children are supervised, fed and taught to read and write. They have played this role in the subcontinent since at least the 11th century when Islam spread to the region. In more recent centuries, they have bred major schools of Islamic thought. The towns of Bareilly and Deoband in modern day India, for instance, are the sites of two of the most influential schools of Islamic thought in South Asia.
Indeed Deoband and the Deobandi stream of Islam founded there becamevanguards of Muslim resistance to the British rule from the 19th century onwards. Then many clerics condemned their communities’ self-appointed religious leaders for toadying to foreign occupiers. Madrassas quickly became a focal point for charged discussion and debate.
This is readily apparent in the writings of many ulama. Take, for instance, the following statement of Ashraf Ali Thanwi, a leading early 20thcentury Deobandi alim:“It is, in fact, a source of great pride for the religious madrassas not to impart any secular (duniyavi) education at all. For if this is done, the religious character of these madrassas would inevitably be grievously harmed. Some people say that madrassas should teach their students additional subjects that would help them earn a livelihood, but this is not the aim of the madrassa at all. The madrassa is actually meant for those who are passionate about their concern for the hereafter(jinko fikr-i akhirat ne divana kar diya hai)”.
Unfortunately our ruling elites have not only failed to learn any lesson from the debacle of East Pakistan but they have redoubled their efforts for imposing religious extremism as policy for nation building after 1977. They haven’t hesitated from co-opting extremist Deobandi/Wahabi sectarian ideologies to bulldoze ethnic and cultural diversity. Huge investment of dollars and petro-dollars in propagation of religious extremism during Afghan war has played havoc with our society. Talibanization of Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and now Balochistan and Sindh is clear evidence of this phenomena. Our official history books are devoid of any information about great civilizations of this soil like Indus Valley, Gandahara and Mehargarh. Even the tolerant Islamic traditions of Sufism that travelled to South Asia from Central Asia through the areas that constitute Pakistan do not find any mention in history books. The result is the rise of religious extremism and militancy that has the potential for destroying us as a state and society.
Allah (SWT) used the word “Muslman” for the Ummah of Muhammad (PBUH). Muhammad never used such words as Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi, Barelvi, Wahabi, Deobandi, Sunni, Shi’a etc. for his followers. He always mentioned us as one Ummah, the Ummat-e-Muhammadi. The Quran has warned us again and again against sectarian divisions:
“And hold firmly, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves”
The Zia regime became a litmus test for popular fiction digests. The ones that could afford to, paid bribes to the official and unofficial enforcers of morality. Inam Raja – artist, illustrator and the person behind most of the provocative covers of Sabrang – tells me how distributors had to bribe representatives of a prominent Deobandi madrasa in Karachi to be able to put Sabrang issues on public display in the city’s Binori Town neighbourhood. Every other territory had similar moral racketeers who needed to be paid off.
The groups belonging to the Barelvi and the Deobandi schools of thought initially had a heated argument over members of the mosque’s management committee and then resorted to firing into the air, said South SSP Dr Mohammad Farooq Ahmed.
The officer said that the dispute between the groups over Moti Masjid management was going on for more than eight months.
The majority of madrassas follow the Deobandi doctrine of Islam — an orthodox Sunni school of thought heavily influenced by Wahhabism. Most organisations that adhere to Deobandi — Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Majlis-e-Ahrar, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and the Taliban — have been proven to be part of terrorist activities.