Media Discourse on Deobandi Terrorism – From 18th March 2016 to 30th March 2016


UK prisons chief defends Muslim chaplains over ‘disgraceful’ extremism claims

Middle East Eye

18 March 2016

The head of the UK prison service has rejected speculation that a top Muslim adviser stands to lose his job for recruiting chaplains from the conservative Deobandi denomination as a result of a forthcoming government report into extremism in jails.

Writing to senior prison officials this week, Michael Spurr, the head of the National Management Offenders Service (NOMS), also criticised media reports quoting anonymous government sources suggesting that Deobandi chaplains held views that were “contrary to British values and human rights”.

Spurr highlighted a particular article published by the Sunday Times newspaper on 6 March which said that Ahtsham Ali, NOMS’s Muslim adviser responsible for selecting imams in the prison service, was under scrutiny because 70 percent of chaplains were from Deobandi backgrounds.
Spurr said it was “hardly surprising” that a majority of Muslim chaplains were Deobandis because a majority of Muslims, mosques and seminaries in the UK were linked to the Deobandi tradition, which originated in southeast Asia in the 19th century.
He also said it did not follow that to be a Deobandi was to reject British values, citing a report by school inspectors in which a major Deobandi seminary was commended for promoting respect and tolerance of other faiths and cultures and striving to produce “exemplary British citizens”.
A report into extremism in prisons commissioned by Justice Secretary Michael Gove last year is due to be published later this month, with an “anonymous senior Whitehall official” quoted by the Sunday Times suggesting that the review would flag up the number of Deobandi chaplains as a cause for concern.

Muslims divided on PM’s Sufi show

India Times

Mar 24, 2016

It is no secret that Maulana Rahmani, a distinguished figure in scholarly circles, runs the Deobandi-leaning Islamic seminary Al Mahad al Aali al Islami in Pahadisharif. His concerns reflect those of a great number of Muslims who fear that the World Sufi Forum, notwithstanding its important resolution against terrorism passed on the last day, would widen the gulf between Deobandis and Sufis. The Sufis or Barelwis gravitating to the Centre as a ‘power centre’ would make the other Muslim group vulnerable. And, what if even a fraction of the innumerable followers of elite mashaikheen vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections in 2017 and later in 2019? If so, it would set a precedent that would not suit the larger interests of the Muslim community.

It is an uncanny parallel. While the Congress still courts the Deobandi-leaning Muslims of the Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, the BJP, on account of the Forum, appears to be extending its support to Sufis and Barelwis. What is to be seen is how long this new found friendship will last and whether it will trickle down from Sufi guide to disciple. More importantly, who it will benefit from and at what cost.


The airport assault should give Junaid Jamshed cause for introspection as fault-lines grow within Sunni Islam

Umer Ali


How on Earth would Junaid Jamshed Deobandi even have thought of what happened to him last night? A small Barelvi group who landed in Islamabad last night to attend the chehlum of Mumtaz Qadri roughed Junaid Jamshed up at the airport.

Punching and kicking him, they chanted ‘Labaik Ya Rasoolullah’ while abusing Junaid Jamshed in the same breath. “We have been looking for him,” said one of the ‘vigilantes’. Junaid Jamshed was accused of having committed blasphemy against the Prophet’s wife, Aisha last year.

Since he is a Deobandi himself, ‘thaykedaars’ of this cause, Sipah-e-Sahaba or ASWJ remained silent. One of the lead Deobandi cleric Mufti Naeem even publicly acquitted him of any charges and Tariq Jameel pleaded forgiveness for him.

“The ideology of takfir is rooted deep in the Barelvi sect as it dates back to their spiritual founder, Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi. He wrote a book, Hussam al haramain consisting of his fatwas, said to be endorsed by ulema of Mecca and Medina. In this book, he held Deobandis for not giving Prophet Muhammad the due respect and thus accused them of heresy.”

With Dictator Zia backing hardline JI, Deobandi and Ahle Hadith organizations for Afghan Jihad, their influence started spreading in Pakistan as well. The initiation of Sipah-e-Sahaba in 1985 was a clear sign of the Zia government giving a free hand to sectarian Deobandis. The trend continued with Kashmir Jihad as well with Deobandi and Ahle Hadith organizations getting the major funds.

Barelvis, who constitute the majority population of Pakistan felt left out. Ilyas Qadri, with his Dawat-i-Islami resisted the growing influence of SSP in Karachi but didn’t succeed. Salim Qadri, a more radical of Barelvi clerics parted ways with Dawat-i-Islami to form Sunni Tehreek, which he described was formed to resist Deobandi influence and reclaim the mosques which he said were once Barelvis.

Skirmishes with Deobandis became a normal in Karachi and Hyderabad until Salim Qadri’s death by the hands of SSP terrorists which led to full-scale sectarian riots in 2001.

State’s resolve to deal these zealots with iron hand became clear with Qadri’s execution – the moment of fame for all religio-political parties. With Barelvis being the leaders, Deobandis, Ahle Hadith, Jamat-i-Islami and even some sections of Shias followed the lead – protesting his death. To much of their disappointment, media, the staircase to fame, blacked them out. Totally


Lahore bombing is faction’s boldest bid to stake claim as Pakistan’s most violent terrorists

The Guardian

28 March 2016

The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, like the broader Pakistan Taliban, follow an extremist branch of the rigorously conservative Deobandi strand of Islam which, along with equally intolerant schools of practice influenced by those in the Gulf, has made major inroads in Pakistan in recent years at the expense of more open-minded local traditions.


Group styles itself as ‘real’ Pakistan Taleban

Strait Times

Mar 29, 2016

The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, like the broader Pakistan Taleban known as Tahreek-e-Taleban, from which it split in August 2014, follows an extremist branch of the rigorously conservative Deobandi strand of Islam.

Extremism feeding the terrorism

Marvi Sirmed


On one hand is the Deobandi-Ahl-e-Hadith-ideology-inspired outright terrorism, on the other is violent extremism based on Barelvi school of thought. There is yet another challenge of non-violent extremism, mainly propagated by the likes of Tableeghi Jamaat, which has strong potential of turning into violence any time.

All such groups ranging from the Deobandi ASWJ to Barelvi Sunni Tahreek to Shia Majlis-e-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM), have been taking out rallies in support of Army till late. It was not long ago when even the blasphemy law was used against a media house when it had to be taught lesson for going against the army’s policies. One was waiting to see firm action against and complete separation of the state from these groups when both the PM and the COAS repeatedly assured us of their seriousness in curbing all kind of terrorism. Unfortunately, none of them appears to be realising how the thin line between radicalisation and violent extremism is rapidly dissolving. And how violent extremism is creating space for the acceptability of terrorist narrative.

Looking retrospectively, security establishment has been the fountainhead of all kinds of religious zealotries be it Deobandis, Ahl-e-hadith, Tableeghis or Barelvis. These groups were used to ‘balance out’ the undesirable political actors. Both civilians and the security establishment must refrain from using religious zealots for political advantage. Convert your CT plan into a comprehensive program including Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) and Counter Radicalisation (CR). Before that, people would keep dying and Pakistan would keep becoming a laughing stock.


Tracing the footprints of terrorists in Punjab province since 9/11

Sabir Shah

The News

March 29, 2016

The sect-wise distribution of the seminaries showed that most schools followed the Barelvi school of thought with 6,606 madrassas (3,656 registered and 2,950 unregistered) aligning themselves with the sect. It was followed by the Deobandi sect with 6,106 seminaries (3,092 registered and 3,014 unregistered) across the province of Punjab.

On October 7, 2004, a powerful car bomb left 40 people dead and wounded over 100 during a Sunni Deobandi rally in Multan to commemorate the death of Maulana Azam Tariq, an assassinated leader of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.


Who is leading this sit-in?

Kalbe Ali


March 29, 2016

Incidentally, his party is on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum as the similarly-named Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) – formerly known as the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan – which belongs to the Deobandi school of thought.