Deobandies and Wahabis.

Q. On a particular website, it says that Deobandies are the same as Wahhabis. Are these lies on this website? There is also a review of a book called Takwiyat ul Iman on which Shayk GF Haddad has given a review. He says there: Ismail Dihlawi was the first of the Wahhabis of India to forward the heresy of imkan kadhib or the possibility of lying – (on the part of Allah Most High and was imitated in this belief by the Deobandis Shaykhs’ Ahmad Rashid Gangohi Id. 1323/1905) in his Fatawa-e-Rashidia and his apologist Khalil al-Saharanfuri (d. 1927) in his al-Barahin al-Qatia.

Who is SF Haddad?

A. I have looked at the sites you have indicated to and have found that the articles posted there are filled with a lot of information connected to innovations and teachings which are opposed to the truth as established in the true teachings of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.

The statement that ‘the Deobandies are the same as Wahabis’ is a lie and a fabrication which has no basis and cannot be proven.

It is clear that the Deobandis are hated and disliked by the propagators and inviters to Bid’ah (innovation) since they (the Deobandies) have stood firm against innovations.

I have also seen that the word ‘Deobandies’ has been used by many to refer to a ‘sect’ of Muslims, and people who have their own ideologies and teachings.

As such, we see a lot of criticism and ill statements filled with slanders and false allegations being levied against a group of people who is referred to as ‘deobandies’. Many ignorant and uneducated ones have also started to use this ‘name’ for Muslims who may not even know about the word ‘Deobandi ‘.

This grave wrong has come about because of the wrong information which is normally posted on the web pages of the internet.

It would not be an exaggerated statement to say that a person can find whatever he/she wishes on the internet. If one wishes to find good statements about an individual he can find it on the internet. If he wished to find bad statements about the same individual, he can also find it.

It is this abundance of mixed information posted on web pages which has brought about a great amount of confusion, doubts and deviations to many innocent Muslims who simply want to follow the truth.

Names of authors appear on articles who are totally unknown. Uneducated people discuss issues which they have no knowledge about. Fake names and pseudo names are used to hide the true identity of mischief makers. Criticism and condemnation are deemed to be the normal writing style of many and are used to deter Muslims from relying upon true, sound and authentic scholars. It seems that many have become students of the confounded internet, hence they continue to be confused and doubtful even when the truth comes to them.

There is no doubt that the internet is beneficial in this day and age, however, when it is used for wrong purposes, one has to be very careful about what he /she accepts randomly from the different web pages. In order to safeguard one self a person must rely on authentic, sound and genuine scholars, who are known to have graduated in the field of Islamic learning and whose learning and ability have been endorsed by other accepted scholars. Having done so, a person may communicate with such scholars to answer their questions and also clarify issues which need clarification.

Having said this, I wish to say, that many of those who have written against ‘Deobandies’ have done so because they themselves are propagators of innovations, hence they would not accept anyone who speaks against innovations. Or they have randomly accepted articles and information from other writers who themselves cannot verify through proofs and evidences the truth of what they have written.

A historical analysis of what or who are ‘Deobandies’ proves to be totally different from what critics have written about them. With respect to ‘Deobandies’, it should be understood that this is not a sect of Muslims or a group of Muslims living in India.

‘Deoband’ is a town, north of Delhi in the Uttar Pradesh state of India.

In 1857, the British East India Company put down a rebellion by disparate north Indian forces. The uprising led by the muslims failed and Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal Emperor) was deposed the following year and exiled to Burma. At this time, many of his sons were put to death. With this defeat, the muslims were falling victim quickly to a universal feeling of dejection and self pity.

Encouraged by the victory of the British arms, the Christian missionaries had begun openly to say that India was a gift and a trust of Jesus, and it was now their bounden duty to strive for the propagation of Christianity in the land with all vigor and earnestness. The muslims on the other hand, were caught in spiritual and moral confusion and they were becoming progressively ignorant of their faith under the influence of western culture and education. It was feared that their future generations will be lost, for all practical purposes to Islam. They will be having nothing in common with the Islamic shariah, moral system and civilization. In these circumstances, the courageous and far sighted Islamic scholars awoke to the need of establishing theological institutions which could keep alive the link of the rising Muslim generations with their faith and also be instrumental for the preservation and promotion of Islamic religious and moral knowledge.

It was with this deep worry and concern that a Darul Uloom in the town of Deoband was established. Beginning in a modest way in 1866, the worthy institution started its career in a small mosque as a primary madrasa run by a local Muslim known by the name of Haji Muhammad Abid.

Thereafter the Darul Uloom made a steady progress till it blossomed into a big Islamic university, or, rather the biggest Seat of Muslim religious learning in the whole of Asia which accommodated 1500 students at one time. For its magnificent progress and development it is indebted mainly to the courage, fortitude and religious fervour of Maulana Qasim Nanotui who was associated with the institute from the very beginning. In the later years of his life, the Maulana ungrudgingly devoted his entire time and energy to its advancement. The Darul Uloom has been most fortunate in enjoying the services and patronage of earnest workers and high souled teachers from its earliest days with the result that the spirit of piety, humility and selfless endeavour has become a part of its existence.

The entire education system and effort of the Darul Uloom in Deoband was based upon reviving, preaching and propagating the true teachings of Islam by holding on to the teachings of the holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.S). In this respect, they clinged on to the path of the Salafus Saliheen (pious predecessors from among the sahabas, the Tabieen and the Tabiut Tabieen). In protecting and preserving the Sunnah, they made great efforts in weeding out innovations from the religion and also rebutted the charges which were levied against Islam by critics.

The Darul Uloom of Deoband also focused a great deal on the aspect of Tazkiyatun Nafs, that is, self reformation and rectification of the individual. In doing so, it imbibed in the students, the qualities of sacrifice, piety, humility, simplicity and total submission and obedience to Allah.

Studies at the institute comprised of in depth and extensive studies in all areas of Islamic sciences.

The establishment of this seminary in the land of Deoband and its stability is the result of a concerted effort and endeavour of the Muslim of the sub- continent.

Great scholars, tradionist, jurisconsults, authors and experts of other Islamic sciences were produced from this institute.

One outstanding effort of the scholars of Darul Uloom Deoband was the defense of the true teachings of Islam. In this regard, they fought against all those sects which tried to influence the Muslim with ideologies foreign to Islam. As such, besides defending Islam from the doctrines of shiasm, qadianism and others, they also fought against the innovations which had crept up against the Muslims. They strove arduously to eliminate innovations from the beliefs and practices of muslims and they held firmly to lifting the banner of the sunnah of the messenger of Allah (S.A.S.).

It was at this point in time when Ahmad Raza Khan of Bareili, the main propagator of innovations in India, initiated attacks upon the scholars of Darul Uloom Deoband. He was the first to use the word ‘Wahabi’ for them because they fought against the innovations which he had concocted.

During this time, Ahmad Raza fabricated lies and fabrications and circulated them among the people so that he may tarnish the good name of the scholars of Darul Uloom Deoband. He eventually sent these lies to the Muftis of Makka and Madina as a query, seeking their advice about people who held such beliefs.

Upon receiving the query, the scholars of Makka and Madina who were acquainted with the scholars of Darul Uloom Deoband wrote a letter to them seeking their clarification of the issues involved. The scholars responded to the letter and the truth became manifest as to the deceitful tricks of Ahmad Raza Khan. The ulamaas of both Makka and Madina then wrote letters to the scholars of Darul Uloom Deoband endorsing what they had written to be in conformity with the blessed teachings of Islam.

The scholars of Deoband then compiled a book comprising the lies which Ahmad Raza Khan had written to the Saudi scholars, their answers and endorsements of the ulamaa of Makka and Madina and named it ‘Al Muhannad wal Mufannad.’

With respect to the statement made against Shah Ismail, it is a lie and a fabrication. Shah Muhammad Ismail (born 1779 AD) was a very great scholar who followed in the footsteps of his great grand father Shah Waliullah (one of the greatest scholars of the Indo-Pak continent).

While speaking of the great knowledge of Shah Ismail, Maulana Muhammad Khan Alam Madrasi has written on the authority of Maulana Saiyid Muhammad Ali Ranpuri’s statement that Shah Ismail was a scholar of a very deep, profound and authentic knowledge and had memorized the Noble Qur’an at the tender age of eight years. He had thirty thousand Ahadith on the tip of his tongue.

The era of Shah Ismail was filled with a great amount of practices of shirk and innovations by many common Muslims. With the dominance of the Hindu faith and practices, some of their rituals, beliefs and philosophies were easily creeping into the practices of many of the ignorant and illiterate Muslims.

Taking these into considerations, Shah Ismail’s religions sense of honour and the intergrity of his faith could not tolerate the chosen religion of Allah to be infiltrated with and gnawed by concepts which were alien to Islam.

It is with such pure objectives, Shah Ismail became very active in defending and upholding the true and unadulterated teachings of Islam, A gist of his tireless efforts can be ganged from the writings of Ghulam Rasool Mehr. He writes, ‘Maulana Shah Ismail became obsessed with the task of reformation and guidance day and night. On every Tuesday and Friday, he regularly delivered a religious lecture in the Shahi masjid (Royal Mosque in Delhi). Sir Saiyid says in one of his writings that the people came to the Friday prayers in such a large number, as if they throng the mosques for the Eid prayers in the form of a massive and thundering crowd. Their number was phenomenal and innumerable. The method of his lectures was so pleasing that whatever he said, got ingratiated in the hearts of the people and they imbibed it to the cone. Even if it involved a snag or a controversial point. The same was cleared away during the course of his sermon.

Revival of Sunnah and deterring shirk and Bid’ah (innovations) were the special subjects of his religious lectures. This was the time when the mission of the revival of religion commenced in full swing with all its might. This was the era about which Maulana Abul Kalam Azad notes the following remarks in his book ‘Tazkirah’.

‘The secrets of (the mission of) Da’wah and reformation of the Ummah that were buried in the ruins of Old Delhi and the hovels and huts of Kotla (name of a Place), were now being revived. Thanks to the involvement of the reigning sovereign, which caused a wave of consternation in the markets of Shahjahanabad and an uproar on the stairs of the Jami masjid by this great and distinguished person, (Shah Ismail). Not only that, the news transcended the boundaries of the Indian subcontinent and had its repercussions far and wide. The things which the great and renowned personalities of their time would not dare to express even inside the closed rooms, were now being said, heard and practiced in the open without reserve.

From these writings from sound and authentic writers, it can be seen that Shah Ismail was indeed a great warrior of Islam. He exerted every moment of his life in upholding the truth and the revival of Islam. He was very firm upon the Sunnah and the revival of the true teachings of Islam and was also very firm in uprooting the innovations which had crept into the practices of the Muslims. In this regard, he wrote many books on different subjects of which the book Taquiyatul Imaan has a unique position. The subject matter of this book is that of Tauheed, one which is the foundation and the basis of religion. He also brought to light the true status of all the unlawful customs and rituals, which were commonly practiced in the society and were detrimental to the requirement of Tauheed. He gathered under different topics all the horrible blunders of faith and practice which are contrary to the teaching of Islamic Monotheism.

Due to the fact that Maulana Ismail Shaheed (A.R.) was one who was totally opposed to innovations and fought strongly against it. We find that the propagators of Bid’ah wrote against him, levying many different charges upon him.

The truth in the light of historical facts and in consideration to the teachings of Islam is that Maulana Shah Ismail Shaheed was a great scholar of truth who sacrificed his life for the establishment of truth. Charges and allegations made against him are all lies and fabrications and are totally unfounded.

As for GF Haddad, I have not seen his qualifications nor have I seen where he has studied. However I have been able to view a few articles of his which propagates a lot of innovations.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan