Darul Uloom Deoband

Darul Uloom Deoband

The Darul Uloom Deoband is an Islamic school , where Deobandi Islamic movement was started. It is located at Deoband, a town in Uttar Pradesh, India. It was founded in 1866 by several prominent ulema, headed by Al-Imam Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi. The other prominent founding scholars were Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi and Haji Syed Abid Hussain. The institution is highly respected in India and other parts of the Indian Subcontinent.

The scholars at Darul Uloom Deoband had opposed establishment of a religious government (such as in Pakistan) and had opposed the demands of Muslim League led by Jinnah. Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, who was also Mohtamim or principal of Darul Ulum Deoband and led the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind, the most prestigious organization of the Ulema, saw nothing Islamic in the idea of Pakistan. 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." The school, even though it advocates an orthodox version of Islam, has repeatedly distanced itself from religious militancy.


In 1857, the British East India Company put down a rebellion by disparate north Indian forces, conducted in the name of the otherwise powerless Bahadur Shah Zafar. Emperor Zafar became the last Mughal Emperor, for he was deposed the following year and exiled to Burma, with many of his sons -- princes of the decadent dynasty -- put to death. This marked a seminal moment for Indo-Islamic consciousness, specifically for the established Muslim elites of north India, who tended to view 1857 as the end of their political preeminence and the beginning of what could be a dark period of Muslim history in India.

In this situation, a group of learned theologians, lead by Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi, established the Darul Uloom Seminary in the town of Deoband, north of Delhi, in order to preserve and train the youth with Islamic knowledge. The pedagogical philosophy of Deoband was focused on teaching revealed Islamic sciences, known as manqulat, to the Indian Muslim population, following in the Hanafi tradition. In this seminary, Nanautavi instituted modern methods of learning: classrooms, fixed carefully selected curriculum, very learned faculty for different subjects, exam periods, prizes, a publishing press etc. He consciously decided to divorce it from political/governmental participation. Instead, the faculty instructed its students primarily in Urdu, which was the lingua franca of the urbanised section of the region, and supplemented it with study of Arabic (the repository of Muslim theology) and Persian (the fountainhead of Indian Muslim culture); in due course, it also unwittingly cemented the growing association of the Urdu language with the (north) Indian Muslim community.

Its over 15,000 graduates have gone on to found many similar maddrassas (schools) across South Asia and farther afield; the followers of this school of theology are often described as followers of Deobandi school of thought.

Pattern of education

Deoband's curriculum is based on the 17th-century Indo-Islamic syllabus known as Dars-e-Nizami. The core curriculum teaches Islamic law (shariah), Islamic jurispridence (Fiqh), traditional Islamic spirituality (known as tasawwuf, which is the practice of Sufism), as well as several other fields of Islamic study.

The current syllabus consists of four stages. The first three stages can be completed in a total of eight years. The final stage is a post-graduate stage where students specialize in a number of advanced topics, such as the sciences of Hadeeth, Fiqh etc.

Impact of Deoband school

Many Islamic schools through out modern India and Pakistan - and more recently in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, South Africa as well as in hundreds of other places throughout the world - are affiliated or theologically linked to Darul Uloom Deoband. Famous seminaries have been established by its graduates, e.g. Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow, Madrassah In'aamiyyah Camperdown, near Durban in South Africa, and Darul Uloom Karachi in Pakistan. As the official website of Darul Uloom proclaims in a flowery language, 'the whole of Asia is redolent with the aroma of this prophetic garden.'

India's Independence Movement

In 1926, the group who called complete independence for Indian in the meeting of the Jami'atul-Ulama-e-Hind at Calcutta were the graduates of Darul-Uloom, Deoband. Indian National Congress declared complete independence three years later in its session at Lahore.

Abdul-Gaffar khan, during his visit to India in 1969, during a visit to Darul-Uloom, had said

"I have had relation with Darul-Uloom since the time the Shaikhul-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".

Alumni scholars

The Deoband school of Islamic Sciences has been producing great scholars across the globe. It rose to become the most esteemed institution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some of the notable ones are as follows:

Recent developments

The original institution went through a turmoil on the day of its centennial celebrations in 1977 and two independent Darul Ulooms came into existence ultimately; both follow the same school of theology, but have different patterns of management. The original premises were taken over by the followers of Asad Madani, whose son still runs it today. A new institution was built by the original founder's great grandson, Muhammad Saalim Qasmi, on the outskirts of Deoband, with the same name, but with the word "Waqf" ("social trust" in English) added to it, which makes its management accountable to an over view by the Muslim community, as per its proponents. Madani's taken over institute has virtually become a private university, according to its critics.

Condemnation of terrorism

In February 2008, an "Anti-terrorism Conference" organized by the seminary Darul Uloom in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, denounced all forms of terrorism, saying "Islam prohibits killing of innocent people," and "Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism." The conference also denounced widespread attempts to blame religious Muslims for terrorist incidents.

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