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Deobandi movement


The Deobandi (Urdu: دیو بندی devbandī) is a Sunni Islamic revivalist movement which started in India and has more recently spread to other countries, such as Afghanistan, NWFP, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The name derives from the town of Deoband, (Uttar Pradesh) India, where the school Darul Uloom Deoband is situated. Deobandis follow the fiqh of Abu Hanifa and the Aqidah of Abu Mansur Maturidi.


Deobandi thought has five main principles, which are:

  1. Tawhid: Abrahamic Monotheism (of God); no one shares His attributes.
  2. Sunna: Following the methodology of Muhammad.
  3. Ħubbus-Sahaba: Following the methodology of companions of Muhammad.
  4. Taqlid wal-Ittibā: Giving preference to the jurisprudence of one of the earliest jurists of Islam over that of later jurists.
  5. Jihād fī Sabīlil-Lāh: Doing Jihād (Striving for the good, in the name of God)


The Deobandi movement developed as a reaction to the British colonialism in India, which was believed by Muslim theologians to be corrupting Islam. Fearing its consequences, a group of Indian Hanafi Islamic scholars (Ulama) led by Qasim Nanotwi founded an Islamic seminary known as Darul Uloom Deoband. It is here that the Islamic revivalist and anti-British ideology of the Deobandis began to develop.

While the scholars at Darul Uloom Deoband in India itself have been supporters of a secular government in India, its branches in Pakistan have supported militant Islamism.

Gradually, through organisations such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Tablighi Jamaat, their influence began to spread, and hundreds of schools and Darul Ulooms affiliated with Deoband sprouted. Notable Hanafi seminaries of Deobandi school include: Nadwatul-Ulama in Lucknow, India and Darul Uloom Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.

Early Deobandi scholars include Nanotwi, Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi, Husain Ahmed Madani, Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, Ilyas Khandhelawi, Ubaidullah Sindhi, and Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi.


Prominent Scholars

Prominent Deobandi scholars today include Mufti Taqi Uthmani, Grand Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani,Hadhrat Hakim Akhtar, Maulana Tariq Jamil, Mufti Ibrahim Desai (South Africa), Mufti Saeed Ahmad Palanpuri (Deoband, India), Mufti Ibn Adam and others. All these scholars stay far away from politics and concentrate more on islamic scholarship and spirituality.

Prominent Members

Some famous people who have joined the Tablighi Jamaat (a movement founded by Deoband Maulana Muhammad Ilyas) are Pakistani cricketers Shahid Afridi, Inzamam ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Saqlain Mushtaq, former Pakistani cricketers Saeed Anwar and Salim Malik and famous pop star Junaid Jamshaid. Also the south african batsman Hashim Amla.

In the United Kingdom

According to The Times, about 600 of Britain's nearly 1,400 mosques are run by Deobandi affiliated clerics, and 17 of the country's 26 Islamic seminaries follow Deobandi teachings, producing about 80 percent of all domestically trained Muslim clerics.

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.

Controversy and Criticism

Taliban The Taliban are said to follow the teachings of the Deoband school, although some journalists, such as Ahmed Rashid, claim they follow a simplistic version of the school's teachings.Conflict with Barelwis Some Barelwi leaders have pronounced takfir on Deobandis for writings deemed to be against the Quran and Sunnah. In May 2001, riots broke out in Pakistan after the assassination of a leader of the Barelwi movement by Sipah Sahaba Pakistan, a Deoband-affiliated group. Barelwi activists have forcibly taken control of several dozen Deobandi and Salafi Mosques between 1992 and 2002, with methods that have often sparked violence. This appears to be a reaction to the prolonged systematic take-over of their mosques by the Deobandis through the missionary wing, Tablighi Jamaat. Salafi Criticism Salafi scholars criticise Deobandis for:

Cash for fatwas scandal Following a sting operation, StarTV Channel showed clerics belonging to Darul Uloom Deoband demanding and receiving cash for fatwas. The fatwas issued allegedly mandated that Muslims are not allowed to use credit cards, double beds or camera-equipped cell phones; that Muslims should not act in films, donate their organs or teach their children English; and that Muslim girls should not wear jeans.

The seminary's vice chancellor, Marghoobur Rehman, said cleric Mufti Habibur Rehman was suspended from the fatwa department on Sunday after the television report, according to a Press Trust of India news agency report. He has been re-instated as the matter cooled down, with full powers.

The vice chancellor said a committee would investigate the matter and, if found guilty, the cleric would be sacked.

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