Praise be to Allaah.
The Deobandis are one of the groups of Muslims. This group is
connected to and named after the University of Deoband – Dar al-Uloom – in
India. It is an intellectual school of thought that is deeply rooted, and
everyone who graduated from that university was influenced by its academic
characteristics, so that they became known as Deobandis.
The University of Deoband was founded by a group of Indian
‘ulamaa’ (scholars) after the British had put a stop to the Islamic
revolution in India in 1857 CE. Its establishment was a strong reaction
against western advancement and its materialistic civilization in the Indian
Subcontinent, aimed at saving the Muslims from the dangers of these
circumstances, especially when Delhi, the capital, had been destroyed
following the revolution and the British had taken full control of it. The
scholars feared that their religion might be assimilated, so Shaykh
Imdaadullaah al-Muhaajir al-Makki and his student Shaykh Muhammad Qaasim
al-Nanatuwi, and their companions, drew up a plan to protect Islam and its
teachings. They thought that the solution was to establish religious schools
and Islamic centers, thus al-Madrasah al-Islamiyyah al-Arabiyyah was
established in Deoband as a center for Islam and Sharee’ah in India at the
time of British rule.
The most prominent figures of this intellectual school:
Rasheed Ahmad al-Kankoohi
Husayn Ahmad al-Madani
Muhammad Anwaar Shah
Al-Muhaddith Habeeb al-Rahmaan
Thoughts and beliefs
With regard to basic tenets of belief (‘aqeedah), they follow
the madhhab of Abu Mansoor al-Maatreedi.
They follow the madhhab of Imaam Abu Haneefah with regard to
fiqh and minor issues.
They follow the Sufi tareeqahs of the Naqshbandiyyah,
Chishtiyyah, Qaadiriyyah and Saharwardiyyah with regard to spiritual
The thoughts and principles of the Deobandi school may be
summed up as follows:
Preserving the teachings of
Islam and its strength and rituals.
Spreading Islam and resisting
destructive schools of thought and missionary activity.
Spreading Islamic culture and
resisting the invading British culture.
Paying attention to spreading
the Arabic language because it is the means of benefiting from the sources
of Islamic sharee’ah.
Combining reason and emotion,
and knowledge and spirituality.
See al-Mawsoo’ah al-Muyassarah fil Adyaan wal Madhaahib
Because the Deobandis follow the Maatreedi madhhab with
regard to belief (‘aqeedah), we have to define what al-Maatreediyyah is:
This is a philosophical (kalaami) group which is named after
Abu Mansoor al-Maatreedi. It is based on using rational and philosophical
proof and evidence in disputes with opponents from among the Mu’tazilah,
Jahamiyyah and others to establish the truths of religion and Islamic
‘aqeedah (belief). With regard to sources, the Maatreediyyah divide the
bases of religion into two categories depending on the source:
1 – Divine or rational: these are matters which are
established independently by reason and the reports follow that. This
includes issues of Tawheed and the Divine attributes.
2 – Legislative matters or transmitted reports, These are
matters which reason states may or may not exist, but there is no way to
prove rationally that they exist, such as Prophethood, the torment of the
grave and issues of the Hereafter. It should be noted that some of them
regarded Prophethood as coming under the heading of rational issues.
It is obvious that this is contradictory to the methodology
of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, because the Qur’aan, Sunnah and consensus of
the Sahaabah are the sources of guidance in their view. This is in addition
to their bid’ah (innovation) of dividing the sources of religion into
rational matters vs. transmitted reports, which was based on the false
notion of the philosophers who assumed that the religious texts contradict
reason, so they tried to mediate between reason and the transmitted reports.
This led them to force reason into fields where it has no place, so they
came up with false rulings which contradicted sharee’ah, and that led them
to say that they did not know what the texts mean and that only Allaah knows
their meaning, or to misinterpret them altogether. In the view of Ahl
al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, on the other hand, there is no contradiction
between sound reason and the sound transmitted reports.
See al-Mawsoo’ah al-Muyassarah fi’l-Adyaan wa’l-Madhaahib
Attitude of Ahl al-Sunnah towards the Maatreediyyah
It was narrated from the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) that this ummah would split into seventy-three sects,
all of which would be in the Fire apart from one. The Prophet SAWS (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained that the saved group is the
Jamaa’ah, which is the group that follows the same path as the Messenger
SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his Companions.
Undoubtedly Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, who adhere to the
Qur’aan and Sunnah in terms of both knowledge and actions, are the saved
group, and this description applies to them, i.e., they adhere to that which
the Messenger SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his
Companions adhered to in terms of knowledge and actions.
It is not sufficient for an individual or group merely to
claim to belong to the Sunnah whilst going against the methodology of the
salaf, namely the Sahaabah and Taabi’een. Rather it is essential to adhere
to their methodology in knowledge, action, approach and spiritual
The Maatreediyyah are one of the groups whose opinions
include true and false views, and some things that go against the Sunnah. It
is known that these groups vary with regard to the truth, how near or far
they are; the closer they are to the Sunnah, the closer they are to the
truth and the right way. Among them are some who went against the Sunnah
with regard to basic principles, and some who went against the Sunnah with
regard to more subtle issues. There are some who refuted other groups who
are farther away from the Sunnah, so they are to be praised with regard to
their refutation of falsehood and what they have said of truth, but they
have overstepped the mark in so far as they have rejected part of the truth
and gone along with some falsehood. So they have refuted a serious bid’ah by
means of a lesser bid’ah, and refuted falsehood with a lesser form of
falsehood. This is the case with most of the philosophers (ahl al-kalaam)
who claim to belong to Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah…”
(From the words of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah,
There remains one important question to be answered, which
is: what is our duty towards the Maatreediyyah and groups who hold similar
beliefs such as the Deobandis and others?
The answer varies according to differences in the persons
If someone is stubborn and propagates his bid’ah, then we
must warn others about him and explain where he has gone wrong and deviated.
But if he does not propagate his bid’ah and it is clear from his words and
actions that he is seeking the truth and striving for that purpose, then we
should advise him and explain to him what is wrong with this belief, and
guide him in a manner that is better; perhaps Allaah will bring him back to
the truth. This advice is included in the words of the Prophet SAWS (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Religion is sincerity (or sincere
advice).” We [the Sahabah] asked, “To whom?” He said, “To Allaah and His
Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common
(Narrated by Muslim, 55).