The Deobandi Group: Origin and Beliefs

Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid states that:” The Deobandi group is a group of Muslims that 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 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. It 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 Sheikh Imdadullah al-Muhajir al-Makki and his student, Sheikh Muhammad Qasim an-Nanatuwi, and their companions drew up a plan to protect Is
lam 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 Shari`ah in India at the time of British rule.

The most prominent figures of this intellectual school included: Muhammad Qasim, Rashid Ahmad al-Kankuhi, Husayn Ahmad al-Madani, Muhammad Anwaar Shah al-Kashmiri, Abul-Hasan an-Nadvi, and Al-Muhaddith Habib ar-Rahman al-A`zami

Thoughts and beliefs

With regard to basic tenets of belief (`aqidah), they follow the school of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi.

They follow the school of Imam Abu Hanifah with regard to fiqh and minor issues.

They follow the Sufi orders (tariqahs) of the Naqshbandiyyah, Chishtiyyah, Qadiriyyah and Saharwardiyyah with regard to spiritual development.

The thoughts and principles of the Deobandi school may be summed up as follows:

1) Preserving the teachings of Islam and its strength and rituals.

2) Spreading Islam and resisting destructive schools of thought and missionary activity.

3) Spreading Islamic culture and resisting the invading British culture.

4) Paying attention to spreading the Arabic language because it is the means of benefiting from the sources of Islamic Shari`ah.

5) Combining reason and emotion, and knowledge and spirituality.