Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
Shaykh Imtiaz Damiel (HA) is a Scholar from Abu Hanifah Foundation in Blackburn (UK). I don't live in Blackburn so I don't have the complete details on the issue but I am aware that the respected Shaykh (HA) and the organisation and their general attempts to cater for the Deobandees in the community.
It has always been known (to me) that he isn't a Deobandi and Salafi leaning and I don't know how and why the Muslims in Blackburn simply go for an organisation named "Abu Hanifah (RA)" which is obviously a deliberate attempt to woo the local community in which it operates in. I am sure that the Shaykh (HA) will say that Abu Haneefa (RA) was from the Salaf and Deobandees don’t have a copyright on his name (and they don’t) but I am certain that selecting this name was a deliberate decision (and they are entitled to it) and there is nothing Haram in it.
Ulamah have done some analysis on his Aqai’d and put forth a publication highlighting some of his problematic beliefs which can be read here.
To me, this is only a strand of a strategy.
The real problem is the lack of professionalism in Deobandi institutes which pushes the people into seeking their knowledge from organisations such as Al-Maghrib or Abu Hanifah foundation etc. The real question is that Deobandees were the first to setup institutes in this country so why have they fallen so far behind that others are able to blitzkrieg them in terms of quality, professionalism and delivery. One can attend dozens of Deobandi conferences, Majalis, programs up and down the country and the distinct lack of professionalism, coherence, lack of delivery and disconnect from the masses can be felt and that’s the real problem which needs addressing.
In Bosnia last year I was told by the locals about Peace TV and Dr Zakir Naik and their 2 hour daily dawah in local language. Balkans has been a traditional Hanafi heartland and a stone’s throw from the UK and can be easily serviced by many Darul-uloom and hundreds of British Ulamah but Deobandees have ZERO presence there apart from a few charity missions. Same goes for much of Europe!
But ignore Europe for the time being and lets return to UK.
Glitzy pamphlets, posters, websites and catchy titles won’t bridge the gap and an overhaul is needed as to how Deobandees interact with the masses because they are being hit in their “traditional heartlands” like Leicester, Bradford, Bolton, Blackburn by these new institutes which are agile, nimble, professional and able to connect and form rapport with the masses particularly the younger generation.
Until then there will be one Shaykh Imtiaz Damiel (HA) or Dr Zakir Naik after another who will sense a gap and communities will turn to them for Service.
I digress and let’s return to the issue at hand. In my opinion, Ulamah have made the right choice in highlighting these matters and Shaykh Imtiaz Damiel (HA) and the foundation should clearly outline that:
- They are not Ashari/Maturidi, in fact they are Anti Ashari/Maturidi in Aqeedah
- They are not tolerant of Tassawuff as practised by majority of Deobandees and particularly in Blackburn
- They don't believe in Hayat-e-Dunyawi of Sayyidina Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam)
- And other matters which are discussed in the pdf
There is always room in Islamic Shariah for differences of opinions and once the local community has clear ideas about their position then can make conscious better informed choices , as it stands at the moment many of our innocent brothers and sisters are simply falling for “Abu Hanifah Foundation”!
The Ulamah are correct in pointing out the matter to the masses and may Allah (SWT) reward them in this world and the next (Ameen).
Addendum: This leaves us with the question of Deobandi Ulamah, Darul-uloom graduates and Huffadh who teach and serve this organisation, I leave the question to their moral conscious because they are obviously part and parcel of the legitimacy being enjoyed by this organisation. They need to dig deep and ask themselves if they feel comfortable with their role in laymen admitting their little Abdullahs and Ayesha in “Abu Hanifah Foundation”!
Shaykh Imtiaz Damiel (HA) has the right to hold an opinion which he deems to be in conformance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah but the community also has the right to know that this opinion is clearly divergent to the ethos and Manhaj of Ulamah of Deoband. Those Ulamah and graduates serving this institute must also reflect on their role as laymen innocently merely go for the name and presence of these Deobandees in the institute.
We live in an age of confusion and chaos, sometimes deliberate and sometimes unintentional. Allah (SWT) knows what the hearts of men hold and we are neither required to pry nor issue judgements on the hidden but we are required to operate in clear, transparent and straightforward manner.
[33:70] O you who believe, fear Allah, and speak in straightforward words.