As-salāmu alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
There will be two groups of Muslims reading this blog:
- Rest of Muslims
The rest, I have been warning about these matters for over a decade. It is still time to reflect and speak to Ulama to turn away from this strategy which is fundamentally flawed and damaging to the credibility of Ulama.
Now to the topic
Many of the readers were not part of Salafiyya in the 1990sand may not any memory or (historical) knowledge of the events from 1990s to the middle of 2000s.
Salafiyyah (in the West) spread like wildfire acrosscommunities and Mosques. Its adherents went from Mosque to Mosque challenging, admonishing and chastising common Muslims on their practise of Islam. Sons were advising fathers and daughters were advising mothers that they are not part of the saved sect and their tainted Islam needed to be rescued from the clutches of cultural clichés, disinformation and ignorant scholars. The Salafi activists marched onwards from one community to another resolutely satisfied that they were on the right path and others needed to be rescued.
Soon, they ran out of targets, so they turned on each other.When you are resolutely certain about your own belief and piety, the belief and piety of others is suspect. It started out with sincere advice and Dawah towards pristine Islam in private and quickly turned into refutations, super refutations in the form of elaborate and deliberated pdfs. Scholars were asked to take side and their approval of pdfs carried every greater importance.
Once the pdfs were delivered on a massive scale, it was timefor personally targeting individuals, activists, scholars and organisations. This was one of the significant factors which ripped theheart of Salafiyyah in the west.
There has been an undercurrent of DeoCons within theDeobandees who believe that individuals, activists and Ulama have moved away from the Maslak of the elders. In the past, Ulama were largely spared and respected but individuals and activists were mercilessly put down as opposing the Maslak of the elders.
DeoCons have run out of targets or have been largely ineffectiveso now the target are the Ulama and the era of Deobandi pdf refutations has truly begun. The DeoCons feel that the Maslak of the elders is being eroded and must be protected at all costs and they are the true inheritors and vanguards of Deoband.
Two years ago, an article came out in refutation of anotherarticle by a well-known (knowledgeable and pious Deobandi Mufti). I happen to know both Muftees personally and both made equally good academic points in their respective Fatwaas. Both Muftees know about each other and share several on-line groups. I asked the second one as to why he didnt discuss the Fatwa with the second one and did he tried to understand the point of view of the first one? The answer was No and the reason for him writing on the topic was due to concerns raised by some of the Ulama. I asked the first one if he would be willing to have a meeting with the second one to discuss the matter privately and confidentially and he didnt really have a problem with it. The second
Mufti didnt have an issue with the meeting either but some of the DeoCons advising him so he refused the meeting, the DeoCons continued to spread the article.
Both Muftees and their articles were written in good faithand from an Academic point of view but the spreading by others was not done with similar intentions.
Gradually, these pdfs are becoming personal, nastier and vindictive.
- When two Muftees disagree, their discussion and thenresponses to each other leads to greater Academic understanding. It serves as a model for laymen to follow and to resolve their own disagreements
- When two Muftees disagree and write pdfs against each other,it leads to erosion of the credibility and trust of Ulama in the hearts of the
It is feasible, practical and possible for opposing sides to sit together discuss their issues and try to reach some sort of a compromise. Deobandees have forgotten how to move forward with consensus and to reach compromises with each other (let alone with those outside the Maslak). Our Deen is based on reconciliation and Shura and not on (publicly) throwing mud at each other in the hope that it sticks. Reconciliation takes time, effort and above all sincerity, writing pdfs is a much simpler task and forwarding it on WhatsApp is even easier.
I have been involved in facilitating reconciliation between people, Ulama, organisations and it is no easy task, both sides end up giving something in return for the greater objective of unity and achieving consensus. The call of the DeoCons is that unity itself is not the objective but uniting upon the truth should be the objective. This is true but the supposed position of the ONE or FEW of elders of the Deoband is not the
criterion of truth in Islam.
Never has been.
There were no winners of the pdf wars among Salafiyyah andthere will be no winners among the Deobandees. The extreme Salafiyyah became Madkhalees and are on the brink of extinction. Those who think of themselves as the vanguards of Deoband have become DeoCons and their influence is also on the decline. The Madkhalees have caused irreparable damage to Salafiyyah and the DeoCons are now doing the same to Maslak of Deoband. Laymen simply follow what they see in practise (and not what they read in pdfs). When they see their Ulama who have ready access to each other, refuting each other on Social Media and through pdfs, they will also follow. It is not too late for Ulama to pull back from the brink and show laymen on how to discuss differences and most importantly work together to achieve the greater good despite the differences but this requires commitment, dedication and hard work while firing pdfs at each other is easy!
The language, toner and mannerism of these pdfs will periodically get even harsher because laymen will slowly turn away from these refutations and in an attempt to capture ground, the perpetrators will have no choice but to even become harsher in their critique.
In the UK, the DeoCon industry comprises of a handful ofscholars and their followers who will continue to defend what they perceive to be the Maslak of Deoband with the utmost sincerity. I know many of them have no doubts about their sincerity but they cannot see the irreparable damage which is being caused by them to the credibility, prestige and status of the Ulama in the hearts of the people.
This trend can be reversed by Senior Ulama by not beingpartisan and to facilitate discussion and reconciliation in the face of differences. It is natural to those outside of Deeni circles to discuss, argue and debate (fiercely) but not lose sight of the bigger picture. Most professionals get in a room and argue with others with opposing views all the time and almost on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, after decades of experience, I have yet tosee consensus building and reconciliation amongst the Deobandees (in action). Plenty of talks but no practical examples, once differences start they just bigger and bigger.
This blog is not about agreeing with each other or keeping silent about differences. Its about the detrimental impact of airing the differences in a counterproductive manner.
P.S: Some of you may say that the matter of arguing for the sake of Dunya and Deen are different and should not be conflated. I have yet to see a single pdf from Deobandees which is written on an issue which is of primary importance to Islam, it may be of primary importance to individuals
P.P.S: Can we get the old blog back because this format is horrendous!