"But now many deobandis more or less have been forced to admit, at least by practice, that all of them used to be wrong on those issues and the 'akabir' had all got it wrong."
We have not lived in the times of the akabir, and so we do not know their true value.
Even within the deobandi school of thought, there have always been differences of opinion on various matters. One example is the practice of Juma'a in villages. We have verdicts of both permissibility and impermissibility from our akabir. They formed their opinions based on their ilm and taqwa, neither of which we can fault.
There will always be some in the Ummah who will be the "ghuraba" (strangers). They will uphold the deen without bothering about the "laumata laa-im" (adverse opinions of people).
We should be grateful they existed, so that people would have someone to point to and say, "Those were the rijalullah (men of Allah swt)."
This is the problem. Instead of calling out your akabir for their bigotry you lionise them instead. And then you guys wonder what is the cause of so much Hazrat worship amongst yourselves.
Your akabir were respectful and tolerant of difference of opinions amongst themselves only. But when it came to differences of opinions outside deobandism there was no tolerance and respect.
The Jumuah example you mentioned is a good one. I'm sure your akabir didn't regard each other fasiq over that one did they? But when it came to valid difference of opinions outside deobandism, such as the beard or photos, there was no respect or tolerance. I recall some pretty harsh stuff from the deobandis in general not too long ago. Anyone without a beard or even a trimmed one is a fasiq, regardless of what madhab he's from, despite the fact that majority of Hanafis around the world don't hold the same opinion as deobandis. Anyone seen on television instantly became a fasiq. His testimony no longer accepted. If he had khilafat, it was terminated with immediate effect, and so on.
There's a deobandi mosque where the main Imam used to criticize and even mock the salafis for letting women in the mosques. Today that same mosque makes announcements boasting how many women came to their Taraweeh prayers. It's good that they've moved on from their akabir's misogynistic views, but I can't understand why they still insist on lionising their akabir just like you and most other deobandis do.
Why do your akabir have to be proven wrong on an issue before you guys start respecting differences of opinion on that particular issue?
It wasn't only on these couple of examples but on many other issues where the vast majority of Hanafis, Shafi'is, Malikis and Hanbalis differ with them. By all standards they should be regarded as bigots. But for deobandis there's one standard for themselves and their akabir, but a completely different standard for everyone else.
It's now proven and accepted that your akabir were all wrong on photos, the supposed consensus on the beard, women issues, and many other issues, but not many deobandis have the guts to criticise their akabir because Hazrat worship is very very strong amongst deobandism.
If you confront deobandis regarding their akabir's error and bigotry, instead of swallowing the bitter pill, you get the same tune you just sung now about the akabir being very "pious", "ghuraba", "rijalullah". But piety isn't just about doing lots of salah and staying away from dunya. It's also about tolerance and respecting valid differences of opinion especially if held by the majority of Hanafis and other Muslim scholars around the world.
It wouldn't have mattered much today if your akabir were long forgotten having passed away years ago. But the problem is that many deobandis today still treat their akabir as if they're the standard to measure truth with, and so you get their bigotry and intolerance carried forward even right till this age.
I wouldn't dwell on the Akabir and what they did. They said and did what they did in their context and situation at that point in time. Yes if any clearly made an error , there is no problem in saying that.
The problem is when one comes today and insisits on certain opinions while ignoring and condemning other opinions, despite such opinions being totally valid according to other Ulama and Madhabs, just because one would be going against the way of the Akabir.
You might not dwell too much on them but the problem is a whole lot of deobandis do. They don't just eulogise their akabir but virtually worship them. So obviously the bigotry and misogyny of the akabir will filter through to this generation, along with the Hazrat worship too.
To dismiss their intolerance and bigotry to context and place is a cop-out to be honest. It's no point people complaining about Hazrat worship amongst deobandis when the elephant in the room is brushed away under the carpet.
What's context got to do with treating people as fasiq just for appearing on television when the whole world of scholars had already accepted photography as completely valid for so many decades? Or the supposed consensus of all four madhabs that one who shaves his beard is a fasiq, especially when there's always been a sizeable shafi'i population in India?
It's only because many deobandis idolise their akabir so much that it took many decades for deobandis to finally accept that all of them were horribly wrong on that issue. So the idolatry is the problem and needs to tackled head on, not brushed away.
Otherwise it could be many more decades before deobandis also leave their current bigotry over the supposed consensus on the beard, trousers above ankles, women issues, milad, and many other issues where scholars from all four madhabs had accepted long ago to be a valid difference of opinion, but the akabir (all of them!) had held on fanatically to intolerance right till their passing away.
You need to get out a little more, especially out of that little indopak bubble you've made for yourself. The world doesn't revolve around deobandis and barelvis. There's quite a large world out there outside the indopak region where there are many great scholars from all madhabs. And on many issues they tend to agree, or at least respect the difference of opinion, unlike your akabir did.
Photos was just used as an example because you deobandis have no choice today but to admit that your idols were guilty of wholesale bigotry and intolerance on that issue. But that's not the only issue where your akabir showed their bigotry, intolerance, and misogyny. When you eulogise and worship your akabir so much you'll obviously get a significant amount of deobandis (like yourself) carrying those attitudes of bigotry and intolerance into this age.
The funny thing is that most of you still insist on lionising your akabir not realising (or pretending not to) that you'd also be regarded as fasiq and misguided by them on many counts.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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