Deviant Beliefs

A call to Deobandi-Barelwi unity? Fatwas from two leading Deobandi institutes

What say the scholars of the faith and muftis of the firm Shari’ah about the following matter. For almost the past two years this difference is increasing day by day and the people associated with the elders of Deoband are being divided into two factions. Therefore, guide us by writing a detailed answer that is supported with proofs and with references to books to the following issues: Is the Deobandi and Barelwi difference of a peripheral nature (furu’i) or of a fundamental (usuli) nature and in beliefs? One group says that the controversy is of a peripheral nature and that the hard stance taken by our scholars and elders of Deoband was temporary and momentary since both parties are from the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, adhere to the Hanafi madhhab and to the beliefs elucidated by the Asha’ris and Maturidis, and in tariqah follow the right path.

Principles of Hadith

Hadiths reported by Sufis

Scholars have not given credence to the [hadith] reports of Sufis, as these respected people, due to their preoccupation with acts of devotion (‘ibadat), are unable to fully dedicate themselves to [the seeking of] knowledge. This is why their reports are littered with errors and confusions. Likewise, their husn al-zann (good opinions regarding others) is to such a degree that they do not even make critical analysis and, consequently, accept any spoken word without investigation. This is why their reports contain weak, rejected and fabricated hadiths in abundance.

This becomes evident after seeing Abu Talib Makki’s Qut al-Qulub and the works of Imam al-Ghazali, Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami and others.

Contemporary Voices

Clearest Rational Argument for the Existence of a Creator

The following six step argument has been formulated with the modern skeptic and atheist in mind. Drawing from the works of Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him) and others, each premise is accompanied with an explanation of the exact ‘manner of deduction’ (kayfiyyat al-wazn), so the reader may appreciate exactly what is being done. Using only intuitively deductive modes of argument which have their origin in the Qur’an and which no sane human being can reject, the argument seeks to establish an Entity attributed with necessary existence (ithbat al-wajib) and attributes of perfection such as life, will, power and knowledge, and also free of resemblance to the creation in any way which would allow one to pose the question, Who created him? This will all be done based only on universally accepted absurdities (musta’hilat). Certain areas where the doubt casters attempt to undermine our proof have been given extra attention. Most major objections have been dealt with in the main body of the article.

Biographies of Scholars

Epitome of Humility: Shaykh Muhammad Ayyub A’zimi (Part Two)

This tragic news reached Jami’ah Islamiyyah Dabhel by telegram on Saturday 7th Shawwal 1404 AH (1984 CE). Many hearts were saddened and many became unsettled. This news spread throughout the surrounding areas of Dabhel. Recitation of the Noble Qur’an took place in many masjids for the isal al-thawab of the shaykh.

The Jami’ah was still closed at this time. It reopened on 14th Shawwal. After admission formalities, lessons commenced and on the 19th of Shawwal the students also recited the Noble Qur’an for isal al-thawab. Supplications for forgiveness were made, and grief and sorrow was expressed at the passing of the shaykh. His life and virtues were enumerated and people were encouraged to follow his footsteps.

It was supplicated that Allah Most High grant the deceased a high stage in Jannah al-Firdaws, and that Allah Most High compensates the grief incurred by Muslims, especially the Jami’ah, at the loss of the shaykh in a most appropriate manner. Classes were, thereafter, suspended for the day.

Biographies of Scholars

Epitome of Humility: Shaykh Muhammad Ayyub A’zimi (Part One)

Shaykh A’zimi was born in the month of Shawwal 1319 AH (1902 CE) at Mau Nat Bhanjan in the district of Azamgarh, U.P., India. His lineage is as follows: Muhammad Ayyub bin Muhammad Sabir bin Ahmad bin Jiwan bin Rawshan ‘Ali. This family previously resided in a place called Bakhtiyar Ganj, which was approximately one and a half miles from Mau. His father moved to Ilah Dad Pura, Mau, to live close to his in-laws and remained there. This is where the shaykh was born. There were many scholars and sufis in this family-Mawlana Ismatullah, ‘Abd al-Hakim, Mawlana Safi’ullah, Mawlana Muhammad Zahir. These great personalities are mentioned in the books Nuzhat al-Khawatir and Tadhkirah ‘Ulama Hadhaz Zaman by Yunus Bilgirami. There were also other great personalities-Mawlana Muhammad Salim, Mawlana Salamatullah, Mawlana Ata’ullah, etc. (may Allah have mercy on them all). The family kept a spiritual link with Sufi Wali Muhammad Ghoswi (may Allah have mercy on him). Ghosi is a small town in the district of Azamgarh.

Biographies of Scholars

Scholar of Deep Learning: Shaykh Mazhar Nanautwi

Mawlana Muhammad Mazhar ibn Lutf ‘Ali ibn Muhammad Hasan al-Siddiqi al-Hanafi Nanautwi (1238 1302 AH /1823-1885) – the righteous imam, ‘arif (knower of Allah) and mujahid-was amongst the leading scholars of fiqh, hadith, and tasawwuf in his time. A descendant of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), he was born in Nanautah, a village in the district of Saharanpur (UP, India). He initially studied under his father with whom he completed the memorization of the Qur’an (hifz). He then travelled to Delhi, where he studied under Mufti Sadr al-Din Dehlawi, Mawlana Rashid al-Din Khan, the teacher of many shaykhs Mawlana Mamluk al-‘Ali Nanautwi, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri and Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Dehlawi. He studied some books of hadith from the renowned scholar of hadith Shah Muhammad Ishaq Dehlawi, the great grandson of Shah Wali Allah Dehlawi and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi.

Shari'ah and Tariqah

Definition of Suluk

Suluk means to constantly keep the parts of the body and the heart occupied in the obedience of Allah Most High. This should be done in accordance with the Shari’ah and the noble Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) to such a degree that it becomes second nature and it is no more a burden to practice on the din (religion).

Biographies of Scholars

Mawlana Gangohi and the Wali Allah Tradition

Shaykh al-Islam Abu Mas’ud Rashid Ahmad Gangohi is the son of Hidayat Allah Ansari. He was born in 1244 AH, and learnt from Mawlana Mamluk ‘Ali [Nanautwi], Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani [Dehlawi], Mawlana Ahmad Sa’id [Dehlawi], and Mawlana Imdad Allah [Muhajir Makki] etc. I personally studied a large portion of Sunan Abi Dawud from him. Allah granted me immense benefit through it. It is the effect of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad’s company that I followed his maslak in such a way that I never even contemplated moving away from it. Through him, the Wali Allahi approach to fiqh and hadith became manifest to me, and through his blessings I became well versed in the fundamentals as well as advanced rational discourse in the sciences of fiqh, suluk & ma’rifah, Arabic and the Qur’an & Sunnah. I found Mawlana Rashid Ahmad to be a well-versed imam and mujtahid of the Hanafi School. He conformed strictly to the school of thought of his teacher, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Ghani, and was as unshakeable as a mountain in this regard. He closely resembled Mawlana Muhammad Ishaq [Dehlawi] ((Grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dehlawi (may Allah shower His mercy upon him)) ) in the Wali Allahi maslak. I understood the reality of sunnah and bid’ah from his book, Barahin-e-Qati’ah. He had authored this book in support of Shah Isma’il Shahid’s work, Idah al-Haq. Mawlana Rashid Ahmad became the Imam of the Deobandi group after Amir Imdad Allah and Mawlana Qasim [Nanautwi] ((Please refer to the work this paragraph is being quoted from for details.)). In excess of three thousand shaykhs attained religious knowledge from him. His year of passing is 1323 AH.

Biographies of Scholars

Brief notes on Shaykh al-Hind

Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was my teacher. During my stay at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband my sole reliance was upon him. His father’s name was Dhu ‘l-Fiqar ‘Ali. His genealogy stretches back to the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh. Mawlana Mahmud Hasan was born in 1268 AH/1851 CE. He gained primary education from his father and paternal uncle. He gained admission into the Madrasah of Deoband when it was founded in 1283 AH /1866 CE, and studied under Mawlana Muhammad Ya’qub ibn Mamluk ‘Ali and Mawlana Mahmud Deobandi. He remained in the company of Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim [Nanautwi] and benefited from him immensely. He sought permission from Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali [Saharanpuri], Shaykh Muhammad Mazhar Nanautwi and Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman Panipati to teach and impart knowledge. Considering him worthy of such a post, they all granted him ijazah.

Contemporary Voices

Joining Shoulders and Feet in Prayer Rows

There has been a growing tendency in recent times within some quarters of the Muslim Ummah to attempt to understand the hadiths of the beloved Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) without the proper prerequisite knowledge of fiqh and its principles. Movements have emerged, a fundamental part of whose methodology it is to take hadiths in their apparent and literal meanings, without attempting to understand the actual purpose of any hadith. The issue of how those in congregational prayer should stand is no exception. They have looked at the chapter in Sahih al-Bukhari entitled Bab ilsaqi ‘l-mankibi bi ‘l-mankibi wa ‘l-qadami bi ‘l-qadami fi ‘l-Saff (Chapter regarding the joining of shoulders to shoulders, and feet to feet in prayer rows) and the athar of Sayyiduna Nu’man ibn Bashir and that of Sayyiduna Anas (may Allah be pleased with them) (hadith: 725) and without even attempting to use their intellect to explore the various interpretations to which the wording is open, they seek to enforce on the Muslims the physical joining of shoulders and feet with one another when standing in the prayer row. The ‘ulama of the madhhabs (that is, the four established schools of Islamic law) have always maintained that this is not how these athar are to be understood.

Spiritual Advices

Advice of Shaykh Jhinjhanawi’s Murshid

After the Sunnah salam [of Islam]; it should be noted that you are permitted to take baya’ (pledge). Whoever intends to give pledge, you should with a fully content heart take baya’ and provide further instructions. Do not approach this work with affectation (takalluf) and do not let any opposing devilish insinuations (wasawis) or thoughts (khawatir) take root in your heart.

Biographies of Scholars

The Pride of Deoband: Shaykh Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

On the 5th of May 2009, the great researcher (muhaqqiq) and hadith scholar of our age Shaykh Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (may Allah shower His infinite mercy upon him) passed away at the age of 98. Mawlana Sarfraz Khan ibn Nur Ahmad Khan ibn Gul Ahmad Khan was born in 1914 in the city of Mansehra, in the North West Frontier Province of what is now Pakistan. He was a renowned researcher and scholar, a prolific writer, a lecturer in hadith and tafsir, and a master of Tasawwuf.

Contemporary Voices

The Niqab and its obligation in the Hanafi madhhab

It is with great sadness that we note confusion in the minds of many students and even some scholars concerning the obligation of the niqab (veil) in the Hanafi madhhab, which expressly classifies covering the face as binding on women and forbids the exposure of the face in the presence of ghayr mahrams (strangers). While there have been dozens of works penned on this issue, we wish to focus on the Hanafi stance due to the abuse it is being subjected to. We ask Allah Most High to grant us the tawfiq (ability) to explain the issue in a manner pleasing to Him.

Contemporary Voices

Folding One’s Clothes for Salah

In regards to folding one’s clothes while praying and the issue of isbal (wearing one’s garment below the ankles), Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him) writes in Lami’ al-Darari (vol. 1, pg. 327-28): “Qadi ‘Iyad considers the tying back of the hair and folding of the clothes undesirable for the person performing salah, this is regardless of whether he does it outside or inside salah, and he mentions that the scholars are unanimous that this does not invalidate the prayer.


A Wondrous Miracle

The well-known scholar and saint, Mawlana Mushtaq Ahmad Anbethwi relates: “I once presented myself at the Prophet’s grave (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) after visiting the House of Allah (the Haram in Makkah). During my stay in Madinah I heard from the mashayikh of the time that a wondrous miracle had recently occurred at the blessed grave of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Contemporary Voices


The issue of the permissibility of istighathah/isti ‘anah is one that is widely discussed and a bone of contention for many. The elders of Deoband — like their predecessors from the Wali Allah and Mujaddidi tradition — write that there are three meanings of isti’anah.

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