The following article on the History of Darul ‘Ulum Deoband will be published on the blog in eight instalments due to its lengthy nature.  I will, in sha’ Allah,  post one section at a time to make the article easily digestible for all.

The sections are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. The Final Collapse of the Mughal Empire and the Massacre of Muslims

  4. Founding of Darul Ulum, Deoband

  5. Why the “modern” sciences were excluded at Deoband

  6. The widespread popularity of the Darul Ulum

  7. The universal recognition of the role of the Darul Ulum

  8. British counter-efforts

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Maulana Abu Zaynab for his continuous efforts and encouragement which help me to maintain the blog. May Allah reward him with the best of rewards in both worlds.

Darul Ulum Deoband – A Brief Account of its Establishment and Background

By Mawlana Muhammad Zafiruddin Miftahi
Translated by Professor Atique A. Siddiqui (M.A., Ph.D.; Aligarh)
Edited by [Maulana] Abu Zaynab

Editor’s note:

                                                                                                                                 
The article below gives a brief account of the history of Darul Ulum Deoband, one of the leading Islamic institutes of the Indian Subcontinent. This piece, which I originally read in the mid-90s, was one of the first I read on the subject, spurning me to study Urdu and reading into the topic further. It was only a few weeks ago that I discovered it again and felt compelled to edit and reproduce it on the Internet for a wider readership. The article – originally published in a 1984 edition of a South African journal called “Awake To The Call of Islam”, published by the Young Men’s Muslim Association in Benoni – throws much light on the socio-political and historical context of the founding of the Darul Ulum and its various accomplishments over the years. I pray that Allah makes this a means for myself and others to draw close to the way of the Akabir and become the complete embodiment of their lives. Ameen.

Introduction

It was not long ago that in the Indian subcontinent the propagation and dissemination of the values of moral excellence and nobility, of love and human brotherhood, and the diffusion of religious beliefs and ethical precepts deriving from the Qur’an and the Sunnah had come to be beset with great hazards and dangers. Islamic civilisation and culture, or rather the entire religious mode of thought and feeling, had then come to be engaged in a life and death struggle. The overwhelming flood of atheistic and “free” thought had virtually swamped everything. Heretical movements had acquired force and were exercising great influence on the minds of the faithful. It appeared at the time as if Muslims in India would no longer be able to follow the path of the true faith.

In those calamitous and critical times, the momentous and far reaching services of Darul Ulum Deoband and its numerous alumni in the field of religion, scholarship, education, and political and national life cannot be regarded as less valuable than those of any watchful government. Whatever little purity of conduct and morals, clarity and firmness of beliefs and dealings, nobility and humanity there was found to be left or is thought to have increased in the subcontinent, may rightly be traced to the ceaseless and untiring efforts of the learned ulama of the Darul Ulum or to the spirit of sacrifice and the nightly prayers of the great men who had founded it.

When modern culture and civilisation attacked the Islamic way of life under cover of the British rule in India, it was Deoband and the great leaders of the faith produced by it that sought to withstand it with the veritable firmness of mountains, and successfully endeavoured to protect the religious faith of Muslims from destruction at the hands of the British.

Similarly, the contribution made by the alumni of this great institution to the cause of the political freedom of the subcontinent undoubtedly constitutes a golden chapter in the history of India. It was the great founders of the Darul Ulum who first raised the flag of Indian independence; they sought to unite the people of the land, irrespective of creed and community under this flag, and then they themselves came forward to make personal sacrifices in that great cause. It is perhaps for this reason that the fame of Deoband in foreign countries far exceeded that of any other educational institution of India.

In that trying and critical interregnum, the imparting of the knowledge of the fundamentals of the faith and of religious obligations, and the dissemination of the Qur’an and the Hadith was a unique achievement of the scholars and theologians of Deoband. At the time that the Islamic world had virtually lost all knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the seminary at Deoband was echoing with the sounds of

 “And so did Allah say…”

and

“So did the Prophet (peace be on him) say…”

There were gathered here young men from the distant corners of the Indian subcontinent; students of religious learning had also come from far off lands such as Afghanistan, Burma, Samarkand, Bukhara and many African countries. They were all seekers of knowledge, taking back with them the wealth they had acquired here and returning with the firm determination to illuminate their own homelands with the knowledge imparted at Deoband.

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