Darul Ulum Deoband – A Brief Account of its Establishment and Background (Part 5)

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

Why the “modern” sciences were excluded at Deoband

In view of the difficult and trying circumstances threatening the very existence of the Islamic faith at that time, it was quite natural that the courses of study at the Darul Ulum and the other madrassahs should be kept strictly within the confines of religious and theological study.

The Book of Allah, the hadiths, jurisprudence and Islamic scholasticism were to be the cornerstone of the syllabi, and the other branches of learning such as grammar, literature, logic, philosophy and mathematics were included only insofar as they helped in the study of the core subjects. On the whole, the courses of study were aimed at imparting to the students depth of vision and farsightedness so that they may shape into the role of religious leadership and guidance of the common people and the elite, something in the tradition of the Prophets of yore. The reason why the “modem” forms of learning were excluded could best be explained in the words of the Qasim al-Ulum Hadhrat Nanautwi himself:

Why, in the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, was this policy adopted? Why were the modern sciences excluded? Among others, due consideration (whether in general education or specialised training) must be given to the aspect that needs greatest attention owing to its neglect in the past. Now anyone with the least knowledge of history knows that in the modern age, owing to the increase in the number of government institutions, the teaching of the new sciences has received the kind of attention that was denied to the traditional sciences even in the days of the best rulers of the past. There has, however, been an equally remarkable decline in the teaching of the traditional sciences of religion. Under such circumstances, to most people the establishment of one more institution of modern learning would appear to be futile and redundant. Only those branches of modern knowledge have been made a part of the syllabi at Darul Ulum which lead to more effective learning of religious sciences

(Speech by Hadhrat Nanautvi in Ruedad-e-Madrassah Islami-Arabi, 1873 AD).

Another important consideration was the fact that leaning many languages and sciences would have a distracting effect on the students. It was pointed out by Hadhrat Nanautwi (in the speech quoted above) that the effort to acquire the knowledge of many branches of learning usually has a detrimental effect on the learning of the core subjects. It was envisaged that the student at the Darul Ulum would devote himself to the modern sciences after he has perfected himself in the traditional ones. Hadhrat Mawlana Nanautwi clearly stated that the students of the Darul Ulum should do well to go on to a university or college to receive instruction in modern sciences after receiving religious education at the Darul Ulum.

Read Previous Parts.

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

  4. Founding of Darul Ulum, Deoband