The Deoband movement

The Aligarh Movement did a lot of work for social, political and economic uplift of the Muslims. It, however, lacked in religious sphere and could not work commendably for religious training of the Muslims. The lack of stress on religious aspect of the Muslims in the Aligarh Movement brought adverse effects on the spread of Islam. For this purpose Ulema started their movement with the establishment of institution to impart religious training.

History – In 1886, several prominent scholars founded an Islamic Seminary in the modest town of Deoband, north of Delhi. The founder of the institution is Qasim Nanautawi. Rashid Ahmed Gangohi, a close friend and a scholar, was instrumental in establishing the institution.

v  Establishment of Darl-Ul-Uloom-i-Deoband:
 Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanautvi started this movement by establishing Darl-UL-Uloom Deoband in the Chattah Mosque, in Deoband (Sharanpur) on 30th May 1866. A managing committee consisting Maulan Mohammad Qasim, Maulana Zulifqar Ali, Maulana Fazul-ur-Rehman and Maulana Muhammad Mahmood was formed to look after the affairs of the madrasah. Maulvi Muhammad was appointed as its first teacher with a monthly salary of fifteen rupees. Haji Muhammad Abid was also the founder member and took great pains in collecting funds for madrasah. Though Deoband Madrassah took its origin in a very humble manner yet through dedicated approach, very soon it developed into one of the leading religious institutions of India.

v  Deoband and Aligarh Movement:
 The Tahrik-i-deoband, immediately after its inception did not see eye to eye with the Aligarh due to the working strategy of the Aligarh. Aligarh Movement adopted the policy of reconciliation with the British whereas the Deoband stressed on the religious aspects of the Muslims and was opposed to the policy of reconciliation with the British. The complete different approach to the politics had widened the gulf between the two authorities. Maulana Muhammad Qasim, a Leading and prominent personality of Deoband had remained engaged in a controversy with Sir Syed. They had sharp differences on the political matters of the country. Maulana Qasim and his companions actively fought against the British and for sometimes set-up their own government in their own areas. On the other hand Sir Syed, who was active during the war of 1857, remained loyal to the British. He adopted the re conciliatory posture simply because he felt it essential for the protection and revival of the Muslims after war.

When sir Syed advised the Muslims to keep themselves away from the congress politics, Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi opposed him. The anti-British attitude was a marked feature in Deoband whereas the Aligarh followed a policy of cooperation to the British. The leaders and Ulemas of Deoband emphasized on the religious aspects of the Muslims and believed that the Muslims must strictly adhere to their religious customs so that they could easily combat the impact of secularism.
Another glaring contrast between the Deoband and Aligarh movement was their different approach towards educational system. Aligarh laid stress on the western and English education. M.A.O college was the centre of English and its main objective was to prepare a bunch of students well equipped in the western style of education. On the other side Deoband was a seat of Islamic and religious learning. It laid stress on religious disciplines.

The political tension between the two institutions could not be lessened till 1947. This led to many controversies but, the establishment of a central institution, combining the features of two movements and imparting of education in religious and western field did have a healthier and unifying effect.

v  Reasons for Establishment of Deoband Movement:
 Main causes of the Deoband Movement were as under:
        I.            After the 1857 war of Independence the Christian missionaries had started preaching their religion unhindered under the disguised patronage of the government. Under these circumstances, preaching of Islam was the need of the hour.
      II.            The Deoband Movement was the corollary of the Muslim desire for renaissance.
    III.            The Indian Ulema wanted to give a proper position to the teachings of the Quran and Hadith which enjoyed secondary importance of Darse Nizami. Thus the Syllabus of Deoband comprised of Tafseer, Hadith, and Arabic literature, Fiqah, Ilmul Kalam, Serf-o-Nehv and Tajveed.



2. Sunnah (Khatmun Nubuwwah)

3. Ittibaa’us Sahaabah wa Hubbuhum

4. Taqleedul Madhaahib fil Fiqh

5. Jihad fi Sabeelillah

Syllabus of Deoband Madrassah:
        I.            In the first four years the Holy Quran was memorized.
      II.            Then the disciplines of Urdu, Diniyat, Social Studies, geography, Islamic Civilization and Fiqah were taught to the students for four years.
       In the Arabic course the students were taught Arabic literature, Hadith, Logic, Philosophy, fiqah, Tafseer, Ilmul Kalam, Mathematics and Manazara. In addition, the students of Urdu language, Arabic language and Translations were taught in three year Arabic course.
    IV.            In the five year Persian and Mathematics course, the students of Persian language, History of Islam, Geography, Mathematics and Translation were taught to the students.

Characteristics and Effects of Deoband Movement:

        I.            Deoband was the only seat of learning where all the three branches of knowledge i.e. Maqulat, Manqulat and Ilmul Kalam were taught in a balanced proportion.
      II.            In addition to the religious subjects the students were also given training in trades like calligraphy, bookbinding and medicine.
    III.            Deoband Movement produced many eminent religious scholars, authors and orators like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Maulana Ahmed Ali Lahori, Maulana Tajwri Najibabadi and Maulana Mahmud-ul-Hasan and Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi. These scholars successfully checked the growth of Christianity and other secular faiths.
    IV.            The Ulemas of Deoband rendered great services in protecting/defending Islam against all anti-Islamic forces. This movement also protected religious and national rights of the Muslims.

  • Awareness and Establishment of the Muslim Identity – Since before the end of Mughal rule, the Muslim identity had been eroding away. Muslims had become influenced over time by the Hindu customs and culture around them, the British presence only worsened this situation. To counter this, a grassroots effort was initiated to revitalize and preserve the Islamic identity and necessary religious practices among the common populace.

  • Organization of Islamic Education – Up until the British colonization of the Indian subcontinent, Islamic education at both the basic and advanced levels was conducted in the classical model of seeking knowledge. After having dealt with an organized effort against not only Islamic education but also against the Islamic identity itself, coupled with the already deteriorating condition of the Muslims, the Ulamaa decided to organize and structure the institutions and standard of Islamic education. Thus the initiation of the Dar-ul-Uloom and the adoption of the Dars-Nizaami curriculum.

  • Politics of the Subcontinent – Two phases:
    • During British colonialism – The Ulamaa spearheaded the movement to oust the British from the subcontinent. They devised ways to secretly organize and recruit people in different areas of the subcontinent, and eventually fought the British resulting in the martyrdom and execution of many Ulamaa.
    • After Partition – The Deobandi Ulamaa have remained politically active in the subcontinent after partition in their respective countries. They strive to give the religiously conservative Muslims a voice in their politics and represent Islamic interests in the lawmaking and governing of their country.
  • Deviant Sects – The Deobandi scholars have also been vigilant in refuting deviant sects and erroneous thought.
    • Shia – The Deobandi Scholars have been active in countering the efforts of Shiaism in the subcontinent and therefore adopted love of the Companions as one of their principles.
    • Qadyaanism – A special division (al-Majlis al-Aalami li Tahaffudh Khatmin Nubuwwah) was created to refute and eventually erase Qadyaanism and other false religions of its type from the subcontinent.
    • Shirk and Bidd’ah – As mentioned earlier, Hinduism had an effect on the Muslims. This manifested itself in the shape of shrines, tombs, grave worshipping, and other practices of Shirk. Sufism had also introduced many corrupt thoughts and innovations into the Muslims. The Scholars of Deoband have worked hard to combat these evils in Muslim communities.
    • Modern thought and Hadith rejection – This was a Fitnah that slowly transformed over time. It began with the erroneous interpretation of Ahaadeeth and criticism of Sahaabah. This later developed into “reason over obedience” and eventually took the form of all-out Hadith rejection.
Final Thoughts
  • The Deobandi movement and particularly the Dar-ul-Uloom system were established to provide structure in the areas of education and politics for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Emphasis was placed on Hanafi Fiqh because it was the Fiqh of the majority. Strict adherence to Fiqh was encouraged to create religious discipline in a people that had been corrupted for centuries, as mentioned above, and who were now pray to new unorthodox ideologies.

  • However, there was not a uniformed Aqidah for the scholars of Deoband. There has always remained a difference of opinion among the Deobandi Ulamaa in regards to certain issues such as, Aqidah, flexibility in Fiqh, Tasawwuf and other spiritual routines. These differences have remained until now and have influenced some of the Dar-ul-Ulooms in certain aspects and in some institutions have enriched the academic experience by providing an array of ideas and thoughts due to the variety of the teachers and scholars. This has no doubt caused some issues in certain parts of the world, especially in current times; nevertheless this approach has served the Deobandi movement well.

  • The structure and simplicity of the educational system that the Dar-ul-Uloom is based upon is a remarkable and potent combination. It has proven for over a century that it can produce results very efficiently. Likewise it can be recreated anywhere, at any time with wondrous results.

  • Memorization of the Quran has remained an integral part of the educational curriculum in Deobandi institutions.

Famous Deobandi Scholars –

  • Qasim Nanotwi (d. 1879)
  • Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi (d. 1908)
  • Mahmoodul-Hasan (d. 1920)
  • Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (d. 1928)
  • Anwar Shah Kashmiri (d. 1933)
  • Ashraf Ali Thanwi (d. 1943)
  • Ilyas Khandhalwi (d. 1944)
  • Ubaidullah Sindhi (d. 1944)
  • Shabbir Ahmed Uthmani (d. 1949)
  • Mufti Kifayatullah (d. 1952)
  • Hussain Ahmed Madani (d. 1957)
  • Yusuf Khandhalwi (d. 1965)
  • Idris Khandhalwi (d. 1974)
  • Mufti Muhammad Shafi Uthmani (d. 1976)
  • Yusuf Binori (d. 1977)
  • Mufti Mahmood (d. 1980)
  • Tayyeb Qasmi (d. 1980)
  • Zakariyya Khandhalwi (d. 1982)
  • Habeebur Rahman Azami (d. 1992)
  • Manzoor Numani (d. 1997)
  • Umar Palanpuri (d. 1997)
  • Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (d. 1999)
  • Abdur Rasheed Numani (d. 1999)
  • Yusuf Ludhyanwi (d. 2000)
  • Mufti Rasheed Ahmed (d. 2002)
  • Mufti Rafi Uthmani
  • Mufti Taqi Uthmani
  • Fadhlur Rahman Azami
  • Sulaiman Moola
  • Tariq Jamil

Critical Analysis:
        I.            Deoband Movement no doubt contributed greatly to preserve Islamic rituals, customs and Islamic civilization but neglected the contemporary modern subjects. Thus the syllabus of Deoband could not meet the requirements of the modern age.
      II.            In the syllabus of Deoband, the disciplines of Philosophy, Logic and rhetoric were over-stressed. As a result renowned orators were produced but the demands of the scientific age were neglected.
    III.            The Deoband Movement due to its severance of link with the English language could not conform itself to the requirements of the modern age.
    IV.            Persian and Arabic languages and literature continued to enjoy a prominent position in the syllabus of Deoband whereas the practical utility of both these languages had ceased due to the official status of English Language.


Deoband, in fact, was a movement which focused on Islamic teachings rather than materialism. The pioneers of Deoband Movement were against the Aligarh movements of Sir Syed and considered him a materialistic who was imparting only modern knowledge to the Muslims and drifting them away from Islam. That was why; the Deoband Movement was started parallel to Aligarh Movement to adorn the Muslim lives with the Islamic teachings. This movement also raised Muslim consciousness in a superb way who later on demanded for a separate homeland for Muslims in India and read Jamia Milia Islamia 
The Deoband movement The Deoband movement Reviewed by Unknown on September 15, 2014 Rating: 5

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