Archive for the 'Islam: Deoband/Barelwi' Category

The Art of Fatwa

April 18, 2006

I recently spent some time with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. I observed something that I have found to be true of all true 'ulama. Myself and Salman, whenever we would ask the Shaykh anything related to fiqh, would be treated to a stratified answer. Such was also the case when I met with Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf last year. In many situations, a simple haram/halal answer treads of insensitivity. Also, we cannot discount the fact that in regards to some issues, a haram/halal binary does not and cannot exist. It is entirely plausible that one thing may be allowed for one and prohibited for someone else; and this is inline with fiqhi maxims. Our time with Shaykh Faraz was memorable, inspirational and most of all, had a good effect on myself and Salman's spiritual states. Regrettably for Shaykh Faraz, he may have inadvertantly rekindled my once lost love for Deoband and its institutions. Also, anyone who meets Shaykh Faraz will realize that he has an excellent (and I mean excellent) sense of humour. He had me laughing on plenty of occasions (Salman of course, being the obedient and respectful student controlled himself and limited himself to a smile everytime). The vibe that I got from him was that of happiness. To me, he was the perfect example of a man who chose to do with his life what his heart truly desired. I think that anyone present in his company would agree that we saw someone who enjoyed waking up in the morning because he chose to pursue his dreams. In him, we can find an example worthy of following.

Another take on madrassa life

April 4, 2006

Pakistan’s decision to expel foreign students, as India’s policy of limiting student visas to foreign madrassas students, will destroy a natural international network system that took decades if not centuries to build. Pakistan’s decision to expel more than a thousand foreign students from its madrassas should not surprise or bewilder anyone of us. [read the entire article]

Devotional Islam & Politics in British India – Ahmed Riza Khan and his Movement 1870 – 1920

February 24, 2006

…ideological differences between the Barelwis and Deobandis are likely to have been exacerbated and exploited by the Raj, in keeping with a policy of divide and rule. The term ‘wahhabi’ was originally applied by the British to the armed struggle of Sayyid Ahmed Shahid, who had declared a jihad (initially against the oppressive Sikh rulers of the Punjab) and was killed by British forces in 1831. The British in India then labelled every subsequent movement for Muslim freedom and regeneration as a wahhabi conspiracy, including the disturbances in the Bengal forty years later. By the end of the century, in Ahmed Reza’s time, it had become a convenient label to demonise Muslim groups and to conjure images of fanaticism and political unrest.

So in the coded loyalist language of the day, the term wahhabism applied to challenges to British hegemony in India. It bore little connection to the followers of Ibn Abd al Wahhab (died 1792). In any case these muwahidoon (unitarians) were a small raiding party in the Nejd at the turn of the nineteenth century with more immediate concerns than the possibility of exporting their revolution. Maulana Ahmed Riza’s confrontational fatwa of 1906 unwittingly or wittingly adopted a vocabulary favoured by the British for the advancement of their own divide and rule policy. [read the entire article]