Deobandi’s, Tablighi’s and Wahhabi’s


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem was-Salaatu wa Salaamu alaiyka Sayidina Muhammad,
Are Tabilghi Jamaat connected to the Deobundi School and are Deobundi’s Wahabi?
Jazaka Allah khair.
As-Salaamu alaiykum wr wb.


A`udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim, bismillah al-rahman al-rahim:

Tablighi Jamaat are an offshoot of the Deobandi movement. Deobandis are Sunni-Maturidi in doctrine, Hanafi in fiqh, and Naqshbandi in Tariqa. They have refuted several modern Indian-Subcontinent heresies and the Wahhabi movement on countless issues, and the Wahhabis have published many books and articles against them and against Tablighi Jamaat. The Deobandis have also authored some of the prominent works of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a in commentary of the Holy Qur’an and of the motherbooks of hadith such as Malik’s Muwatta’, Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and the four books of Sunan as well as the proofs of Taqlid and the Hanafi Madhhab, Sira, and Tasawwuf. Their authors’ names figure prominently in the Indian hadith transmission chains of all of our contemporary and pre-contemporary Arab hadith scholars, may Allah have mercy on all of them.

At the same time, unfortunately for the Umma in our day, certain grave errors have crept into Deobandi beliefs and practices themselves, such as the verbatim attribution to Allah Almighty of imkane-kadhib i.e. the “ability to lie” (may He be exalted beyond what they describe!) and similarly ugly, innovated expressions and concepts that are rightly deemed as tantamount to disparaging the Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace – Allah is our refuge from perdition. Most if not all of these errors originate from the pen of Shah Ismail al-Dihlawi (1193-1246/1779-1830), the grandson of Shah Waliyyullah al-Dihlawi, after he returned from Hajj and began to author works that until now the Deobandi authorities not only have failed to condemn (as is wajib for them), but are actually still keeping on their syllabus and disseminating in all languages. On the other hand they tend to charge the majority of Muslims with lesser contraventions – if that – for example the celebration of the Prophetic Mawlid which the majority of the Ummah deems orthodox but which Deobandis label as innovation (bid`a) in a selective, Taymiyyan style identical to that of Wahhabis. This is why their Sunni detractors in the Indian Subcontinent have called them Wahhabis although, in that part of the world, the term Wahhabi more accurately describes the so-called Ahle-Hadith movement which are a full-fledged non-Madhhabi, anti-Sufi, Najd-affiliated movement.

Our role now is to find bases of unity by analogy with the Prophetic invitation to the People of the Book that they should unite with Muslims in a common monotheism and leave behind whatever cancels it. If we can invite non-Muslims in such a way then we should be even more inviting toward Sunni Muslims who have taken the wrong path on lesser points than the contradiction of monotheism, as grave as those points might be. We should not demonize them as non-Sunnis. We already made it clear eight years ago that the position of most of our common teachers is that there is no difference between Barelwis and Deobandis in the absolute and explicit fundamentals:

I have seen two gifted people embody this position in speech and deed: one is a Barelwi in the US and the other a Deobandi in South Africa. Both have great knowledge, a refined character, and a preference for silence and meticulous hard work. Alas, the rest of our up and coming brethren remain uncommitted to this common ground and are still jockeying to promote themselves as champions of sunnism in the way of identity politics, such as what happened and is still happening, for example, over the issue of love of Ahl al-Bayt. This divisiveness was wrong back then and has even less place in the post-9/11 world.

Love of Allah and His Prophet unites us, it is not a blueprint for schism, nor is there any room for Inquisitions in Islamic tradition. As Imam Ahmad said under the whip of the Mu`tazila: “al-imtihan bid`a” (Inquisition is an innovation). We should stop condemning others in the misconceived quest for self-definition. Our true identity is servanthood to our Lord and service to His creation; and the definition of sufism is to accept the shortcomings of others and work with that (Risala Qushayriyya); not disinheriting them and demonizing them in a righteous rage. Not everyone is “either all good or all bad”; only Prophets are immune from sin and infallible. The grandson of the Holy Prophet, Sayyidina al-Hasan (upon our Prophet and his Family blessings and peace), was a rightly-guided Caliph and on Haqq, yet he stepped down from his caliphate for the benefit of unity, which Allah Most High loves more for the Umma than general disunity on the pretext of upholding His Right and the Right of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace. Can you believe that some fanatic Sunnis at that time attacked al-Hasan b. Abi Talib as a traitor to the Umma? He only replied: “No, I am not a traitor but one who spared the Ummah bloodshed.” Let us work toward the same goal in the Subcontinent and everywhere else. Sunnism is much wider than to be found exclusively under one roof.

The latent characteristic of all of the above groupings is takfirism (declaring other Sunnis misguided, infidels and kafirs) and mutual ostracism which are characteristics of modern-day Khawarij – extremists, defined by Imam al-Nawawi as “fanatic zealots who exceed bounds in words and deeds” (Sharh Sahih Muslim). The worst of them are those who say: “If you do not declare the other side kafir the way we do, then you are one of them.” Instead of looking for 70 excuses to fend off anathema from their brethren they search out a single excuse to invoke it against them, and even against their own teachers! They are purists who claim that “we should not dilute our Deen” which is reminiscent of the fear-mongering of supremacists who claim “we should not dilute our master race.” This is what a perspicuous observer in the UK termed the Salafisation of traditional Islam. This is the Chosen-People ideology which Allah Most High warns against in the Holy Qur’an; and it is He Who protects and guarantees the Deen.

No, we do not declare any of them kafir. Rather, we denounce what is wrong and we enjoin what is right however bitter, without school partisanship; and we say as Allah Most High says and as our well-guided Rabbani elders taught us: {For each there is a direction to which he turns his face. So compete with one another in good deeds. Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together. Truly Allah has power over all things} (2:148).

And Allah knows best. May He unite us all and take us back to Him as followers of the Sunna and adherents to the Congregation.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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