Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Translator’s Intro­duc­tion: We live in chal­leng­ing times with inces­sant efforts under­way to mud­dy and cloud the track of the schol­ars of Deoband. Their efforts in pre­serv­ing and trans­mit­ting the sacred sci­ences in an authen­tic and robust fash­ion are recog­nised by many, espe­cial­ly the gen­er­al mass­es. The result has been that the Salafis, for instance, have large­ly failed to pen­e­trate com­mu­ni­ties where the schol­ars of Deoband are fol­lowed. How­ev­er, a new modus-operan­di is being employed to fur­ther the Salafi agen­da which involves mud­dy­ing and cloud­ing not just the Hanafi school, but also the way of Deoband so as to cre­ate an ide­o­log­i­cal space for the Salafis to oper­ate in.

The schol­ars of Deoband have staved off sim­i­lar efforts in the past. It was in rela­tion to this that Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saha­ran­puri penned his bril­liant Al-Muhan­nad ‘ala al-Mufan­nad and Mawlana Qari Muham­mad Tayyab authored his fan­tas­tic ‘Ula­ma-i-Deoband ka Dini Rukh awr Masla­ki Mizaj. The cen­tral­i­ty of these two books—in addi­tion to the suh­bah of true shaykhs—in explain­ing and under­stand­ing the tem­pera­ment of the schol­ars of Deoband can­not be under­es­ti­mat­ed. Below is a trans­la­tion of Mufti Taqi Usmani’s excel­lent fore­word to the sec­ond of the above-men­tioned books in which he out­lines, among oth­er issues, that the way of Deoband embod­ies the Qur’an and Sun­nah in an unin­ter­rupt­ed chain return­ing to the Prophet. He also writes about the mod­er­ate dis­po­si­tion of the schol­ars of Deoband, the cat­a­lyst that prompt­ed Qari Muham­mad Tayyab to clar­i­fy their track and why Qari Muham­mad Tayyab[1] is an able author­i­ty for such an under­tak­ing. Mufti Muham­mad Taqi Usmani writes:

In the name of Allah, the Most Com­pas­sion­ate, the Most Merciful.

All praise is for Allah and that is enough, and Peace on His slaves who He selected.

There was, fun­da­men­tal­ly, no great need to com­pile a book to explain and clar­i­fy the way (maslak) of the schol­ars of Deoband. This is because the schol­ars of Deoband are not a sect or group that has moved away from the major­i­ty of the Ummah and derived a sep­a­rate ide­ol­o­gy and set of actions. Rather, the way of explain­ing and defin­ing Islam which has been that of the major­i­ty of schol­ars for over 1400 years is the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. The fun­da­men­tal foun­tain­head of the reli­gion and its teach­ings are the Qur’an and Sun­nah, and all of the teach­ings of the Qur’an and Sun­nah, in an all-encom­pass­ing way, are the foun­da­tion of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband.

Select and look at any of the reli­able books on the beliefs (‘aqi­dah) of the Ahl al-Sun­nah wa al-Jama‘ah, what­ev­er is writ­ten in them is the belief of the schol­ars of Deoband. Study any of the reli­able books of Hanafi jurispru­dence (fiqh) and prin­ci­ples of jurispru­dence (usul al-fiqh)—all of the rul­ings and prin­ci­ples con­tained there­in are the way of jurispru­dence of the schol­ars of Deoband. Refer to any of the reli­able and accept­ed books on man­ners and ihsan—they are the Deoband schol­ars’ source in rela­tion to the purifi­ca­tion of man­ners (tazkiyah-i-akhlaq) and ihsan. From the noble Prophets (peace be upon them) and the Com­pan­ions and Fol­low­ers until the walis of the Ummah and the pious, those indi­vid­u­als whose lofty rank and whose aca­d­e­m­ic and pious actions the major­i­ty of the Ummah is agreed on are, in the view of the schol­ars of Deoband, those very per­son­al­i­ties who are exem­plars and wor­thy of being followed.

In short, there is no aspect of the reli­gion in which the schol­ars of Deoband have dif­fered by even a hair from Islam’s pop­u­lar and trans­mit­ted expla­na­tion and its accu­rate tem­pera­ment and atti­tude. It is because of this that there is, essen­tial­ly, no need for a sep­a­rate book to explain and clar­i­fy their way. If their way needs to be known, then that is men­tioned with detail in the reli­able books on the exe­ge­sis (tafsir) of the Qur’an, the accept­ed com­men­taries of hadith, in [the books of] Hanafi jurispru­dence, in writ­ings on creed and kalam, and the books of Tasawwuf and man­ners that are reli­able and authen­tic accord­ing to the major­i­ty of the schol­ars of the Ummah. How­ev­er, in this recent era there have been two caus­es on account of which the neces­si­ty has been felt for the way and dis­po­si­tion and reli­gious tem­pera­ment and atti­tude (dini mizaj wa mazaq) of the schol­ars of Deoband to be clar­i­fied in the form of a sep­a­rate book.

The first cause is that Islam is a reli­gion of mod­er­a­tion (i‘tidal). The Noble Qur’an has, by describ­ing the Mus­lim Ummah as the “mod­er­ate Ummah” (2:143), announced that one of the fun­da­men­tal spe­cial­ties of this Ummah is mod­er­a­tion and bal­ance, and because the schol­ars of Deoband are the car­ri­ers of this reli­gion then this mod­er­a­tion has nat­u­ral­ly com­plete­ly pen­e­trat­ed their way and dis­po­si­tion and tem­pera­ment and atti­tude. Their way pass­es past extrem­ism [on the one hand] and lax­i­ty [on the oth­er] in a way that even the hem of their attire does not become entan­gled with these two extremes; it is the pecu­liar char­ac­ter­is­tic of mod­er­ates that those extreme and those lax, both of them, rep­ri­mand them. Those on the extreme accuse them of being lax and those lax accuse them of being extreme.

It is because of this that in oppo­si­tion to the schol­ars of Deoband, con­tra­dic­to­ry pro­pa­gan­da has come from those of extreme views. For exam­ple, the mod­er­a­tion of the schol­ars of Deoband is such that in addi­tion to hav­ing com­plete faith in the Qur’an and the Sun­nah, they also ven­ture for­ward with trust in the Pious Pre­de­ces­sors and in fol­low­ing them. For them, in the expla­na­tion and com­men­tary of the Qur’an and the Sun­nah, the expla­na­tions of the Pious Pre­de­ces­sors and their actions enjoy a cen­tral impor­tance and they con­sid­er hav­ing firm faith and love for them an impor­tant part of their way and dis­po­si­tion. How­ev­er, on the oth­er side, they do not allow this faith and love to reach the lev­el of wor­ship and per­son­al­i­ty wor­ship. Rather, the prin­ci­ples of dif­fer­ences in ranks always remain at the forefront.

Now, there are those who claim to bring faith and act on the Qur’an and Sun­nah, but are not, in their expla­na­tion and com­men­tary, pre­pared to give the Pious Pre­de­ces­sors a cen­tral posi­tion, but rather con­sid­er their own mind and intel­lect suf­fi­cient in explain­ing the Qur’an and Sun­nah. These indi­vid­u­als direct the accu­sa­tion of per­son­al­i­ty wor­ship against the schol­ars of Deoband and for­ward the pro­pa­gan­da that they—we seek refuge with Allah—have made their Pre­de­ces­sors objects of wor­ship (ma‘bud). On the oth­er side, those who have actu­al­ly tak­en the love and faith for the Pre­de­ces­sors up to the lev­el of per­son­al­i­ty wor­ship lev­el the accu­sa­tion against the schol­ars of Deoband that in their hearts there is no love and rev­er­ence for the Pre­de­ces­sors or that they are guilty of—we seek refuge with Allah—denigrating these wor­thy indi­vid­u­als of Islam. As a result of both of these types of con­tra­dic­to­ry pro­pa­gan­da, a per­son who is not ful­ly aware of the actu­al real­i­ty could become the tar­get of mis­un­der­stand­ing the way and dis­po­si­tion of the schol­ars of Deoband. It is because of this that for some time the need was felt that the mod­er­ate way of the schol­ars of Deoband is explained pos­i­tive­ly and com­pre­hen­sive­ly in a way that an impar­tial indi­vid­ual would be able to prop­er­ly under­stand their stance.

The sec­ond cause is that the way of the schol­ars of Deoband in actu­al­i­ty is the name of that way in ide­ol­o­gy and action that the founders and authen­tic elders (akabir) of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband acquired from their shaykhs in a con­nect­ed chain (sanad) and which is con­nect­ed through the Com­pan­ions and Fol­low­ers to the Prophet (ﷺ). This was an authen­tic man­ner in thought and belief, an exem­plary sys­tem in actions and man­ners and a mod­er­ate tem­pera­ment and atti­tude which can­not be acquired by just read­ing a book or gain­ing a sanad, rather it can be accu­rate­ly acquired by remain­ing in the com­pa­ny of those respect­ed indi­vid­u­als who have been absorbed in this tem­pera­ment in the way that the Com­pan­ions acquired from the Prophet (ﷺ), the Fol­low­ers from the Com­pan­ions, and authen­tic stu­dents from the Followers.

On the oth­er side, Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, towards which this way (maslak) is gen­er­al­ly attrib­uted, is an insti­tute of learn­ing that has been serv­ing the teach­ing of Islam­ic sci­ences for over one hun­dred years. Dur­ing this time, it is not sur­pris­ing that its grad­u­ates num­ber in the hun­dreds of thou­sands. Aside from that, lat­er on with­in the Sub-Con­ti­nent thou­sands of such reli­gious schools have been estab­lished that con­sid­er Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband to be their spir­i­tu­al foun­tain­head and attribute them­selves to it, and their grad­u­ates are also gen­er­al­ly called schol­ars of Deoband (‘ula­ma-i-Deoband).

It is clear that it can­not be said that each and every indi­vid­ual from the thou­sands who grad­u­ate from these insti­tutes is the cor­rect embod­i­ment of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. Any reg­u­lar insti­tute of learn­ing which adheres to a spe­cial cur­ricu­lum and syl­labus or sys­tem and pol­i­cy can only serve the indi­vid­u­als study­ing there and can only over­see them to an extent that the adopt­ed rules and reg­u­la­tion per­mit. How­ev­er, it can­not com­plete­ly super­vise each and every stu­dent over the views that are being nur­tured in his mind and which direc­tion he is think­ing of pro­ceed­ing in. After the con­nec­tion with the insti­tute ends, there is pre­cise­ly no pos­si­bil­i­ty of any of this type of super­vi­sion. As a result, such indi­vid­u­als have come from these insti­tutes and entered the field who are, in terms of edu­ca­tion, with­out a doubt affil­i­at­ed to Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband. How­ev­er, they have not had the oppor­tu­ni­ty of prop­er­ly acquir­ing the way and dis­po­si­tion of the senior (akabir) schol­ars of Deoband or their inher­it­ed tem­pera­ment and atti­tude which can­not only be acquired through books. In this way, they are not the embod­i­ment of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. How­ev­er, on the basis of their affil­i­a­tion to Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband or one if its spir­i­tu­al insti­tutes, some peo­ple have assumed they are the embod­i­ment of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband and have begun attribut­ing all of their words to the schol­ars of Deoband.

Among them were some indi­vid­u­als who not only refut­ed and opposed some of the beliefs and thoughts of the schol­ars of Deoband but rather declared them to be deviant, and in spite of that con­sid­er them­selves the embod­i­ment of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. Some indi­vid­u­als have begun to attribute their per­son­al opin­ions to the schol­ars of Deoband. Some have tak­en a sin­gle aspect of the com­pre­hen­sive and mod­er­ate frame­work of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband and intro­duced this aspect as being that of Deoband and under­mined its oth­er aspects. For exam­ple, some indi­vid­u­als, hav­ing seen that the senior schol­ars of Deoband at times of need ful­filled the oblig­a­tion of refut­ing false views with proofs, declared refu­ta­tion to be the way of the schol­ars of Deoband and, through their actions, project the view that the way of the schol­ars of Deoband is a neg­a­tive move­ment in whose objec­tives the pos­i­tive aspects of the faith have no spe­cial impor­tance. Fur­ther­more, in the refu­ta­tion of false views, peo­ple of vary­ing mind­sets iden­ti­fied dif­fer­ent fields to work in, which was fine to the extent of dis­trib­ut­ing the work­load. How­ev­er, some of the indi­vid­u­als exceed­ed the lim­it and gave the impres­sion that the way of the schol­ars of Deoband is only lim­it­ed to their field of action. Some indi­vid­u­als did opt for the prin­ci­ples of refut­ing false views. How­ev­er, those prin­ci­ples that the senior schol­ars of Deoband fol­lowed in refu­ta­tion, they did not turn to them as they so deserve and from the modus-operan­di of some of these indi­vid­u­als the impres­sion was giv­en that the way of the schol­ars of DeobandAllah forbid—is part of these sec­tar­i­an indi­vid­u­als which can be observed spread out through­out the world and whose way is that they absolve and con­sid­er wor­thy of defend­ing each error of indi­vid­u­als with­in their fac­tion and each pos­i­tive action of oth­ers is wor­thy of being washed away in the sea.

The real­i­ty is that the way of the schol­ars of Deoband is free of all these immod­er­a­tions which have appeared in the pub­lic sphere through such indi­vid­u­als who are, accord­ing to the basis of edu­ca­tion, affil­i­at­ed to either Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband or one of its affil­i­at­ed insti­tutes. How­ev­er, in terms of way, dis­po­si­tion, tem­pera­ment and atti­tude, they are not the embod­i­ment of the senior schol­ars of Deoband, nor have they acquired this tem­pera­ment and atti­tude through that inher­it­ed method which is the cor­rect method of acquir­ing it.

Even though—if his­to­ry from the estab­lish­ment of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband until now were to be in front of us—the num­ber of these types of immod­er­a­tions have not been many, yet with the pass­ing away of the senior schol­ars their num­ber began to increase and unknown peo­ple began to attribute them­selves to the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. It is because of this that the need began to be felt for the way and dis­po­si­tion, and tem­pera­ment and atti­tude of the schol­ars of Deoband to be explained and rat­i­fied and cod­i­fied in such a com­pre­hen­sive way after which there can be no obscu­ri­ty and ambiguity.

In this recent era, for this rat­i­fi­ca­tion and cod­i­fi­ca­tion, there was with­out doubt no per­son­al­i­ty more apt than Hakim al-Islam Mawlana Qari Muham­mad Tayyab (may He sanc­ti­fy his secret). Not only had the respect­ed Qari (may Allah have mer­cy on him) remained the rec­tor of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband for over half a cen­tu­ry, he also direct­ly acquired spir­i­tu­al bless­ings (fayd) from those senior schol­ars of Deoband who were, undis­put­ed­ly, the actu­al embod­i­ment of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband. He not only had the bless­ing of being the stu­dent of pil­lars such as Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mah­mud al-Hasan, Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi, Imam al-‘Asr ‘Allamah Sayyid Anwar Shah Kash­miri and Mufti-i-‘Azam Mawlana Mufti ‘Aziz al-Rah­man, rather by remain­ing in their ser­vice and com­pa­ny for lengthy peri­ods of time he implant­ed in his heart and mind the fra­grance of their tem­pera­ment and atti­tude. Regard­less of whether some­one may have had a dif­fer­ence of view with the mawlana on polit­i­cal or admin­is­tra­tive issues, no two opin­ions are pos­si­ble over the fact that he remained the authen­tic expos­i­tor of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband in this recent era.

As a result, due to the men­tioned two caus­es, when­ev­er a need was felt to explain and detail the way of the schol­ars of Deoband, eyes would turn towards Qari Muham­mad Tayyab (may Allah have mer­cy on him). Sens­ing the need of the time, he penned and pub­lished sev­er­al writ­ings on this sub­ject, the most detailed of which is con­sid­ered to be the one pub­lished under the title Maslak-‘Ulama-i-Deoband. How­ev­er, as the he has writ­ten him­self in the intro­duc­tion to this book, all of these writ­ings were writ­ten in an implic­it way in rela­tion to oth­er top­ics which were not direct­ly a detailed expo­si­tion of the way of the schol­ars of Deoband; it is clear that in the men­tion­ing of a sub­ject in an implic­it way, that lev­el of clar­i­ty is not pos­si­ble which can be achieved when the sub­ject is direct­ly writ­ten about. As a result, Qari Muham­mad Tayyab (may Allah sanc­ti­fy his secret), hav­ing sensed this need, com­piled this detailed book in the last days of his life and which is in front of us. It is regret­ful that this book was not pub­lished dur­ing his life­time. Per­haps those dif­fi­cult tests that he (may Allah have mer­cy on him) passed dur­ing the last days of his life did not per­mit time for this invalu­able trea­sure to reach the pub­lic domain and this book remained in draft form. Final­ly, mem­bers of his fam­i­ly found this valu­able man­u­script among his papers (may Allah have mer­cy on him) and grant­ed per­mis­sion to the beloved nephew of this low­ly one, Mawlana Mah­mud Ashraf ‘Uth­mani (lec­tur­er in hadith at Jami‘ah Ashrafiyyah, Lahore), to print and pub­lish it, and in this way this trea­sure trove of wis­dom and knowl­edge is being pub­lished by Idara Islamiyy­at.

This low­ly one has explained the back­ground of this book. How­ev­er, for this low­ly and unwor­thy one to men­tion some­thing in rela­tion to the sub­ject mat­ter would be sim­i­lar to hold­ing a lamp in front of the sun. This per­fume ema­nat­ing musk-bag is now in front of you. Hence, there is no require­ment for per­fume seller’s intro­duc­tion. In short, the sweet-smelling fra­grance of the way and dis­po­si­tion and atti­tude and tem­pera­ment of the senior schol­ars of Deoband which waft­ed out from the thought and actions of the schol­ars of Deoband was absorbed by the heart and mind of the Qari who gave it the form of words in this book, and he has in detail explained the thought and actions of the schol­ars of Deoband in a way that there remains no doubt and con­fu­sion in rela­tion to this “… so that who­ev­er is going to per­ish, may per­ish with a clear proof, and who­ev­er is going to live, may live with a clear proof.” (Al-Anfal:42)

I do not wish to come in between you and the book by writ­ing any fur­ther; no edu­cat­ed Mus­lim, espe­cial­ly a teacher or stu­dent of a reli­gious madrasah, should be deprived from study­ing this book. In fact, the study or teach­ing of this book should be includ­ed with­in the syl­labi of madrasahs. It is prayed that Allah Most High ben­e­fits Mus­lims by way of it as much as pos­si­ble, and may it be a trea­sure in the here­after for the author (may Allah have mer­cy on him), his fam­i­ly and the pub­lish­ers, amin.

The Low­ly,
Muham­mad Taqi Usmani (may he be forgiven)
Ser­vant, Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
25 Shaww­al, 1408 AH