Deobandi ulema openly condemn terrorism

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Deobandi ulema openly condemn terrorism

Religious scholars could play an important role in bringing peace to Pakistan, religious and government officials say.

By Abdul Rahman


ISLAMABAD – Pakistani scholars adhering to the Barelvi and Deobandi schools of Islamic thought have found common ground, agreeing that suicide attacks are haram.

Majlis-e-Sautul Islam (MSI), a Karachi-based Deobandi organisation, held a two-day seminar March 10-11 at the conclusion of a one-year training session for some of its intellectuals. There, it openly opposed suicide attacks.

“MSI was not only the first to declare suicide bombings un-Islamic and haram, but we also announced disowning all those movements and individuals who are shedding the blood of innocent Muslims,” MSI Chairman Mufti Abu Huraira Muhiyuddin said. “They have nothing to do with Islam, Pakistan or humanity.”

Though several Deobandi scholars, such as the late Maulana Hassan Jan, in the past have opposed suicide bombings and the killing of innocents, the fresh commitment by the MSI is being lauded as a significant development.

The Barelvi school of thought also opposes suicide attacks and bombings and has openly declared them haram. But the Deobandi action is significant because the Taliban draw their ideology from the Deobandi school of thought.

In the past, militants killed some religious scholars, including Jan, for explaining what Islam says about such acts. Jan was assassinated in suburban Peshawar in 2007.

Support from religious scholars needed

Several government officials spoke to the newly trained scholars.

Those who addressed the seminar included Pakistan Muslims League Nawaz (PML-N) leader and senior politician Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Talha Mahmood, Maulana Abdul Qayyum Haqqani, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Ashrafi, Dr. Yousuf Farooqi and Dr. Dost Mohammad Khan.

Religious scholars can play an important role in bringing an end to terrorism and ensuring
peace, all the speakers agreed.

Federal Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Mohammad Yousuf also spoke and thanked religious scholars, especially MSI, and asked that they continue to promote peace and harmony in society through their sermons.

“They [religious scholars] can show that [true] jihad does not equal qital (killing of people),” Dr. Khadim Hussain, an intellectual and educator, said. “Scholars can put forward the discourse of secular democratic nationhood.”

“We have trained 3,000 religious scholars from all over Pakistan who will support any step by the government to restore peace in the country and oppose any kind of terror act,” Muhiyuddin said. “People are being killed all over the country, and we must play a role in improving the situation.”

“They will convey the real message of Islam, which is peace and love,” he added.

PUC joins Pakistan against terrorism

Just two days after MSI’s announcement, the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) announced its support for government efforts to restore peace.

Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif March 13 addressed a 10-member PUC delegation, saying that extremism could be curbed only by following the teachings of Islam.

Religious scholars should not only promote the message of peace in the society but also do their part to promote the positive image of Pakistan in the global community, The News reported Nawaz Sharif as saying.

“Those who are carrying out bombings must be dealt with strictly by the government,” PUC Chairman Allama Tahir-ul-Ashrafi said. “We will support the government in any action against terrorists.” 

Subookh Syed
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 
From Print Edition



ISLAMABAD: More than 300 Ulema from the Deoband school of thought on Monday termed suicide bombings Haram and said the teachers and students of seminaries invite Allah Almighty’s curse upon terrorism and its perpetrators.


This is probably for the first time that the Deoband school of thought has so openly declared suicide bombings as Haram. All groups of Deoband school of thought attended the seminar.The open condemnation of suicide bombings by the Deoband Ulema carries significance, as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also belongs to the Deoband school of thought.


The Deoband Ulema had also outlawed the armed struggle against the state of Pakistan around three years back duringa conference in Lahore. However, analysts had termed it a political gimmick.


Addressing a seminar here under the auspices of Majlis Saut-ul-Islam, the Ulema said just formal condemnation of terrorism was not enough and now was the time for them to come out and defend Madaris (seminaries) against the propaganda that these were the sanctuaries of terrorism.


PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Talha Mehmood, Mufti Abu Hurera Mohi-ud-Din, Maulana Zahid, Maulana Abdul Qayyum Haqqani, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahim Ashrafi, Maulana Muhammad Ishaq, Maulana Dr Yousaf Farooqi, Maulana Dr Tahir Hakim, Rabita Alam Islami Director General Abda Muhammad Ateen, Sheikh Zaid Islamic University, Peshawar Director Dr. Dost Muhammad Khan and others addressed the seminar.


Mufti Abu Hurera Mohi-ud-Din said they welcomed the National Security Policy but it was tragic that seminaries were also included in it.Later, certificates were distributed among the successful students.


KARACHI: Senior clerics of India’s top seminary whose version of Islam the Taliban claim to follow have denounced the actions of the hardline militia, saying the group does not qualify to enjoy affiliations with the historic madressah.

In an interview with a correspondent of the BBC Urdu Service, the rector and the head of faculty of Darul Uloom (Waqf) Deoband said attacks by ‘vigilantes’ in which innocent people died was not jihad but ‘individual zulm (oppression)’.

Seen in this light, attacks on shrines, barber shops and educational institutions were all un-Islamic. Maulana Saalim Qasimi went to the extent of characterising the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which was ousted by the US forces in 2001, as ‘un-Islamic’.

He said the Taliban did not comprehend fully the tenets of Islam even though much was made of their ‘Islamic government’.

He said Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who supported the Afghan regime, was not a religious scholar. ‘He is more of a politician than a scholar.’ ‘However, his father, Mufti Mehmood, was a scholar,’ he said.

Maulana Aslam Qasimi, great grandson of Qasim Nanotvi, the founder of the madressah, said the recent statement by Sufi Mohammad that judiciary in Pakistan was un-Islamic was based on misconceptions and ignorance.

He said that Islam embraced concepts like democracy. ‘The spirit of democracy is very much there in Islam, though concepts like democracy have been taking new shapes and forms.’



against Terrorism: Indian Deobandis Condemn Violence
Thanks to Kamala Kanta Dash
Since ‘9/11’ and the global war on terrorism that followed, Muslim clerics and intellectualsin India have been under pressure from various quarters to publically denounce terrorism.This demand has come from media, political parties and fellow non-Muslim citizens. On 31May 2008, the leading Islamic Seminary Darul-Uloom Deoband (based in Uttar Pradesh)issued a public “Fatwa against terrorism” at a public rally of no less than 100,000 Islamicclerics in Delhi. This paper analyses the background to the declaration, the contents of theFatwa by the Deobandis and the responses from the ruling Congress Party government, theright wing (Hindu fundamentalist) opposition BJP, the Delhi Police and also Muslimintellectuals. What is the significance of this Fatwa, can the declaration make a difference,and why have terrorist explosions rocked New Delhi since this declaration (most recently, inearly September 2008, 5 bombs went off in Delhi)?
On May 31 2008 more than a hundred thousand clerics, under the banner of 
 Darul Uloom Deoband 
issued a fatwa on terrorism and declared violence to be un-Islamic.
 The fatwa was also highly critical of the Indian government and police treatment of Muslims. It demanded deeper community engagement and greater sensitivity towardsMuslims.
The paper was presented in the International Conference on
 Radicalisation Crossing Borders
, GlobalTerrorism Research Centre (GTReC), Political and Social Inquiry (PSI), Monash University, 26-27November 2008. The author wishes to thank Dr. Pete Lentini for his encouragement and Prof. MarikaVicziany for her valuable insights, inputs and comments. The usual disclaimers apply. The author isthankful for the helpful suggestions received from anonymous referees.
 Darul Uloom
(can be translated as house/abode of knowledge, others regard this as house of science),the most influential Islamic educational institution in South Asia, is located at Deoband in the districtof Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh, India. This seminary was established in 1866 during the Britishcolonial rule. The Deobandis represent the majority Sunni denomination of Islam and follow the
School of thought. A renowned centre of Islamic learning (
), the Darul Uloom is alsoknown for their nationalist orientation which played an important role in the Indian freedom struggle.In India Muslims constitute around 14% of the 1.1 billion populations and close to 90% of Muslimsfollow Sunni Islam. For more details on Deoband see the official site: For a brief introduction on the seminary see The Milli Gazette,
 Darul Uloom Deoband For moreon the history and impact of the Deobandi movement refer to Metcalf (2003) and Tabassum (2006),and for Muslim population details, refer to the official Census of India website: 
For the May 2008 fatwa against terrorism see CNN-IBN (2008). For more information on earlierinitiatives in this direction see the
 Fatwas against Terrorism,
Muslims for Secular Democracy (2008), 

 < /span>2This paper analyses the Deobandi fatwa as a community initiative and the Indiangovernment’s response to it. It also evaluates the responses of the major politicalparties. It compares the fatwa with a police encounter six days after the Delhibombings in September 2008. The situation after the bombings raises the question of why and how the Indian government failed to engage the community in dealing withterrorism, even though the Muslim community had come forward to cooperate.
Fatwa on Terrorism and the Deobandis
comes from the Arabic root word
which means to describe or enlighten.”(Abdulaziz al-Gharyani, 2007) 
A fatwa seeks to explain, analyse or interpret the different facets of Islamic life.
 Hence a fatwa is issued to clear doubts and set guidelines for proper behaviour. Withthe passage of time the fatwa has acquired a quasi-legal status, and its rulings arewidely accepted and followed. Therefore the fatwa can be defined as an edict orinstruction issued by a recognised body of Islamic scholars or a well-qualified Islamicscholar on different matters pertaining to socio-political, cultural and public affairsaspects of a Muslim society.
 Ironically the word ‘fatwa’ became internationally known when Ayatollah Khomeiniof Iran issued one against Salman Rushdie in 1989 for his controversial book 
TheSatanic Verses
(Guardian, 1989). A decade later Osama Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa towage
against the United States and its allies made international headlines.
 These fatawa have created an incorrect stereotype that suggests that fatawa aretypically oppressive or violent. Despite this, and especially since 9/11, many Islamic scholars and centres of learninghave denounced violence and issued fatawa against terrorism.
Until now, however,there have been very few studies of these kinds of fatawa. Because the Deobandi
is singular,
is plural.
For a detailed analysis of fatwa see Bar (2006: pp. 1-18).
For a detailed analysis of this fatwa see Ranstorp (1998: pp. 321- 330) and National Commission onTerrorist Attacks (2004).
9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission onTerrorist Attacks Upon the United States
. New York. W.W. Norton & Company.
For a detailed list of such fatawa see


 3fatawa of 31 May 2008 is such a powerful symbol of Islamic peace initiatives, it isparticularly worthy of study.
 The Deoband School was established in Uttar Pradesh against the backdrop of theanti-colonial struggles in 1866.
The Deobandis were closely associated with thesecular-oriented Indian National Congress Party, and the Deobandi clergy opposedthe idea of the ‘two-nation theory’ and the creation of a separate state of Pakistan.Ironically today the Deobandis are ideologically powerful in Pakistan and arerepresentative of the different sectarian groupings into which Muslims fall.
Incontemporary India the Deobandi opposition to Pakistan’s formation has long beenforgotte
n, and it is now commonly assumed that the Deobandis are merely Islamic
fundamentalists. This misunderstanding perhaps explains why the fatwa discussed inthe next section was not taken sufficiently seriously.
India’s Fatwa on Terrorism:
Text and Context
After 9/11, institutions and intellectuals in Muslim societies across the world,especially leading seminaries like Deoband, were placed under serious scrutiny andaccused of being silent sympathisers of fundamentalist Islam. There were persistentdemands from all quarters in India that the Deobandis denounce terrorism. With eachterrorist attack Indian Muslims were targeted and arrested, and a pattern of witch-hunting of Muslim youth by police has been clearly visible (Sikand, 2008). By thistime a dominant stereotype has also developed that Muslims do not want to engagewith the state or with non-Muslim communities.Since Independence in 1947, Indian Muslims have faced difficult questions abouttheir loyalty to India and how national identity can be reconciled to their faith. The
Deobandi ideology and movement is being see< span class="l6" style="margin:0 0 0 -6px;padding:0;border:none;font-size:inherit;font-variant:inherit;font-stretch:inherit;line-height:1;vertical-align:baseline;box-sizing:border-box;height:1px;display:inline;">n as inspiration to the Taliban. The
9/11 commission Report,
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, p.63.  
For details see Metcalf (2003)
and Tabassum (2006)
Abdullah Hussain Haroon Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN ‘linked the Deobandseminary to Taliban fighters in NWFP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)’ and spoke of the need a fatwa from Deoband to stop terrorism in Pakistan, quoted in The Times of India (2008).
After 9/11 there were initial efforts in India to denounce violence and terrorism as un-Islamic butthey all remained confined to their local milieu. The Deoband initiative is the first of its kind that hasbeen able to reach the national level. For a detailed analysis of fatwa see
Bar (2006).


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