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Islamic Studies The Deoband Madrasa
by
SherAli Tareen

Introduction

The Deoband Madrasa is one of the most influential reform movements in modern Islam. It was established in the North Indian town of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, in 1867 by a group of prominent Indian Muslim scholars (‘Ulama’). More specifically, the charismatic scholars Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d. 1906) and Qasim Nanautvi (d. 1877) set the foundations of this educational institution of religious learning that has impacted the intellectual, social, and political history of South Asian Islam in profound ways. In the early 21st century, with its parent institution in India, the Deoband school boasts the largest network of satellite madrasas all over Pakistan, Bangladesh, neighboring countries in Asia and beyond, and as far afield as the Caribbean, South Africa, Britain, and the United States. Deobandi madrasas account for approximately fifty to sixty thousand institutions on the Indian subcontinent alone, with the largest concentration by far in India. However, it is important to stress here that although innumerable madrasas in various parts of the Muslim world call themselves “Deobandi,” their ties to the founding school in Deoband, which continues to exist in the early 21st century, may well be only tenuous or even nonexistent. This is an important point because it shows that quite apart from the physical institution of the madrasa, the term “Deobandi” also connotes a certain ideological strand of thinking, or a particular thought-style within Sunni Islam in the modern world. A staunch commitment to the canonical authority of Hanafi law and a renewed emphasis on the study of Hadith are arguably the two most defining elements of the Deobandi tradition. The curriculum of study followed at most Deobandi madrasas is known as the Dars-i Nizami, a corpus of texts introduced into the ’Ulama‘ traditions of South Asia by the influential 18th-century scholar Mullah Nizam al-Din Muhammad (d. 1748), founder of the Farangi Mahall School in Lucknow. The pioneers of Deoband systematized this very flexible curricular template according to their own ideological needs and sensibilities; most notably they deemphasized texts dealing with logic and philosophy and amplified the significance of Hadith studies. It must be stressed here that there is no such thing as a uniform and monolithic Deobandi tradition. In fact, historically and more recently perhaps the greatest strength of the institution has been the remarkable diversity of ideological temperaments, styles of argumentation, and projects of reform that populate its intellectual history.

General Overviews

The first major monograph specifically devoted to the institutional and intellectual history of Deoband was Metcalf 1982. This book is largely focused on the early years of the madrasa. It contains a rich array of information on the ideological foundations, the social context, and the lives of the institution’s pioneers. Metcalf 1982 attempts to present the cultural milieu in which the early luminaries of Deoband flourished as scholars and to explain the various modalities of religious reform that they sought to advance in the Indian public sphere. The next major intervention in this field was Zaman 2002, which in many ways is a paradigm-shifting work not only in the study of ‘Ulama’ traditions in South Asia but also in the field of contemporary Islam as a whole. Reetz 2006 is another important work that analyzes the contestations between various Muslim reformist groups in colonial India (from 1900 to 1947 more precisely), including Deoband, on competing conceptions of an ideal public sphere. A highly accessible and informative work that covers both early Deoband history and some of the late-20th- and early-21st-century intellectual trends found in the institution is Sikand 2005. This book mostly focuses on postcolonial India and treats a wide range of themes, including madrasa reform and the politics surrounding the association of madrasas with militancy. Moosa 2010, in Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism, represents a rare inquiry into the thought of Qari Tayyab (d. 1983), a major Deoband scholar who was also the grandson of one of the school’s founders, Qasim Nanautvi. Much work remains to be done on the various modalities of Sufism found in the Deobandi tradition. However, Kugle 2007 is an important contribution on the thought of Haji Imdadullah (d. 1899), the Sufi guru of Deoband’s pioneers. Part of a larger work on Sufi understandings of the body, the chapter on Imdadullah analyzes one of his seminal texts on meditation practices and exercises. For a historical treatment of the involvement of certain Deobandi scholars in the mutiny of 1857, Jalal 2008 on jihad in South Asia is a useful source. An excellent primary source on the contours of Deobandi ideology is Qarri Tayyab’s ʿ‘Ulama’-yi Deoband ka Dini Rukh awr Maslaki Mizaj (Tayyab n.d.). This compact yet detailed book tries to project Deoband as an ideology of moderation that is a composite of various knowledge traditions in Islam. The language of the text is quite simple and lucid. Zaman 2012 is a comparative transnational study of intra-‘Ulama’ debates and perspectives on contentious ethical and political questions in contemporary South Asia and the Arab Middle East. This book is a rare inquiry into the religious thought of major yet less known contemporary Deoband scholars.

  • Jalal, Ayesha. Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    A study of various Jihad movements in colonial South Asia. It includes a chapter on the 1857 mutiny that will be of interest to students of the Deoband movement.

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  • Kugle, Scott. Sufis and Saintsʾ Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, and Sacred Power in Islam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

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    A cross-regional and multitemporal work on conceptions of the body and religious authority in Sufism. Contains a chapter on the thought of the Sufi guru of the Deoband pioneers, Haji Imdadullah.

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  • Metcalf, Barbara. Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860–1900. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982.

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    A pioneering study of the institutional, intellectual, and social history of the Deoband Madrasa, with a focus on its first few decades.

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  • Moosa, Ebrahim. “History and Normativity in Traditional Indian Muslim Thought: Reading Shariʾa in the Hermeneutics of Qari Muhammad Tayyab (d. 1983).” In Rethinking Islamic Studies: From Orientalism to Cosmopolitanism. Edited by Carl Ernst and Richard Martin, 281–301. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2010.

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    An analysis of the Deoband luminary Qari Tayyab’s work Ijtihaq aur Taqlid (Independent reasoning and authority) that seeks to theorize the agonistics of law, temporality, and history in Islamic legal theory more generally and in the thought of Deoband ‘Ulama’ in particular.

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  • Reetz, Dietrich. Islam in the Public Sphere: Religious Groups in India, 1900–1947. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    An in-depth study of the various currents of contestation between the major Muslim reformist groups in colonial India.

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  • Sikand, Yoginder. Bastions of the Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India. New Delhi: Penguin India, 2005.

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    A survey of Muslim traditions of learning in India. Largely focuses on the institutional history of madrasas in postcolonial India and the various challenges they face from both within and outside of Muslim communities in South Asia and beyond.

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  • Tayyab, Qari. ʿ‘Ulama’-yi Deoband ka Dini Rukh awr Maslaki Mizaj. Deoband, India: Shuʾba-yi nashr wa ishaʾat, n.d.

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    A systematic representation of the Deobandi ideology by Qari Tayyab, the former principal of the school and the grandson of one of its founders, Qasim Nanautvi.

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  • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. The ʿ‘Ulama’ in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    A critically important monograph on ‘Ulama’ discourses in colonial India and Pakistan. Conceptualizes the agonistics of tradition and modernity in various texts and contexts, with a focus on the religious and political thought of Deobandi ‘Ulama’. It addresses the question of how the ‘Ulama’ of Deoband (and contemporary ‘Ulama’ more generally) articulate, contest, and defend their religious authority through various discursive and nondiscursive means.

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  • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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    A study of intra-Muslim scholarly debates and discourses on pressing contemporary question such as religious education, women’s rights, socio-economic justice and terrorism that focuses on South Asia and the Arab Middle East.

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Reference Resources

The best online source for information about Deoband and its self-projection as a reformist ideology is the institution’s website Darul Uloom Deoband. Darul-Uloom Al-Madania is the official website of the largest Deobandi madrasa in North America, in Buffalo, New York.

  • Darul Uloom Deoband.

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    Featured in Arabic, English, and Urdu, this website contains a detailed account of the institution’s history and present activities. Arguably the most interesting section of the website is its online fatwa center, where readers will find several fascinating threads of questions and answers on various aspects of moral conduct and practice, including family relations, ritual practices, food consumption, and, perhaps most frequently, sexual ethics.

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    • Darul-Uloom Al-Madania.

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      Also has a link to a very useful online bookstore that sells a wide range of books on Deobandi thought, Islamic law, South Asian Islam, Hadith, and Qurʾan studies.

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      Biographies

      Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi (d. 1943) and Husayn Ahmad Madani (d. 1957) were arguably the two most influential Deobandi ‘Ulama’ in the first half of the 20th century. Their legacies continue to permeate the intellectual landscape of South Asian Islam in important ways. These figures are also the subject of two critical biographies published in the useful Oneworld Press Makers of the Muslim World series. Muhammad Qasim Zaman’s biography of Thanvi (Zaman 2008) is a brief yet remarkably detailed and insightful book. Zaman traces multiple aspects of Thanvi’s career as one of the foremost scholars in the Deoband hierarchy, and the work includes his political thought during the Khilafat movement in the 1920s and 1930s, his approach to the Qurʾan, his legal thought and temperament in relation to issues of ritual practice and gender, and his career as a prominent Sufi. Some of the intra-Deobandi tensions among the pioneers of the institution on the limits of normative practice, especially in relation to the scope of Sufism in Islam, are also treated in this short book with admirable precision. Similarly, Metcalf 2009 provides an intimate account of Madani’s career as a reformer and of the fascinating political context in which he emerged as a leading Indian Muslim nationalist in the colonial era. While centered on Madani, this book also contains one of the most accessible and lucid narratives of the wider political struggles, conspiracies, and hardships that enveloped the Indian Muslim elite during the first few decades of the 20th century. Madani’s relationship with the prominent Mahmud Hassan (d. 1920), ‘Ulama’ resistance to British colonial rule and their ensuing imprisonment in Malta in 1916, and Madani’s role in critical political movements such as the noncooperation movement in the 1930s are some of the themes that are discussed in great detail in this book. Either of these two highly accessible yet critical biographies will be useful in a class on religion and Islam in colonial India.

      • Metcalf, Barbara. Husain Ahmad Madani: The Jihad for Islam and India’s Freedom. Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2009.

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        A critical biography of a major Deoband scholar in the 20th century, Husain Ahmad Madani. Contains an extensive discussion of the political milieu of Muslim India in that era.

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      • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. Ashraf ʿAli Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008.

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        An account of the life and thought of arguably the most prominent Indian Muslim scholar, Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi. Deals with various aspects of his career as a jurist, Qurʾan exegete, and Sufi and more generally as a charismatic leader of the Indian Muslim community in colonial India.

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      Primary Works in Translation

      In addition to scholarly monographs and articles, some important translations of major Deobandi texts also represent indispensable sources for gaining a more tactile and immediate understanding of the various discursive styles found in this tradition. Barbara Metcalf’s partial translation (Metcalf 1990) of the seminal text Bihishti Zewar (Heavenly ornaments, Urdu) by Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi is an invaluable resource for understanding Deobandi understandings of ideal conduct in the practice of everyday life and a moral public sphere, especially in relation to gender. Metcalf 2009 is a collection of short articles on and accompanying translations of important texts from the intellectual history of South Asian Islam more generally, which includes three very readable and enjoyable articles on important Deobandi texts. Tareen 2013 is a partial translation of the prominent Chishti Sabiri Sufi master Haji Imdadullah's (d. 1899) Urdu text Faysala-i Haft Mas'ala (A Resolution to the Seven Controversies). The Sufi guru of the pioneers of Deoband, Imdadullah wrote this text to pacify the intensity of intra-Sunni polemics that enveloped Indian ‘Ulama’ during the late 19th century. This text provides a fascinating example of a Sufi scholar's attempt to curate a hermeneutics of reconciliation that engages controversial legal and ethical questions.

      • Metcalf, Barbara. Perfecting Women: Maulana Ashraf ʿAli Thanawi’s Bihishti Zewar: A Partial Translation with Commentary. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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        A partial translation of arguably the most well-known and widely read reformist text in South Asian Islamic literature. The text deals with the proper moral conduct of women and is written by the legendary Deoband scholar Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi.

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      • Metcalf, Barbara, ed. Islam in South Asia in Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

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        A collection of brief analytical reflections and translation of various texts in the intellectual history of South Asian Islam. Fareeha Khan’s article discusses a juridical opinion (fatawa) of Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi on the limits of parental rights over children; Ebrahim Moosa writes about the Imarat-i Shariʾat movement in colonial India, an informal Muslim juridical network; and Qasim Zaman provides the reader with a fascinating glimpse into the experience of a madrasa education.

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      • Tareen, SherAli. The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation: Haji Imdadullah’s Faysala-yi Haft Mas’ala (A Resolution to the Seven Controversies). Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal, University of Texas at Austin South Asia Institute, Volume 21, (May 2013), pp.1-16.

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        A Partial translation of Haji Imdadullah's Faysala-yi Haft Mas'ala (A Resolution to the Seven Controversies), a text that sought to establish harmony among rival Sunni Muslim ideological groups in late 19th century India.

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      Polemical Encounters

      The colonial era was not only a time of tremendous intellectual fermentation in Muslim India but also was marked by an unprecedented level and intensity of polemical activity. Indeed, one may argue that the genre of the polemic represented one of the most dominant modes of discourse among the ‘Ulama’ of colonial India. The ‘Ulama’ of Deoband were at the center of various intersecting polemical situations. One of the most formidable challenges to the normative coherency of Deobandi thought was posed by the distinguished Indian Muslim scholar Ahmad Raza Khan (d. 1921), the founder of what came to be known as the Barelvi school of thought, named after Khan’s place of birth, the town of Rai Barayli in the province of Uttar Pradesh in North India. Sanyal 1996 covers the Barelvi school and contains a very useful discussion of the historical context of the Deobandi-Barelvi polemic. The major points of disagreement between the two schools are also summarized in this book, although of course with a focus on Khan’s critique of Deobandi thought. The reincarnation of these polemical discourses in Deobandi and Barelvi madrasas in postcolonial India forms the main subject of the important article ʿAlam 2008. Focusing on the madrasa Ashrafiya in Mubarakpur, India, ʿAlam 2008 presents a fascinating account of how the language of the polemic is inculcated in the students at this institution. In terms of primary sources, the prominent Deoband scholar Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri’s Barahin Qatʾia (Incontrovertible proofs), written in the late 19th century at the behest of his master and one of the founders of Deoband Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, is an indispensable and comprehensive book (Saharanpuri 1987). Similarly, Khan 2003 is a collection of several juridical opinions (fatawa) with attestations from around forty-three Meccan ‘Ulama’. Published prior to the establishment of the Saudi kingdom in 1932, this book not only documents Khan’s major arguments for anathematizing prominent Deobandi ‘Ulama’ but also provides an excellent illustration of the transnational significance of this polemic. Apart from Deobandis and Barelvis, the third major group that occupied the reformist terrain of colonial Muslim India was the Ahl-i Hadith school founded by the prolific scholar Siddiq Hassan Khan (d. 1890). A comprehensive primary source (in Urdu) for Ahl-i Hadith texts, including polemical texts against Deobandi thought, is Salafi 1992.

      • ʿAlam, Arshad. “The Enemy Within: Madrasa and Muslim Identity in North India.” Modern Asian Studies 42 (2008): 605–627.

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        An article on how the language of intra-Sunni polemics (mainly the Deobandi-Barelvi polemics) is inculcated in contemporary madrasas in India.

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      • Khan, Ahmad Raza. Husam al-Haramayn ʿala Manhar al-Kufr wa al-Mayn. Rai Barayli, India: Qadiri Kitab Ghar, 2003.

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        A collection of about forty-three juridical opinions (fatawa) denouncing Deobandi thought and its pioneers. These fatawa were sought by the founder of the Barelvi school, Ahmad Raza Khan, from the ‘Ulama’ of Mecca in the early 20th century, before 1932. This edition contains Khan’s own repudiation of his Deobandi rivals followed by the fatawa of the Meccan ‘Ulama’. A book of almost canonical status in the Barelvi narrative of the Deobandi-Barelvi polemic.

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      • Saharanpuri, Khalil Ahmad. Barahin Qatiʾa ʿala Zalam Anwar Satiʾa. Karachi: Dar al-Ishaʾat, 1987.

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        A dense and much-cited Deobandi polemical text against Barelvi thought and ideology composed by Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri at the behest of his master and one of the founders of Deoband, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. A superb catalogue of all the major points of dispute between the two schools and of their respective arguments against each other.

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      • Salafi, Muhammad Mustaqim. Jamaʾat Ahl-i Hadith Ki Tasnifi Khidmat. Varanasi: Idarat al-buhuth al-Islamiyya waʾl-daʾwa waʾl-ifta biʾl-jamiʾa al-Salafiyya, 1992.

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        A comprehensive catalogue of major Ahl-i Hadith texts. Also includes references to polemical texts against Deobandis and against conformity to canonical legal authority (taqlid) more generally.

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      • Sanyal, Usha. Devotional Islam and Politics in British India: Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi and His Movement, 1870–1920. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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        The most systematic and detailed monograph on the history and thought of the Barelvi school, especially its founder Ahmad Raza Khan. Chapters 7 and 8 address the immediate history of the Deobandi-Barelvi polemic in the late 19th century along with some of the major ideological disagreements between the two schools.

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      Political Disputes

      Apart from questions of normative practice and interpretation, the ‘Ulama’ of Deoband were also at the center of major political disputes concerning the status of Indian Muslims as a minority and the politics of colonial India’s partition into the nation-states of India and Pakistan. Moreover, the early-20th-century Khilafat movement aimed at the restoration of the Ottoman caliphate was another monumental event that profoundly impacted the political imaginaries of South Asian ‘Ulama’, including Deobandi ‘Ulama’, though with varied degrees of intensity. In this context, there was ample and at times cutting disagreement within the ranks of Deobandi ‘Ulama’ on the key question of whether the creation of a separate nation-state was necessary for safeguarding the religious and social interests of Indian Muslims. Among the most prominent scholars who answered this question emphatically in the negative was Husayn Ahmad Madani. Madani strongly opposed the creation of Pakistan. Moreover, he found no contradiction in the concept of “united nationalism”: the idea that Indian Muslims could simultaneously honor their religious identities as Muslims and their national identities as Indians. By contrast, other major Deobandi scholars, such as Mufti Muhammad Shafiʾ (d. 1979) and Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani (d. 1949), were ardent supporters of the Pakistan movement and also shifted to Pakistan after its creation. Apart from these intra-Deobandi divisions, another major player in this debate on the political limits of Indian Muslim identity was the influential modernist Islamist Sayyid Abuʾl-Aʾla Mawdudi (d. 1979), who vociferously attacked Madani’s position but was treated with general suspicion by Deobandi ‘Ulama’ of almost all political orientations. Although Mawdudi initially opposed the creation of Pakistan, he later moved to that country and founded its most important religious political group Jamʾat-i Islami. A nuanced account of these various political trends and movements is found in Muhammad Qasim Zaman’s work (see General Overviews). Although not focused exclusively on Deoband, Hardy 1972, Minault 1982, and Qureshi 1999 are all indispensable sources on the political contexts and contestations that dominated the theater of South Asian Islam during the first few decades of the 20th century. Each of these books discusses at length the role of Deobandi ‘Ulama’ in the political transformations and debates of that era. Madani 1972 is an invaluable exposition on the political ideology of arguably the most influential Deoband scholar in the political arena. Madani’s rebuttal of Mawdudi’s political and religious thought is found in Madani’s Mawdudi Dastur awr ʿAqaʾid Ki Haqiqat (The reality of Mawdudi’s ideological program and beliefs; Madani n.d.).

      • Hardy, Peter. The Muslims of British India: Partners in Freedom and True Muslims; The Political Thought of Some Muslim Scholars in British India 1912–1947. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

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        An account of the major political ideas and contestations emanating from the intellectual elite of Muslim India in the early 20th century. An intellectual as well as a social history of Indian Muslim political thought between 1912 and the end of British colonialism in India in 1947.

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      • Madani, Husayn Ahmad. Muttahida Qawmiyyat awr Islam. Delhi: Qawmi Aikta Trust, 1972.

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        A detailed exposition on the concept of united nationalism (in relation to Indian Muslim identity) by one of its foremost advocates and exponents, Husayn Ahmad Madani.

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      • Madani, Husayn Ahmad. Mawdudi Dastur awr ʿAqaʾid Ki Haqiqat. Deoband, India: Maktaba-yi diniyya, n.d.

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        A stinging critique of the Islamist scholar Sayyid Abuʾl-Aʾla Mawdudi’s political ideology and theology by the major traditionalist scholar Husayn Ahmad Madani.

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      • Minault, Gail. The Khilafat Movement: Religious Symbolism and Political Mobilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.

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        A comprehensive study of the major actors, events, and modes of political mobilization that were featured in the Khilafat movement in India.

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      • Qureshi, Naeem. Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918–1924. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

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        Building on Gail Minault’s earlier work (Minault 1982), this is a comprehensive account of the Khilafat movement. Focuses on the international networks of scholars and their ideas that defined the discursive and political terrain of this critical event in Indian Muslim history.

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      Madarassa Education

      In the post-9/11 era the word “madrasa” has been the subject of much journalistic punditry and popular vilification not only in the West but also in predominantly Muslim countries. Since some among the Taliban called themselves Deobandi, the Deoband Madrasa has been especially a target of exaggerated sensationalism and violent misrepresentations. In the early 21st century quite a few academic studies tried to add some much-needed nuance and depth to discussions on madrasa education, especially in relation to Deoband. Malik 2008, an edited volume, and Sikand 2008, a monograph, both deal with the question of madrasas and militancy directly and in-depth. Hefner and Zaman 2007 is an important edited volume on the theme of Muslim education and madrasas in various parts of the Muslim world. A fascinating primary source on the history of the Deoband curriculum and some of the challenges confronting its educational apparatus is the distinguished Deoband scholar Manazir Ahsan Gilani’s (d. 1956) Pak O Hind Mayn Musalmanawn ka Nizam-i Taʾlim O Tarbiyat (The education system of Muslims in the subcontinent; Gilani 1983). This two-volume book is not only a detailed account of Muslim education in South Asia but also showcases the ideas of someone within the tradition who was quite skeptical and critical of certain aspects of that education system. A must-read for anyone wishing to gain an advanced knowledge of Muslim educational traditions in South Asia.

      • Gilani, Manazir Ahsan. Pak O Hind Mayn Musalmanawn ka Nizam-i Taʾlim O Tarbiyat. Lahore, India: Maktabah-yi Rahmaniya, 1983.

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        A comprehensive two-volume account of madrasa traditions of education and learning in South Asia written by a prominent madrasa scholar. An internal history, appraisal, and critique of madrasa education in South Asia.

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      • Hefner, Robert W., and Muhammad Qasim Zaman, eds. Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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        An edited volume with eleven chapters on the transmission of religious knowledge and the characteristics of madrasa education in various parts of the Muslim world. Apart from one article on Muslim education in the medieval period (chapter 2), the book is mostly focused on the contemporary world. South Asia, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey are some of the case studies and contexts that make up the focus of this book. Chapter 3 (by Muhammad Qasim Zaman) and chapter 4 (by Barbara Metcalf) are devoted to madrasas in South Asia, especially Deoband.

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      • Malik, Jamal, ed. Madrasas in South Asia: Teaching Terror? New York: Routledge, 2008.

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        An edited volume with ten articles on various aspects of madrasa education in contemporary South Asia. Contains separate discussions on madrasas associated with the most prominent ideological groups in India, Pakistan, and to a lesser extent, Bangladesh. Also contains articles specifically focused on the question of violence and militancy in South Asian madrasas.

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      • Sikand, Yoginder. Issues of Madrasa Education in India. Gurgaon, India: Hope India, 2008.

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        A brief survey of the major challenges and issues confronting madrasa education in early-21st-century India. A more succinct account of some of the themes developed in greater detail in his larger work Bastions of the Believers (New Delhi: Penguin India, 2005).

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      Articles on Deoband

      An excellent account of some of the international networks of students and ideological thought associated with Deoband is in Reetz 2007. This article provides a systematic account of the proliferation and transformation of Deobandi thought and institutional frameworks in such places as the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and South Africa. As such, it is an ideal source for learning about the Deobandi diaspora and its links with parent madrasas in India and Pakistan. A major Deobandi scholar whose thought is yet to receive much attention in the Euro-American academy is ʿUbaydullah Sindhi (d. 1944). A Sikh convert to Islam, Sindhi was an accomplished scholar in various Islamic disciplines who also led a major conspiracy against British rule during the first few decades of the 20th century. Zaman 2006 is an important contribution to studies on Sindhi’s thought. This article addresses various ways ‘Ulama’ in the contemporary world have understood the contours and limits of the Islamic juristic concept of consensus (Ijmaʾ). Sindhi is one of Muhammad Qasim Zaman’s case studies. He shows how for Sindhi the “consensus of the community” did not only include the consensus of Muslims but also that of non-Muslims, such as Hindus. In this formulation, Sindhi was heavily indebted to the 13th-century Andalusian Sufi Ibn ʿArabi’s doctrine of wahdat al-wujud (unity of being). The prominent Deoband scholar Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi’s seminal text Islamic Rights (Huquq al-Islam) is the subject of the short but important article Mian and Potter 2009. This article explores Thanvi’s conception of such categories as hierarchy, the human, and human rights through an examination of this text. The authors liberally engage Thanvi’s thoughts with the insights of critical theory scholars, such as Max Horkheimer. A translation of the text is also provided in the article. Tareen 2009, A Special Issue on the Deoband Madrasa, is a special edition of the journal Muslim World that contains five articles on various aspects of Deobandi thought in both its early history and its postcolonial context. It includes the prominent early-21st-century Deoband scholar Mufti Taqi Uthmani’s conception of conformity to canonical legal authority, taqlid, Thanvi’s discourse on a woman’s right to divorce, the convergence in Thanvi and his bitter rival Ahmad Raza Khan’s imaginaries of Sufism, the Deoband founder Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s negotiation of Sufism and law in the colonial public sphere, and early Deobandi discourses on heretical innovation, bidʾa. An introduction by Ebrahim Moosa provides an excellent theoretical framing for thinking about the category of a Deobandi tradition; it also summarizes the state of the field of Deoband studies. Tareen 2013 discusses the religious thought of the founder of the Deoband Madrasa Qasim Nanautvi in the context of an inter-religious polemical festival "Mubahisa-i Shahjahanpur" held in the North Indian district of Shahjahanpur during the late 19th century. This article focuses on Nanautvi's views on prophetic miracles and raises larger questions about the interaction of religion, secularism, and colonial modernity in India.

      • Mian, Ali Altaf, and Nancy Nyquist Potter. “Invoking Islamic Rights in British India: Ashraf ʿAli Thanawi’s Huquq al-Islam.” Muslim World 99.2 (2009): 312–334.

        DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2009.01271.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An essay on the Deoband scholar Ashraf ʿAli Thanvi’s text Islamic Rights. Contains a convenient translation of the Urdu primary text into English.

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      • Reetz, Dietrich. “The Deoband Universe: What Makes a Transcultural and Transnational Education Movement of Islam.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 27 (2007): 139–159.

        DOI: 10.1215/1089201x-2006-049Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Article on the transnational networks of education and ideologies associated with the Deoband movement. Published in a special edition titled South-South Linkages in Islam with articles on various international movements and currents of Muslim thought in contemporary South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

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      • Tareen, SherAli, ed. Special Issue: A Special Issue on the Deoband Madrasa. Muslim World 99.3 (July 2009).

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        The first special edition in a Euro-American journal devoted exclusively to Deobandi thought and history. Contains six articles (including an introduction) on multiple aspects of the movement’s intellectual history, including legal authority, law and gender, and Sufism and heresy.

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      • Tareen, SherAli, ed. The Polemic of Shahjahanpur: Religion, History, and Miracles Islamic Studies Journal Islamic Research Institute, Volume 51, Number 1, (July 2013), pp. 49-67.

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        Article on a polemical festival "Mubahisa-i Shahjahanpur" held in late 19th century India that brought together leading Hindu, Muslim, and Christian missionary scholars, including Qasim Nanautvi, one of the founders of the Deoband Madrasa. Through a discussion of Nanautvi's views on prophetic miracles, it addresses larger questions about religion and the secular in colonial India.

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      • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. “Consensus and Religious Authority in Modern Islam: The Discourses of the ʿ‘Ulama’.” In Speaking for Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies. Edited by Gudrun Kramer and Sabine Schmidke, 153–181. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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        Article on some of the ambivalences attached to the way contemporary ‘Ulama’ articulate the content and limits of consensus in Muslim legal thought. Discusses the viewpoint on this issue of a critical yet little-studied scholar in the Deoband tradition, ʿUbaydullah Sindhi.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 03/27/2014

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195390155-0019

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