Deobandis? Which Deobandis are you bashing?

Discussion in 'Identity, Activism and Unity' started by Ismail Ibrahim, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Ismail Ibrahim

    Ismail Ibrahim Formerly Harris Hammam


    I promise this doesn't turn out to be on of those threads that I post then leave for two years. This should just be a short thread as it attempts to narrow down a group of specific people within a larger group to a specific terminology.

    For months upon months, I have by my been criticised in my (moderate) Deobandi circle - left right centre - that the term Deobandi I keep on using is wrong, and that I shouldn't generalise. They acknowledge the problems I present, but they still criticise me for my over-generalisation in wording.

    They have a point. Also, why should I go out of my way to harm myself and my integrity if I generalise about them, since we all know by now they are not all the same?

    But in my defence, I have repeatedly told them, "How else am I supposed to refer to them? Anti-Salafi Deobandis? Fanatical Deobandis? Deobandi extremists?" In other words, how many or what type of qualifiers should I put with the name so that I am precise enough with the term and the exact people I am dealing with are understood?

    Although I felt uncomfortable with these wordy additions, I started using this. So you have Deobandi fanatics, Deobandi Madkhalis...

    I picked up the term "Deobandi Madkhali" from somewhere on IA, which was a good representative of the Hizbi mentality these Deobandis have with other Muslims who are not of their orientation.

    It was a better term, which I have frequently-shortened down to D-Madkhalis. (Next we'll be having E-Madkhalis or something).

    However, the more thought I gave it, the more uncomfortable I became with this. Madkhalism is something rejected by these Deobandis themselves, so it's a bit of an oxymoron. In addition, Madkhalism has problems quite specific to it that makes it impossible for us to marry the terms Deobandi and Madkhali with each other when referring to these Deobandi extremist.

    The problem is further compounded when we realise that Deobandi means nothing really apart from an academic affiliation, as was its original connotation. This was another legitimate criticism that has been levelled at me by Deobandi colleagues, that criticising "Deobandis" for their Aqeedah and/or Taqleed mentality is like criticising "Azharis" - it doesn't make sense.

    Now that I have given this issue of reference proper thought, I have coined for my personal reference a technical term that:
    - accurately describes these particular Deobandis as a species that needs to be eradicated
    - does no harm to the Deobandis we are not trying to refute and are actually trying to build bridges with
    - reflects the original connotation of the term Deobandi - a mere academic affiliation like Azhari - but then was later evolved with the incorporation of ideologies - political, theological, jurisprudential and legal
    - acknowledges that Deobandism as an ideology has its problems that are treatable and can be worked with, but a strand of it is completely out of order and must be eradicated for our own sake as well as for the sake of their open-minded moderates

    Deobandi Mutant, or Mutant Deobandism, or الديوبندية المتطفرة

    These are terms which I hope gathers these elements succinctly.

    I believe this should appease the critics within my circles, who by the way are not unhappy with what I say, but the way I come across in this regard. The term mutant acknowledges:

    - there is an original Deobandi brand that deserves to be preserved and protected from the later changes that have occurred in its name
    - that it is born out of somewhat of an illness, though this illness can be treated in many, whereas its mutated forms can only be eradicated for the preservation of its original form
    - that it is indeed damaging to others in terms of the unity of the Ummah, but it is primarily most damaging to itself

    And of course, the Deobandi mutants don't like the fact that we can actually respect the Deobandi elders despite what we believe are their mistakes - severe in some cases. In fact, many a time, I have held myself back from discussing the extremely weak points of these elders. If I have done so, it has been through the Deobandis themselves, like Maulana Aamir Usmani, or the likes of Anwar Badakhshani, or Maulana Essa Mansuri, et al.

    For the record, I don't recollect insulting any Deobandi elder who deserves respect, and my discussions and scathing criticisms are directed primarily to these Deobandi mutants I discuss the issues with. Of course, they like to think they are some sort of representatives of the Deoband of old when in fact they are so far removed from it you guys on IA won't believe it. Yet, when they are refuted by us, they take it so personally they feel we are attacking earlier scholars. And how wrong they are indeed! They are no representatives of the elders of Deoband!

    Finally for now, the term Deobandi must be understood to have different meanings and connotations, and not every one should be read the same. Just like not every usage of the term Salafi is the same.

    Perhaps the exclusive characteristics of these Deobandi mutants can be discussed at a later date.


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