The Track ( Maslak ) of Darul Uloom
The track of Darul Uloom Deoband, shall be in accordance with the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, Hanafiate practical method (Mazhab) and the disposition (Mashrab) of its holy founders, Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanautavi (Allah's mercy be on him!) and Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi (may his secret be sanctified).
The preservation of the track of Darul Uloom shall be a duty of all the members and kindred of the Darul Uloom. No employee or student of Darul Uloom shall be permitted to attend any such society, institution or function the attendance where of may be injurious to the track or interest of the Darul Uloom.
As far as the religious attitude of Darul Uloom and its elders is concerned, it has been clearly stated in a very eloquent and concise manner by Hazrat Maulana Mohammad Tayyib, vice chancellor of Darul Uloom in his treatise entitled Maslak-e-Ulama-e-Deoband.Its summary, more or less in his own words, is as follows:
"Academically this Waliyullahian party is, by track, Ahlus Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, which is based on the Book, the Sunnah, consensus (Ijm'a) and analogy (Qiyas). According to it, the foremost position in all propositions (Masa'il) is held by tradition (Naql), narration (RiwayaT) and the predecessors historical traditions (A'sar), on which the entire building of religion rests. With it, the purports of the Book and the Sunnah can be determined not merely by the power of study but by being confined within the limits of the predecessors' saying and their bequeathed taste, and, to boot, through the company of and attendance on the Shaikhs and their teachings and training. At the same time, intellect and knowledge (Derayat) and discernment of religion (Tafaqqoh Fiddin), too are according to it, a very important factor in the under standing of the Book and the Sunnah. Keeping the intent and purpose of the Legislator (peace be on him!) from amongst the collection of traditions (Riwayat) before itself it connects all the traditions to it and concatenates all of them grade wise at their respective places in such a way that they all look like links of the same chain. Hence the "collocation of tradition" (Jama Bainar Riwaytain) and the "condition of Hadiths' (Tatbiq-e-Ahadith) at the time of mutual contradiction is its main principle the purport of which is that it does not want to leave or omit even the weakest of the weak traditions, so long as it is not fit to be protested against. On this basis, in the sight of this party, contradiction and variance is not felt anywhere in the explicit legal texts; on the contrary, the entire religion, being free from contradiction and variance, looks like a bouquet in which academic and practical flowers of every hue look blooming at their respective places. Along with this, self-purification (Tazkiya-e-Nafs) and self-improvement (Islah-e-Batin), in accordance with the manner of the wayfarers (Ahl-e-Sulook), which is innocent of and free from formalities, usage's and exhibitive rapture and discourse, are also necessary in this track. It favored its dedicated followers with the heights of knowledge as well as adorned them with human morals like slave hood (Abadiyat) and humility. If the members of this party, on the one hand, reached the heights of academic dignity, self-satisfaction (Istaghna) - academically - and self-content (Ghina-e-Nafs) - morally - on the other, they were also abundantly invested with the humbling sentiments of complaisance, humility, self-denial and abstinence; neither did they become a prey to arrogance, pride and self-conceit nor were involved in self-humiliation and wretchedness. While they, reaching the heights of knowledge and morality, began to look higher than the common run of men, at the same time, adorned with the virtues of humility and sub-mission humbleness and complaisance and non-discrimination, they mixed freely with the masses and yet remained "unique among the people". While they sought seclusion for striving with the unregenerate soul (Mujahada) and spiritual communion or contemplation (Muraqaba), at the same time they also displayed warrior - and crusader-like zeal as also feelings for communal service. In short, through the mixed feelings and desires of knowledge and morality, seclusion and congregation (Jalwat), striving and jihad, moderation and the golden mean became they distinctive feature in every religion circle; which is a natural Corollary of the comprehensiveness of sciences and moderateness of morals. It is for this reason that among them the meaning of becoming a traditionalist is not to be dispute with the jurisconsult or of being a jurist consult is not to be disgusted with the traditionalist; or the meaning of Nisbat-e-Ihsani (predilection for Sufism) is not to be hostile to the dialectician (Mutakallim) or the meaning of acumen in dialectics is not to be weary of Sufism. On the contrary, under this comprehensive track the graduate of this institution proved, by gradation, simultaneously a traditionalist, a jurisprudence, a professional commentator of the Quran, a Mufti, a dialectician, a Sufi (Muhsin), a physician and a protector (Murabbi), in whom the mixed sentiments of abstinence and contentment sans beggarliness, modesty and self-effacement sans cajolement, com-passion and mercy with "enjoining the right conduct" (Amr bil-ma'roof) and "the forbidding of indecency" (Nahi anil-munkar), composure of heart with communal service and "solitude in a crowd" (khalwat Dar Anjuman), became firm. Or, the other hand, the feelings of moderation, recognition of dues and the fulfillment of rights in regard to arts and sciences and the men of arts and sciences permeated in them as virtues of the self. Hence all the masters of learning and excellence and the well-versed scholars in all the branches of religion, whether they be traditionists or jurisprudenis, Sufis or Gnostics, scholastic theologians or fundamentalists, the nobles of Islam or caliphs, all of them are worthy of respect and faith in their sight. To extol or run down any class of Ulama or to be careless as regards legal limits in praise or censure is not the track of this party. With this comprehensive method the Darul-Uloom, by its academic services, diffused the light of the prophetic sciences from Siberia in the north to Java and Sumatra in the south and from Burma in the east to Arabia and Africa in the west, wherefore the thorough fares of sacred morals became clearly visible.
On the other hand, its scholars never shrank from political and national services, so much so that, from 1803 to 1947, the individuals of this party offered in their own style the greatest possible sacrifices which are on record in the pages of history. The political and warrior-like strives of these august men can never be concealed; particularly the events in the second half of the thirteenth century when the Mughal regime was tottering, the efforts for revolution, jihad-like steps and self-sacrificing struggle under the auspices especially of Shaikhul Masha'ikh Haji lmdadullah for the national liberty and independence, and the imprisonment and bandage on arrest-warrants of his two favorite proselytes (Murids), viz., Maulana Mohammad Qasim and Maulana Rasheed Ahmed and their dedicated followers and attendants, are such historical facts which can neither be denied nor thrown into oblivion. The people who wish to conceal them merely for the reason that they were themselves not accepted in the path of sacrifice will add to their own unpopularity. According to research scholars and those who are knowledgeable about this aspect of the Indian history, all such writings whether emanating from one who may have some connection with Deoband or from a non-Deobandi that negate the jihad-like services of these august men are unreliable and absolutely unworthy of attention. If a favorable view is taken the utmost accounting of these writings can be only this much that these writings, as a result of the awesome factors of the time, are a demonstration of foresight and circumspection to the personal extent, Otherwise, in view of the historical and factual evidences, they have neither any importance nor are worthy of consideration. The sequence of these services continuously went further and with the same inherited feelings the well-guided successors of these elders also continued to come forward in a self-sacrificing manner in connection with national and communal services; whether it was the Khilafat Movement or the release of the native land from the foreign yoke, they, in exact proportion, took part in all these revolutionary ventures.
In short, while the comprehensiveness of knowledge and morals was always the distinctive feature of this party, service to religion and community, nation and country with breadth of vision, enlightenment and toleration was its practice. But in all these walks of life the utmost importance in this party has been given to the imparting of the prophetic sciences, as all these walks of life could be brought into effect correctly only in the light of knowledge and therefore it kept this aspect only conspicuous. Hence the summary of the comprehensiveness of this track is that it is inclusive of knowledge and gnosis, inclusive of reason and love, inclusive of action and morals, inclusive of spiritual striving and jihad, inclusive of rectitude and politics, inclusive of tradition and intelligence, inclusive of seclusion (khalwat) and public appearance (jalwat), inclusive of devotions and social life, inclusive of commandment and wisdom, inclusive of the exterior and the interior, and inclusive of ecstasy and discourse. If this track which has been obtained through the spiritual connections (Nisbats) of the predecessors and the successors is reduced to technical language, then in sum it is this that religiously Darul Uloom is Muslim; as a sect, Ahl-e-Sunnat wal-Jama'at; in practical method, (Mazhab), Hanafi'yat; in conduct, Sufi; dialectically, Maturidi Ash'ari; in respect of the mystic path, Chishtiyyah, rather comprising all the Sufi orders; in thought, Waliyullhian; in principle, Qasimiyah; sectionally, Rasheedian; and as regards connection, Deobandi".
Since a separate treatise entitled "Maslak -e- Darul Uloom" has already been written in this connection, the need of greater detail is not felt on this occasion and its comprehensive sentences only have been excerpted here. For details, one can refer to the said treatise.
Moreover, greater detail here is unnecessary for the reason that a very clear sketch of this track has been written by Qari Saheb in his introduction to this history. However, a synopsis of this extensive article was necessary and so, at my request, he wrote it himself and gave me, The verbatim text is as under:-
"The summary of it is that this moderate track is based on seven basic foundations, which, with brief elucidation of each, are as follows:-
1- KNOWLEDGE OF THE SHARI'AT: Which includes all the branches of beliefs, devotions and worldly dealings etc. The outcome of which is faith (Iman) and Islam; provided this knowledge may have been acquired, being restricted to the sphere of the sayings and practices of the predecessors, through the teaching; training and grace of the company of authoritative divine doctors and discipliners of the hearts whose chain of exterior and interior, knowledge and practice, understanding and taste may have continuously reached through continual authority to the Author of the Shari'at (on whom be most excellent blessings and greetings !); and may not be the result of self-opinion or mere book-reading and power of study or mere rational search and intellectual investigation, though it may not be devoid of rational style of description and argumentative proof and demonstration, for without this knowledge, distinguishing between right and wrong, legitimate and illegitimate, permissible and impermissible, the Sunni and the innovation, the abominable (Makrooh) and the commendable (Mandoob) is not possible nor is release possible from wild fancies, philosophical theories and blind superstitions in religion.
2- THE FOLLOWING OF THE PATH: That is, consummation of good breeding, self-purification and spiritual traversing (Sulook-e-Batin) within the auspices of researching Sufis and their well-tried principles (inferred from the Book and the Sunnat), because, without this, moderateness in morals, stability of zest and ecstasy, internal insight, mental purity and observation of reality are not possible. It is obvious that this branch is connected with Ahsan along with faith and Islam.
3- CONFORMITY TO THE SUNNAT: That is, conformance to the prophetic Sunnat in every walk of life and dominance of the permanent Sunnat thorough maintaining respect of the Shar'at in every 'state' (Hal) and 'utterance' (Qal), every condition of the exterior and the interior; for without it, It is impossible to be released from the conventions of ignorance, customary innovations and prohibited indecencies. and from the calamity of customarily imitating the ecstatic utterances and sayings of 'men of states' inspite of the lack of spiritual states of giving those utterances the status of a permanent general law parallel to the shari'at.
4- JURISPRUDENTIAL HANAFATISM: The name of Islamic practical doctrines (fra'iyat) and casuistic interpretations of laws (ijtehai'yat) is Fiqh (jurisprudence). And since the elders of Darul Uloom are generally Hanafi'at, the meaning of jurisprudential Hanafiatism is compliance with the hanafi'at jurisprudence in casuistic practical doctrines, and conformance to its principles of jurisprudence only in the education and preference of propositions and fatwas; for without it elusion from the desires of the evil self in educible propositions and, through the way of colligation, operating capriciously under different systems of jurisprudence, excision in the contents of propositions in accordance with the desires of the hoi polloi or guess and conjecture under the awe of emergency conditions and shallow changes and innovations in propositions through unlearnedness are unavoidable. It is obvious that this branch appertains to Islam.
5- DIALECTICAL MATURIDIISM: That is, as regards beliefs, the sustentation of the power of certitude and the stability of true beliefs with right thinking in accordonce to the laws and principles determined and codified through the method of the Ahlus Sunnat wal-Jama'at and the Asha'ira and the Matureedia; for without it escape from the doubts cast by the tergiversators and the conjectural innovations, superstitions and skepticism of the false sects is not possible. It is evident that this branch is connected with faith (iman).
6- DEFENSE AGAINST TERGIVERSATION AND DEVIATION: That is, defense against the mischiefs raised by bigoted cliques and tergiversators, but in the language and expression of the time, with consciousness of the psychology of the milieu and through the contemporary familiar means where the argument or proof may be completed. Moreover, efforts with a crusader-like spirit for stamping them out, for without these the removal of the unlawful things (munkarat) and protecion of the Shari'at from the encroachment of the antagonists is not possible. It includes refutation of polytheism and innovation, confutation of atheism and materialism, correction of the customs of ignorance, and, as per need, polemics, verbal or in writing, and the changing of unlawful things. It is obvious that this branch is concerned with the elevation of the word of allah in accordance with "While Allah's word it was that become the uppermost" and the expression of religion be in accordance with "He may cause it to prevail over all religion" and the general organization of the community.
7- THE TASTE FOR QASIMISM AND RASHEEDISM: Then while the same track, with its collective dignity, appeared after passing through the hearts and souls of the first patrons of Darul Uloom Deoband, and the feelers of the pulse of the community, it drew in the demands of the time in it and adopted the form of a particular taste which has been denoted with the word 'mashrab' (disposition, nature, temper, conduct). Accordingly, in the basic constitution of Darul Uloom Deoband (dustoo-e- Asasi-e- Darul Uloom Deoband), which was approved in Sha'ban, A.h. 1368, this reality has been stated in the following words: "The track of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, will be the hanafi'at practical method (mazhab) in accordance with the Ahlus Sunnat wal-Jama'at and the disposition (mashrab) of its holy founders, Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi and Hazrat Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi (may their secrets be sanctified !)".
Hence among the constituents of the track of Darul Uloom this factor is an important element on which the establishment of the education and training of Darul Uloom working. It comes under Ahsan (god-consciousness), while it is connected with spiritual training. Thus the knowledge of the Shari'at, the following of the path, conformity to the Sunnat, Jurisprudential Hanafitism, dialectical Maturidiism, defense against deviation, and the taste for Qasimism and Rasheedism are the constituents of this moderate track which answers well to "seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains" (11:261). If these "seven ears" are expressed in shara'i language, they can be interpreted as Iman (faith), Islam, Ashan and Izhar-e- Deen (demonstration of religion), as has been indicated item-wise above. The collection of all these seven articles with the above-mentioned details is the track of Darul Uloom Deoband. if it is mused over, this track will be found to be an exact epitome of the Hadith-e- Jibra'il in which, on Gabriel's questioning, the Holy Prophet (Allha's peace and blessings be on him!) has described Islam, Iman, Ahsan ans defense against mischiefs in detail and has called it the teaching of religion. Hence it witt not be inappropriate if it is said that track of the Ulama of Deoband is Hadith-e- Jibra'il itself.
Then the basis and foundation of all these basic elements are the Book of Allah, the Sunnat of the Apostle of Allah, the consensus of the ummat, and casuistic analogy, out of which the first two proofs are legislative (fashri'i) with w the Shari'at is formed and the last two are derivative (taf'ri'i) by which the Shari'at is opened. The first two proofs are the treasure of explicit texts which are traditional, for which authority (sanad) and (riwayat) are inevitable; the next two proofs are rational for which trained reason and understanding and habitually pious mind and taste are ineluctable. Hence this moderate track is traditional as well as rational, narrative as well as intelligential; but in such a way that it is neither extraneous to reason nor based upon it, but has been rather raised in such a way with a balanced mixture of reason and tradition that tradition and revelation (wahy) are the root in it and reason is its all-time attendant and agent.
Thus this track of the ulama of Deoband is neither the track of the rationalist Mutazilites in which, acknowledging reason to be covereign and master over tradition, reason has been made the root and revelation or its meaning its subject, whereby religion is rendered a mere philosophy, the paths of atheism (zandaqa) are made even for the rank and file and at the same time the connection of the simple-minded faithful with the religion does not remain intact. Nor is this track that of the externalists (zahiriya) in which dead-locked or being inert over the words of revelation, reason and intellect have been thrown into abeyance, and, bidding adieu to the esoteric causes and mysteries and inner points of wisdom and experiences of religion, all the ways of ijtehad and inference have been blocked, whereby religion is rendered something unreal, rather, something meaningless, unreasonable and static, and the wise and the sagacious then have no more relation with it. Thus in one track there in left reason and reason alone and in the other reason becomes suspended and idle. It is obvious that both these directions are of the two extremes and of "whose case ha?h been abandoned" (XVIII : 29) from which this middle, comprehensive and moderate religion is free. Hence this alone is the track that includes both reason and tradition and it can be this only that in all roots and offshoots common sense should always remain with authentic tradition, but as an obedient and compliant attendant and agent of the religion so that it may keep supplying rational proofs, reasonable arguments and perceptible evidences and examples for each of its generalities and details whereby religion may prove acceptable for every class of the ummat an all-sided constitution of life, and this ummat may look a correct answer to "Thus We have appointed you a middle nation" (11:143). This thack alone is called the track of the Ahlus Sunnat wal-Jama'at and the ulama of Deoband are the heralds and standard-bearers of this very track . It is for this reason that on account of the culmination of this comprehensive track and all these religious sciences, they are simultaneously commentators of the Quran as well as traditionists, jurisprudents as well as scholastic theologians, sufis as well as strivers with the self (mujahid) and thinkers; and then, with the amalgamation of all these sciences, their disposition is temperate as well as medium. This is the reason that in their party disposition there is neither extremism (ghulu) nor exaggeration (mubalagha), and due to this breadth of vision there is neither anathematizing (takfir) nor scurrility, neither obloquy nor ill-speaking against anyone, neither obstinacy and envy and indignation nor dominance of position and pelf and excess of luxury. It is rather only a statement of proposition and ummat, or the establishment of the truth and refutation of the falsehood, in which there is neither involved the despising and disparagement of personalities nor is there arrogant flouting. The name of the sum-total of the same virtues and particulars is Darul Uloom, Deoband, and it is due to this very academic and practical versatility that its influence has spread over all the countries of world.