Yasir Qadhi and the Deobandis

Yasir Qadhi and the Deobandis

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi was another person at the MLT conference in Denmark that I met. He is an intelligent and articulate young man and contributed quite positively to the event. I had never heard of him or his institute “al-Maghrib Institute” before, but it was apparent that he was a Salafi. There is a much touted discussion between him and Mona Eltahawi (journalist and commentator) that took place on the way to the MLT in Copenhagen, Denmark. It describes how they went to the same school in Saudi Arabia and have turned out poles apart, one being a hardcore Salafi (Yasir) and the other an ultra liberal (Mona), both extremists in the broad spectrum that is Islam. But are they really that different?

Both don’t have a problem with dispensing with traditional Islamic scholarship and a return to re-interpreting the Primary Sources of the deen and believe everyone is or should be personally responsible to draw conclusions from the Primary Sources. In Yasir’s case, if you come up with something other than the Salafist ideology (whatever that means with regards to the constantly mutating and sub-dividing nature of this sect!) then you are misguided/mushrik/mubtadi/kafir (take your pick!) depending on your conclusions, in Mona’s case you can do what you want, even an atheist can be a Muslim if s/he calls him/herself one, essentially, for her Islam is just a culture, is the impression I got when speaking to her. In fact I believe them to be two sides of the same coin, that of ideological/intellectual extremism.

Here is an excellent piece from another blog Contemplating Chisti, in fact a Deobandi Chisti. The piece in question warns fellow Deobandis to not be enamoured and taken by Salafi approaches of “Unity” with their “sugar coated speech” and to steer clear. I raised this very point in a discussion on Tablighi Jamat on DeenPort with regards to how Tablighi Jamat (and by extension Deobandis) always align themselves with Salafis/Wahhabis on university campuses and local communities. It is a strange and odd espousal as they are the oddest of bedfellows. I think that the Salafis insidiously take advantage of the Tablighi naivety for their own purposes. Salafis hate everyone, including the Deobandis (and each other as well!)

Whilst reading through this, I was thinking that many Barelwis would heartily agree with these positions and some Deobandis would be concerned to find that these are in fact Deobandi aqida positions. This is borne out by the comments section which has some irate Deobandis questioning some of the positions and the Deobandism of the author!

The article goes onto list many ideological and aqida differences between traditional Deobandism and Salafism and it is an uncloseable chasm between them. Yasir’s odious and slanderours comments about some of our Shayukh, such as Sayyid Maliki al-Makki, Shaykh Nuh Keller, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and others are well known. At the conference he even suggested to me that some of the articles on my site should be removed for “the sake of unity”, a laughable suggestion when every other Salafist bookshop and website has books that rant on about madhhabs, Asharees and Soofees. I think may be Shaykh Yasir should start by cleansing his bookshops and websites of these unity threatening works, cleaning your own house first is a good idea before noticing the dirt in others otherwise it could be construed as hypocrisy.

Yasir Qadhi & The Deobandis: Unite With “Moderate” Sufis?

Alex Andalus’s Blog has some things to say on the matter as well.

7 thoughts on “Yasir Qadhi and the Deobandis

  1. Salamu `Alaykum

    I pray you are well, Sidi.

    Regarding your Deobandi-Barelwi comment, I would just like to say one thing that I believe is of utmost importance. Yes, there is no denying that there are aspects wherein the Deo’s and the Barelwi’s have genuine khilaf. Brushing these differences aside under a banner of “forced unity” is, in my opinion, harmful. The way to deal with such differences is to overlook them and find points of mutual agreement and work from there. After all, for a group that prides itself on the notion of “Difference is a mercy” we certainly do not live up to it.

    Most of the Deobandi-Barelwi disagreements really have alot to do with semantics (“there is no arguing when it comes to usage (istilah)” – qa`ida al fiqhiyya).`Ilm al Ghayb, Haadhi Naadhir, Prophetic Light, and so forth. The problem is this Sidi Mas`ud, as one of my Shaami teachers told me, that in this whole back and forth boxing match the Barelwi’s do mubalagha in ithbaat even when the aspect being discussed has been established. On the other hand, the Deobandi’s, sometimes in reply to the Barelwi’s, do mubalagha in nafy (negation) which makes it seem as if they are negating that which is established.

    The above rolls over to the laymen, and the comments on my blog are a perfect example of this. I can guarantee that for every point I mentioned on my Yasir Qadhi blog post I can find words of the akabir of Deoband supporting it. Ignorant Deo’s or ignorant Barelwi’s are of no concern to me when it comes to their opinions of what the position of so and so was or whether we are “flip-flopping”.

    The Deobandi’s are as Sufi as any other group. Read Maulana Thanawi’s commentary on the Fusus, Sa`adi, Hafiz, or his 20 volume Sharh on Maulana Rumi’s Mathnawi, . These are texts which have deep spiritual meanings which our likes could never understand. But since the Deobandi’s promoted an “Islaahi-imperative” alot of this stuff is not known except to those who have close nisba to the akabir and are well read in their works. Remember that Deoband has tendencies within its ranks also.

    To conclude my rant, this Deobandi-Barelwi divide is just another glitch among the hundreds of glitches our Sunni ummah has seen. We must have some husn al dhann of our Muslim brethren regardless of how much our nafs wishes for us to be sectarian and blinded by argumentation. One of my teachers told me that darkness is never fought head on, but the sunna is to counter it by the means of light, the light of the Prophetic teachings, his example, and inundating that light within ourselves. All this bickering is just mere distraction from the spiritual path and its goal.


  2. Salam

    A good comment by Sidi Salman. I do not really belong to either part of the supposed divide. In any case, I feel that institutions and individual scholars can do a lot to bridge the divide. I am impressed with the efforts of Sunnipath and Mufti Adam (r) at giving balanced and detailed fatwas that steer clear of ‘personalities’ while answering particular questions with emphasis on ikhtilaaf based on mercy. May Allah bless all of the scholars involved.


  3. Assalam-o-Alaikum,

    Yes i agree whole heartily with both ikhwaan.

    Regarding akhi Faramir, yes i don’t belong to either school but have friends from both sides(of whom most have tried to “bring me to their side”), and sometimes when i refused to say that the “other” is not Sunni, i’ve been getting takfir from both sides against me!!!
    But i know thats just ignorance as they are just laymen. The scholars of both sides have done much good for this Ummah MashAllah, and may they do more Ameen.
    I especially like the fact that MashAllah Sunnipath and Shuyukhs Adam ibn Kawthari and Faraz Rabbani, GF Haddad etc are trying to unite this Sunni community that is mostly divided by the deobandi vs berelvi issue.

    Regards to akhi Salman, yes there are small differences between the two, but from what i noticed from their constant bickering(often by the laymen of both sides) is that they usually agree on the topic, its just different ways of expressions. This has been explained by their Ulema and the neutral ones as well, but somehow, those laymen who love to debate, like to overlook this part. So this is why this topic gets very heated.
    But personally, i tend to take my Fiqh from the Arab or Arab-influenced Sunni Ulema since i don’t like to get into the divide of the south-east asian subcontinent. But it has to be admitted by everyone, that Mufti Taqi Usmani is one of the top Hanafi scholars of this time. And theres probably some from th berelvi side.

    So to conclude, i don’t think that this divide is of shirk, of kufr or bidah etc, just small differences. If we can tolerate differences in Salaah between Madthabs, why can’t we tolerate these differences between berelvis and deobandis since they’re both Sufis, Maturidis and Hanafis.
    This divide i believe can be removed by more participation of the Ulema from both sides(though there are a few, but they’re not getting much publicity) and from both parties going too eachother’s Mosques. That would be a great way.

    Wa Salaam

  4. Assalaamu alaikum,

    Sorry for commenting on such an old post, but…

    I reverted via the Naqshbandi Haqqani Tariqat Alhamdulillah, so my Aqida naturally aligned with the Barelvis. Alhamdulillah I’ve been a muslim 4 2 years and live a town with 3 mosques that are all Deobandi.

    I have read online and met 1 lone Barelvi in my town who pronounce Takfir on the Deo’s and said they were Wahhabis’. I disagreed after reading Shaykh Nuh Keller’s article and reading a defence of the founding Deobandi Ulema.

    However… As times have gone by I’ve noticed the Deo’s really do seem to be influenced by Wahhabis’ recently in a Bayan from a much praised ‘great Sufi Shaykh’ from South Africa he told us that Allah had a Shin, and rolled up his trouser leg to give us an example! I also know a Deobandi trained Imam who teaches using Bilal Phillips’ Tawheed book, and from Albani! I know because I went to his class, he also frequently praises Salafi Ulama, he also studied in South Africa.

    The Scholar teaching that Allah had a shin was the last line for me… after the Imam teaching Bilal Phillips and Albani, reading in the Deobandi Heavenly Ornaments Fiqh book an entire chapter devoted to the defects of Women, the lack of talking of the Prophet (SAW), the ‘way’ of Tabligh Jamaat, the Deobandi websites that quote Wahhabis Ulama, their clarification of Barelvi Aqida as Shirk, the comments by the founding Ulama about the Prophet (SAW) (I’ve read the intention however like Shaykh Nuh Keller I’m shocked by the Adab), etc …

    I obviously hold Shaykh Nuh Keller and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in high esteem, but based on my own perspective and experiences can you blame me for agreeing with the Barelvis that the Deobandis are influenced by Wahhabis’?

    My perspective is of course a laymen’s, and I’m ‘on the ground’ so to speak, and maybe original Deobandi Aqida was different like you said in your article, but the contempory Deo’s seem to be very much influened by Wahhabis’.

    May I ask what you think, and your personal experience?

  5. Assalaamu alaikum,

    Even I’m Sorry for commenting on such an old post. 😛

    But I second what Luqman said.

  6. Salam. I am “salafi” in aqeedah and fiqh – that is all that it means for me personally as I have no institutional or movement affiliations – but I don’t deobandis or other salafis. In fact out of my three close religious friends, two are committed deobandis and one of them has taken bayt with a naqshhandi shaykh. We disagree on numerous points but we just don’t discuss them and get along very well. I have lots of other deobandi+naqshbandi students and acquaintances at my university and we have a lot of mutual respect and love for each other.
    Please be careful when you generalize and when you make fun of people and groups. And please try to avoid whitewashing a multitude of people with stereotypical images. It’s not nice and is intellectually weak I think as well. And there is always the danger of you hurting a fellow Muslim which I am sure none of us want to do but end up doing a lot of the time anyway.
    And waisay Yasir Qadhi is quite understanding and decent about issues of differences. You should look at the Al Maghrib blog. They even disapprove of the usage of the word salafi. Of course their position is obvious when you look at the scholars they cite and the positions they have etc, but it’s really not thrown around like that unless necessary. There is no scholar bashing on the forum either. It simply isn’t allowed. I am not like an absolute murid of follower of fan of the man but I would ask you to be more fair please. I have a post of his pasted on my blog on the issue of tolerance between groups if you would like to see…

  7. Why has Imam Tahir Anwar “liked” Yasir Qadhi on Facebook? Isn’t that just promoting AlMaghrib and Salafis?

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