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