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Ill The Madrasah at Deoband Is this not the school thanks to whom nameless Deoband has become De'oband Sharif, exalted Deoband , to the distant corners of the world? Is this not the school whose students have gone to every corner of Hindustan to teach prayer and fasting and the requirements of our religion?—Maulana Muhyi'd-Din, 18951 T h e Setting and Organization of the School The 'ulama shared in the general political quietude that followed the cataclysm of the Mutiny.2 They were sobered by the terrible events they had seen, and persuaded that the British were invincible. Many, indeed, took service under the British, filling posts for which they were ideally suited by their literacy and their respectable status. Some kept up a semblance of earlier times by taking employment in the protected Muslim states of Hyderabad and Bhopal. But all such employment was ancillary to the popular educational work of the 'ulama. For most of the 'ulama the goal of their work was now to create, in any sphere available, a community both observant of detailed religious law and, to the extent possible, committed to a spiritual life as well. To do so was, in general terms, to return to the tradition of "the tongue and the pen" espoused by Shah 'Abdu'l-'Aziz. The 'ulama in Muslim history have tended to oscillate between participation 1. Muhyi'd DIn Khan Muradabadl, Tazkirah-yi 1312: Waqd'i'-i Halat-i Madrasah-yi Isldmiyyah-yi De'oband (Delhi, 1312/1894-5), p. 43. 2. For a different view see, Muhammad Miyan, 'Uhmd'-yi Hind ka Shandar Mail (Delhi, 1381/1960) IV, 95-97. He argues that Rashid Ahmad pronounced India daru'l-harb. However, in early editions of Rashid Ahmad's fatawa that I have seen there are no such explicit statements. 87 The Deobandi Movement in the state and the exercise of independently based local leadership.3 The north Indian 'ulama, in choosing the lat­ ter style, thus adopted a well-known strategy with historical precedent. Again echoing precedent, they made the mad­ rasah the institutional basis of their work. Yet the new mad­ rasahs were distinctive in their basis of support, their or­ ganizational style, and their goals. Their pattern was soon to be set by a school founded by Rashid Ahmad, Muham­ mad Qasim, and others in 1867 in a town called Deoband, shown in Map 2 in the context of British India and in Map 3 in its provincial context. The town was typical of qasbahs scattered across north India. Its dominant families were, in this case, 'Usmani and Siddiqi shaikhs whose influence had persisted from Mughal times, in part because of the strong base of local landed property they had maintained by their practice of marrying among themselves.4 The Muslim architecture of the town reflected their presence, and even today domes and minarets, visible from afar in the flat countryside, draw one through winding brick-walled lanes to the old build­ ings: the palace of Shaikh Lutfu'llah 'Usmani, an official of Akbar's reign; the caravansary, built by the leading shaikh families in concert; the seventeenth-century khanaqah of Hazratu'1-Hajj Ibrahim; the fort built during Akbar's reign; and the six beautiful mosques built at various times by the kings of Delhi. Most celebrated of these mosques were the Masjid-i Chattah, where the great Sufi Hazrat Baba Faridu 'd-Din Ganj-i Shakar was said to have meditated, and the Masjid-i Khanaqah built by Aurangzeb. The town was characterized by "high mosques, famous tombs, gardens and trees, a fine climate and sweet water, and a busy mar­ ketplace." 5 It had been close to the imperial capital, just ninety miles northeast of Delhi on Sher Shah's royal road. Its leading official and scholarly families had participated 3. See MuhammadTayyib QasimI, Azddl-yi Hindustan ka Khamosh Rahnuma (Deoband, 1957), p. 5. 4. See above, Chapter I, note 28. 5. Sayyid Mahbub Rizwl, Tanhh-i De'oband (Deoband, n.d.), p. 39. The quotation is from an Arabic work by Maulana Zu'1-Faqar Άΐϊ. 88 Madrasah at Deoband 2. British India 89 The Deobandi Movement PUNJAB HILL STATES 3. The North-Western Provinces and Oudh (The United Provinces, 1904) 90 Madrasah at Deoband in Mughal rule, and the court had patronized them and the town. With Mughal decline, however, the town had suffered. In the eighteenth century it was an easy prey to Rohilla and Sikh depradations...


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