Boundaries of Differences: The case of Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband

By Muftī Muḥammad Fārūq Mīrathī
Translated by Mawlānā Riaz Ahmad

If one ponders over the main aspects of the Dār al-Ulūm Deoband dispute, which resulted in a great hue and cry, and split in the Ummah, one would realize that this problem was not as major as it became. According to this humble servant the cause of the dispute was as follows:

One one side, Ḥakīm al-Islām Mawlānā Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyab, Muhtamim (principle) of the Dār al-Ulūm wanted to appoint his own son, the respected Mawlānā Muḥammad Sālim, as vice-principle. The Mawlānā saw it as a benefit to the Dār al-Ulūm, because Mawlānā Sālim had accompanied his father, on most of his journeys and had gained great experience, recognition in and outside of the country, and proficiency in speech. Furthermore, nobility and grand qualities were hereditary in him. The Mawlānā had seen harm plaguing the Dār al-Ulūm if Mawlānā Sālim was not appointed as Muhtamim, therefore he had insisted on this view.

On the other side, the committee members of the Dār al-Ulūm feared nepotism that such an appointment may result in this position being continuously handed over from father to son, even though the son may be capable of running the affairs of the Dār al-Ulūm. There was also fear that this may lead to the Dār al-Ulūm being taken as family property and inheritance, and this was apparently disadvantageous to the Dār al-Ulūm. Together with this, there were some other aspects which the committee members had against Mawlānā Sālim , therefore, they were adamant on not appointing him as vice-principal.

In this case, each party was correct in persisting upon its own view. If the matter was restricted to this extent then there was no harm, but it was not so. Some lowly individuals took the matter beyond bounds, and did not consider the etiquettes of differences of opinion. The dispute took such a bad turn that it cannot be described, nor is there need to do so.

Mīrathī, Muḥammad Fārūq (2004). Boundaries of Differences. Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers. 169 – 170.

List of Muhtamim of Dār al-Ulūm Deoband:

Ḥājī Sayyid Muḥammad Ābid (3 tenures between 1866 and 1892, total span of 10 years)

Mawlānā Rāfi‘ al-Dīn (2 tenures between 1867 and 1888, total span of 19 years)

Ḥājī Sayyid Faḍl al-Ḥaqq Deobandī

Mawlānā Muḥammad Munir Nānautawī

Mawlānā Ḥāfiẓ Muḥammad Aḥmad Nānautawī (1895 to 1928, 35 years)

Mawlānā Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān ‘Uthmānī (1928 to 1929, 14 months)

Mawlānā Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyab (1929 to 1982, 53 years)

Mawlānā Marghūb al-Raḥmān Bijnorī (1928 to 2010)

Mawlānā Ghulam Muḥammad Vastanwī (2010)

Muftī Abu ‘l-Qāsim Banārasī (2011 to present)

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