By Imam Ajmal Masroor
I saw a post on one of the WhatsApp groups. A number of things in this advert intrigued and alarmed me. The [organisation] is looking for an Imam who is:
- A Hafiz – someone who has memorised the entire Quran, it has taken that person 2-4 years to complete that.
- Mawlana – an Asian title attributed to those who have completed their Islamic education from a reputable seminary and it takes 8 years usually.
- This Imam must be a British born for obvious reasons, but most important reason probably is to be able to speak English and relate to people.
- The Imam should have graduated from a Qawmi Madrasah which is a non political private seminary usually aligned to Deobandi brand and Hanafi school of thought of interpretation of Islam from Indian subcontinent.
- The Imams job would be leading prayers and teaching children Monday to Friday.
- In return he would be given a salary of £13200 per year which comes to £1100 per month.
This advert raises a number of questions for me. When a person invests 8-10 years of their youth in memorising the entire Quran and studying books upon books of Islamic literature, do they graduate to be paid peanuts by the community they would serve? Would we accept our graduate children earning such a salary after completing their university degrees?
By The Editor
Recently it has become uncomfortable and disconcerting for myself while taking a hiatus away from the doldrums of online Deobandiyyat. However, with the arrival of one of the greatest Deobandi scholars in the world – if not the greatest – to the shores of South Africa, ‘Allamah Khalid Mahmood (hafizahullah), there has been a need to pen a few words on the feelings and thoughts being experienced in light of recent developments that have come to light.
There has been disuccsions in some quarters of our local scholarship who traditionally have been known to associate themselves with Deobandiyyat – due to the virtue of being graduates of Deobandi Dar al-‘Ulums both locally and from the subcontinent – to advocate towards a disassociation from Hanafiyyat generally and Deobandiyyat specifically. To understand further it should be borne in mind that the concept of Deobandiyyat in simple terms is the understanding of all aspects of the Shari’ah as per the the scholars of Deoband starting with Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi and Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah). The maslak, manhaj and mizaj of these scholars and their long line of students spanning a century and a quarter is what defines Deobandiyyat. Deobandiyyat is by no means a homogeneous school of thought, it is in reality an understanding of the Shari’ah according to the 13 centuries of scholarship of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, in particular adhering to the Hanafi school of thought in fiqh, the Ashari and Maturidi schools of thought in ‘aqidah as well as accepting in suluk the Chisti, Naqshbandi, Suharwadi and Qadiri schools.
By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel
WHICH COUNTRY, GEOGRAPHY AND RACE HAS THE BEST MUSLIM SCHOLARS? OR IS THIS QUESTION PLAIN WRONG?
No body of Muslim scholars deserves elevation over others along the lines of geography or race. It should be every Muslim’s policy to keep scholars of all racial and geographical orientations on one equal pedestal, and respect each as much as the other. That especially includes scholars one has not studied under – students may feel biased to their teachers but that shouldn’t be the norm.
I personally haven’t studied under the scholarly bodies of North Africa, Turkey, Yemen, Levant, Central Asia – the list goes on – but I’ve made it my aim never to let my feelings dictate to me that they are inferior to the Indians or the Hijazis, under whom I have studied for short periods. (And with Allah is Tawfiq)
Apart from one’s own racial bias, and alma mater bias, there can be two scenarios that can lead to the development a superiority complex for certain scholars:
1. One might feel some scholars are closer to the Sunnah than others.
The reality is that scholars from every geography have faults that others do not possess, so the superiority complex shouldn’t ever apply.
So if one feels Egyptians not having beards is deeply obnoxious, then the Indo-Paks aren’t any better when it comes to consuming/allowing paan. And if one finds the Turks’ indifference to certain dodgy Sufi practices to be objectionable, then the Saudis are not in a better position when it comes to their affairs with the rulers. Generally speaking.