Deobandi Tasawwuf


I am posting my thesis that I wrote for an MA at ISTAC (International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). It is titled “Shari’at & Tariqat: A Study of the Deobandi Understanding and Practice of Tasawwuf” and was completed in December 2010 Initially, I had thought I would revise it and have it examined by Deobandi Sufi scholars, and then get it published somewhere but it seems I won’t be getting the chance to work on it anytime soon. Therefore, I have decided to post it as is.

Needless to say, the ideas expressed in this thesis are mine. Others are not to be held responsible for it. Moreover, like all human efforts, there are bound to be some mistakes in it. I look forward to any feedback from all readers, especially Deobandi Sufi ‘ulama, since their ideas and practices are the subject of this study.

If anyone benefits from it, please remember me in your du’as for I am definitely in need of them.

Here it is: Shariat and Tariqat A Study of the Deobandi Understanding and Practice of Tasawwuf.

5 thoughts on “Deobandi Tasawwuf

  1. Salam

    I wish there were some common grounds for deobandi and brelawi scholars to unite. I asked some deobandi scholars and they seemed to oppose any reconciliation.

    Read it and liked your thesis though.

  2. Wa ‘alaykum assalam,

    Actually, there is a lot of common ground between Deobandis and Barelvis. My teacher, late Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Ashrafi, may Allah have mercy on him, who taught us Sahih al-Bukhari (pt. 2) in 2005-2006 at Jami’a Ashrafia, Lahore, often encouraged us to see the commonalities between Deobandis and Barelvis. He even had us read the introduction to Mawlana Ahmad Raza Khan’s malfuzat to show how close Deobandi and Barelvi fatwas are regarding popular/folk practices. He would also say, “Do not pay attention to the small-time Barelvi preachers. They are often ignorant. See what senior Barelvi ‘ulama have to say.” However, you are right, it seems most Deobandi scholars don’t want any rapprochement with the Barelvis, and this goes both ways.

    Sufi Iqbal was another Deobandi personality, who tried to bridge the divide but he was strongly opposed by Deobandi ‘ulama.

    Perhaps Western Muslims can try to surmount the divide. May Allah give us tawfiq to become united as one ummah.


  3. Very interesting analaysis mashallah. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot more can however be said about the current deobandi revivial in terms of taswuff especially the one initiated by hazrat pir zulfiqar db. I would be grateful if you could contact me as I want to share some thoughts.

  4. Assalamu alaikum. Epic dissertation, bismillahi mashallah! I find parts of your analysis specific to Deobandis in the West and not necessarily representative of Deobandis in the Indian subcontinent, or India at least. The overwhelming majority of students and teachers at Deobandi madaris in India continue to be distinctly pro-tasawwuf, IMO.

    Btw, the name of our teacher and the author of Mufti Ilahi Baksh Kandhlavi’s biography is Maulana Nur ul Hasan Rashid Kandhlavi, not Rashidi. He has also authored some of the most rigorously researched biographies of the Deobandi elders, including Shah Ismail Dihlawi, Maulana Mamluk ul A’la Nanautvi, Maulana Mazhar Nanautvi, Maulana Qasim Nanautvi, etc.

    • Wa ‘alaykum assalam. Jazak Allah khayran for your kind words and correction regarding the author’s name.

      As for the majority of Deobandis still being pro-Sufi, I hope you are right about India. The impression I have from my interaction with other Deobandis in Pakistan and the West is different. In any case, I doubt there is any properly researched data on the subject. If there was one, then we could draw more concrete conclusions. Until then, all this (your statement and mine) is based on anecdotal evidence.

      Please, keep me in your du’as.


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