Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Muslim Responses to Modernity: Darululoom Deoband (1867), MAO College Aligarh (1875) & Nadwatululama Lucknow (1894)

There were three major educational institutions established in the nineteenth century India to respond to the Muslim educational needs: Darul Ulum Deoband, Aligarh Muhammadan College, and Nadwatul Ulama, founded respectively in 1867, 1875 and 1894 by Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Qasim Nanawtawi, and Shibli Nu’mani.

To Sheikh Muhammad Ikram, although Deoband and Nadwa both opposed Aligarh college policies, yet Nadwa was in many ways closer to Aligarh in its essential objectives of reform through education. Its revisionary approach to modernity developed in reaction to Aligarh’s experience in modern education.  [Dr. Muhammad Khalid Masud]


The chain of authenticity of the Darul Uloom starts with the great traditionist of India, Hazrat Imam Shah Waliyullah Dehlwi whose continuous chain of authenticity reaches back the Holy Prophet (Allah's peace and blessings be upon him!).

Shah Waliyullah's knowledge, taste and thought, through the medium of Shah Abdul Aziz, Shah Muhammad lshaq and then Shah Abdul Ghani, reached Hujjatul Islam (the Proof of Islam), Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanautawi and Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi, who universalized it through this sacred institution, i.e., the Darul Uloom, Deoband.

This style of thought is not the result of mere rational deliberation or intellectual exercise; it is rather inspirational, the inspirational speciality of which Shah Waliyullah himself has expressed in his monumental work, Hujjatullahil Baligha.

Qasimul Uloom Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanautavi (may Allah have mercy on him') was the pith of the sciences of Shah Waliyllah, Shah Abdul Aziz, Shah Mohammad lshaq and Shah Abdul Ghani and the quintessence of their religious discernment. Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi used to say that the only ladder to Shah Waliyullah's philosophy is the Qasimi's philosophy without climbing which one cannot reach the Waliyullahian proofs adequately. So the sciences Shah Waliyullah presents in an aesthetic and apocalyptic color, Qasimul Uloom brings them out in an argumentative color. It is for this reason that in the Qasimul Uloom's knowledge there is knowledge with gnosis, expediency with command, the traditional with the rational, the rational with the perceptional, benefits with the law. The spiritual path (Tariqat) with the high road (Shari'at) of religion, consciousness of divine observation (Ehsan) with faith (Iman), defense of religion with its affirmation; that is, combining the sentiments of the grandeur of religion with religion. 

So if it were said, then it can be said that Deobandism is firstly Waliyullahism and secondly Qasimism, and that it is not merely the name of teaching and learning. And in view of the combination of the afore-said academic connections, it can be said that it is not merely a Madrasah but it is a Madrasah of though in the modern technical term, a school of thought.

Thus it becomes evident that Deobandism is neither a creed (Mazhab) nor a sect, terms by which its antagonists try to incite the masses against it. But it is a comprehensive picture and a complete edition of the tack of the Ahl-e-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah in which all he offshoots of the Ahl-e-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah are seen joined with their root. What a fine succinct sentence the Poet of the East, the late Dr. Sir Shaikh Mohammad lqbal had spoken about Deobandism! When someone asked him, "What thing is the Deobandi, a creed or a sect"? He replied: "It's neither a creed nor a sect; Deobandi is the name of every rationalist religious man".
The principle of religion, which is the Holy Book and the Sunnah, and respect for the religious personalities-jurisprudents (Fuqaha), traditionists (Muhaddethin), school doctors (Mutakallemin), professional commentators of the Quran (Mufasserin), Sufis, fundamentalists (Usuliyeen) and divine doctors (Ulma-e-Rabbaniyeen) -both have combined.

If there be no Sunnah, it will become a tack of heresies and innovations, and if AI-Jama'ah be missing, it will become a tack of self-opinion, freethinking and presumptuousness and the result of these two shortcomings is excess and deficiency.


The University grew out of the work of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who in the aftermath of the Indian War of Independence of 1857 felt that it was important for Muslims to gain modern education and become involved in the public life and Government Services in India at that time.

Raja Jai Kishan helped Sir Syed a lot in establishing this university.

The British decision to replace the use of the knowledge of Persian in the 1830s for Government employment and as the language of Courts of Law caused deep anxiety among Muslims of the sub-continent.

Sir Syed then clearly foresaw the imperative need for the Muslims to acquire proficiency in the English language and "Western Sciences" if the community were to maintain its social and political clout, particularly in Northern India. He began to prepare the road map for the formation of a Muslim University by starting various schools. In 1864, the Scientific Society of Aligarh was set up to disseminate Western works into native languages as a prelude to prepare the community to accept "Western Education".

Sir Sultan Mahommed Shah, The Aga Khan III has contributed greatly to Aligarh Muslim University in terms collecting funds and providing financial support.

In 1875, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh and patterned the college after Oxford and Cambridge universities that he had visited on a trip to England. His objective was to build a college in tune with the British education system but without compromising its Islamic values. 

It was one of the first purely residential educational institution set up either by the Government or the public in India. Over the years it gave rise to a new educated class of Muslims who were active in the political system of the British Raj, and who would serve as a catalyst for change among not only the Muslim population of India, but of the entire subcontinent. When Viceroy to IndiaLord Curzon visited the College in 1901, he praised the work which was carried on by the College and called it of "sovereign importance".

By 1921(exact year 1920), the College was transformed into a university, and it was named Muslim University.


The Western influences, often forcibly imposed upon the world of Islam, created a schism between the spiritual and material domains of the community's life. The religion began to be looked down as something of a private concern having nothing to do with the affairs of the world.
The isolation of religion from practical life and its problems made the doctors of religion indifferent to the affairs of the contemporary world. And if they ever tried to interfere in these matters they were put to ridicule, because of their unfamiliarity with the modern thought and store of knowledge.

While the Islamic Millat was passing through these highly critical times, the Millat itself was torn between two groups - the modern' and the orthodox'. The former group had developed a blind faith in Western sciences and civilization. It stood for the total and uncritical adoption of the Western system of instruction and education. The latter group, on the other hand, reposed in implicit faith in the infallibility of the way of earlier Ulama. It held the syllabi of instruction laid down by them to be absolute and final. A slightest alteration, according to this group, amounted to apostasy and perversion.

Religion and the religious sciences had fallen a prey to these excesses. Moderateness had become extinct.

The dangers of this situation were realised by some sincere and far-sighted religious scholars who were firm and staunch in their belief in the doctrines of Islam and held a high and venerable place in the Millat on account of their piety and learning. They possessed wisdom and a vision that was broad and enlightened. They came from Shaikh-ul-islam Hazrat Shah Waliullah's line of disciples. The guide and leader of this earnest group of men was Maulana Mohammed Ali Mongeri who was an outstanding theologian and spiritual mentor of his time. He had been the most favourite pupil of Maulana Lutfullah Saheb of Aligarh and was the Khalifa-i-Majaz Spiritual successor of Maulana Shah Fazlur Rahman of Gani Moradabad.

These venerable after discussing and corresponding with the other Muslim divines of their time decided finally to establish a religious and educational Association. The  main object of this Association was to bring about harmony and co-operation among the different groups within the Muslim Millat, and thereby to bring about the  moral, religious and educational reform and progress of the Muslims.

The Association was named as Nadwatul Ulama and its first session was hold at Kanpur in1893 (A. H. 131 1) under the presidentship of Maulana Lutfullah Saheb of Aligarh. In this session the call was given for resolving the differences among the Ulama for creating an atmosphere of unity and co-operation and for bringing about suitable changes and improvements in the out-dated syllabi of the Arabic Madrasas.

Nadwatul Ulama Association held annual session in different cities. But it was soon felt that unless some practical steps were taken to translate these ideals into action, it will not be understood and appreciated by the Muslim masses.

The first step, accordingly, was taken in 1898 (A. H. 1316) with the establishment of a Darul Uloom which soon earned for itself a place in India and abroad as a modern seat of Muslim theological learning. This institution was named Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, was established at Lucknow which is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state of India, and an important centre of Muslim culture for many centuries.

Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama was established on the principle of a balanced synthesis of the classical education with the modern. Its chief purpose was:

(a) to evolve a proper integration between the eternal fundamentals of the faith and ever-changing values of human knowledge and learning and,

(b) to bring about harmony and cohesion among the different groups and schools of thought of Ahl-i-Sunnat Muslims.

As Islamic sciences are living, evolving and progressive and education was subject to the law of change and reform, hence it was essential that the system of education too, should change and evolve with time for needs of Islamic Millat.


DirtyMuhammad said...
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DirtyMuhammad said...
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Sarmad KHI said...

You should better think before what you are saying. Islam is perhaps the best religion of the world because it came up with those customs which are now being implemented by civilized nations.

Islam gave the concept of a Welfare state for the first time. Islam was the first one to address women rights when they did not have the liberty to live equally in the society of Arab. Even today women's are burnt alive in India when their husband's die.

About your comment that muslims don't contribute to society your history is very weak.

All the basic work in science was done by muslims. Jabir-Ibn-Haiyan invented various chemicals, pin-hole camera was invented by Ibn-ul-Haitham.

Shut your mouth if you don't know anything.

What have other religions contributed to society??

Sohaib said...

why don't delete this stupid and irrational post, the one who is barking like a dog against Holy Prophet Peace be upon him,

Jamal said...

People call us (Muslims) terrorists and extremist, but if you read the very first comment of this post, you can easily recognize that the who is extremist? Muslim or Anti-Muslim,