(Note: I was going to node Taliban
first, and mention this, but this got done first, so I need to preface it. Sorry if it doesn't make sense yet)
I find the word "Deobandi" sometimes when I try researching the Taliban. Personally I feel the Taliban is misunderstood. No, I don't condone forcing women into Burkas, but I think people (Americans for sure) don't understand who they were or why they did things so different than every other "muslim" country.
People have this tendency to shrink it down into a simple, incorrect answer. "Well, the Taliban were radical muslims." That doesn't make a lot of sense, since not all muslims are alike. There's over 1.2 Billion Muslims out there, not all of them have identical philosophies and beliefs. Muslims are not one monolithic block, though people wish they were. I mean, the belief in One God is solid, but there are subtle differences in the practices of various muslims in all the different cultures. There are five major schools of thought in Islam, and while they all profess belief in God, the Qur'an, the Prophets, the scriptures, Judgement day, and the hereafter, they differ in certain laws and philosophies. Shame on you if you thought that all Muslims had only one school of thought.
Why did I bring up the Taliban and then talk about different schools of thought? Because The majority of the Taliban followed their own school of thought that never really spread far elsewhere. Their school of thought is known as Deobandi. You could just call the Taliban "radical Deobandis" and therefore avoid equating them with the shias, salafis, sufis, malikis, shafis, etc. When people on Fox News talk about how madrassas are somehow "dangerous," they should really be more specific and focus on the school of thought, since there are different ones out there. It's unfair to say that all madrassas are bad, its like saying all parochial schools are bad when you only refer to a specific type like Lutheran or Catholic.
Deobandi is another group or school of thought, although it is much smaller than one of the five major ones in the world. A lot of western newspapers like to report that Deobandis "strictly adhere to the Qur'an." All Muslim scholars of every school of thought believe that, its not like the Deobandis are the minority for that sole purpose. People also like to look at Deobandis as "fundamentalist." Plenty of conservative Muslims are what you would call "fundamentalist," but although that word has been swung around to insult people, people don't really understand what it means.
I have found a fatwa (Islamic Ruling) by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid who states:
”The Deobandi group is a group of Muslims that is connected to and named after the University of Deoband, Dar al-`Uloom, in India. It is an intellectual school of thought that is deeply rooted, and everyone who graduated from that university was influenced by its academic characteristics, so that they became known as Deobandis.
The University of Deoband was founded by a group of Indian scholars after the British had put a stop to the Islamic revolution in India in 1857 CE. Its establishment was a strong reaction against western advancement and its materialistic civilization in the Indian Subcontinent. It aimed at saving the Muslims from the dangers of these circumstances, especially when Delhi, the capital, had been destroyed following the revolution and the British had taken full control of it. The scholars feared that their religion might be assimilated, so Sheikh Imdadullah al-Muhajir al-Makki and his student, Sheikh Muhammad Qasim an-Nanatuwi, and their companions drew up a plan to protect Islam and its teachings. They thought that the solution was to establish religious schools and Islamic centers. Thus al-Madrasah al-Islamiyyah al-`Arabiyyah was established in Deoband as a center for Islam and Shari`ah in India at the time of British rule.
The most prominent figures of this intellectual school included: Muhammad Qasim, Rashid Ahmad al-Kankuhi, Husayn Ahmad al-Madani, Muhammad Anwaar Shah al-Kashmiri, Abul-Hasan an-Nadvi, and Al-Muhaddith Habib ar-Rahman al-A`zami
Thoughts and beliefs:
With regard to basic tenets of belief (`aqidah), they follow the school of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi.
They follow the school of Imam Abu Hanifah with regard to fiqh and minor issues.
They follow the Sufi orders (tariqahs) of the Naqshbandiyyah, Chishtiyyah, Qadiriyyah and Saharwardiyyah with regard to spiritual development.
The thoughts and principles of the Deobandi school may be summed up as follows:
1) Preserving the teachings of Islam and its strength and rituals.
2) Spreading Islam and resisting destructive schools of thought and missionary activity.
3) Spreading Islamic culture and resisting the invading British culture.
4) Paying attention to spreading the Arabic language because it is the means of benefiting from the sources of Islamic Sharia.
5) Combining reason and emotion, and knowledge and spirituality.
(See al-Mawsu`ah al-Muyassarah fil-Adyan wal Madhahib, vol.1, p. 308)”
Allah Almighty knows best.
Every muslim school of thought supports the first four ideals in some form or another. The fifth one is a bit nebulous in its definition, and varies among school to school. Did Deobandism justify what the Taleban
did? I have my doubts, since there are plenty of followers in Northern Pakistan
and they haven't done the same actions. I'm not a scholar, I have never been to Pakistan or Afghanistan, I have never met a Deobandi or a Wahhabi
, and I cannot say what exactly is the cause or how they are linked. It's obvious that the Taleban used a great deal of Wahhabi and Deobandi thought, as well as Afghan customs and some even say that they got corrupted over time and with power. I'm just trying to help clarify things a bit more than the guesses and misconceptions that people have already.
Fatwa availible at http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=101562