Why Only the ‘Ulamā of Deoband?
A question that lingers in the minds of many is, ‘Why the repeated phrases of ‘Our ‘Ulamā’, ‘the ‘Ulamā of Deoband’, and ‘our akābir (pious predecessors) of Deoband’’? Why not mention the ‘Ulamā that are serving and have served the Dīn in other parts of the world?
In order to understand the reasoning behind the continuous mentioning of the legendary Deoband and its stalwarts, one needs to take a step back and, with a clear conscience, ponder.
The ‘Ulamā that repeatedly direct the attention of the masses and refresh their memories of the achievements and personalities of all those predecessors affiliated to Deoband, predominantly have a background of either educational and/or cultural, direct or indirect relationship with the sub-continent. Therefore, they feel it is their moral obligation to speak up and promote awareness among the masses as to who these greats were, which they are passionately carrying out. They are no different to the ‘Ulamā whose educational links reach back to other parts of the globe, be it the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Syria, Indonesia or anywhere else. You will find each scholar devote part of his/her time to paying tribute to the links in their chain of Dīnī education.
Take the Arabs for example. They devote much resource into promoting the works and personalities of Muftī ‘Abdul ‘Azīz ibn Bāz رحمه الله, Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn, Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhāb and others, رحمهم الله رحمة واسعة. They do this because these ‘Ulamā were legends in their chain of ‘ilm. Similarly, we have the likes of Shaykh-Al-Ḥadīth, Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakarīyyā Al-Kāndhalwī, Mawlānā Anwar Shāh Al-Kashmīrī, Mawlānā Shabbīr Aḥmad ‘Uthmānī, Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Al-Madanī, Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī At-Thānwī, Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Al-Gangohī, Mawlānā Qāsim An-Nānotwī and many other luminaries رحمهم الله أجمعين, who sub-continentally affiliated scholars promote.
Undoubtedly, each group has contributed to the propagation and defence of the Dīn of Allāh in their respected lands, and no ignorant individual can take that away from them, for their acceptance is plain and clear for the generations to see. May Allāh reward them all for their efforts, and may He grant us all a share of their spirituality and ‘ilm.
As for debating as to which group is better; we are not obliged in any way to make that judgement, neither do we qualify to do so. However, without discrediting the other, we should take pride in the achievements of those predecessors whom Allāh has chosen for Dīn to reach us. It is their moral right upon us that we educate and promote their legacy, their values and their teachings, without falling into any form of inferiority complex.
May Allāh grant us all true understanding. Āmīn
قد قلت ما قلت، إن صوابا فمن الله، وإن خطأ فمن نفسي والشيطان، وأستغفر الله إنه كان غفاراً