The Brlwi/Deo conflict
I am not worthy of writing an analysis on this nor of opening up a debate on the issue. Numerous scholars have written and debated the issue from both sides. And it is not my intention to start this discussion here, but rather to point out some issues which any sane muslim of the sub-continent is capable of observing and realising themselves.
Both parties are Hanafi and Maturidi.
The ‘Barelwi’, a term that doesn’t really apply to any group of people as such except to those that reside and were born in Barailley, UP, India. However, the term is used by some to describe any one (be they a scholar, or be they just an average layman) who has any relation whatsoever to the great giant star of Islamic scholarship the mujaddid of his time Imam Ahmad Rida (RA).
The supposed barelwi’s don’t actually refer to themselves as barelwies but rather plain simple sunni muslims following the path of ahlus sunnah. You do not hear them make statements such as; according to ulama of barailley, such and such or it is not the way of the barailley ulama or even Imam Ahmad Rida (RA) said so and that’s final.
In issues of dispute the so-called ‘barelwi’ scholars actually turn back to the Quran & Sunnah, the way/words of the salaf etc, rather than just opting for and standing by the fatwas and opinions of past scholars of their background ie. Imam Ahmad Rida (RA).
The Barelwi understanding of the ahlus sunnah evidently is no different to that of the scholars of ahlus sunnah from the previous generation, and the previous. Infact, the scholars of ahlus sunnah at the time when there was no deobandi school nor a barailley school actually are no different to those who are labelled as barelwi’s nor is there a difference between the sunni’s of Shaam & Hijaz and the Barelwi’s.
The barelwi’s have been victims of the same type of abuse from deobandies which the sunni’s of arab lands face from NAJDI’s.
The Deobandi’s on the other hand do not refer to themselves as deobandies either, but just muslims. However, actions speak louder than words. From the behaviour of the scholars and followers of the institution of Islamic studies in deoband (darul uloom deoband) it seems as though they have formed some sort of semi or sub-madhaab.
You will frequently here them make statements such as; it is not the minhaj of our akabir/deobandi akabir or such and such has clearly stated and warned us against… or we are nowhere near as learned as our great akabir to make judgement on an issue which they have already ruled on (ie. 100 years ago).
Whatever happened to the minhaj of ahlus sunnah.? whatever happened to the ijma of the ulama of ahlus sunnah.?
Infact, on issues of dispute or differences of opinion they will actually do taqlid on the deobandi akabir even though times have changed and the gap between the akabir and them is almost a hundred years.
Molvi Ashraf Ali Thanwi stated such and such, molvi rashid ahmad gangohi stated such and such. Its as if it is fardh upon them not to give a ruling that is contrary to the edicts of these elders even if it is now in this day & age against the majority of the ulama of ahlus sunnah. thus creating further confusion and discord among the ummah.
with all due respect i do not mean any disrespect to any of the named deobandi forefathers, nor am i implying that they were wrong in anyway in their judgements. The deobandi akabir gave their verdicts according to their situations, their era and circumstances. It does not mean that the deobandi scholarship needs to apply these fatwas in every age and era.
The so-called barelwis are not totally blameless either, many are full of over exaggerations on the importance of minor issues.
I hope inshallah, i haven’t offended anyone. I’m just speaking my mind. Voicing my views and observations.