In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise belongs to Allah alone, and may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
‘Allamah Iqbal, the great Poet of the East, when asked, “What thing is the Deobandi, a creed or a sect?” replied, “It’s neither a creed nor a sect; Deobandi is the name of every rationalist religious man.”
Deoband is neither a creed (madhhab) or a sect — terms by which its antagonists try to incite the masses against it — but it is a comprehensive picture and on the track of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ’l-Jama‘ah in which all the offshoots of the Ahl al-Sunnah are seen joined with their root.
The ‘ulama of Deoband — named after a sleepy north Indian town where a group of scholars established a madrasah to safeguard and propagate sacred knowledge — are adherents of one of the four imams of fiqh: Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi‘, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal; and follow the Ash‘ari and Maturidi schools of creed. As epitomes of Shari‘ah and Tariqah, the ‘ulama of Deoband were and are practitioners of Tasawwuf, and follow the Chishti, Naqshbandi, Qadri and Suhrawardi tariqahs.