Major Points of Dispute Between Sunnis (Baraylawis) and Deobandis (Wahabis)

Issues upon which Deobandis conflict with Sunnis can be grouped broadly thus:

  1. Essentials of Religion: Qāsim Nānotwī said that khatamu’n nabiyyīn does not necessarily mean that our Master ﷺ is chronologically the final prophet, and if a prophet were to arrive after him, it would not affect the finality of his prophethood; Rashid Gangohī in a fatwā said that we should not make takfīr of a person who claims that Allāh táālā has lied [wuqūú e kazib ke máanī durust ho gaye]. Such examples are aplenty in that burnable book Taqwiyatu’l Īmān.[1]
  2. Blasphemy: Ashraf Álī Thānawī claims that the knowledge of unseen possessed by the Prophet ﷺ is similar to that possessed by animals and madmen. Khalīl Aĥmad said that the expanse of the knowledge of the world is proven for Satan by texts, and no such evidence for RasūlAllāh ﷺ exists and it is polytheism to prove the same knowledge for RasūlAllāh ﷺ. Maĥmūd al-Ĥasan in his dirge for Gangohī committed a number of blasphemies.

  3. Secondary Áqīdah Issues: Deobandis do not accept the Prophet ﷺ was given extensive knowledge of unseen; that he ﷺ was a man just like us, citing the last verse of Sūrah Kahf; Deobandis do not permit istighātha, and deem it shirk. Calling upon RasūlAllāh ﷺ for help as a form of tawassul is deemed polytheism by Deobandis following other Wahābīs, even though such prayers are found in ĥadīth. Ismāýīl claimed that RasūlAllāh ﷺ is dead and has became dust. First, Ismāýīl and then Gangohī and his followers claim that it is possible for Allāh táālā to lie.[2] Ismāýīl Dihlawī’s books also advocate anthropomorphic beliefs.

  4. Culture of Disrespect: Mentioning the Prophet ﷺ and Awliyā’a without due respect – a trend set by Ismāýīl and his Tafwiyat. Deobandis routinely use ugly analogies to illustrate their point, thereby exposing the filth within themselves. One famous Deobandi debater, Ţāhir Gayāvī compared reciting salutation upon the Prophet ﷺ in the masjid loudly, to feces in a plastic bag; the same person asserting that Allāh táālā can lie, used the analogy of a young man who can commit adultery but abstains from it. In Juhd al-Muqill, Maĥmūd al-Ĥasan claims that it is in the Divine Power of Allāh táālā do all ugly or evil things [qudrah álā al-qabāyiĥ] – and it is mumkin dhātī for Allāh táālā.[3]
  5. Scorning Practices as Bidáh/Shirk: Deobandis scorn and ridicule celebration of Mawlids; or prayers known as fātiĥah – donating reward of good deeds to the deceased; including that of saints known as úrs. Thānawī claims that describing RasūlAllāh ﷺ as ‘remover of affliction’ is polytheism. Deobandis deem it an act of faith to possess Tafwiyatu’l Īmān and to read it.

  6. Exaggerated Praise of Deobandi Elders: Sometimes, such praise borders on blasphemy and escape that ruling only because they claim them to be dreams. Khalīl Aĥmad in his Barāhīn writes that in one such dream RasūlAllāh ﷺ was speaking in Urdu and when asked, he said that it was because of his association with the scholars of Deoband; in another dream, RasūlAllāh ﷺ was cooking food for Gangohī; Maĥmūd al-Ĥasan in his elegy to Gangohī belittles the prophets Ýīsā alayhis salam and Yūsuf alayhis salam comparing them with his own master; and that Gangohī was next only to RasūlAllāh ﷺ; he goes on further and describes Gangohī as sustainer of the creationmurabbi e khalāyiq. This kind of exaggeration reaches grotesque proportions: when a follower writes to Thānawī that he was reciting lā ilāha illā Allāh, Ashraf Álī RasūlAllāh in a dream and then Allahumma şallī álā Ashraf Álī in wakefulness; instead of rebuking him, Thānawī reassures him that it is a comforting event.

  7. Mistakes in Translations and Fatāwā: Rashid Gangohī rules that it merits reward [thawāb] to eat the house crow; the verses of the Qur’ān are translated recklessly in Thānawi’s and other translations disregarding the esteem of Allāh táālā or his prophets; Gangohī deems that the phrase raĥmatun li’l áālamīn, is not restricted to RasūlAllāh ﷺ, and others such as awliyā’a can also be described as raĥmatun li’l áālamīn.

  8. Hypocrisy and Self-Contradition of Deobandis: This is the defining characterstic of Deobandis – they have a book, an áqīdah and a fatwā for all seasons. When they meet Sunni scholars outside the subcontinent, they claim that their áqīdah is described in Muhannad; but in their fatāwā and Urdu books, they scorn those very things as bidáh or shirk.

The ugliest form of their hypocrisy is the exaggerated praise [ghuluw] of their own elders – a number of things which they scorn as polytheism or innovation when said about Prophets and Awliyā’a, is claimed as a praiseworthy attribute of their own elders. In an even bizzare twist, when Deobandi muftīs were asked about statements of their elders, without mentioning their names, they ruled them kāfir – yet, they obstinately defend them and accuse Sunnis of being unfair if they issue the same fatwā. Self-contradiction of Deobandis is a chronic problem – sometimes, a certain belief or action is shirk; and at other times it is not; this contradiction is not only between two different people, but in the fatawā of the same person.

Slander of Sunni Scholars: Ĥusayn Aĥmad Tāndwī wrote Shihāb al-Thāqib, in defence of Deobandis, but is also a compendium of insults and imprecations against Alahazrat. Similarly, Murtazā Ĥasan Chāndpūrī and others wrote booklets and pamphlets attacking the person of Alahazrat, in their attempt to divert the focus from their own flaws. Abu’l Ĥasan Nadwī resorted to bald-faced lies in his biographical notice on Alahazrat and Sunni scholars  who refuted the heresy of Ismāýīl Dihlawī smearing them as innovators – Taqī Uthmanī made a similar attempt in his answer to an Arab scholar inquiring about Aĥmad Riđā Khān, answering innocently, that ‘Barelwis’ make takfīr of Deobandis because they forbid polytheistic practices.

  1. Blind Support and Defence of Deobandi Elders: including their blasphemies. Even if a hundred explicit proofs are presented, they try to find some ambiguous or obscure passage in a book and generalise that it is the general áqīdah of all scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah. Manżūr Númānī’s Faysla Kun Munazara is touted as the last word in the debate,[4] even though it is full of falsehoods and misrepresentations similar to Keller’s Iman, Kufr, and Takfir. In an attempt to exonerate their elders, they rush recklessly where even illiterate Muslims fear to tread.

Sunni scholars make takfīr of Deobandis only in the first two cases and deem them heretics and misguided for the rest of their stultiloquence. The last case however, is pending examination: if a person knowingly defends explicit blasphemies, then he too shall be judged as an apostate, because:

Among things that cause apostasy is one’s being concordant with [and approving of] disbelief, even if it is implied; for example, if a kāfir wants to accept Islām, and asks a Muslim to instruct the testimony of faith, and if that Muslim does not do it, or says “Wait until I am done with my work or finish my sermon,” [if he is a preacher]; here, it is as if he has suggested [the kāfir] to not become a Muslim…[5]

Mawlānā Aĥmad Saýīd Każmī writes:

I have mentioned presently that the fundamental difference and reasons for the dispute between Deobandis and Ahl as-Sunnah are those passages in which there is blasphemy against Allāh táālā and His Messenger g. Deobandis say that these statements are not disrespectful or insulting – Sunnis say that the insult and denigration in them is explicit…[6]

Many statements of Deobandis fall in multiple categories above. It should be noted that we do not include weird anecdotes of Deobandi elders, like the lewd stories narrated by Thānawī or such things reported about Gangohī or Nānotwī, mentioned in their own works; these are personal shortcomings and only show that they were ornery people lionised by their followers.

[1] See Appendix C for scans of those passages upon which Sunni scholars made takfīr.

[2] Alahazrat says that it is kufr according to jurists, but scholars of kalām withhold from takfīr.

[3] Juhd al-Muqill, p59, The Seventh Proem; also in Tadhkiratu’l Khalīl, p146, that stealing, drinking wine, ignorance and oppression are included in Divine Power.

[4] In-sha’Allāh, I have the intention of writing a refutation of that screed in the future, Allāh táālā is a Sufficient Helper.

[5] Iýlām, p31.

[6] Al-Ĥaqq al-Mubīn, p15, Sayyid Aĥmed Saýīd Kāżmī.