Return to Deoband
A BBC radio crew accompanied John Butt, the rector and founder of Jamiyat’al-Uloom’al-Islamiya, on a visit to his alma mater Deoband, the Islamic university in northern India where he studied for eight years. The radio crew was making a programme about John Butt entitled “Imam of peace”.
The rector of Jamiyat’al-Uloom found many changes in Darul Uloom in the 25 years that he had been away. For one, a grand new mosque, named after one of the first founders of Darul Uloom, Mufti Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, now adorns the Deoband skyline.
The whole staff of Darul Uloom were not only happy to once again see John Mohammad Butt, the only European ever to have graduated from Darul Uloom, they were also happy to see a BBC crew. The staff were pleased to have the opportunity to say that Deoband – and madrassahs in general – taught peace; any aspersions to the contrary are way wide of the mark.
When the rector of Jamiyat’al-Uloom arrived in Deoband more than thirty years ago, he had already been living in the Pak-Afghan border areas for ten years. Since he spoke Farsi, but could not speak Urdu, most teachers considered him to be Afghan.
The very first lesson that he attended was an Arabic Literature class given by Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi. John Butt was pleased to find that Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi is now the deputy rector (Naib Mohtamim) of Darul Uloom Deoband. “Do you consider John Butt to be an Afghan graduate of Deoband, or an English one?” the presenter of the BBC programme, Nadene Ghouri, asked Maulana Abdul Khaliq. “We consider him to be an English graduate, old boy!” he answered.
Be that as it may, the idea that John Butt was actually an Afghan stuck throughout his stay in Darul Uloom. In his penultimate year, when he was studying Mishkat’al-Masabih, he once sat in on the Bukhari lecture of Maulana Anzar Shah Kashmiri, the son of Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri, who wrote a famous commentary of Bukhari by the name of Faiz’al-Bari. “We are so honoured that today our Afghan has joined in our lecture,” Maulana Anzar Shah Kashmiri joked, to the 500-600 students present in the class.
Now the Darul Uloom authorities are keen that Afghan students should once again be able to study in Darul Uloom, as they were before the Partition of India in 1947. Indeed, not only Afghans, but all foreigners are now excluded from studying in Darul Uloom. This has been one unfortunate result of all the aspersions that have been laid bluehost中国 at the door of Darul Uloom over the last twenty years, that somehow Deobandism equals extremism. This was an impression that Maulana Abdul Khaliq – along with the spokesman of Darul Uloom, Adil Siddiqui – was quick to refute. “Deoband teaches a message of peace and brotherly love,” Maulana Abdul Khaliq asserted.
The more this message of peace and love can be reiterated, the more misgivings and misunderstandings about Deobandism and Islam in general will be removed – to be benefit of Muslims around the world.