It was at a small place near the capital, Thana Bhavan, in the District of Muzaffarnagar where some of the greatest leaders of religious opinion gathered together. These men had come came to Haji Imdadullah Sahib to point out to him that the Muslims were without a ruler. Since Haji Imdadullah was their religious leader, they suggested that he assume responsibility for their worldly guidance by agreeing to become ‘Amir ul Mu’mineen’. Haji Saheb was then persuaded to accede to their request and did for some time act as a Qazi (Judge) and ruled between civil and criminal cases.
Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi Saheb Rahmatullahi Alayhi and Maulana Qasim Nanotvi Rahmatullahi Alayhi and their dependants lived here in Thana Bhavan as their services were required by Haji Saheb.
They then began to think about the problem of saving the community and action from the onslaught of atheism and Christianity that had come in the wake of the British rule in the sub-continent. They did so in order to prevent the so called ‘modern’ culture and civilisation from distorting their religious beliefs, conduct, actions and ways of thought.
Hazrat Qasim Nanotvi Rahmatullahi Alayhi and his colleagues together with their spiritual guide Haji Imdadullah unanimously decided that a chain of religious educational institutions should at once be started. It was also decided that the first institution of this kind should be started in the township of Deoband rather than in any big city. It was in accordance with these decisions that the foundation of Darul Uloom Deoband was laid on the 15 th of Muharram 1283 AH ( 21 st May 1866).
At that time it was simply called the ‘Islamic-Arabic Madrasa’ and soon came to be known throughout the world as ‘Ummul-Madaris’ (the mother of Madrasas). The founding of this madrasah led to the establishment of another at Saharanpur. Very soon, a whole chain of Madrasahs came to be founded which included Manz-ul-Uloom at Galauthi, Madrasah-e-Shahi at Murzdebad. One at Thana Bhavan, one at Mau and various others. All these institutions were in some way or other directly related to Darul Uloom Deoband.
In view if the difficult and trying circumstances threatening the very existence of the Islamic faith at that time, it was quite natural that the courses of study at Darul Uloom Deoband be kept very strictly within the confines of religious and theological study.
The Qur’an and Sunnah, Jurisprudence and Islamic Scholasticism were to be the corner-stone of the Syllabi, and other branches of learning such as grammar, literature, logic, philosophy and Mathematics were included only in so far as they helped in the study of the core subjects.
One important consideration was the fact that the learning of many languages and sciences would have a distracting effect on the students. Maulana Qasim Nanotvi said that this was so the student would devote himself to the modern sciences after he has perfected himself in the traditional ones. He clearly stated that the students of Darul Uloom should do well to go on to university or college to receive instruction in Modern Sciences after receiving religious education at Darul Uloom.
The Popularity of Darul Uloom Deoband
Allah Taa’la has given extraordinary popularity to the great seminary at Deoband; it is this popularity that has enabled it to serve the nation as well as the community in a remarkable way. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that Darul Uloom has never been merely an educational institution; it has also been a great centre for preparing the youth for the practical affairs of life. Darul Uloom gives to its student’s purity of conduct and excellence of morals along with access to the great treasure-house of knowledge.
The whole world knows that the students of Darul Uloom possess, on one hand, the scholarly dignity and self-respect, and on the other, humility, generosity, simplicity and purity. It was the first institution that depended entirely on contributions from the ordinary members of the public. This institution has also the distinction of having been founded in response to a real historical need though the majority of people at that time were not aware of that need.
May Allah Taa’la shower his blessings on the founders of Darul Uloom Deoband and also on the very people that contributed towards this Darul Uloom.
It was due to the sincerity of these Ulama (Scholars) that not a single part of the Indian Sub-continent has remained uninfluenced by the great institution.
The disciples of the learned scholars at Deoband have spread far and wide within the country and around the world.
The services rendered by the Darul Uloom have generally been acknowledged throughout the world, and glorious tributes have been paid to them.
One such commentator writes, “May Allah bless the founders of Darul Uloom Deoband because of their efforts the sound of ‘thus did Allah say’ and ‘thus did the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam say’ have thus been resounding in at least the ears of the common people. The greatest defence of tradition, against attacks from modern religious rationalism, was made by the people of Deoband……Deoband is not merely an educational institution but a powerful movement which has played an effective role which has been a source of much inspiration both in theoretical and practical manners.”
It is not difficult to see that the source of varied activities by the likes of Sheikul Hadith Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri Rahmatullahi Alayhi, Sheikul Islam Hazrat Maulana Sayyed Hussain Ahmed Madani Saheb Rahmatullahi Alayhi, Sheikul Hind Hazrat Maulana Mahmudul Hasan Saheb Rahmatullahi Alayhi, Sheikut Tafseer Hazrat Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani and others is none other than Darul Uloom Deoband.
Another writer states, “No sane person can deny the fact that it was the great Scholars of the Darul Uloom of Deoband who went to the nooks and corners of the country and defended the pure faith against attacks from modification and heresy.
The graduates of Deoband can be seen giving instructions in the excellence of morals and conduct from the mimbars of mosques throughout the world. We can have some idea of the extent of the services rendered by Darul Uloom Deoband from the fact that the number of its Scholars who completed the syllabus exceeds 34,000 including almost 2,000 in the year 2005 alone. That is excluding graduates of the Qari and Mufti classes which mass up to an amazing 106,000.
From across the world for example, Afghanistan, Russia , China, Australia, America, United Kingdom, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq and many more.
May Allah Taa’la bless Hazrat Nanotvi Rahmatullahi Alayhi and his colleagues and disciples for having strongly and successfully defended Islam against all its antagonists. They went out to sing praises of Islam and its Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam throughout the country and beyond. They silenced many by giving well-argued and crushing replies to their objections against Islam.
May Allah Taa’la give us the true understanding and love for our elders and keep us under the shade of the great Ulama of Deoband and its branches of Madrasahs. Ameen