Blogger's note: Here is a brilliant fatwa by a Lebanese ex-Christian and Islamic scholar, Shaykh Gibril F Haddad, on the pointless sectarian strife that has been going on for more than a century pointlessly. It does not mean that these two groups need to abolish their identities. Nay, they only need to rise above it, without giving in for every position one considers wide off the mark.
No Difference between Barelwis and Deobandis
Question: What exactly is the difference between the school of thought that follows Ala Hadrath Ahmed Rida Khan RA and those that follow the school of thought of Rashid Ahmed Gangohi against whom i understand Ala Hadrath had said that there is inherent kufr in the nature of thought expressed but did not issue a fatwa of Kufr, as Maulana Rashid Gangohi had passed on. (may Allah Ta'laa forgive me if i have made a mistake ) there is a lot of ikhtiflaaf in the Indian subcontinent on this issue and I do understand that it is extremely volatile - but, I would request you to kindly spare sometime and answer me.
[Faraz Rabbani notes: I agree wholeheartedly with the content of Shaykh Gibril’s comments.]
Answer: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim:
There is no difference in the generalities of `Aqida and Fiqh between Barelwis and Deobandis. They are both Sunni Hanafis, Sufis, Ash`aris or Maturidis. One stands in need of the best each school has to offer, as indeed hold many of the living prestigious teachers known to both sides.
Among the best commentaries on Sahih Muslim and the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud are works by the Deobandis. The Lives of the Sahaba by al-Kandihlawi is a masterpiece. I`la'al-Sunan and Aathaar al-Sunan are very valuable. As for Imam Ahmad Rida Khan and his works, whoever does not recognize their worth as one of the treasures of this Umma is a blasted nincompoop who should wear a dunce cap until he learns.
Both sides are strict Hanafis and mainstream Sufis. We do not endorse the mistakes that anyone might have made, such as uttering words rightly perceived to lack adab in matters of `Aqida or contesting the legality of celebrating Mawlid.
Nor do we endorse Takfir. Demonization of the other, saying they are munafiq is unacceptable. We leave extremism to Najd and its minions. Come together. Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki advised you to do so, Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i advised you, Shaykh `Abd al-Hadi Kharsa advised you, Sayyid Ya`qubi, Dr. al-Nass, others... Do you think you stand for the honor of Allah and His Prophet more than such as these? Think again.
When the situation is such that there is mutual avoidance at mosques, gatherings, etc. then it becomes wajib for every true and sincere Deobandi should seek out his counterparts among Barelwis and for every true and sincere Barelwi to seek out his counterparts among Deobandis, pray together, learn from one another, give salam, and increase love. Disunity is sin. Or are you afraid you will lose reputation or funding? Shame.
Here is the resting-place of Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir Gilani and Imam Abu Hanifa bracing for another Mongoloid onslaught. Will you Sunnis still be debating and anathematizing one another because of who said what as the Hour rises? Stressing ikhtilaf and schism is from Shaytan. If this is what the general public chooses to follow, it is their loss even as they shout ALLAHU AKBAR and YA RASULALLAH from God's dawn to the wee hours. Salam.
Shawwal 1423/December 2002