Fresh Lines
Founding of Darululoom Deoband
  Taleemul Islam
  October 8, 2017

It was at a small place near the capital called Thana Bhawan in District Muzaffarnagar (1) that some of the greatest leaders of religious opinion assembled to take stock of the situation. These men, writes Mawlana Ashiq Ilahi in his biography of Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi, Tadhkirat al-Rashid, came to Haji Imdadullah [Muhajir Makki] and pointed out to him that the Muslims at that time were virtually without a ruler and this was their main problem. Since Haji Imdadullah was their religious leader, it was proper, they suggested, that he should also assume responsibility for their worldly guidance by agreeing to become ?Amir al-Muminin? (2)


Haji Imdadullah was thus persuaded to accede to their request and did for some time act as Qadhi (in accordance with the laws of the Shariah) and decided civil and criminal cases.


Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi and their dependents settled down here at Thana Bhawan since their services were required by Haji Imdadullah in the discharge of his magisterial and religious-judicial duties. Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmed Madani points out that Mawlana Muhammad Qasim was appointed as the Commander? while Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was given charge of the magisterial-judicial duties. (3)


These great men openly participated in the 1857 War of Independence (4) and fought against the British Army in the battlefield of Shamli. It was in this battle that Hafiz Muhammad Zamin was killed and attained martyrdom.


When, however, the news about the loss of Delhi and the arrest of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was received, these brave men were forced to give up fighting. As soon as the upheaval of 1857 came to an end, they began to concentrate their attention on the protection and preservation of the Islamic faith. They began to think about the problem of saving the community and the nation from the onslaught of atheism, ?Nature? worship and Christianity that had come in the wake of the British rule.


They did so in order to prevent the so-called “Modern” culture and civilisation from distorting their religious beliefs and conduct, actions and ways of thought.


Qasim al-„Ulum Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanautwi and his colleagues and friends together began to examine the various aspects of the contemporary situation.


The greatest spiritual guide of the times, Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki, was also consulted in these matters. It was unanimously decided that a chain of religious educational institutions should at once be started, and also that the entire financial burden of running them should be borne by the Muslims themselves. 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 the madrassah at Deoband was laid on 15th Muharram 1283 AH (21st May 1866).


At the time it was simply called the Islamic Arabic Madrassah and soon came to be known throughout the world as Umm al-Madaris (5). The founding of the madrassah at Deoband led to the establishment of another at Saharanpur (6). Very soon a whole chain of madrassahs came to be founded, which included Manba al-Ulum at Gulauthi, Madrassah Shahi at Muradabad, Madrassah at Thana Bhawan, Jamia Miftah al-Ulum at Mau, Dar al-‘Ulum at Mau, and Madrassah Imdadia at Darbhanga.


 All these educational institutions were in some way or other directly related to the Islamic Arabic Madrassah at Deoband, and all of them had been established in the lifetime of Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi.


From the book: Dar al-’Ulum Deoband A Brief Account of its Establishment and Background


1 A district of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India.
2 Commander of the Faithfull
3 Naqsh-e-Hayat, p. 43
4 Dubbed by the British as the ?Indian Mutiny?
5 The Mother of Madrassahs
6 In November 1866, Mazahirul uloom was established in Saharanpur