The Value of Traditional Islamic Seminaries
By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (db) has written regarding his journey to Baghdad:
“Baghdad is that city which for centuries had been at the center of the Islamic world. The mere sight of this city reminds one of the glorious days of the Abbāsi khilāfat. Upon reaching Baghdad I enquired whether there were any Madāris (seminaries) present in which Islamic knowledge is imparted in accordance with the ways of the pious predecessors. I was informed that all such Madāris had now been converted into schools and universities. Now, the knowledge of Deen can only be attained from university faculties, such places wherein Islam is taught as mere theory, similar to ancient philosophy. Islam can neither be seen in the lives of the students nor in the Ustādhs (teachers). Forget bring religious scholars, on seeing their appearance, one wonders if they are even Muslim.
“This is just like how orientalists study Islam today, in the universities of America, Canada, and Europe. If you read their books and articles you will come across the names of such books that many of our Ulamā have never even heard about. It seems as if deep tahqīq (research) is being made. But [sadly], in spite of swimming in the ocean of Islamic knowledge from morning till evening, they return dry as bone. No effect of what they rigorously study can be seen in their lives. The soul of this knowledge has been destroyed. “
Mufti Taqi Uthmani thereafter asked if they could at least direct him to an Ālim (scholar) of the old school of thought, so that he could present himself at his service. He was directed to a Masjid close to the tomb of Shaykh `Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlani (ra), in which was a Maktab. Here he met an old pious-looking man. Mufti Taqi Usmani described his meeting with him in the following words:
“On seeing him, I felt as if I was in the presence of a pious Allah-fearing Ālim. He was sitting on a straw mat, dressed in coarse clothing, and eating dry bread. The light of the Sharī`ah could be discerned on his forehead.
“After making salaam, he enquired regarding my name and the place from which I had come. He also asked about the condition of the Madāris of our country, their syllabus, and the manner in which the kitābs (books) are taught. Tears flowed from his eyes as I mentioned the names of the kitābs found in the Dars-e-Nizami syllabus [the syllabus used by Islamic seminaries across the Indian subcontinent].
He asked, “Are these kitābs still being taught!?”
“I replied in the affirmative. He then explained, ‘Today, we have been deprived of even hearing the names of these kitābs. These kitābs create Allah-conscious men, they create true Muslims. In our country these books are no longer taught. I beg you to convey this message of mine to the Ulamā and the masses of your country, that for the sake of Allah subhāna wa ta`ālā, they should bear everything but should never allow the destruction of such Madāris wherein these kitābs are taught!’ ”
The enemies of Islam are fully conscious of the fact that as long as these simple Mawlānas, sitting on straw mats, are present in society, they cannot remove Īmān (faith) from the hearts of the Muslims. Therefore the enemies of Islam are making all out effort to remove these Madāris.
Extracted from Ulema of Deoband by Madrasa Arabia Islamia (Azaadville, South Africa)