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Blackwell Publishing Ltd Oxford, UK MUWO The MuslimWorld 0027-4909 1478-1913 2009 Hartford Seminary XXX

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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XX

An Islamic Discursive
Tradition on Reform as
Seen in the Writing of
Deobands Muft

i


Mu

h

ammad Taq

i



U

r

m

a

n

i

*

Kelly Pemberton

The George Washington University
Washington, D.C.

The Landscape of Religious Reform: Continuity and
Change

T

he work of Muft

i

Mu

h

ammad Taq

i



U

r

m

a

n

i

1

, who has served on both
the

Shari


a

Appellate Branch of Pakistans Supreme Court (19822002)
and the Federal

Shari


a

Court of Pakistan (198082), sits at a nexus
of transformations within contemporary discursive traditions of reform
(

isl

a

h

) in Islam. The question of reforming Islam and in particular Islamic

Shari


a

law has shaped public discourses among Muslim intellectuals,
scholars, religious leaders, and political authorities since the 19

th

century. In
the late decades of that era, the terms secularist, modernist, and traditionalist
gained currency as descriptors of the major rival groups seeking to articulate
Islam on the stage of public opinion. Yet then, as today, these terms often
mislead more than they enlighten, especially insofar as they ignore the
common ground on which members of each group stand.

2

Perhaps more so
within the past four decades, political, socio-economic, and technological
developments have signicantly altered the landscape of religious authority in
Muslim societies, and expanded the ranks of those claiming to represent Islam.
Notably, these developments include the involvement of state actors in
Islamization programs (even ostensibly secular states) and their concomitant

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sponsorship and co-optation (or curbing) of

d

i

n

i

mad

a

ris

3

education; the
spread of radical Islamist ideologies and the expansion of groups that uphold
them; and the emergence of Muslim civic groups.

4

They also encompass the
migration of Muslims from emerging market nations (e.g. Pakistan, Egypt,
India, Indonesia, Morocco, and Turkey) to more prosperous regions in the
West (Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Australia), the Middle East (the
United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait), and Southeast Asia
(Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei); and reect the emergence of what Dale
Eickelman and James Piscatori have called the new religious intellectuals
from state or secular educational institutions.

5

In the case of Pakistan, these developments have underscored the ways in
which religious authorities, and consequently movements for reform, have
engaged in an ongoing process of reconstruction, altering both the meanings,
and the symbolic capital of the


Ulam

a

. Within this process, Muft

i



U

r

m

a

ni
stands as a member of the growing numbers of inuential Ulama who have
emerged from the South Asian Subcontinent as major players on the global
stage of opinion articulating the practical application of Islamic Sharia in
contemporary Muslim (and even non-Muslim) societies. Born in Deoband,
India, his family migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India in 1947.
Educated at the Dar ul-Ulum Karachi, one of the oldest and most prominent
Deobandi schools in Pakistan, Mufti Urmani is heir to the traditions of the
Deoband madrasa, with its dual emphasis on Hana legalism and Susm.
Among many Deobandi scholars, Susm (tasawwuf ) is understood to be
an integral part of the ethical and moral development of the individual and a
tool that both completes the education of the jurist and renders his capacity
for discerning the Law more effective and sound, and this predilection is
pronounced in Mufti Urmanis voluminous writings and recorded speeches on
a number of topics, particularly qh (Islamic law). He is considered one of
the most inuential jurists and scholars of Islamic law to have emerged in
recent decades, and a major gure in the world of Islamic nance, in part
through his work as the powerful chair of the board of Islamic scholars at the
Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial
Institutions, and in part through his work as Chairman of the Sharia Board
Dow Jones Islamic Market Index, aside from his advisory positions in a
number of other nancial institutions pursuing Islamic banking and nance.
Though respected and sought out worldwide, Mufti Urmani is not without
controversy. In particular, his recent criticisms of a number of popular Islamic
bonds as being contrary to Sharia have sent alarm signals to nancial
institutions who are heavily invested in these securities,
6
and his support
for the Hudud Ordinances of Pakistan
7
has drawn sharp criticism from
womens rights and democracy advocates, in particular. Even so, his work
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on contemporary Islamic qh and jurisprudence, of which a small selection
will be considered here, is instructive for understanding how the landscape of
religious authority, and authorities, is evolving in ways that are often
overlooked by their detractors.
Mufti {Umani as representative of classical
Islamic jurisprudence
Mufti Urmanis work on Islamic jurisprudence exemplies the
complexities and contradictions inherent among the Ulama today. Within
these ranks, the Deobandis are particularly instructive, both for the ways in
which they have come to symbolize, for some, trenchant, anti-modernizing
tendencies within Islam, and for others, the vital and progressive changes
that have been taking place in the articulation of Islam on the global stage.
Prevailing portraits of Deobandis have rarely characterized them as responsive
to contemporary challenges for Islam to modernize, and indeed, many of
them have vehemently resisted state efforts to alter the curricula of madrasa
institutions.
8
Two contrasting portraits have emerged: one, represented by
contemporary international political discourse, sees the Deoband movement
and its afliated institutions most notably the madrasa as political,
working ultimately to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law, while
another, represented by what may be called the interiorization thesis, sees
movements like Deoband as largely quiescent, concerned more with the
perfection of the faith and moral development of ordinary, individual Muslims
(and concomitant denunciation of what is seen as un-Islamic), and less with
the establishment or assertion of an Islamic political agenda.
9
This study seeks to complicate such views by examining a select body
of Mufti Urmanis work that demonstrates two key tensions emerging as
critical debates among Islamic religious scholars (both traditional and
new religious intellectuals) today. The tensions are between the idea of a
universal Islam guided by the principles of Sharia, and the particularities of
Hana jurisprudence in contemporary Pakistan, on one hand, and between
Urmanis own apparently contradictory uses of taqlid (imitation of precedent)
and ijtihad (independent reasoning), on the other. As I will argue, these
tensions reect more than ideological fault lines among religious scholars
competing for resources; they underscore the strategic deployment of symbolic
language and index social relations, in particular the dynamics between
different groups of religious authorities in contemporary Pakistan. Perhaps
more important, they carry broader implications for a recasting of the Ulama
in Islam today, one that envisions them as part of an ongoing, dynamic
construction of religious authority. As Muhammad Qasim Zamans critical and
insightful work on contemporary Ulama has argued, the multiple, often
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rancorous, and sometimes contradictory, discourses of Ulama today must
not be seen merely as evidence of incoherence or manipulation; rather,
they suggest,
a far more exible understanding of the world, and of Islam, than is
often acknowledged and not just by observers or critics of the
Ulama, but often also by themselves. They have continued to
accommodate changes, both small and large, and, in this respect, the
Ulama of the twentieth or the twenty-rst century are not very different
from those of the earlier centuries. This exibility means that the new
and the old can subsist together in the religious tradition, even as the old
is recongured in often novel ways. It also means that, far from having
been marginalized in the face of challenges to their authority
challenges from the modern nation-state or from Islamist activists and
the new religious intellectuals, for instance the Ulama have often
continued to be, or have become, active and important players in many
contemporary Muslim societies.
10
Zamans characterization of Mufti Urmani likewise highlights the ambivalence
with which the Ulama view their role in the articulation of Islam on the world
stage. He is at once concerned with the faith and education of Muslims
everywhere, as his ample writing and lectures on matters of faith and spiritual
improvement profess. Yet his many works on how the state should implement
Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan, his critique of Islamists like Maulana Abul
Ala Mawdudi, his condemnation of the Ahmadis in Pakistan, and his active
membership in a number of Islamic nance organizations in South Asia and
the Middle East that work to implement an Islamic economy suggests that his
activities span the spectrum from the apolitical to the implicitly political to the
overtly political.
11
Mufti Urmani describes himself as a traditionalist scholar of Islam (alim)
whose methodology is rmly rooted in the classical Islamic jurisprudential
tradition, and yet he is an active supporter of taqlid (usually understood to be
an imitation of the examples provided by Sunni jurisprudents up to the 4
th
/10
th

century). Some clarication is needed here. In works of contemporary
scholarship, the classical Islamic jurisprudential tradition commonly refers to
the era in which the methodology of usul al-qh, the basic framework by
which Muslim jurists proposed the articulation of Islamic Sharia law, was
developed. Temporally, it falls during the early Abbasid period (24
th
/8
th
10
th

centuries). This period is typically characterized as one of intense scholarly
debate and intellectual foment, when the principles of Islamic law were
being worked out and ijtihad was more widely accepted as a methodological
tool for extracting the law from the Quran and Hadith. It is less often
acknowledged by contemporary scholars that the Ulama of the 4
th
/10
th

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century actively promoted taqlid.
12
As the Zahiri jurist and theologian and jurist
Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) noted, the Successors (Tabiun) those Muslims who
followed the Prophet Muhammads generation frequently practiced taqlid,
in part as a matter of course, and in part because of regional preferences for
the legal opinions ( fatawa) of local Companions of the Prophet (Sahaba) such
as Ibn Umar (Medina), Ibn Masud (Kufa), and Ibn Abbas (Mecca). Similarly,
the Jurists (Fuqaha ) who followed the Successors (including Abu Hanifa and
Malik ibn Anas, founders and eponyms of the Hana and Maliki schools of
law) practiced taqlid in those areas of the law in which opinions had already
been formulated by the Successors, and exercised ijtihad where no
information had been transmitted locally.
13
Yet the preference for taqlid in and
subsequent to the 10
th
century is sometimes read as the attempt by founders
of the law schools (madhahib) to stem the tide of controversies over matters
of faith and practice, and in so doing also promote the survival of their own
schools of thought, while others have argued that everything that could be said
about the methods and principles of interpreting Islam had been said by
then.
14
Yet another often overlooked aspect of these developments is that
within the higher ranks of jurists (specialists, not laymen), it was possible, and
indeed common, to practice a mixture of taqlid and ijtihad well after the
establishment of the major law schools, as Wael B. Hallaq has convincingly
demonstrated.
15
As an advocate of the privileged role of the classically-trained jurist
( faqih)
16
in the process of intellectual and legal reform, Mufti Urmanis to
revive the classical Islamic jurisprudential sciences stand in opposition to the
efforts of a) those Salafis, Wahhabis, and like-minded lay Islamist thinkers
who advocate an abandonment of the classical structures of Islamic law and
a return to the foundational sources of Islam (believing that each person is
endowed with the capability, and right, to interpret and extract rules from
these sources), b) modernists such as the Syrian intellectual Rashid Rida,
his mentor, the Egyptian jurist Muhammad Abduh, and the noted Pakistani
scholar Fazlur Rahman, none of whom advise total rejection of these classical
structures, but who do advocate the liberal use of ijtihad, or independent
reasoning, for the purpose of adapting Islamic law to the exigencies of the
age, and c) secularist (or secular-minded) groups, who advocate a pluralist
and democratic vision of the state that entails substantial structural and
institutional changes in its legal and political apparatus, and in the
relationships between the state, army, and religious leadership.
17
In their
advocacy of ijtihad, these disparate schools of thought are shaped by
common inuences, though the rst is often connected by detractors with
fundamentalist and even terrorist movements, and the latter two with excessive
admiration for Western intellectual traditions and liberal values. Although
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2009 Hartford Seminary. 457
Mufti Urmani names all three as his ideological opponents in several of the
works examined here, it is the rst two groups mentioned that are of special
interest to this study, since they, more than the secularists, have substantively
engaged the questions of ijtihad and taqlid in contemporary debates about the
implementation of Sharia law. Recipients of modern secular education in
addition to their training in the Islamic sciences, Islamists and modernists
are usually lay scholars with less formal madrasa training than their
counterparts in previous generations, though many of them have also been
educated in one of the latter-day dini madaris established in the 1980s and
1990s in the Subcontinent. Many among them embrace a vision of tajdid o
islah (revival and reform) that expresses a disdain for the traditionalist,
classically-educated Ulama and the dini madaris that produce them.
18
The touchstone for a number of ongoing debates between these lay
scholars and traditional Ulama has been the provenance of ijtihad
(specically, who is equipped and entitled to practice it, and how?), and its
corollary, taqlid, often labeled a static and outdated method of jurisprudence,
ill-equipped to meet the exigencies of the present age and inappropriate for
scholars, who have a responsibility to perform ijtihad. In the estimation of
Mufti Urmani, the majority of lay scholars who are exercising ijtihad operate
with little to no knowledge of the foundational principles and application
of Islamic Sharia here comprising moral, spiritual, and praxis-oriented
aspects of faith and in disregard of the science of independent reasoning
with its requirements of training in both substantive law and the intricate
methodologies of Islamic jurisprudence. In his estimation, ijtihad is a matter
that should be left to expert scholars, and even then with many restrictions. In
Islahi Khutubat (Discourses on Reform), Mufti Urmani challenges the criticisms
of Islamist and modernist Ulama against the practice of taqlid, characterizing
their predilection for unbridled ijtihad in sarcastic and dismissive terms.
He writes, declining to identify by name any particular interlocutor:
We have a very well-known thinker. I call him this because in his eld
he is known as a thinker. There is a verse of the Quran that says:
Cut off the hands of a male or female thief.
This thinker has offered the following interpretation of the verse, that
the thief means the capitalist who establishes large-scale industries.
And the hand means industries and cutting means nationalization;
therefore, the meaning of the verse is that all of the capitalist industries
should be nationalized. Thus will the door of thievery be closed.
19
And yet, despite his disdain for what he feels are the lax standards under
which ijtihad is currently exercised, Urmani own position on ijtihad is
not unequivocal. He explains, briey, when ijtihad is permissible:
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The jurisdiction of ijtihad begins where a categorical, denitive verse of
the Quran does not exist. Where a [legal] denitive verse exist, using rational
thinking to make a [legal] pronouncement against the verse, in truth, is
an act that [allows rational thinking to] operate outside of its jurisdiction
and [that] distorts the meaning of the religion as a consequence.
20
Using the example of a case in which an (anonymous) argument for the
permissibility of eating pork is based on what appears to be an attempt to
determine the reasoning behind the prohibition of this substance, Mufti
Urmani shows that the bases upon which the reasoning is based, namely the
unhygienic and therefore unhealthy standards under which swine were once
raised, according to the interlocutor; the change of circumstances which the
contemporary existence of hygienic farms for swine has occasioned; and the
conclusion arrived at, that since hygienic farms have improved the standards
under which swine are being raised today, pork should be permissible for
Muslims to consume, not only constitute an unsound use of rational thinking
(aql ), but also violate express injunctions in the Quran that have forbidden
this substance.
21
This is a fundamental violation of the rules of extracting laws,
since no law can permit what the Quran has expressly prohibited in clear
verses.
22
For Mufti Urmani, the problem with human reasoning (aql )
is not the fallibility of the rational faculties of human beings in and of itself,
but that human reasoning is performed without attention to the rules of
istinbat, or extracting legal rules from the sources of Islamic Sharia,
which are themselves grounded in Divine guidance and revelation. More
fundamentally, he argues that such reasoning (as illustrated by the above
example) is being applied in all cases, and is consequently being used
to justify various kinds of morally objectionable behavior and narrow
self-interest.
23
On the other hand, Mufti Urmani argues that taqlid has been unfairly
branded as an impediment to modernization despite the fact that many lay
intellectuals who oppose taqlid in fact engage in forms of it without admitting
that they are, in truth, doing so, because they follow the fatawas
24
of Ulama
who, in many cases, do not offer proof for their judgments. In other cases
these lay scholars resort to the books of qh produced by eminent classical
scholars of the Law to derive dubious arguments against taqlid, although, Mufti
Urmani laments, they too often overlook the standard books of the four Sunni
schools (madhahib) and instead turn to those produced by such controversial
scholars as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Hazm.
25
Moreover, Mufti Urmani sees in
contemporary denunciations of taqlid a hidden agenda of modernization, an
agenda that seeks to dismantle the edice of classical Muslim scholarship, and
in so doing, to bolster absurd interpretations legalizing promiscuity, profane
photography, dancing, usury, and music.
26
Here, arguing a-historically that
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absolute taqlid (the use of fatawa from different imams) was rendered
inoperative by scholars centuries ago because of a desire to curb the abuse of
ambiguous issues in the Quran and sunna, he laments the unbridled pursuit
of ones caprices and passions that he sees as endemic in contemporary
Islamic practice.
27
For him, these debates point not just to methodological
differences among Ulama with different kinds of training, occupying different
social locations, nor just to what one might consider much less rigorous
standards of training to which reformed dini madaris hold their graduates,
but also to the decline of moral values among those who are regarded as the
guardians of Islam. Blame, as he sees it, may be partly laid on the low
standards of prociency which institutions require of students and faculty,
partly on their undue focus on imitation of the West and the concomitant lack
of proper integration of Islamic education into the general curriculum, and
partly on the moral shortcomings of instructors:
Nowadays institutions have been established in order to compile and
edit Islamic laws. [But] in the[se institutions] attention has not been given
to those provisions [as necessary for the task], and generally, in [pursuit
of ] this goal such individuals [as those] who neither understand the
Quran and sunna, nor are versed in the nature of Islamic Shari a have
been selected [to run them]. They have not spent any signicant part of
their lives acquiring [knowledge of ] the Islamic sciences. The result is
that they are awe-struck by Western [intellectual] thought and they have
opened the door to the alteration and modication [of the meanings of
words] in Islam. Because of this, the tna of separation and confusion
has awakened among the Muslims [even] more than previously . . .
28
The failures of these institutions also reect the inadequacy of the pipeline
from public education to the more specialized institutions, the former of which
lack a substantive Islamic pedagogical component, instead privileging
epistemologies derived from the Western intellectual tradition.
When the British formed an idea to paint us in their [own] color, their
rst and most effective weapon was that they would change our system
of education. With such a system of education, they ruled over us, who
were made into British Indians, and whose singular goal was the
formation of such an understanding that our ways of thinking [would
be derived] from the wisdom of the West. Thus, in each division of life,
the superior, awe-inspiring shadow of the West [predominated]. The
only possible way to break [the power of ] this spell is for us to change
our system of education and inject the Islamic way of thinking, and
understanding into its veins and to courageously extract and do away
with this Western venom that has poisoned the understanding
of our youth and has prevented them from entering onto the path
of Islam.
29
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This scheme does not mean that we keep our students ignorant of the
developments of the new era, nor does it mean that we cannot benet
from the new experiments that the people of the West have made in
different aspects of [intellectual] knowledge and the arts, but [rather, my]
argument is that we rmly integrate Islam and Islamic temperament and
taste in our students in such a way that, along with that received wisdom
[of Islam], and after developing a high level of skill in the worlds sciences
and arts, a pure and wise, self-possessed Muslim [who] can truly serve
country and society and who is worthy of emulation may emerge.
Finally, the criteria by which the instructors in these institutions are evaluated
must be strengthened.
[T]he most important thing is that in the educational institutions
[of Pakistan], a hard look is taken at the time of conrming [the appointment
of ] teachers, so that those people whose employment has been
conrmed are procient in the art of teaching. Besides demonstrating
proof [of their teaching abilities], they [must] bear the greatness of God
and the Prophet in their hearts. [One must] scrutinize them [to make sure
that they] are accomplished and loyal servants of Islam and Pakistan.
30
Ironically, Mufti Urmanis characterization of recipients of modern education
in the works surveyed here collapses the complex motivations that pit them
against both classically-educated Ulama and Western intellectual thinkers: their
preference for ijtihad is seen both as a consequence of the inuence of ideas
about modern education and what that entails, as promulgated by the West
and those who are Westoxicated,
31
and as the failure of an educational system
that has neither adequately prepared students to function effectively in the
modern world, nor given them the moral and intellectual acumen to command
respect as guardians of Islam from the majority of their own countrymen.
The {Ulama} between Islamization and Politics:
Socio-Economic and Political Variables 19771993
In Pakistan, the distinction between traditionally-educated Ulama, those
Ulama who have been the products of more recent madrasa education, and
lay intellectuals is indicative of political and socio-economic developments that
followed in the wake of the coup dtat that brought General Zia ul-Haq to
power in 1977.
32
From 197788 the administration of General Zia pursued a
program of Islamization under a policy known as Nizam-i Mustafa.
33
While
this policy ostensibly involved the implementation of Sharia law as the law of
the land, it also pursued programs that both privatized national industries and
accelerated industrialization. One short-term effect of these programs was a
phenomenal growth in GDP. With the onset of Soviet expansion in neighboring
Afghanistan, prompting the U.S. government under President Ronald Reagan
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to channel large sums of aid to Pakistan for ghting the Soviets and supporting
the Afghan mujahidin, Pakistans economy was further strengthened. With this
wealth, General Zia sought to expand the ranks of the religious scholars
who would form the intellectual vanguard of politicized Islam and ll the
ranks of an Islamic bureaucracy beholden to the government; before this
time, the dini madaris had been of little signicance to political developments
in the country.
34
In seeking to produce such a vanguard, the administration of General
Zia once again revisited the question of reforming the curriculum of the dini
madaris, this time with a view to co-opting the Ulama and winning their
support for the military regime. In a 1979 report offering recommendations
on madrasa reform, generated by a number of central committees,
35
it was
suggested that the dini madaris should offer some of the same kinds of
essential subjects that were being offered in government schools, while
eliminating some of the non-essential secular subjects that had long been
part of the Dars-i Nizami curriculum. These suggestions were not new
earlier reports generated in 1962 had made similar recommendations. In 1979,
however, these recommendations functioned as part of a concerted effort on
the part of the state to exercise control over the dini madaris and co-opt them
for the purposes of carrying out the Nizam-i Musafa. They also carried the
promise of government employment for students after their graduation.
Incentives offered to the Ulama to support this scheme included nancial aid
to dini madaris and ofcial recognition of the degrees conferred by them, and
scholarships and other perks to students.
36
The end result was that many of
those Ulama who had initially opposed the intervention of government in the
dini madaris became supporters of these educational schemes. In particular,
in 1980 the Wafaq al-madaris al-arabiyya, the largest Deobandi umbrella
organization, which had been established in 1956, vehemently opposed the
proposals for curricular changes put forward by the National Committee on
Dini Madaris in 1979, but by 1983 had accepted the idea of curricular changes,
and produced an extended curriculum to conform with the governments
requirements. This new curriculum extended the course of study from 8 to
16 years of instruction.
37
Other, unforeseen consequences of this initiative changed both the face
and the character of the dini madaris. General Zias policy of linking these
institutions to zakat (alms tax on wealth), enacted in 1980, enabled their
growth across the country in ways exceeding those facilitated by the
sponsorship and funding of dini madaris by Persian Gulf countries from
19751979.
38
In 1980 the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance was enacted to enable the
state to collect zakat and ushr (alms tax on a harvest) and take charge of their
disbursement to the poor and needy, widows and orphans, the disabled,
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students of dini madaris, and other recipients. The Ordinance also made it
possible for religious foundations to access zakat funds to establish new
dini madaris.
39
While some dini madaris resisted the notion of further
modernization of their syllabus at the expense of the traditional sciences,
resented the states encroachment into their affairs, and refused these funds,
many others did not. Notably, a signicant number of groups responded to the
opportunities provided by the Ordinance by founding new religious schools.
Although the numbers are disputed, all agree that the numbers of dini madaris
grew exponentially under General Zias administration.
40
Among these,
observers have noted the prevalence of pronounced sectarianism, close ties to
political parties and institutions like the Jamiat-i Ulama-i Islam, and even
extremist and violent tendencies within a large portion of these, with sectarian
afliation and strong-arm tactics (including the recruitment of militias) taking
precedence over mastery of the religious sciences in the majority of these
newer dini madaris.
41
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many among their leadership
do not subscribe to traditional views on the purpose of religious education, or
on the necessity of a religious elite to safeguard and dictate the parameters of
this education.
42
At the beginning of General Zias efforts to co-opt religious institutions, his
principal targets were not from the older ranks of religious scholars, but rather,
from the ranks of academics, intellectuals, and bureaucrats this in fact
worked to broaden the spectrum of those receiving a madrasa education. Few
members of the religious elite initially participated in state-led efforts to reform
the dini madaris. As scholars like Jamal Malik have pointed out, these efforts
precipitated a revolt on the part of the old guard, particularly those from within
the ranks of the Deobandis, who argued against the states co-optation of
religious institutions, and in particular, against the proposals put forward by
the National Committee on Dini Madaris to modernize and streamline the
madrasa curriculum.
43
Their opposition largely changed with continued
pressure by the state, repeated offers of support of the dini madaris
through zakat (charitable donations), and promises to recognize degrees from
these institutions as equivalents to those from national universities (this latter
in 1981 and 1982). Another trend in the relationships between the old guard
and newer madrasa students may be only partly attributed to General Zias
policies on madrasa education. Although the states Nizam-i Musafa initially
provoked competition for resources and control of dini madaris between
the old guard Ulama and the newer ranks of madrasa students, the lines
between the two groups became more blurred as the latter began to found and
create their own schools, and to aspire to the level of knowledge possessed
by the old guard. With the spread of democracy movements in the country in
the late 1980s, particularly under the initial period of Benazir Bhuttos rule,
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which dampened state support of religious institutions, and the economic
decline of this period, extending to the early 1990s under the rst
administration of Nawaz Sharif,
44
employment opportunities for graduates of
the more recently established dini madaris, were much fewer in number than
expected. The end result was that the majority of jobs that had been created
for Islamic scholars by General Zias administration jobs in the Federal
Sharia Court, the Majlis-i Shura, Zakat and Ushr Committees, mosques
controlled by the state, banks and other nancial institutions, and other
religious-political establishments went to the old guard of Ulama, who had
received a superior education from their high-ranking instructors at the more
established dini madaris. Very to few positions went to recent madrasa
graduates from the newer-style institutions, whose education had been
compromised both by a mixed syllabus (and relative lack of mastery of
the traditional sciences), and by the sectarianism that characterized the
newer-style dini madaris.
45
Many among these recent graduates became
embroiled in the jihadist movements that cropped up in various parts of
the world, particularly post-Soviet Afghanistan, or were drawn into the
criminal activities that plagued but also propped up many of the radical,
extremist dini madaris.
Aside from these socio-economic and political developments from 1977
to 1993, the divide between classically-trained Ulama and the more recent
products of madrasa education also reects important social and intellectual
shifts in Islamic discourse, in that in many cases the most popular preachers
are not those who represent the old guard (who speak best to other religious
scholars), but rather, those who are able to relate to the common person on
the street, those who are able, and willing, to make use of the popular media,
to promote their understanding of Islam.
46
In light of the proliferation of
demotic texts written by these intellectuals since the 1980s texts covering a
wide variety of topics and genres and making liberal references to a number
of noted classical jurisprudents, including the reference works composed by
the founders of the four Sunni legal schools, Malik ibn Anas, ash-Shai, Abu
Hanifa, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal one could say that these scholars have been
able to successfully carve out a meaningful space for themselves within the
landscape of religious authority. Yet if the explosion of such popular works
indicates increased intellectual activity and debate among these newer
generations of scholars (with widely divergent levels of competence), it also
highlights the intense factionalism that divides them and prevents them from
coalescing into a movement that is truly capable of undermining the authority
of their rival claimants. Among the many issues on which they stand at odds
with each other, and with the old guard of Ulama, the propensity of these
newer religious scholars and lay preachers to turn to ijtihad to explain, and
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justify, matters of Islamic Sharia (in both the general and the legal sense) has
been a major point of contention, one that Mufti Urmani has addressed at
length in many of his written works and speeches.
An Islamic discursive tradition
Mufti Urmanis wholesale support of the classical jurisprudential tradition
with an emphasis on a limited exercise of ijtihad among mujtahids and the
use of taqlid by both lay scholars and those Ulama who do not possess an
adequate command of the sources and tools of istinbat (extracting legal rules
from the sources of Sharia) both indexes his particular social location
among traditionalist Ulama, Islamists, and modernists in contemporary
Pakistan, and points to his engagement of a much older discursive tradition
that is inscribed in contemporary Islamic legal praxis. Here, I employ the
notion of Islamic discursive tradition as it has been articulated by the
anthropologist Talal Asad, as a tradition of Muslim discourse that addresses
itself to conceptions of the Islamic past and future, with reference to a
particular Islamic practice in the present.
47
In Mufti Urmanis written work
and speeches, and indeed, in the writing of many Deobandi Ulama both past
and present, one nds a tripartite discourse emphasizing scholastic aptitude,
moral and intellectual capability, and a sense of responsibility for the Muslim
public as being the guiding principles of the expert jurisprudent. This model
of authority is dependent upon the central role played by the classically trained
jurist with his expertise in the methodologies and rationales employed to
engage in the intricate process of istinbat in articulating Islam as both an
ideology and as a practical model for contemporary living. However,
historically, classical madrasa education privileged a balance of rational
and traditional sciences (maqulat and manqulat) deemed essential to the
curriculum,
48
while the curriculum proposed by the Wafaq al-madaris
al-arabiyya and enacted in 1984 suggests that the most recent trend for
Deobandi institutions has been in the direction of the traditional sciences.
In effect, the Deobandi madaris have added few of the modern, secular
subjects proposed in 1979 by Pakistans National Committee on Dini Madaris
(some of these being added in a special two-year course that students may
take after graduation) while essentially maintaining the Dars-i Nizami
curriculum, with the exception of two subjects: prosody and discussions
(munazara).
49
Thus, traditionalist Deobandi scholars stand in sharp relief
against born classically-trained scholars of the Zia era and those latter-day
religious scholars educated in madaris that have increasingly privileged a
mixed curriculum of traditional sciences (especially Quranic studies, Hadith,
and tafsir), and modern secular subjects such as the natural sciences
and English.
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In Mufti Urmanis writing on Sharia, qh, and reform, this tripartite
discourse of jurisprudence is further congured in light of the predilection
of traditionalist Deobandi Ulama for stressing the balance of sensory
knowledge (hawas ka ilm), rational intelligence (aql ), and divine inspiration
(wahy) needed to extract and transmit knowledge from the sources of Sharia.
Mufti Urmanis argument proceeds deductively, from his explanation of the
limitations of human sensory and intellectual capabilities to a discourse on
the necessity of divine guidance in the work of jurisprudence. He begins with
the argument that, in a secular state, there is no solid foundation for living
ones life or for conducting the business of government. Although secularists
attempt to make a strong case for human reason (through its faculty of
observation and through lived experience) as the sole basis of sound and
effective governance, human reason in and of itself neither commands
unlimited respect, nor does it have the power to enforce the public good
(maslaha):
In a secular system of government, intelligence (aql ), experience
(tajarba), and powers of observation (mushahida) have been
established as the paradigm. Now our observation is this: how reliable is
this paradigm? Is this paradigm suitable to provide guidance for human
beings until the Day of Judgment?
50
Identifying the three ways of obtaining knowledge as through 1) the
senses, 2) rational thinking, and 3) divine guidance, he presents arguments
about how each of the senses has its own jurisdiction, being incapable of
entering into the jurisdiction of another and thereby performing its function.
Beyond the domain of sensory perception is the ability to derive rational
arguments, but even this is limited by the capabilities and motivations of the
individual thinker. It is only in the third way of obtaining knowledge that we
can transcend the limits of reason:
In those domains in which reason cannot venture, Allah Most High has
bestowed a third means [of knowledge] upon humankind. And it is
Divine Revelation, meaning inspiration and divine instruction from
Allah Most High. This knowledge has been [with us] from the beginning,
when reason has reached the limits of its capabilities . . . by no means
does this mean that reason is useless, but rather, that it is applicable on
the condition that it is being employed within its [proper] jurisdiction.
If it is used outside of its [proper] jurisdiction, it would be as if a
person were [attempting to] make the eyes and the ears do the work
of smelling.
51
Now [one] must see that Islams claim is that [the powers of ] reason
cannot comprehend every matter, but [rather], heavenly guidance is
necessary. Divine Guidance is necessary, the Prophets and the
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Messengers [of God] are necessary, and the Sacred Books are necessary.
How true is this claim of Islam in our present society?
52
Mufti Urmanis approach to the question of knowledge (ilm) transcends
both the idea of intellectual capability and that of the development of the
ethico-moral self to evoke the sense of Islams foundational claim that
humans, prone to falling into error, need Divine Guidance as relayed by the
messengers of God and by the sacred texts by which he has revealed his
will to human beings. A closer reading of the text also suggests that Mufti
Urmanis case for the limits of human reason also evokes classical Su
conceptions of the perfection of the soul: mastery and transcendence of the
senses, the development of higher faculties, and tawakkul, complete trust in
Gods guidance. Moreover, a focus on the importance of the scholars (alims)
obligation to develop these capabilities is itself an ongoing discursive tradition,
one that calls attention to the ways in which scholars have traditionally
embodied two forms of authority, buttressed by a command of the outer
(zahiri ) and inner (baini ) sciences.
53
It also indexes two broader goals: the
preservation and promulgation of the moral and spiritual values of Islam, and
the production of a cadre of religious specialists fully equipped with the
requisite tools and character to effectively guide the Muslim community. The
cultivation of such discourses emerged early on in the Deoband movement, as
Sayyid Mahbub Rizvi points out in his History of the Dar al-Ulum Deoband:
Special attention has been paid to this thing in the curriculum of the
Dar ul-Ulum that through it the student, along with the preservation
of the spiritual and moral values of Islam, may also acquire ability and
expertise in the Islamic arts and sciences so that after going out from
here he may be enabled to bear the responsibilities of sincere leadership
of the community and may play an important role in the effort for the
Islamic call and preaching. It is tried in the Dar al-Ulum to convince
students that the purpose of their education is not at all the acquirement
of degree or preparation for government services and ofces.
54
This, the author tells us, is an ethos that transcends any single Dar ul-Ulum
to encompass the entire edice of Deobandi dini madaris. And as articulated
by Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanautvi, rst Principal of Deoband, on the
occasion of its rst convocation in A.H. 1290 (1873 C.E.), the development
of intellectual abilities in Deoband students such that they may have a true
command of their subjects, is paramount:
. . . in these madrasahs, the greatest objective, besides the religious
education, is the attainment of the power of ability. We did not rest
content with only the religious sciences but as per the old system, have
also provided subjects that develop intelligence, an excellent result of
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which in the former times was that great savants and polymaths
possessing prodigious abilities were produced in legions amongst the
followers of Islam.
55
Finally, Mufti Urmanis emphasis on the importance of methodological
soundness in interpretation evokes the idea of an authoritative chain of praxis,
one that is predicated upon a tradition of interpretation as found in classical
and post-classical-era Hanafi jurisprudence. That is to say, his attention to
sound methodology also highlights the ways in which authority is derived not
simply from the act of interpretation itself (though the act as performed by the
jurisprudent is predicated upon the Prophets own sunna), but from the
jurisprudents ability to demonstrate conformity and continuation with both the
Prophets practice of interpretation and with the practice of subsequent
generations of Hanafi scholarship, specically those that have produced the
body of knowledge that may be rightly referred to as the Hanafi interpretive
tradition.
56
Within this interpretive tradition, consistency of argument is
predicated upon principles of inquiry that draw upon the conclusions of
prominent Hanafi scholars and their works (such the Hidaya of al-Marghinani
[d. 1197 C.E.] and the Mukhtasar of al-Quduri [d. 1036 C.E.] ) but also upon a
larger body of Hanafi epistemologies, principles of interpretation (including
the technical denitions of words, logical distinctions, and their conformity
with previous opinions, all according to Hanafi qh scholarship), and
traditional interpretations.
57
It is partly in light of the vast landscape of inquiries
which this body of knowledge addresses, and in part because of the numerous
ways in which taqlid may be exercised that Mufti Urmani makes a strong case
for the continued relevance of taqlid in addressing most of the issues affecting
Muslims today.
Taqlid and Ijtihad in Mufti {Umanis work
In his work, Taqlid ki Shari Hai6iyat (The Legal View on Following the
Opinion of a School of Law), a defense of the task of the muqallid, or jurist
engaged in the process of taqlid, Urmanis rationale rests on an understanding
of taqlid not as blind imitation or incontrovertible proof, but in its ideal form,
a non-binding statement of opinion offered by the muqallid, made on issues
where there are different and perhaps contradictory statements on the same
issue in the Quran and Sunna, and the opinion of an expert, or mujtahid, is
adhered to. In Mufti Urmanis view, the mujtahid is, in fact, fallible in his
judgment on any particular matter of law, but nonetheless better trained and
equipped with insight into the sources of Islamic qh that the muqallid does
not possess. Conceding that taqlid may sometimes lack the dynamism of
ijtihad, he attributes this to the individual who is engaged in the process,
rather than the process itself. Thus, the taqlid of the lay person is of a more
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restrictive and circumscribed variety than the taqlid of the expert scholar.
Because the lay person, as Mufti Urmani argues, does not possess an adequate
command of the Arabic language, or, alternatively, is procient in Arabic but
lacks formal training in Islamic Studies with a qualied instructor, he or she
cannot get caught up in discussions of proofs to see which Imams view
is stronger. His duty is merely to appoint one Mujtahid and follow his
opinions in all matters. This is because he is not academically capable of
making judgments of that kind. So much so that even if this person nds
a Hadith which apparently contradicts the opinion of his Imam, he
should not resort to following the Hadith, but rather adhere to his
Imams opinion. He should assume that he has not understood the
meaning or context of the Hadith appropriately or, he should have no
doubt that his Imam has a stronger proof than the Hadith in question,
which he may not be aware of . . . The truth is at this level of taqlid, no
other alternative exists.
58
Yet as he notes here, this rather restrictive form of taqlid is modied
according to the capabilities of the muqallid. Thus, the taqlid of the expert
scholar is conditioned by his command of both the Islamic sciences (tafsir,
Hadith, qh) and the rational sciences (e.g., Arabic, rhetoric); his sound
judgment; and his ability to comprehend a) the different levels of preference
in argument, b) the difference between limited, restricted, and absolute
statements, and c) the context under which the scholars he chooses to follow
have operated. These capabilities enable the expert scholar to be
not only aware of the school of thought, but also of the reasoning
behind the Fatwas of that school. As a Mufti , he is able to sift through
the different opinions within his school and is qualied to issue Fatwas
based on the needs of his age or to elucidate them accordingly. Hence,
those issues, which are discussed in the books of the schools of thought,
which he adheres to, may be evaluated according to the premises of the
school. In exceptional circumstances, he may leave his Imam and follow
the opinion of another Imam.
59
In his book-length defense of taqlid, Urmani points to the ways in which
lay scholars have failed to understand the different levels, or degrees, of taqlid
that testify to its continued relevance in addressing Muslims concerns today.
60

Indeed, Mufti Urmani sees taqlid as a dynamic force in the jurisprudential
process that is fully capable of addressing most, if not all, questions facing
Muslims in the contemporary age. This is only the case, however, when taqlid
is exercised by the scholar who has the requisite training in the traditional and
rational sciences and the intellectual and moral capability to engage in this
complex process. Moreover, the muqallid is in no way prevented from
continuing to search into the meanings of the Quran and Sunna to clarify a
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given matter, even as he follows the opinion of a mujtahid. Understood thus,
Mufti Urmani explains, the muqallid cannot be understood as following the
mujtahid rather than the Quran and sunna. Indeed, Mufti Urmanis lengthy
discussion of the different levels of taqlid here particularly as practiced
by the expert scholar barely scratches the surface of its complexity.
61
In other circumstances, taqlid and ijtihad may converge: with some
restrictions, it may be practiced by the muqallid who has reached the level
of a mujtahid-i mulaq (one equipped to extract a new ruling from the
foundational sources using ijtihad). This is the fourth of four levels of taqlid
Urmani identies. In this particular case, the muqallid may follow the opinion
of a Companion (understood to be a Companion whose authority and opinion
as a source of law has generally been agreed upon by jurists), on a matter of
law upon which the Quran and sunna are silent or unclear, preferring the
Companions opinion (ray) to the muqallids own ijtihad.
62
Thus understood,
ijtihad constitutes both an engagement with absolute taqlid (drawing from the
opinion of a jurist of any of the law schools, or in this case, a scholar not
associated with a particular law school but whose opinion is generally agreed
upon as valid as a source for a ruling of law), and an act of independent
reasoning in the choosing of opinions from among the Companions. Likewise,
taqlid and ijtihad may converge in the ruling on a new issue not treated in the
classical literature of jurisprudence. In such cases, Mufti Urmani opines,
modern issues demanding ijtihad should be left to an expert (i.e.,
classically-trained) scholar and not the lay person (viz.: the lay scholar or the
secularly-trained alim). The classically-trained scholar can sift through the
principles established by earlier mujhtahids and resolve new problems based
on these.
63
Other acts of ijtihad he endorses involve rulings on the authenticity
of Ahadith to be used as sources for legal opinion.
64
Mufti Urmanis defense of taqlid, coupled with his apparent preference
for ijithad in certain matters of jurisprudence, appears to constitute a
contradiction in his thought. However, understood as drawing from a
particular discourse on ijtihad as it was predominantly practiced in the
classical sense, expressed in the words of Khaled Abou El Fadl as a
methodology for an open process of discourse and determination,
65
it cannot
be seen as contradictory. Rather, Urmanis discourse evokes the tendency
among classical jurists in the post-Shai era of synthesis (2
nd
and 3
rd
centuries
A.H.) to apply an understanding of ijtihad as a rigorous and virtually scientic
process requiring of the mujtahid both technical expertise and certain moral
and intellectual gifts, without which he or she could not apply ijtihad to new
requirements. It also recalls the elision between ijtihad and taqlid in classical
jurisprudential praxis. Although the particularities of istinbat could vary
somewhat, the process comprised three basic levels of inquiry: rst, the
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mujtahid must assess the reliability of the passage to be used (Quranic, or on
matters about which the Quran is silent, the sunna of the Prophet). He or she
must then interpret the passage, determining the precise meaning of its words,
and placing the passage in the context of other passages. In the case of an
extra-Quranic passage, there must be no contradiction with the clear verses
of the Quran. In the case of a Quranic passage, he or she must be able to
determine if subsequent revelation has nullied the passage in question.
66
In
order to be able to execute this task, the mujtahid must himself (or herself )
fulll several requirements. He or she must have extensive knowledge of the
Arabic language, and of pre-Islamic history and customs; be familiar with the
histories of the religions to which the Quran and sunna refer continually;
know the opinions of his or her predecessors (the fuqaha), with the
abrogated and abrogating verses of the Quran, and should always interpret
ambiguous verses in light of the sunna of the Prophet, or the ijma
(consensus) of the early Companions, or qiyas (analogy); he or she must be
skilled in the methods of dialectical and analogical interpretation; be of sound
mind, live a life of perfect conformity to the faith, and must not be prone to
hasty or rash decisions.
67
He or she must also limit the exercise of ijtihad to
the level of his or her own training (e.g. whether trained in the extraction of
particular questions of law, conned to the limits of a particular school [and
thus able to establish rules for new cases, but unable to create a new method
or system of deduction], restricted to the deduction and exegesis of rules
established by the great mujtahids of the past and thus conned to clarifying
questions that are vague or doubtful, or able to formulate new rules and
methods as well as extract new laws on a particular case, the highest level of
ijtihad). Mufti Urmani also emphasizes, as a moral component, the humility
and sagacity needed to understand and appreciate the formidable nature of the
task of engaging in ijtihad, and thus, ultimately, to be receptive to the divine
inspiration (wahy) that, in his opinion, is a crucial component of engaging in
the task of discerning the law.
Conclusion
Mufti Urmanis discourses on taqlid and ijtihad may be understood not as
an opposition to the latter or an unequivocal preference for the former, but as
a warning against what he sees as a disturbing trend within the ranks of lay
scholars of Islam: an arrogant and misguided attitude among those who feel
they can dispense with the classical tradition (and concurrently, with Ulama
like him who represent it). The important work of Vali Nasr, Jamal Malik,
Muhammad Qasim Zaman, and others on the ascendancy of the Ulama in the
contemporary landscape of Islamic reform characterizes their motivation as an
index of the jockeying for inuence and ofce in political, educational, and
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2009 Hartford Seminary. 471
activist-oriented institutions of power in Pakistan and beyond. This nds
expression in competing visions of Islamization among lay, modernist, and
traditionalist Ulama in general, and (in what Nasr refers to as the) divisions
between the Madani and Thanvi factions of Deoband, in particular.
68

However, Mufti Urmani himself professes to harbor no such designs. As
expressed in his work, it is no mere competition for nancial gain or spheres
of political inuence that moves him to speak out; rather, it is a fear that
the whole edice of Islamic learning is slowly being dismantled by the very
people who articulate their aim to reform it. Thus his desire to, as he states,
clarify the practice of millions of Muslims around the globe, may be seen
in this light.
69
Mufti Urmanis emphasis in these works on Islamic Sharia as a set of
moral-ethical guidelines, rather than as a code of law with absolute
boundaries, sits uneasily with the particularities of Hanafi jurisprudence and its
restriction of ijtihad which he outlines as the cornerstone of a comprehensive
religious system (one notices his frequent juxtaposition of a secular vs. an
Islamic state, characterizing the one as based on rational intelligence,
experience, and the powers of observation and the other as based on Divine
inspiration (wahy) and on employing human reason within the limits of
Revelation). And yet this tension ultimately suggests an attempt to reconcile
the different factions within Sunni Islam and unite against the Shia and
Ahmadi heresies and against those who he understands to be the enemies of
Islam in the West (especially those who oppose a government based on
Islamic Sharia law). Drawing from the examples of tna in Islamic history,
he positions himself as mediator, arguing for the need to bring madrasa
education back to the rigorous levels and high quality of old, with emphasis
on mastery of the traditional and rational sciences, as he seeks to discourage
the articulation of competitive ideologies, expressed most vehemently as
denunciation of other Muslims as karun, or unbelievers, because of
differences of opinion on matters of Sharia. In this respect he also positions
himself as a reformer of the would-be reformers of Islam, and indirectly,
encourages us to look at the reformulation of Islamic authority and Islamic
authorities as an ongoing and dynamic process of transformation.
Endnotes
* I would like to thank Professors Vali Nasr and Muhammad Qasim Zaman for the
helpful comments and suggestions they offered during the course of my research for this article.
1. I have chosen to transliterate Mufti Urmanis name according to the Urdu, rather
than the Arabic language. From Arabic, his name would be transliterated Uthmani. In most
cases, the transliterations in this article are from the Urdu language.
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2. This point is made by Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori, Muslim Politics
(Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1996; 2004): 689.
3. Madaris is the plural form of madrasa. Dini madaris, or institutions of Islamic
religious education (which also include maktabs, or elementary schools), will be used to
designate the plural, or general sense of madrasa, while madrasa will be used to refer
to a single institution.
4. See Amyn B. Sajoo ed., Civil Society in the Muslim World Contemporary
Perspectives (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004).
5. Eickelman and Piscatori, Muslim Politics, 13. Eickelman and Piscatori use the term
new religious intellectuals in reference to those who have been educated in secular or
state institutions, or those who have been educated in both secular or state institutions and
traditional dini madaris.
6. See Kit Roane, Fatally Flawed Bonds, Conde Nast Portfolio.com. Sept. 23, 2008
(News and Markets Section) (last accessed June 3, 2009). Mufti Urmanis support for the
Dow Jones, and indeed, the very existence of a Dow Jones Sharia Board, on which Mufti
Urmani serves, is seen by some as a curious development given the prohibition in Islamic
Sharia law against interest. Yet Urmani has addressed such questions on the permissibility
of investing and speculating in stock and commodities markets in several of his fatawa.
In most cases, he is able to argue for the permissibility of such investments with strict
limitations, including virtual prohibition on speculation in the commodities markets on
the basis of two kinds of joint enterprise, musharakah and mudarabah. In these partnerships,
investors participate in the prots, or losses, of a given company. See his Contemporary
Fatawa, ed. and comp. Muhammad Shoaib Omar (Lahore; Karachi: Idara-e-Islamiat, 2001),
section 8, Economics, especially chapters 17. He also explains the meanings of these
terms in detail on the following website: http://www.darululoomkhi.edu.pk/qh/
islamicnance/musharakah.html (last accessed Feb 4, 2009).
7. See Urmanis discussion of the debates over the Hudud Ordinances in The
Islamization of Laws in Pakistan: the Case of Hudud Ordinances. Muslim World 96 no. 2.
(April 2006): 287304.
8. However, Jamal Malik has aptly noted the persistence of divisions among what he
calls jayyid Ulama (progressives), Salafi elements, and traditionalists within the ranks of
Deobandis. See his book Colonization of Islam: Dissolution of Traditional Institutions
in Pakistan (Delhi: Manohar 1996), 169171.
9. The rst view is exemplied by the work of Anita Weiss, Charles Kennedy, and
Vali Nasr, while the second characterizes Barbara Metcalf s work on the Deobandis. A third
view may also be discerned, in which the Deobandis emerge at the vanguard of modern
intellectual production, exemplied in part by the breadth, scale, and continuity of Deobandi
thought from the 19
th
century. This view, which I share, does not discount Deobandis
political involvements, but emphasizes the broad inuence and scope of this school of
thought in a number of intellectual arenas. See Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Ashraf Ali
Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Oxford, UK: One world Publications, 2008): 12122.
10. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, The Ulama in Contemporary Islam (Princeton and
Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2002), 189.
11. Ibid., 946, 1045, 134, 140 for details on some of these points.
12. See Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Methodological Issues in Islamic Jurisprudence,
Arab Law Quarterly 11, no. 1 (1996): 4.
13. The Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (Sahaba) are those of his generation,
who may have known him well, tangentially, or not at all. Tabi un (Successors) is the term
used to refer to the generation of Muslims that succeeded the Prophet and his Companions.
The Jurists (Fuqaha ) followed the Successors and, in this usage, were the specialists who
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2009 Hartford Seminary. 473
worked out the principles of qh. See ibn Hazm, al-Ihkam fi usul al-ahkam. Translated
in part by Norman Calder, Jawid Mojaddedi, and Andrew Rippin in Classical Islam:
a Sourcebook of Religious Literature (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 205.
14. Wael B. Hallaq, Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law (Cambridge,
U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 22. This does not imply that ijtihad did not
continue. In fact, different classes of mujtahids continued to operate according to the degree
of their authority to engage in ijtihad. On this latter point, see Louis Milliot and Franois-Paul
Blanc, Introduction ltude du Droit Musulman (Paris: Sirey, 1987), 13235.
15. See Hallaq, Authority, Continuity, and Change, Chapter 4, and Was the Gate of
Ijtihad Closed? International Journal of Middle East Studies 16, no. 1 (1984): 341. It is
also worth noting that the widespread perception that the doors to ijtihad were closed in
the 11
th
century was popularized in the West by scholars like H.A.R. Gibb, Whither Islam?
(London: V. Gollancz, 1932) , and Modern Trends in Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1947), Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1964), Majid Khadduri, From Religious to National Law in Thompson & Reischauer, eds.
Modernization of the Arab World (London: Van Nostrand, 1966), N.J. Coulson, A History of
Islamic Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1964), Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought
in the Liberal Age, 17981939 (London, Oxford University Press, 1962), and Fazlur
Rahman, Islam (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1966; Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1979). The inconsistencies in these studies of ijtihad, as well as the tendency
to oversimplify denitions of it, are investigated in Shaista P. Ali-Karamali and Fiona Dunne,
The Ijtihad Controversy, Arab Law Quarterly 9, no. 3 (1994): 238257.
16. Here, some ambiguity with regard to the notion of classically trained jurist must
be acknowledged. Dini madaris in the Subcontinent have typically followed the dars-i
nizami curriculum since the 18
th
century, with its emphasis on the rational sciences
(e.g. Islamic law, logic, philosophy, syntax, and Arabic). However, in the late 19
th
century,
curricular reform in this system entailed the mlange of religious and secular, subjects,
and/or the reform of traditional religious education (the rational and traditionally transmitted
sciences, or the maqulat and manqulat). See Jamal Malik, Dynamics among Traditional
Religious Scholars and Their Institutions in Contemporary South Asia. The Muslim World
87, nos. 34 (JulyOctober, 1997): 200201. Many of todays dini madaris in Pakistan have
undergone additional curricular changes that have resulted in a more modernized
curriculum that incorporates, at four different levels, such subjects as General Science
(levels 1, 2, and 4), English and Political Science (level 3), and Pakistan Studies (level 4).
My use of the term classically trained in this study refers to the dars-i nizami curriculum
prior to the changes that occurred in the last quarter of the 20
th
century, which the Deobandi
madaris have followed more or less.
17. Under secular-minded Mufti Urmani would include groups such as the
Womens Action Forum, founded in 1981, which has lobbied hard for the dissolution of the
Hudud Ordinances in Pakistan, which they view as discriminatory and enabling the abuse,
imprisonment, and execution of women for crimes in which (in most cases) they are not at
fault. Mufti Urmanis support of these Ordinances is well-known. Although Mufti Urmani
himself singles out Salafis, Wahhabis, modernists, and secularists for criticism, and
this article also uses these terms, many scholars, including myself, feel that these umbrella
terms often do more to obscure than clarify the nature of these schools of thought. For a
more nuanced treatment of Salafis, see Quintan Wiktorowicz, The Sala Movement:
Violence and the Fragmentation of Community, in miriam cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence,
eds., Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop (Chapel Hill & London: University of North
Carolina Press, 2005) and Anatomy of the Salafi Movement, Studies in Conict and
Terrorism 29, 2006; 207239. On the Wahhabis, see Qeyamuddin Ahmad, The Wahhabi
Tnr Mtsii Worir Voitr 99 Jti 2009
474 2009 Hartford Seminary.
Movement in India (Delhi: Manohar, 1994), and Natana J. De Long-Bas, Wahhabi Islam
(Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). On modernists, see Charles
Kurzman, Modernist Islam 18401940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). For an
Islamic argument for a secular state, see Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim, Islam and the Secular
State: Negotiating the Future of Sharia (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University
Press, 2008).
18. S.V.R. Nasr, The Rise of Sunni Militancy in Pakistan: The Changing Role of
Islamism and the Ulama in Society and Politics, Modern Asian Studies 34 (2000): 14749.
19. Muhammad Taqi Urmani, Islahi Khutubat [Discourses on Reform] (Karachi:
Meman Islamic Publishers, 2000), 42. My translation.
20. Ibid., 40. My translation. By denitive he means to call attention to the distinction
that is made between those verses for which a meaning is unequivocal, and those whose
meaning is ambiguous, or open to multiple interpretations.
21. Ibid., 4041. See also the following chapters and verses in the Quran: 2: 173; 5:3,
6:145; and 6:115.
22. However, there is, in fact, a lack of consensus among religious scholars about
which verses comprises the clear verses of the Quran. Discursively, this lack effectively
works to restrict ijatihad, particularly as it would be exercised by liberal modernist Ulama.
23. Urmani, Islahi Khutubat, 2630, 41. His critique is not limited to contemporary
Ulama. In these pages, Mufti Urmani also draws upon an example from Islamic history, in
which a certain Abdallah bin Hasan Qairwani used rational reasoning to justify incest and
thereby disguise an underlying motive: insulating a familys wealth. He also points out
several examples from Western political and intellectual discourses, including the
justication for detonating the atom bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that
was given at the end of World War II, and the acceptance of gay lifestyles in the United
States, as part of his case against the indiscriminate use of rational reasoning as a basis
for deriving a rule of law or moral argument in support of a particular course of action.
24. A fatwa (pl. fatawa) is a non-binding legal opinion submitted by a jurist or legal
scholar.
25. Muhammad Taqi Urmani, The Legal Status of Following a Madhhab, trans.
Mohammad Amin Kholwadia (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2001). Also available online at
http://www.cometoislam.com/qh/legal/main.htm. (last accessed Aug 25, 2008). The print
English edition has been used in this article.
26. Ibid., 102
27. Ibid., 103.
28. Mir Taqi Urmani, Nifa1-i Shari a aur us ke masail [Implementation of the Sharia
and Questions Concerning It] (Karachi: Maktaba-yi Dar ul-Ulum, 1992), 74. My translation.
29. Ibid., 82. My translation.
30. Ibid., 8384. My translation.
31. Gharb-zadegi , a Persian term employed by Iranian intellectuals that was coined
in the 1940s but gained widespread currency in the wake of the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
32. General Zia took power in a relatively bloodless coup and later had his
predecessor, Zulqar Ali Bhutto, executed. Until then, state-sponsored Islam had been
largely an undercurrent in Pakistani politics, despite the inuence and activities of Islamic
parties like the Jamiat-i Ulama-i Islam and the Jamiat-i Islami, which saw Pakistan as an
Islamic state in opposition to the more secular-inclined vision held by its founder
Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his successors.
33. Outside of Pakistan, the majority view has been that Zias program of Islamization
was aggressively pursued. However, Charles Kennedy has presented a dissenting view that
is quite compelling. Calling into question General Zias Islamic inclinations, he argues
A Isi:ic Disctrsi\r Tr:ri+io o Rrror :s Srr
2009 Hartford Seminary. 475
that the Nizam-i Mustafa was part of a calculated political strategy, that General Zias
commitment to it was guarded, that few actual reforms took place during Zias
administration, and that those that did had a relatively minor impact on political, legal,
social, and economic institutions of Pakistan at the time, or in the immediate aftermath
of, his rule. This strategy was designed, Kennedy points out, in part to provide an Islamic
justication for his military regime and to strengthen Pakistans ties with the wider Islamic
world. See Charles H. Kennedy, Islamization and Legal Reform in Pakistan, 19791989.
Pacic Affairs 63, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 6277.
34. Jamal Malik, Dynamics among Traditional Religious Scholars and their Institutions
in Contemporary South Asia, The Muslim World 87, nos. 34 ( JulyOctober 1997): 206,
and Nasr, Rise, 14647.
35. As Muhammad Qasim Zaman has noted, the ranks of the committee that
produced the rst report in 1962 were dominated by government bureaucrats, with a few
prominent religious scholars included. In the 1979 Report, the rst produced under the
regime of General Zia ul-Haq, the number of government bureaucrats serving on the
committee was only slightly below the number of religious scholars who served. See his
article, Religious Education and the Rhetoric of Reform: The Madrasa in British India and
Pakistan, Comparative Studies of Society and History (1999): 310.
36. Ibid., 31214.
37. Malik, Colonization of Islam, 164.
38. This is especially noteworthy in light of the many simplistic analyses that have
characterized the spread of dini madaris in the Subcontinent as resulting primarily from the
radicalization of Islam. In fact, the picture is more complex, and the growth of dini madaris
should be seen in light of policies of co-optation and conciliation of the Ulama pursued
not only during General Zias administration, but also those of his predecessor, Zulkar Ali
Bhutto, and his successors, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and Pervez Musharraf. For a
discussion of the growth of dini madaris in light of these policies, see Khalid Rahman and
Syed Rashad Bukhari, Pakistan: Religious Education and Institutions. Muslim World 96, no.
2 (April 2006): 323339, and International Crisis Group, Pakistan: Dini madaris, Extremism,
and the Military, ICG Asia Report No. 36. (Islamabad/Brussels: ICG, 29 July 2002): 7.
39. See Grace Clark, Pakistans Zakat and Ushr as a Welfare System, in Anita M.
Weiss, Islamic Reassertion in Pakistan: The Application of Islamic Laws in a Modern State
(Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1986), 88, and Shahid Javed Burkhi, Changing
Perceptions and Altered Reality: Emerging Economies in the 1990s (Washington, DC: World
Bank Publications, 2000), 163.
40. See the International Crisis Group, Pakistan, 2 nn 66a.
41. See Nasr, Rise, 149153. Professor Nasr also expressed the opinion, in a
personal correspondence, that the newer ranks of dini madaris and their students are also
distinguished from the old guard by a greater inuence of Hanbali law and Saudi-style
Wahhabism. E-mail correspondence, October 5, 2008.
42. This is not to suggest a sharp divide between dini madaris that prioritize scholarly
pursuits and those that prioritize political or military activities. In fact, the spectrum is
much broader, and more complex, than such a dichotomy suggests.
43. Malik, Islamization in Pakistan 19771985: The Ulama and their Places of
Learning, Islamic Studies 28, no. 1 (1989): 10.
44. Benazir Bhutto ruled form Dec 1989Aug 1990 and again from October
1993November 1996. Nawaz Sharif ruled Pakistan from November 1990April 1993;
again from May 26July 18, 1993; and nally from February 1997October 1999.
45. Some have argued that making religious scholars employees of the state
effectively de-politicized a large number of Ulama. See, for example, Mumtaz Ahmad,
Tnr Mtsii Worir Voitr 99 Jti 2009
476 2009 Hartford Seminary.
Revivalism, Islamization, Sectarianism, and Violence in Pakistan, in Pakistan: 1997,
eds. Craig Baxter and Charles H. Kennedy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), 106.
46. It should be noted that Mufti Urmani also makes use of the popular media,
and there are others like him who do the same, with great effect. As an indication of his
relevance to key issues on the state of public debate in Pakistan and abroad, a number of
his interviews and lectures have been posted on You Tube. A keyword search of his name
on that website turned up over 60 postings, of which some featured criticisms of him by his
detractors. Several other classically-trained scholars have, like Mufti Urmani, become
popular and well-respected among a number of different audiences. Among them must be
mentioned Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the al-Azhar-educated shaikh whose al-Jazeera television
program, Islam Online website, and Facebook pages have won him a wide spectrum of
supporters.
47. Asad 1986: 14.
48. The curriculum of dini madaris in the Subcontinent may be divided into several
stages. In Mughal times, both Muslims and Hindus received an education in these and other
types of institutions, and the teaching of the maqulat, including philosophy, logic,
mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and music was underscored, especially by the Sus and
other mystic-minded groups. The dars-i nizami curriculum, usually attributed to Mulla
Nizam ad-din Muhammad, (d. 1748), who founded the Farangi Mahal group of scholars
in Lucknow, also emphasized the maqulat, although this curriculum, widely followed to
this day, has undergone several transformations from school to school. See Muhammad
Qasim Zaman, Religious Education and the Rhetoric of Reform: The Madrasa in British
India and Pakistan, Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, no. 2 (April 1999): 303;
and Malik, Colonization of Islam, 121122.
49. Prosody is linguistics, while munazara refers to methods of intellectual debate.
For more details on these curricular changes, see Table 21 in Malik, Colonization of Islam,
175176. Essentially, the Wafaqs proposals, enacted in 1984, comprises the following
subjects: Quran: reading and memorization; morphology; syntax; Arabic; biography of the
Prophet (Sira); arithmetic; social sciences; Islamic law; methods of Islamic law; logic;
rhetoric; tafsir; tradition; methods of tradition; principles of belief, scholastics; philosophy;
religious studies; Urdu; Persian; gymnastics; morals (ikhlaqiyyat); and law of inheritance.
After graduation, students may take the following in a special two-year course: Islamic
history; economics; political science; cultural sciences; and comparative sciences of religion.
50. Urmani, Islahi Khutubat, 23. My translation.
51. Ibid., 2526.
52. Ibid., 26.
53. Although even Su sources make a distinction between the worldly Ulama and
the inward-looking mystics, this does not mean that Ulama and Sus were always very
different from each other in their orientation towards the acquisition of knowledge. In fact,
many of the renowned scholars of the past have been both Ulama and Su shaikhs or
disciples of Su shaikhs. Moreover, the Ulama of Deoband have also often assumed these
two forms of authority alim and shaikh), and have historically maintained close ties with
the Su orders (especially the Chishti, Qadiri, and Naqshbandi), although many Deobandi
Ulama have also disagreed with each other, and with non-Deobandis about the
permissibility of certain beliefs and practices within Su circles. For a more detailed
discussion of some of these disagreements, see the articles by SherAli Tareen, Fuad Naeem,
and Brannon Ingraham in this volume.
54. Sayyid Mahbub Rizvi, Tarikh-hi Dar ul-ulum Diyoband. Translated into English
by Murtaz Husain F. Quraishi as History of the Dar al-Ulum Deoband (Deoband, U.P, India:
Idara-e Intemam, 1980), 221.
A Isi:ic Disctrsi\r Tr:ri+io o Rrror :s Srr
2009 Hartford Seminary. 477
55. Nanautawi, cited in Rizvi 1980: 212.
56. See Wheeler, Canon, 1415.
57. Ibid., 187191. For some specic case examples, see 2289.
58. Urmani, Legal Status, 67.
59. Ibid., 7374. The fact that most of the qualities he identies are taken from Shah
Waliullahs work is a noteworthy testament to the importance of Su thought in Mufti
Urmanis thinking on this matter.
60. The complexity of the question of the laypersons authority to even transmit
fatwas as muqallid is evident as early as the 13
th
century, as attested by the traditionist
an-Nawawi (d. 1277). In discussing the conditions under which a mufti who is a muqallid
may transmit fatwas in areas of the law in which he was not a mujtahid, an-Nawawi
states that there was a difference of opinion on the matter among the most prominent
jurists, with some fuqaha saying that it was, in fact, permitted, under certain conditions,
while others maintained that it was absolutely forbidden. See his Al-Majmu Sharh
al-Muhadhdhab. Translated in part by Calder, Mojaddedi, and Rippin in Classical Islam,
196. For a fuller discussion of the different ranks of muftis by an-Nawawi, see Norman
Calder, Al-Nawawis Typology of Muftis and its Signicance for a General Theory of Islamic
Law, Islamic Law and Society 3, no. ii (1996): 137164.
61. Urmani, Taqlid, 66ff. For a more comprehensive treatment of the different
levels of taqlid, see Hallaq, Authority, Continuity, and Change, pp. 1621 and chapter 4.
62. Ibid., 14, 109.
63. Ibid., 103.
64. Ibid., 106. The early efforts of the Moroccan sociologist and feminist Fatima
Mernissi in this endeavor deserve acknowledgement here. Although her call to other
Muslims to re-scrutinize the authenticity of the authentic, or sahih, Ahadith, in her 1979
book The Veil and the Male Elite was not taken up by others for decades, that very process
is now underway in a number of places and among many Muslims, including Muslims in
the US, Europe, and Canada. The ongoing efforts of the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs
to enlist a number of academic scholars in an effort to categorize the vast corpus of Hadith
materials may also be seen in this light, although the ofcial position of the Ministry is that
this is a purely academic, and not religious, effort.
65. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Speaking in Gods Name: Islamic Law, Authority and
Women (Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2001), 172.
66. The idea that a later (i.e., Medinan) Quranic passage may abrogate an earlier
(i.e., Meccan) one is not without controversy in Islam; the more widely accepted premise is
that a Quranic passage may abrogate a sunna of the Prophet.
67. Millot and Blanc, 131; Calder 199, Sha is Risala 306ff; Hasan 199.
68. Nasr, Sunni Militancy, 169ff.
69. Urmani, Taqlid, 120.