Now it's undeniable: Deobandi mosques radicalise Britain's Muslims
by Irfan Al-Alawi
At the end of March, UK media revealed that the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy, a private school in the Yorkshire city of Dewsbury, was under investigation by the Department for Education for radical teachings.
The school has 140 primary students, who attend an after-school madrassah for ten hours per week, as well as full-time classes for pupils above age 16 and adults, according to Sky News.
The academy was established by Mufti Zubair Dudha, a representative of the Deobandi sect.
Originating in India in the mid-1800s, Deobandism is the doctrine that inspired the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose imams trained at the [Deoband] school in Uttar Pradesh, northeast of Delhi.
Deobandi clerics,operating out of an anti-imperialist rubric devised to rid India of the British following the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, have made a serious effort to seize control of British mosques.
They are allied with the puritanical Saudi-based Wahhabi sect and with other jihadists in South Asia.
These groups allege that they must 'reform' Islam by separating Muslims from other believers, especially in the West.
Literature from the Dewsbury school disclosed to the public by the media includes propaganda claiming a Jewish plot to conquer the world.
In addition, students learn not to adopt British customs, watch television, or participate in mixed-gender activities.
Sky News reported that the school teaches women to avoid work outside the home and not to appear in public without full covering of their bodies.
In treating jihad, material distributed by the school exhorted Muslims to 'expend... even life' for 'Allah's just order'.
Sky News pointed out that the aim of the school as presented on its website is to 'create a sense of discipline, based upon an enlightened comprehension of moral and ethical values, as is the crying need of the hour all over the world'.
But material produced by the school includes the argument that 'the embrace of Westernization by Muslims [has] introduced all the evils of that culture into Muslim homes thus bringing ruin to the holy moral fabric of Muslim society'.
Faced with evidence of the doctrinal fanaticism expressed by his school, Dudha said, 'certain extracts from our publications have been taken and misrepresented to link the Academy with extremism... We fully believe in the importance and need of integration whilst being able to practise our faith'.
In a statement posted to its website, the school asserted that it works to oppose radicalism, declaring that 'the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy has and will continue to work within the community, along with others, including the local authorities, to try and counter extremism'.
In a convoluted manner, the academy congratulated itself for 'a wide range of publications which include topics on denouncing terrorism, crime and drug abuse as well as living in peaceful co-existence with others'.
It tried to excuse its anti-Jewish propaganda as a feature of 'spiritual training of the soul'.
The UK Department for Education told Sky News that an investigation is underway, but that 'it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific investigations of these institutions'.
The investigation of the academy comes in the aftermath of a UK government promise to regulate madrassahs.
Deobandi clerics, like their Wahhabi peers, have issued many fatwas declaring any Muslim who disagrees with them as apostates.
Non-Muslim commentators frequently identify Wahhabi and Deobandi radicalism as forms of Sunni Islam, reflecting the habit of these sects in claiming that they alone represent Sunnism, if not Islam as a whole.
But numerous Sunni scholars consider the zealots to be outside the Sunni tradition.
While often described as conservative, traditional, or spiritual, the Deobandis and Wahhabis are in reality radicals who depart from protection of traditions and spiritual cultivation.
A recent BBC broadcast stated that Deobandis are fundamentalist and have a quietist and spiritual side.
On Tuesday this week, BBC news reported that the man who brought jihad to Britain, Masood Azhar, is today the head of one of Pakistan's most violent militant groups, and was once the VIP guest of Britain's leading Islamic scholars
But the same investigation revealed the preaching of segregation of the Deobandis from non-Muslim culture in the West.
In addition, it confirmed the link between Deobandism and the Taliban.
The dissonance of the Deobandis from traditional Sunnism is visible particularly in campaigns to destroy the shrines of Sufi saints and other historically honoured Muslim personalities.
But it is also expressed in the Deobandi restriction on women working.
As described by Sky News, Dewsbury is well-known as a centre for radicalisation of Muslim youth.
The town of some 65,000 has produced young terrorists including Mohammad Sidique Khan, the presumed leader of the 7 July 2005 plot to bomb the London Underground, who was killed in that atrocious attack.
Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, expressed his concern to Sky News about the impact of the teachings of the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy.
'After what we have seen in Paris and in Brussels and the way in which the Muslim community has come out so strongly in favour of peace and tolerance, I think these kinds of leaflets serve no purpose but to divide in a poisonous and totally reckless way', he said.
The US Muslim academic Ebrahim Moosa, who studied at Darul Ulum Nadwatul 'Ulama, a Deobandi madrassah in India, has ascribed the international spread of the ideology, absent the financial resources of the Saudi Wahhabis, to donations by UK and South African Muslims.