This is a revivalist movement within Sunni (primarily Hanafi) Islam. It is centred in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, has recently spread to the United Kingdom, and has a presence in South Africa. The name derives from Deoband, India, where the school Darul Uloom Deoband is situated. The movement was inspired by scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (1703–1762), and was founded in 1867 in the wake of the failed Sepoy Rebellion in northern India a decade earlier.
According to an article in The Conservative Woman written by Jane Kelly:
‘Although the government, press and security forces are barely aware of them, the Deobandi run nearly half of the 1,500 registered UK mosques and seventeen of the twenty six known seminaries. These produce eighty percent of all domestically trained Muslim clerics who educate an ethnic group which is now over five per cent of the English population, more than twenty per cent in London.
Founded in an Indian town called Deoband in 1856, in reaction to British colonial rule, it has spread throughout the world, with the UK as its hub. Migrants from India and Pakistan brought Deobandi Islam to the UK during the 1960s and 1970s, setting up mosques and schools in the old mill towns of Bury, Huddersfield and Dewsbury, from which a national network grew, intentionally isolationist, leaving vast numbers of people segregated from wider British society. The programme did not ask why people who are opposed to anything Western chose to come and live here, but it did cast light upon some extraordinarily obscurantist thinking.’
And another article in The Daily Mail entitled Radical Islamic sect has half of Britain’s mosques in its grip states:
‘A hardline Islamic movement, whose leading UK imam preaches anti-Semitism and calls on Muslims to “shed blood for Allah”, is controlling almost half of Britain’s mosques, a police report has found.
The influence of the ultra-conservative Deobandi sect, which is characterised by its total rejection of western values, has grown to such an extent that police now believe it runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques.
The revelations will put further scrutiny on plans for a “mega mosque” in east London by a group called Tablighi Jamaat, who are closely linked to the Deobandi movement.
The £100 million plan to build the “Islamic village” next to the Olympic site is already mired in controversy after intelligence services said the group was a recruiting ground for al Qaeda.
The Deobandi- controlled mosques are predominantly found in the Midlands and the North – such as the Tablighi Jamaat mosque which 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were known to attend.’
The article goes on to describe the leader of this sect:
‘The most vocal preacher in Britain, Sheikh Riyadh ul Haq, supports armed jihad and is openly contemptuous of Christians, Jews and Hindus.
Mr ul Haq, 36, who runs an Islamic academy in Leicester, gained notoriety with a series of outspoken lectures after 9/11 when he was Imam of Birmingham Central Mosque. He has since travelled the world preaching that America and its allies are seeking to wipe out Islam.
Tapes of his sermons reveal an open hatred of Western culture, an admiration for the Taliban and a passion for martyrdom – although he does say in one lecture that “British Muslims should not rise here”.
A favourite talk of his, however, warns Muslims of the perils of befriending the “kuffar”, or non-believer. He says: “The Koran teaches Muslims not to follow in the footsteps of the Jews and the Christians, yet of our own choice we decide to live, act, work, behave, enjoy and play just like the kuffar”.
“Do not befriend the kuffarî was Allah’s warning to Muslims, and Muhammad told his companions “to distance themselves and fear this alignment with the kuffar in every way, even to the manner of dressing”.’