Taliban religious beliefs and history with colonial India – NewsGram

Deep in the streets of Uttar Pradesh lies a small town of Deoband. Small in size but huge in impact, this city’s revered Sunni study center has a history of over 150 years. Founded during the struggle against colonial imperialism, Deoband recently made headlines for his religious views allegedly shared with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The president of Darul Uloom Deoband, an Islamic seminary, refutes this claim.

The Darul Uloom Deoband is an Islamic seminary established in 1866 as a center for Sunni studies. It has over 6,000 enrolled students from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. After the revolution of 1857, British rule became increasingly tyrannical, especially towards Indian Muslims. Some members of the community have sought refuge from this oppression by strengthening their beliefs in the fundamentalist and Puritan version of Islam. As stated by Milad Karimi, deputy director of the Center for Islamic Theology at the University of Münster, “They were convinced that salvation, both religious and social, resided exclusively in pure and historically pure Islam. Therefore, they closed the doors of communication with other religions and focused on what they considered to be pure doctrine.


The Darul Uloom Deoband is an Islamic seminary established in 1866 as a center for Sunni studies. Wikimedia Commons

The emergence of Taliban views is inspired by the Deobandi doctrine but in an extreme form. However, the link is only historical. The Deoband Center for Islamic Studies only engages in theological studies of their religion and is not associated with any form of the spread of terror. This is in stark contrast to how the Taliban works.

During the 1970s, a group of fundamentalist resistance fighters fled Afghanistan to Pakistan after assassinating the President of the Communist government, Mohammad Daoud Khan. Pakistani President Zia-Ul-Haq’s vision to Islamize his nation and exercise control over Afghanistan motivated him to provide US funds to extremist groups. These favorable situations paved the way for the dissemination of a radical version of the Deobandi doctrine.

Much of the Pakistani funds were used to form a guerrilla group called the Mujahedin. They fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and helped overthrow the Communist government. Stuck in a war zone for decades, many members of the Mujahedin felt alienated from their own country, Afghanistan. This faction, which had lost its ties to its homeland, developed as a radical group whose main motive was to revive Islam in its purest sense. This group was called the Taliban. However, their version of Deobandi Islam varied considerably from the Indian version. According to the researchers, the Islamic beliefs of the Taliban are closer to Wahhabism, the ultraconservative Sunni beliefs practiced in Saudi Arabia, than to Deobandi beliefs.

The roots of the Taliban ideologies and the Deobandi school of thought may be shared, but their practices vary widely. The allegations of Darul Uloom Deoband’s Hindu extremist organizations spreading terror are not supported by substantial evidence. As the students of this revered center come from different countries, locals claim that if the center spread radical propaganda, other countries would have been affected by terrorism as well. In Deoband, women are free to learn and pursue employment opportunities, which is in stark contrast to the situation in Afghanistan. “They call themselves Deobandi, but 99% of the Taliban have never even visited India. We have no connection with them,” said Arshad Madani, director of Darul Uloom Deoband. The residents also welcomed the Yogi government’s proposal to open a training center for the commandos of the anti-terrorism brigade. “There is nothing wrong with what we teach and we invite ATS staff to join our classes whenever they want,” said Arshad Madani.

Keywords: Afghanistan, Taliban, Sunnis, religion, disoband, Islam, history of the Taliban, ideology.

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Ruth R. Culp