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Legal Discourses on Faith in the Pak-Afghan Borderlands*

Jan-Peter Hartung
Introduction
The matter of faith (mn) is constitutive to any Islamic ethico-legal discussion. Moreover,
this discussion forms the backbone of debates within Muslim circles over related matters, such as
rules for apostasy (ridda, or irtidd) and minority law (fiqh al-aqalliyt) in Muslim majority
contexts. These issues, in turn, have contributed significantly to positivist responses by certain
Muslim groups who claim the authority to judge over the Islamicity of Muslim individuals and
groups, and to execute what they consider to be the legally appropriate sanctions. The Pak-Afghan
borderlands have played a crucial role in these developments of global reach, as drastic measures
against allegedly un-Islamic belief and conduct became evident during the years of the Islamic
Emirate of Afghanistan and, since 2006, in the Islamic Emirate of Vaziristan. More often than not,
these manifestations of a quite radical take on faith have been dismissed as mere expressions of a
fundamentalist mindset that has developed in the fatal relationship of increasingly narrow-minded
Afghan Muslim fighters (of various ethnic backgrounds) and predominantly Arab radicals
commonly associated with al-Qida.

However, for the moment the massive complexities of what appears to be rather ill-fated
alliances between Afghan and Arab religious activists have hardly been seriously investigated and
subsequently have given rise to the perhaps premature dismissal of possible interface in the specific
understanding of religion. Rather, what appears as strategic alliances is commonly attributed solely
to the notion of hospitality (mlmastiy) or the obligation to provide shelter (panh, or nanawta)


in Pashtun society, thus suggesting that the Arab Muslim activists were merely tolerate on Afghan
soil, rather than much of their religious proclivities being shared. There seems even to be a tendency



 

 




 
    
   

 

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in popular public discourse to contrast a Sufism-centerd rather integrationist local tradition with a
more legalistic cosmopolitan one, in order to stress their incommensurability and, eventually, to

write off the current developments as entirely alien to actual regional practice.

For an evaluation of the veracity of such views a historically sharpened investigation seems
urgently required. This present paper is meant as only a step into that direction. It will be shown that
a legalist trait can well be found in the local environment of the Pak-Afghan borderlands that may
have facilitated common ground with similar discussions in the Arabic-speaking world.
Regional Trajectories: Ethnicity, Sufism and Deobandiyyat
Recent historical research has shown that Sufism was assigned a pivotal role in the
ethnogenesis of what appeared to have been an initially highly mobile and most diverse
socio-economic entity, held together by Pashto as one of the lingu franc across the Indian
subcontinent since at least the 1500s.[ In fact, one could even argue with the famous medieval North
African polymath Ibn Khaldn (d. 808/1406) that the force that provides a tribally organised social
configuration with cohesion the famous aabiyya is only strengthened by shared religious
beliefs and practices.\ This can even more so be the case if these religious proclivities are confined to
distinct social units, that is, in our case, tribes, clans, and other locally distinguishable groups.]
Sufism appears to have served this purpose better than most other representations of Islam, because
it corresponded much better with the mobility and wide dispersion of those communities that
would eventually consider itself as a more or less homogenous ethnic entity.
The pr oftentimes identical with the ib as local representative of the religious
proclivities shared by the members of the community became its epitom; tribal genealogies and local
Sufi hagiographies did, and still do, overlap increasingly. They did not necessarily stand out by deep
textual knowledge, as it was more the case in ethnically heterogeneous urban contexts, but first and
foremost by religious charisma that revolves around a display of popular piety and the working of

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miracles, as various ethnographies over the last couple of decades suggest. Popular piety, in turn,
translates also in activities for the common good of the community, such as feeding the poor, and for
its safeguard, which has become oftentimes a defence of religion and religiously established morality.
Faith appears thus as being manifest in service to the community, be it as a spiritual reference able
to bestow barakat over the community, an economic benefactor able to feed the poor in the
localitys langarkhnah, or a leader of a lashkar whenever the circumstances required an armed
response.
All these various roles that the local Sufi prs fulfilled proved to be highly compatible with
ideas of the so-called arqah-yi muammadiyyah that, in the 1820s, trickled into the region from
the East of the subcontinent. Led by Sayyid Amad ibn Irfn of North Indian Ra Barayl and Shh
Muammad Isml of Delhi (both killed 1246/1831), its purist version of Sufism, programmatically
laid down in the latters ir-i mustaqm and Taqviyyat al-mn, combined a reaffirmation of
austere piety with a critical assessment of ostensibly widespread religious practice, which ultimately
culminated in an activist agenda to purge the subcontinent from un-Islamic beliefs and practices. It
seems that their davah fell on most fertile ground in the tribal frontier areas, which poses the (so-far
not satisfactorily answered) question why it was there and not elsewhere that the two North-Indians
were heard.

Be it as it may, the impact of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah on the frontier region was
sustained, and proved perhaps an important, if not the decisive, factor in facilitating the influence of
Deoband notions of faith there, especially in the later colonial period. After all, one of the


  
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progenitors of the North Indian traditionist scholarly reformist movement, Abd al-Rashd Gangoh
(d. 1323/1905), praised Shh Isml Dihlav in a number of his legal opinions (fatv) and defended
his manifesto Taqviyyat al-mn as a most excellent and veritable book and the cause of
strengthening and reforming the faith . This assessment is of quite some importance, as it helped
significantly to establish the views developed and maintained within the arqah-yi
muammadiyyah as an almost unaltered benchmark for faith within later Deoband scholarship in
the frontier region.
The association of the reformist scholarship emerging from North-Indian Deoband with the


Frontier region is a complex one, at least much more complex as Sana Haroon suggests, because it
was already preempted by the fact that numerous young men from the frontier area had enrolled in
the seminary north-west of Delhi right from its inception. In the second generation, however,
epitomised in the increasingly politicised rectorate of Mamd al-asan (d. 1339/1921) and
subsequently that of usayn Amad Madan (d. 1377/1957), the impact of Deoband thought grew
substantially stronger in the Frontier region. This, however, needs to be put somewhat in
perspective, as Deoband religious-political agitation was manifold in appearance and not confined
to the Frontier alone: the emergence of various Deoband branches in the Punjab around the very


same time is just a case in point. In this regard, we need to also be aware that Deoband collective
identity owed much to extraordinarily strong individual relationships between teachers and
students, which were deliberately resembling those of pr and murd in the Sufi context,
dogmatically established by Gangohs emphasis on taqld shakh in times of infestation and
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chaos, that is, the unconditional emulation of the legal opinions developed by specific teachers,
which again is secured by those extraordinarily strong personal relationships between teacher-pr and
student-murd. [ The notion of infestation and chaos (fitnah va fasd) as core characteristic of a



  
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specific era standard trope in contemporary Muslim discourse is of utmost significance here, as
whether legal matters could be interpreted more independently from the immediate authority of a
teacher depends entirely on the assessment and subsequent valuation of the prevalent conditions as
either precarious or more settled. \ Because the scholars under investigation here have clearly assessed
the current state of affairs as one of infestation and chaos, ] a closer look into the scholarly
networks that connect the Frontier to Deoband might well shed some revealing light on the
religious-political dynamics in the region in the twentieth century.
Indeed, it appears that the Shaykh al-Hind Mamd al-asan, celebrated student of the
other progenitor of the seminary at Deoband, Muammad Qsim Nanawtav (d. 1297/1877), and
murd of Gangoh, stood in the center of this intricate network. Radiating from there were
numerous leading scholars who would eventually wield a lasting influence on the eastern part of the
British Raj, including usayn Amad Madan, Ubaydallh Sindh (d. 1363/1944) and Shabbr
Amad Usmn (d. 1369/1949). Especially the former two were most influential in establishing a


lasting Deoband presence in the Frontier, while some of their students-cum-disciples set out to
establish further offshoots of the movement in the Punjab, in Sindh, and eventually also in the






  
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Frontier region. Prominent in this latter regard is the Dr al-ulm aqqniyyah in Akoah Khaak
near Peshavar, established immediately after Partition by Abd al-aqq ibn jj Gul (d. 1409/1988),


a student and disciple of Madan. In this context, however, belongs also the Dr al-ift val-irshd
in Karachi, established in 1976 by Rashd Amad Ludhiynav (d. 1422/2002), yet another student


and disciple of Madan. Both institutions have been considered cadre-factories of the aliban, be it
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ideologically or even more logistically, which is why they will be at the center of the following
investigation on their legal interpretations regarding faith.
It needs to be stressed, however, that the two Deoband institutions under investigation are
hardly exclusive in this regard. The same ideological trait can be detected in graduates from other
Deoband establishments, which are not necessarily to be situated in the Frontier, although various
links to the region usually exist. Thus, for example, the ethnically Baluchi founder-imm of
Islamabads infamous Red Mosque and adjoining girls madrasah Jamiah-yi Sayyidah afah
Muammad Abdallh Ghz (assassinated 1419/1998), was a student of the ethnic Pashtun Sayyid
Muammad Ysuf Banr (d. 1397/1977) at his Jmiah-yi ulm-i islmiyyah in Karachi, established


in 1954 on request of Shabbr Amad Usmn. [ Likewise, Nek Muammad Vazr (killed 1425/2004)
of the Amadza-Vazr tribe in South Vaziristan had studied in Vn at the Dr al-ulm-i


Vazristn, established in 1962 under the auspices of Nr-i Muammad Vazr (killed 1431/2010). \
.



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Nr-i Muammad himself had been educated at the Jmiah-yi Qsim al-ulm in Multan under the
tutelage of Muft Mamd (d. 1400/1980) of the Pashtun Lohn-Marvat tribe, between 1968 and
1980 president of the Jamiyyat-i ulam-i islm, who himself had received his education at the
Deoband Jmiah-yi qsimiyyah dr al-ulm-i shh in Muradabad.

It appears as if the image of a tight inter-personal network of Deoband scholars with strong
ethnic links to the Frontier region could be painted, which pivots around the great scholars of
Deobands second generation, and shows seriously radicalised tendencies on its fringes. What needs
to be established, therefore, is whether an ideological line can be drawn that accounts for the more
radically inclined responses. In the following, therefore, views on the matter of faith after all a
core element in religious justifications of violence by some leading exponents of the third
generation within this network will be investigated. These views may vary according to the context
in which they are expressed; here, however, the discussion shall be confined to the legal arguments
produced on this matter, as can be found in various collections of legal opinions, or fatv. The first
collection under investigation consists of mostly undated fatv, mainly by Abd al-aqq of Akoah
Khaak, issued since the inauguration of the institution in 1947.
The Normative Trajectory: Theology and Law
What appears immediately striking in the relevant section on Creeds and Faith-related
Matters (kitb al-aqid val-mniyt) is that faith is hardly ever positively defined. Rather, what
for Abd al-aqq and other scholars of Akoah Khaak constitutes faith needs to be derived by
inversion, as most of the fatv provide only information about what constitutes unbelief (kufr),
and faith can therefore be defined only by negation as the absence of kufr. In this respect, they


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seem to emulate Shh Isml Dihlavs much earlier and yet still much venerated expositions in
Taqviyyat al-mn, which does also not provide a clear-cut definition of faith in the way a
theological catechism (aqda) would do. Rather, it provided a meticulous breakdown of what, in the
light of solely the Qurn and the Prophetic Sunna, constitutes association shirk which, in its
ultimate consequence, translates into a violation of the core doctrine of the Oneness of God


(tawd). Interestingly, however, other than in ir-i mustaqm, in this work Shh Isml avoided
the use of the term kufr throughout, indicating perhaps some stronger awareness of the severe
legal consequences that this label, once assigned, entails.

While the movement of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah in the nineteenth century seems
fairly detached from more contemporary Islamic expressions in the Frontier region, this first
impression is deceptive. Already Abd al-aqqs own teacher and murshid usayn Amad Madan
had emphatically embraced the legacy of Sayyid Amad Barelv and Shh Isml and styled it a very
early movement for the re-establishment of Muslim dignity and self-esteem as well as a progenitor of


the Indian independence struggle. Abd al-aqq himself continued in the positive appraisal of the
arqah-yi muammadiyyah when he considered Shh Isml undoubtedly an activist scholar
[lim b amal], perfect associate [val-yi kmil] and a fighter on the Path of God whose teachings
on jihd instilled in the Indian Muslims the passion for the jihd that led up to Indian


independence . However, while endorsing the disapproving views of the Delhite scholar on


practices of popular piety, such as the visualisation of a Sufi master (taawwur-i shaykh), Abd
al-aqqs concern was not so much anymore on those kind of regional ritualistic particularities. In
his time, these issues had to take a backseat in light of the increasing spread of ideas and worldviews


that posed an immediate threat to fundamental articles of the Islamic faith. After all, we must not
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forget the strong impact of Pashto Nationalism in the 1930s on the Frontier region. It should also be
recalled that one of the early beacons of Marxism in the subcontinent, Abd al-Ram Ppalza (d.
1363/1944), was ethnically a Pashtun and, at the same time, a Deoband scholar from around the
circles of Mamd al-asan, holding at one time the office of muft for the entire Frontier region.

Z

Consistently, therefore, the mainly undated fatv of Abd al-aqq on matters relating to faith
and creed reflect on the severe threats of science-based disenchantment (iktishaft) poses to a


religiously sustained worldview, [ when they provide a catalogue of views and actions that the scholar
considered as inevitably leading to unbelief, which, in the context under investigation, amounts
ultimately to apostasy.
The themes covered in the twenty or so fatv relevant to our investigation relate
overwhelmingly to the questioning of the veracity of the authoritative texts, that is, the Qurn and
Sunna of the Prophet, the denial of the constituents of the most basic Islamic creed, the shahda,


and further components to later and more elaborate Sunni creeds. \ Corroboration of the advocated
views was exclusively derived from the anaf tradition of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence; main
reference points here were Mull Al al-Qrs (d. 1014/1605) extensive commentary on the Fiqh


al-akbar, a very early catechism attributed to Ab anfa (d. 148/767), ] eponymous progenitor of
the anaf madhhab al-fiqh, and various collections of fatv from within this particular legal


interpretation, prominently among them the Fatw al-hindiyya, or lamkriyya (sic). Finally,
Abd al-aqq quoted extensively from the Radd al-mukhtr, a most widespread nineteenth century
commentary of the Syrian-Ottoman anaf jurist Muammad Amn ibn bidn (d. 1258/1842) on

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206

the Durr al-mukhtr by Muammad Al al-Dn al-akaf (d. 1088/1677). These references are
significant, as they indicate that the legal views of those commonly associated with the libn
remained well within the confines of anaf fiqh, the dominant orientation in the subcontinent in
general, and of the Deoband maslak in particular.
Some elements in Abd al-aqqs legal opinions remain striking nonetheless. One, he
appears to have appropriated some conceptions of Islamist parlance, when he spoke about Islam as a
system (nim) and a code of life (zbitah-yi ayt), which indicates a substantial impact of the
ideas of ideologues like Ab l-Al Mawdd (d. 1399/1979) on contemporary conceptions of Islam
Z

even beyond the mere confines of his immediate followers.

Such notions got combined with a

super-elevation of the revealed ethical and legal benchmark when Abd al-aqq declared the sharah
to be sacred (muqaddasah): neither notion is seconded by the classical legal and theological
reference works, which suggests to consider them as context-specific modifications of anaf legal
practice. In the age of competing ideologies, it seems, a certain degree of exaggeration is considered
appropriate in order to counter alternative worldviews. On the other hand, however, Abd al-aqq
appeared full aware of the religious particularities that dominated the subcontinent in general, and
the Frontier region in particular, when he made unmistakably clear that all those practices
condemned by the protagonists of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah in the early nineteenth century
as associationism (shirk) do nonetheless not qualify as unbelief (kufr). The same went for
immorality (fisq va fujr), which for Abd al-aqq encompasses acts like scorning the first two of
the so-called Rightly-Guided Caliphs, but does not lead to the expulsion from the Muslim
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What appears of utmost importance to Abd al-aqq in this overall context is that the
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monopoly of definition needs to remain with the ulam, because ultimately there is no getting
away from the ultimate penalty for apostasy, following the sound Prophetic adth: Whoever
Z

changes his religion, kill him! [man baddala dnahu fa-qtluh] . The ulam would be the only
qualified personnel to responsibly pronounce someone an unbeliever, in full awareness of the grave
legal consequences. Therefore, in a number of fatv Abd al-aqq pointed towards the various
safety mechanisms built into this process, from establishing unmitigated responsibility for acts of
apostasy to the scope and procedures for penitence (istitba), again in full compliance with the
ZZ

anaf legal tradition. Similarly, with regard to the possessions of an apostate who did not repent
and was subsequently executed, Abd al-aqq remained well within the universe of anaf fiqh.

All these considerate responses, however, represent only the theoretical perspective of Islamic
jurisprudence; they do not necessarily translate into actual practice. In order to bridge that gap, other
types of statements need to be considered, prominently among them sermons and public speeches,
but also shorter and rather popular pamphlets. Here, we possess only a very few testimonies of Abd
al-aqq directly; those of his son and successor as rector of the Dr al-ulm aqqniyyah Smi
al-aqq (b. 1356/1937), in contrast, are available in abundance. Of course, these statements are
considerably later and respond therefore to a quite changed situation where the dichotomy of
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208

belief and unbelief has become the almost ultimate standard taxonomy. Thus, in a public speech
at Akoah Khaak from December 2001, for example, Smi al-aqq painted an almost apocalyptic
image of a world of unbelief, in which the Muslim religious students of the aqqn tradition have
emerged as a bulwark for the defence of the faith, continuing a task that was inaugurated in the jihd
against the Sikhs by the adherents of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah in the 1820s and maintained

by the politically active Deobands of the early twentieth century. \ It is therefore perhaps of
significance that Abd al-aqqs legal opinions on how to deal with apostates is not, as was
commonly done in classical works on fiqh, incorporated in the sections on jihd or military
excursion (sayr), but in the section on faith-related matters and creeds. In conjunction with Smi
al-aqqs popular sermons and speeches, one is drawn to conclude that the proactive dealing with
apostates was considered a constituent of faith, which, by implication, means that whoever does not
actively seek to address apostasy and unbelief is indicating a deficiency in faith.
The second collection of fatv that shall be investigated here reveals a slightly different take
on the matter of faith. Here, at least, we see some attempt to define mn positively, not only by
negation. In a lengthy fatv, dated December 12, 1954 (Rab al-thn 22, 1374), the ethnically Punjabi
Rashd Amad Ludhiynav defined faith as a combination of cognition of singular concepts

(marifat) ] and their affirmation in belief (tadq), mediated by complete submission to the

extent of self-annihilation (inqiyd va istislm). Neither component is sufficient on its own, the
combination of all three is inevitable. In support of his argument, which eventually culminated in a
negative appraisal of Gndhs take on faith, Ludhiynav presented a wide array of references, from
which he quoted extensively, some of them fairly standard and also widely in use by Abd al-aqq of

Akoah Khaak.

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209

Of extraordinary interest however are his reference to the Fat al-mulhim, an extensive
Arabic commentary on the canonical adth-compilation of Muslim ibn ajjj by Shabbr Amad
Usmn, the first president of the Jamiyyat al-ulam-i islm (JUI), because they corroborate the
above-highlighted stress on the maintenance of the Deoband tradition by embracing the views of
the previous generations of scholars in this fold. This is even more so the case, as the tightly meshed
network of Deoband scholars shows Rashd Amad Ludhiynav himself very close to Usmns
successor as president of the JUI, the Karachi-based later Grand-muft of Pakistan Muammad Shfi
Deoband (d. 1396/1976) and his sons Muammad Taq (b. 1362/1943) and Muammad Raf
Usmn (b.?), the latter being the current Grand-muft of Pakistan. The latter two are very
prominent, yet quite controversial public figures in contemporary Pakistan, who have taken at times

a rather sympathetic stance towards the libn.[ Ludhiynav, in turn, was known for his direct
active ideological and logistic support to the leadership of the movement,[ although the suggestion


that Mull Muammad Umar khnd (b. 1378/1959) has been a direct student of his[ remains so
far uncorroborated.
Ludhiynavs references to Usmns Fat al-mulhim clearly corroborate his definition of


faith as consisting of three inevitable components. [ Usmn, in turn, built his argument on the
works of such diverse earlier scholars as the Asharite theologian Ab l-Mal Abd al-Malik
al-Juwayn (d. 478/1085), better known as the Imm al-aramayn, Murta al-Zabd (d.
1202/1790) and the medieval Damascene traditionist Taq al-Dn Amad ibn Taymiyya (d.
Z

728/1328), [ thus embracing earlier efforts by Muslim scholars in the subcontinent to harmonise
various currents of speculative theology (kalm) with the traditionism of the so-called ab
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al-adth. [[ This is an important observation, especially as we can discern a growing impact of


especially Ibn Taymiyyas works first and foremost selected ones of his fatw, as well as his
Iqti al-ir al-mustaqm on definitions of faith in conservative Muslim circles. Indeed, it
appears that the notion of al-ir al-mustaqm the straight path for the guidance to which God
is evoked in two Qurnic passages [\ forms a thread that links Ibn Taymiyya, after all a major
reference point for the Arab neo-anbalites, by way of Shh Isml Dihlav to Ludhiynav
himself.[]
This commonality might eventually be of quite some significance, as it could be used to
overcome apparently significant differences in the conceptions of faith of conservative, yet
politically inclined Deoband ulam on the one hand, and Muslims from the Arab world prone to
religiously justified violence on the other. Indeed, it is because of these discrepancies that some of the
latter have been prompted to take a rather distant position towards the libn. Thus, while, for
example, the influential Saudi Arabian radical scholar amd ibn Uql al-Shuayb (d. 1422/2001)
fully seconded the political regime of the libn during the Emirate period as in full compliance
with the shara in a well-renowned fatw from November 2000,[ the likes of Bah Muaf Jughl,
also known as Abd al-amd al-Sr (b. 1396/1976), and Ab Muab al-Zarqw (killed 1427/2006)
have published pamphlets that go as far as even questioning the fidelity of the libn.[ Much of
their criticism revolves around the strict adherence of the libn to the anaf notions of faith,
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which does not consider particular actions (aml) as an inevitable part of mn,\ and which
therefore stands somewhat in opposition to the strong neo-anbalite unease with taqld on the one
hand, and their conceptions of faith that all include acts of the limbs (aml al-jawri) as
defining criterion.\ For most of the Arab authors in this context, the classical anaf position
reflects an unhealthy proximity to theological positions associated with the Murjia, a current of
Islamic speculative thought which had emerged from around the dispute between the last two of the


Medinese Caliphs Uthmn ibn Affn and Al ibn Ab lib in the late seventh century CE.\ In
their refusal to take a side in the conflict and to rather leave the ultimate decision to divine decree on
Judgement Day (irj), its advocates clearly emphasised tadq the factual assertion of the
cognition of single concepts over any act in this world. In our case at hand, such a perception
seems corroborated by the fact that, other than the Sufi-scholars of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah
in the early nineteenth century, none of the Deoband scholars discussed here was directly involved
in any activity that could be construed as a direct translation of their legal religious thought into
practice. This is even more so the case, as in either collection of fatw we lack vital information such
as the identity of the respective mustaft or the context in which a certain fatw was issued.\

There is, however, another element that might be suitable for breaching the gap between the
more theoretical aspects of faith, that is, marifa, tadq and inqiyd, and their translation into
concrete practice. After all, the prominence of numerous students of Abd al-aqq and of
Ludhiynav in libn circles, coupled with the strong emphasis in the Deoband maslak on
person-bound interpretation (taqld shakh) in times of distress, further reinforced by pr-murd
links, suggests some correlation between the religious and legal thought of these scholars and the
activities of their students. This suspicion is solidified by the fact that Abd al-aqq had some
blatant sympathies for those who would take up their arms against the enemies of the faith, be they
the mujhidn during the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or later the libn, while

 


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212

Ludhiynav had proven himself instrumental to the libn and their predominantly Arab allies
during the time of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
A Glimpse at Transregional Trajectories
Indeed, it seems as if in our case it is the intrinsically hierarchical relationship of teacher-pr
and student-murd that correlates with the nexus of theory and practice in the Arabic neo-anbalite
conceptions of faith. Crucial in this regard is the emphatic claim of the monopoly of interpretation
in contemporary Muslim society by the ulam, especially in the absence of formal Islamic rule,

which Abd al-aqq and Ludhiynav, both, have fervently argued for.\ This need for proper
qualification to legal decision-making was increasingly also acknowledged by leading representatives
among the radically inclined Arabs, as the example of Sayyid Imm al-Sharf, a.k.a. Dr Fal (b.
1369/1950), one-time companion of Ayman al-awhir (b. 1370/1951), provides ample evidence.\[
Qualification for legal interpretation, however, is only one aspect in the South Asian context. Here,
the quest for adequate and comprehensive community representation has been virulent since the
emergence of the various scholarly orientations (maslik) in the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857;
competition for leadership, enshrined in vigorous arguments pro-and-counter the fidelity of the
other, runs first and foremost along these lines.\\ In order to ensure the sustainability of a
maslak-bound interpretation of faith various intertwined mechanisms are employed in the
religious teaching context, among which taqld shakh in legal interpretation and pr-murd-bonds
in general regards stand out. It is especially the latter, derived from Sufi practice, that guarantees the
conveyance of religious interpretation into the wider society by the students. It is here that the
component of practice comes into play, as the actions of libn in the societies of the Frontier can
well be understood as practical implementation of religious interpretation of scholars of the
Deoband maslak with strong tied into the Frontier region, like Abd al-aqq of Akoah Khaak
and Rashd Amad Ludhiynav of Karachi.

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Concluding Thoughts
In conclusion to what needs to be understood as a very tentative investigation, perhaps the
following can safely be stated. The notion of the incommensurability of the religious views held by
contemporary Arab radical activists and those Islamic articulations in the Pak-Afghan borderlands
does not really appear sustainable. While Sufi expressions could potentially indeed serve as a means
for delineation, they never do so per se. A closer and more differentiating look however reveals that
the version of Sufism emphatically introduced to the Frontier region by the leading representatives
of the arqah-yi muammadiyyah in the first decades of the nineteenth century was in fact very
close to the purist thoughts that began to take effect in the wider Arab world around the same time.
After all, it was not entirely by accident that the British colonial authorities subscribed very soon to
the label Wahhabi to denote the adherents to the arqah-yi muammadiyyah during the first
years of direct colonial rule, as at least to some extent there appear to be doctrinal overlaps.\] Such
overlaps, again, could serve as common ground for puritan Muslim activists in the Frontier region,
regardless their respective origins and belonging.
On the other hand, the deep roots and strong impact of Sufism in the regional setting creates
also a doctrinal divide between local and other Muslim activists in the area, so that in fact one needs
to carefully assess each and every case of Pashtun-Arab interaction on its own, made even more
complicated by the increasing impact of activists of the zbekiston islomij harakat (IMU) in the
Frontier region.\ The fervent anti-ritualistic type of Sufism advocated by the arqah-yi
muammadiyyah and their followers, which appeared highly attractive to certain currents of
Indo-Muslim scholarship that emerged in the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857, appears nonetheless
as a vital tool to adapt at least to some extent to similar traits in the contemporary Arab world.

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It can be argued that it is first and foremost this particular understanding of Sufism that
established firm roots in the Frontier region that could in fact breach the doctrinal gap between the
radical interpretations of Arab neo-anbalites of what constitutes faith and those
uncompromisingly anaf ones of Deoband scholarship in the Frontier. In fact, patterns of
ascertaining learned authority, already established in distinct procedures in legal decision-making
processes, became substantially strengthened by the additional implication of corresponding Sufi
patterns. It is, as has been argued in this paper, the role of these patterns that helped to translate the
legal deliberations of the scholar-pr, always in the light of a rather purist understanding of what
constitutes faith, into a wider social praxis by the student-murd. This way, a phenomenon like the
libn might become more tangible, as well as the highly complex and not always straightforward
relationship of local actors in the Frontier region with Muslim activists originally from the Arab
world.
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