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Difference Between Salafi and Deobandi

As many of us already know, Salafi and Deobandi are two sects in the religion of Islam. Going deeper into the sectorial divisions of Islam, we can conclude that both of these groups, namely Salafi and Deobandi, fall into the primary group of Sunni’s.

Salafism, which is sometimes also referred to as Wahhabism is usually known by its strict, literalist and puritanical approach to Islam. For some people, the Salafi might bring to mind the Jihadis who wage Jihad against oppressing forces in their territory to enforce the pure form of Islamic ideology , Quran and Sunnah. On the other hand, Deobandis are more commonly known as Hanafi Muslims, a term derived from their leader and guide, Imam Abu Hanifa, who they have now followed for decades. Deobandi, under the Hanafi school of thought, is a revivalist movement in the Sunni branch of Islam and claims to be perfectly pure.

A major difference between these two sects of Islam is their opinion on guidance by an Imam. Whereas Deobandis are Hanafis and follow Imam Abu Hanifa, Wahhabis are ghair muqallid, which means that they do not follow any imam for jurisprudence. The concept of Taqleed, that is, to follow someone is strongly supported by Deobandis whereas there is a division amongst Salafis to this idea, with most of them opposing it.

The term Ahl al-Hadith (people who follow the Prophet’spbuh tradition) is commonly used in the subcontinent (which includes Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) to indicate the adherents of Salafi ideology. In the Middle-East, however, the term is more often used to differentiate the Salafi cult from the rest of the Sunni Muslims.

The roots of Salafism go down to certain groups such as Al-Qaeda, Jabha Al Nusra as well as many others who are very strong in their theology of Jihad as an obligation upon them. This is the reason that people around the world have referred to it as the basis of terrorism that unfortunately spreads outwards from the Islamic religion. This fundamentalist philosophy is an example of Salafism or Wahhabism and it is the state religion of many countries, most significantly, Saudi Arabia. The founder of Wahhabism was Abdul Wahab in Saudi Arabia. In contrast to this, the Deobandi movement, which is primarily based in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, traces back to the beginning of the 18th century. The name is paved from Deoband in India where there is the Dar-ul-Uloom school which was set up in the spirit of the inspirational Islamic reformist, Shah Wali Ullah. Influenced by the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah, Shah Wali Ullah was the founder of the Deobandi sect. Ironically, Ibn Taymiyyah was also the inspiration of Abdul Wahab!

There are considerable differences between the teachings and opinions of the two sects. To begin with, Wahhabi teachings are considered very intolerant by some people, who also say that people of this sect are very violent. Their intolerance stretches not only to non-Muslims but also to non-Salafis. The founder, Abdul Wahab, had inspired hatred against the other sects of Islam as well, including the likes of Shiite, Sunni Sufi etc. They believe that appropriate guidance of the people of Islam can only be done by the combination of Quran, Hadith, Ijma by Ulama and an understanding of Salaf-us-Salih. Deobandis, on the other hand, believe only in the first three sources of guidance and are quite tolerant towards non-Muslims and non-Deobandi.

Other important differences between the two include opposed views on Tawassul of Prophetpbuh (a religious practice in which one aspires to be close to Allah), Shuhada (those who attained martyrdom), Aulia (Sahabis and blessed companions of the Prophetpbuh) etc.

Summary of differences expressed in points:

  1. Salafi- Strong, strict principles-concept of Jihad extremely strong; Deobandi- less strict in each
  2. Concept of Taqleed(following someone such as Imam)-Deobandis, proponents; Salafis-mixed opinion with the majority opponents
  3. Origin and roots; Salafi-Al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups, founded by Abdul Wahab; Deobandis-17th and 18th Century subcontinent, founded by Shah Wali Ullah, Dar-ul-Uloom school, Deoband, India
  4. Salafi-Very intolerant towards non-Muslims and non-Wahhabis; Deobandis-considerably tolerant
  5. Difference of opinion on sources of guidance; both agree on Quran, Hadith and Ijma, only Salafi believe in Salaf-us-Salih
  6. Variable beliefs amongst the two on Shuhada, Aulia, Tawassul and other religious ideas

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  2. Don’t you feel guilty and shame to share this kind of wrong and ugly information about people ?!!.. I found 80 % of this page is wrong …they said the root of salafism reaches Al Qaeda !! Haha !!!…. ISIS , Al Qaeda and all argues that they are salafies but they are not ….

    The root of salafism ends on prophet Muhammad (s) and his companions ….

    Shame on you

  3. How is salafism related to al qaeda? The writer clearly has not enough exposure to salafism.

  4. Absolutely rubbish! Deobandis and Salafis/ Wahabis are hardly different. Minor irrelevant differences in placing the hands on the chest or stomach when in “Niyat” position of Namaz. And in the number of times Allah Hu Akbar is said while offering Namaz. Also Deobandi don’t believe in any Imamat just as Salafi. That’s it! Moreover none of the sects of Islam or Islam entirely is violent. Be responsible and get the facts corrected.

  5. It is a totally missguidind, incomplete message and preoccupied mind about salafiism.role model of salafies is the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he had sent to the mankind as mercy, kind and tolerant person not intolerant or violent.

    • Salaf means the belief and work in the first three decades of Our prophet. Salafies are not recognized Quran. They are ignorant about the true books of Islam

      • Salaf. Is a description of what kind of Islam u follow. Quran. Explained by the prophet Muhammad saalahualayhewasalaam and practiced by the sahabah and those who came after them. If u are sunni muslim. Then u should be following the description above….period.

        The lies the misconception being spread is nothing new. The carriers of correct path will always be lied upon. Ridiculed and slandered

  6. What is a pir, mureed, calipha in Islam? And what is defined as bidaa? I am very confused, and would appreciate any help.

    • Bida is when you innovate in ibadah, basically doing your own way of ibadah that’s not mentioned in Quran eg celebrating eid al milad as a religious way, compulsory dua after each salah etc

  7. So missleading and there is no such thing as violence or crime in any sect of Islam as that defeats the objective. What’s wrong with following quran and sunnah which teaches love and peace.

  8. Both Salafies and Deobandies are Not Islamic Jurisprudence of Islam As per the Sunni belief all four Imams are correct to the teachongs of Islam Only Hanafi school is not recognized. All innovation are bid, at.

  9. Absolute disgraceful of an article. Very deoband biased opinions I sense over here.

    The difference is that the true salaf follow Quran and sunnah, they believe ALL 4 SHUYUKH to be correct however they gathered all 4 SHUYUKH (imam hanifa, mailik Shafi and ahmad ibn hanbal) teachings and then picked which one was the closest to the sunnah. Generally salaf are followers of imam ahmad and unlike deobands who believe you are only allowed to follow one madhab otherwise you are sinful, salafs believe you can follow different once you have studied at a decent level and you should use the Quran and sunnah proof as your evidence. The deobands only follow one madhab which is wrong as sometimes there are teachings which could be wrong but still they are extreme and follow only one. Infact deobands in general are also very intolerable. Yes I agree some modern salafs are very intolerable but same with the deobands. They believe only in there’s, get offended if one decides not to follow their path.

    • Salafi is actually wrong as they pick and choose what to believe. Following one madhab is correct as your sticking to one persons sayings whether what the imaam is saying seems wrong or right to you as Allah Granted those imaam great wisdom. It was only allowed at their time to do ijmaa because of the wisdom they had. The reason why you can only follow one out of the four :eg.. say you walking on a straight path and then you come across 4 different turns you have to choose from to get to your destination and each one will lead you to this destination.the 4 turns are like the imaams teachings. If you follow somethings from one imaam and other things from another Imaam, you will never end up at your destination as you are not following one route.I’m sorry if I sound rude or seem offensive.this is just what I was taught in the alimiah course.
      – a student of knowledge

  10. Absolute liar and I have nothing but disgust on how you mislead the believers. How can so many lies and deceit come from a Muslim. May Allah swt guide you to righteousness. Ameen

  11. Absolute liar and I have nothing but disgust on how you mislead the believers. How can so many lies and deceit come from a Muslim. May Allah swt guide you to righteousness. Ameen

  12. what an ignorant retard whoever wrote this. spreading lies and falsehood.

  13. It is very shame full for this type of totally fualty & rubbish information about our Islam, Imams & Ulamas.. Shameless creature ..

    pls dont misguid…

  14. Unauthentic & confused narration

  15. It was actually a fine article. Ignore the people’s comments, here. They’re all triggered. Full stop.

    • I’m confused T_T If this article is really wrong, I hope the author could take this down. But if it’s true, I just wanna say, in real Islam’s teaching, there should be no hatred, intolerance or extremism. May Allah guide us all including this author

  16. Trust me, Allah will not ask you if you are a Deobandi, Salafi, Ash’ari, or something else. Purify your Niya that what matters at most.
    Both Sects are respectful, and we admire both of them.

  17. Is this page a pro deoband page? Don’t forget deobands are the same ones who claim people are committing a major sin if you have a 2 length haircut . This page is stupid and really needs removal. Clearly biased and hate towards salafism.

  18. refuting all your lies will take hours and I don’t even know where to begin, Salafis are strict agains making Takfir and has strict rules for Jihad so I don’t know why you associate the terrorist groups to Salafism, Salafis are the only group actively warn against terrorism and Bidaa (Innovation), also, Mohameed Abdulwahab didn’t bring anything new, he only asked people to follow the Salaf and not innovate.

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