Over the years i have gone from Barelwi to Salafi to this and then to that and blah blah.
Alhamdulillah, I had the opportunity to see Sunni Islam untainted by such petty matters in Syria and am overjoyed to see that this stream of knowledge being taught by such places as Sunnipath.com.
After my (long and sometimes dangerous) journey, I have come to question the usefulness of the terms "Barelwi" and "Deobandi" within the Sunni realm. I have spoken before on a similar issue on this forum on specific topics such as mawlid etc but I would like to focus in particular here on validity of the existence of the very groups themselves, moreso outside of the subcontinent.
There has been discussion before about the subcontinent and bid'a and the aim of the Deobandis wa kadha wa kadha (ie. etc. etc) but has anyone really wondered what purpose the division is serving in the rest of the world, apart from bringing Indian issues to new lands?
Can anyone see, as I did, that those points that literally make a Barelwi what he is (things like haazir wa naazir etc) and those points that make a Deobandi what he is (things like their off-beat stance on mawlid) are the very same things that differ from the ulama of Sham, who for the most part, follow a Hanafi law system based on the major reference works of the school?
Now before any Barelwi replies in a barrage that "Barelwi's belief about Haazir wa Naazir is this and that ..." please let me state that issues like these (and in particular Haazir Naazir) exist becuase at some point in time people did believe them. I know this for a fact because my family still believe it to some degree - although times are a changin'
And before any Deobandi replies in a barrage about Mufti Muhammad's fatwa on the mawlid let me state that this issue likewise exists because at some point in time people believed this way, and I kid you not, I also have relatives in South Africa (including a very prominent Deobandi Alim) whose view of the mawlid is still 100% consistent with the Wahhabi view. .
I would appeal to all to not let emotion take charge here.
Can anyone really say "I am a Deobandi" or "I am a Barelwi" and be saying anything meaningful? I would suggest not.
How about "I am a Hanafi?"
To say "I am a Hanafi and not a Barelwi-Hanafi or Deobandi-Hanafi" would mean changing to some degree, for the terms Barelwi and Deobandi are more than just nisba, they are more than just place names, they are theological schools. And they both differ, in their small way, from the Hanafi-ism of Syria.
Why should the Hanafi-ism of Syria be considered something special? My perosnal feeling is that the blessing of Sham is known, from Hadith and the Holy Qur'an and perhaps this is a signal of sorts to show where we might be able to look, to get some guidance in this troubled period.
I wonder if anyone out there, can see my point of view, and:
1) throw away this unnecessary labelling of each other and oneselves,
as well as;
2) throw away the hard-fought debates of how each school's view of certain issues is more in conformance with the fatawa of classical ulama, and just follow those fatawa of classical ulama, period?