The day of Thursday, 15th Muharram, A.H. 1283 (May 30, 1866), was that blessed and auspicious day in the Islamic history of India when the foundation stone for the renaissance of Islamic sciences was laid in the land of Deoband. Seeing the simple and ordinary manner in which it had been started, it was difficult to visualize and decide that a Madrasah beginning so humbly, with utter lack of equipment's, was destined to become the center, within a couple of years, of the Islamic sciences in Asia.Accordingly, before long, students desirous of studying the Holy Book and the Sunnah, the Shari'ah and the Tariqah (the spiritual path), began to flock here in droves from this sub continent as well as from neighboring and distant countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Bukhara and Samarqand, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and the far off regions of the continent of Africa, and within a short-time the radiant rays of knowledge and wisdom illumined the heart and mind of the Muslims of the continent of Asia with the light of faith (Iman) and Islamic culture.
The time when the Darul Uloom Deoband, was established, the old Madaris in India had almost become extinct, and the condition of two or four that had survived the ravages of time was not better than that of a few glow-worms in a dark night. Apparently it so looked at that time as if the Islamic sciences had packed up their kit from India. Under these circumstances, some men of Allah and divine doctors, through their inner light, sensed the imminent dangers. They knew it too well that nations have attained their right status through knowledge only. So, without depending upon the government of the time, they founded the Darul Uloom, Deoband, with public contributions and co-operation. One of the principles that Hazrat Nanautavi (may his secret be sanctified) proposed for the Darul Uloom and other religious Madaris is also this that the Darul-Uloom should be run trusting in Allah and with public contributions for which the poor masses alone should be relied upon.
The Darul-Uloom, Deoband, is today a renowned religious and academic center in the Islamic world. In the sub-continent it is the largest institution for the dissemination and propagation of Islam and the biggest headspring of education in the Islamic sciences. Such accomplished scholars have come out from the Darul Uloom in every period that they, in accordance with the demands of religious needs of the time, have rendered valuable services in disseminating and spreading correct religious beliefs and religious sciences. These gentlemen, besides in this sub-continent, are busy in performing religions and academic services in various other countries also, and everywhere they have acquired a prominent status or religious guidance of the Muslims. The fact is that the Darul Uloom, Deoband, was a great religious, educational and reformative movement in the thirteenth century Hijri. It was such a crucial and crying need of the time that indifference to and connivance at it could cause Muslims to be confronted with inestimable dangers. The caravan that comprised only two souls on 15th Moharram, A-H. 1283, has today in its train individuals from many countries of Asia!
For the last one century, the Darul Uloom, Deoband, has been considered an incomparable teaching institution for the religious education of the Muslims not only in the sub-continent but also throughout the Islamic world. Besides the Jam'a-e Azhar, Cairo, there is no such institution any where in the Islamic world that may have acquired so much importance in point or antiquity, resorting, centrality and strength of students as the Darul Uloom, Deoband, has. The foundation of the Darul Uloom had been laid in this obscure, sleepy village of India at the hands of such sincere and august men that within a short time its academic greatness was established in the world of Islam. And it began to be looked upon as the most popular educational institution of the Islamic world, students from the Islamic countries flocking to it for the study and research of different arts and sciences. A large number of personalities, well-versed in the religions sciences, found today in the length and breadth of this sub-continent has quenched its thirst from this very great river of knowledge, and eminent religious doctors (Ulama) have been once the alumni of this very educational institution. It is a fact that as regards the worth of academic services not only in the sub-continent but also in other Islamic countries there is no other educational institution except one or two, that may have rendered such weighty and important religious and academic services to the Muslim community. The achievements of the Ulama of the Darul Uloom in the fields of religion, education, missionary-work and book writing have been acknowledged repeatedly. And the achievements not only in India but also in other Islamic lands, and in the fields especially of guidance and instruction, teaching and preaching they seem to be ahead of all others. In the Muslim society of the sub-continent, the command a high rank and a lofty position. With the tumult of the fame of the Darul Uloom even the academic assemblies of Afghanistan, Bukhara and Samarqand reverberated. Us graduates became deans and principals of great Madaris, and it is an authentic history. And a fact to assert that this spring of grace of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, by virtue of its ethos, has been busy for more than a century. In quenching the thirst of the seekers of knowledge of different sciences and the whole of Asia is redolent with the aroma of this prophetic garden. Among the hundreds of thousands of seminaries in the world of Islam today there are only two such institutions on which the Muslims have relied most of all: the one is Jam'a-e-Azhar, Cairo, and the other is Darul Uloom, Deoband. The religious services both these institutions of learning have rendered to the Muslims are sui generis. These very religious, academic and intellectual services of the Darul Uloom have made it a cynosure in the Islamic world. And what is more astonishing is that the Darul Uloom without being dependent on the government has made all these advancements. The blessings (Barakat) of the Darul Uloom and its universal beneficence are indicating that upon this academic institution a special theophany (Tajalli) of divine and prophetic knowledge has cast its light, which regularly continues to attract hearts towards it. What and how many great achievements the Darul Uloom, Deoband, made, what and how many renowned personalities it produced and how they imprinted the stamp of their service and utility in every field of religious life. All these things you will know by going through this history of the Darul Uloom, Deoband.
However much pride and joy the Muslims of the sub-continent express over the existence of the Darul Uloom Deoband, there can be no doubt about its being correct and justified. The history of the Darul Uloom in the present times is a bright chapter in the history of the Muslims effort and endeavor; this great struggle for the survival of religion and freedom of thought cannot be over looked in the history of Islam and the Muslims. Darul Uloom, Deoband, is in fact a shore less ocean from which, besides those of this sub-continent, the seekers of knowledge of the whole of Asia are benefiting. If the history of the Darul Uloom is studied minutely, a perspicacious reader will not fail to see the reality that it is not merely an old-type teaching institution; it is in fact a stupendous movement for the revival of Islam and the survival of the community.
The establishment of this seminary in the land of Deoband and its stability is the result of a concerted effort and endeavor of the Muslims of the sub-continent. Service to religion, support to Islam, renaissance of Islamic arts and sciences and their dissemination, and help to the students craving religious knowledge are the special and momentous achievements of the Darul Uloom Deoband. For one hundred and fourteen years it has been rendering, as per the pious predecessors tack, the right-type of academic and gnostic training to the Muslims. Even as Cairo, after the fall of Baghdad, became the center of Islamic arts and sciences, exactly in the same way, after the decline of Delhi, academic centrality fell to the lot of Deoband. And great illustrious personalities rose up from this teaching institution, innumerable scholars were fostered in its laps, and thousands of Ulama, Shaikhs, traditionists, jurisconsults, authors and experts of other arts and sciences were produced here. And, having become an adornment in the firmament of knowledge and action rendered and are still rendering services to religion in different manners in every nook and corner of the sub-continent.The history of the Darul Uloom, Deoband, is a historical chapter on an epoch-making period in the history of Islam as a whole. The long and short of this is that this overflowing ocean of arts and sciences has so far assuaged the thirst of a very large number of the seekers of knowledge, who having become the vernal air, have spread its academic aura in the four corners of the world. Those who benefited from the Darul Uloom are like a luxuriant free the green and fresh branches and foliage of which it is not easy to compute.
Darul Uloom Deoband, has been a center of both the Shariah and the Tariqa from the very day of its inception. All the moons and stars in the sky of the Shariah and the Tariqa and knowledge and action that are at the time shining in the sub-continent have been mostly illuminated by this very brilliant sun, and have come out assuaged from this very head spring of knowledge and gnosis. Every one knows that most of the great Ulama of the sub-continent has been the alumni of this very institution. And those who feasted at the dinner-cloth of Darul Uloom are now present in most of the Asian countries, where as well as in the sub-continent and certain other foreign lands. They have enkindled the lamps of the Holy Book and the Sunnah, and have imparted the grace of instruction and guidance to countless people. Darul Uloom, Deoband, has played a great part in investing the Muslims thoughts and views with freshness and sacredness, their hearts with ambition and courage, and their bodies with strength and energy. Its beneficence universal and countless men, to satisfy whose academic eagerness there were no means available, have quenched their thirst from it. At the same time, on the model of Darul.Uloom sprang up many religious and academic springs, each having its own particular many of circle of its benefit and grace. They are all the stars of this very solar system by the light of which every nook and corner of the religious and academic life of the Muslims of the sub-continent is radiant.
Very little attention has been paid to this benefit of these ýreligious schools that on account of them the condition of millions of Muslim families has been ameliorated. The Muslims inferiority complex was removed and that through these schools became available to the community innumerable such individuals, who, according to the conditions and time, guided the Muslims in the different aspects of life.
Besides their great services in the revival of Islam, they awakened political consciousness among the Muslims and took leading part in the struggle for freedom as a result of which the countries of the sub-continent acquired independence.
Even as in the past the Darul Uloom, Deoband, has rendered invaluable services to the cause of Islam, the Muslims and the religious sciences. It is hoped that in future too it will continue to discharge the obligation of inciting the Muslims power of action, of strengthening the faiths and of preaching and propagating Islam.