The Political Struggles of the Ulama of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband: Identifying and Operationalizing the Traditionalist Approach to Politics
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This paper uses the example of the political struggles of the religious scholars (ulama) of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband, a highly influential Islamic seminary founded in North India in the 19th century in the wake of Muslim defeat in the Mutiny of 1857 against the British, to identify the salient features of the traditionalist approach to politics and examine how this approach can be operationalized. The paper compares the traditionalist orientation to politics, which the school at Deoband and the movement that emerged from there came to represent, with modernist and fundamentalist/Islamist approaches. It proposes that the understudied but extremely important traditionalist paradigm provides the basis for more creative, balanced, fruitful, and Islamically authentic political engagement than either of the two opposing trends popular in the Muslim world today.