At the end of March 2016, the Tarbiyah Academy – a private school in Dewsbury established by a representative of the Deobandi sect – was under investigation by the DfE (Department for Education) over its radical teaching. This school has 140 primary students, as well as secondary age-range. Many of them attend an after-school madrassah (religious class) for a total of ten hours a week, in addition to their regular full-time classes.
The Deobandi ideology originated in the Indian town of Deoband in the mid-1800s. It is anti-western and inspires groups, such as the Taliban in Af/Pak (Pakistan and Afghanistan). The Deobandi doctrine is also politically anti-imperialist due to the fact that it was first devised as a mechanism to rid India of the British Raj.
The worrying issue is that Deobandi adherents try to control British mosques like a cancer that is being eradicated by the intelligence services. The Deobandi doctrine is similar to the puritanical Saudi-based Wahhabi or Salafi ideology. The aim is to ‘reform’ Islam (i.e. taking it back in time to its antiquated roots) by insisting that Muslims separate from others in the West.
The Deobandi urge adherents to reject British values and customs such as watching TV or women working; or even participating in mixed-gender activities or indeed any social interaction outside the home and that they cover up totally in public.
The Deobandi believe: ‘Westernization of Muslims has introduced evils into Muslim homes…bringing ruin to the…moral fabric of Muslim society’. Faced with allegations of doctrinal fanaticism, the school said: ‘certain extracts from our publications have misrepresented the Academy, linking it with extremism…We fully believe in the importance and need of integration whilst being able to practise our faith’.
In a statement posted on its website, the school asserted that it opposes radicalism, saying: ‘the Academy has (and will) continue to work in the community – along with others – including the local authorities, to try and counter extremism’.
The academy congratulated itself for: ‘a wide range of publications, which include topics on denouncing terrorism and crime and drug abuse; as well as living in peaceful co-existence with others.’ It excuses its anti-Jewish propaganda as a feature of ‘spiritual training of the soul’. The Department for Education told Sky News that an investigation is underway, but that: ‘it would be inappropriate to comment on specific investigations of such institutions’.
The government aims to regulate madrassahs where Deobandi clerics issue fatwas (rulings) saying any Muslim who disagrees is an “apostate”. A recent BBC programme described Deobandis as ‘fundamentalist’ with a ‘quietist’ and ‘spiritual’ side. While the BBC reports that one Deobandi leader – Masood Azhar – is the head of one of Pakistan’s most violent militant groups.
Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, told Sky News he is concerned about the impact of the teachings of the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy in Dewsbury, saying:
‘After the Paris and Brussels attacks and the way in which Muslim communities have come-out in favour of peace and tolerance, I think [Deobandi] materials serve no purpose but to divide in a poisonous and totally reckless way.’
This is an issue to pray into.