If I was asked what the word Deoband meant? My reply: Deo from my latin based drawer of my brain gives God and band means a gang. I would very ignorantly conclude: the gang of God. For fun, I curiously asked my wife last night the same question. Her reply was Deo for deodorant and band for a group of things. She thus concluded: ‘Is it a new deodorant brand?”

Having recently read some documents on Islam and the forces and influences of Islam in the present world, the word Deoband has now a new meaning to me. The annoucement of the future visit of Tariq Ramadan and the last conference I attended on the new faces of Islam are still working in my mind and giving a boost to my interest on the subject.

Why did I choose this word? Deoband. Well, it is because of my dear Muslim co-citizens of Mauritius.It is one of the school of Islam which has inspired the converted Muslim Indians. We can safely affirm that with a very few exception the totality of Muslims in Mauritius were Indian converts of Hanifi school of thought.

For having worked a number of years with many of my Muslim friends and for having over ten years work and dealt with the Haj & Umra pilgrimages, I owe it to myself and my Muslim friends a better understanding of the happenings in the world of Islam. I had the opportunity to attend talks with Haj organisers in Jeddah from different countries. I have to admit that converted Indian Muslims are not treated on the same footing as the Arab Muslims.

As the fastest growing population of 19% or over in Mauritius, Muslims mostly Sunnites, are most certainly a group that we have to be aware of. Besides, it is common knowledge that the influence of this section of the population in respect of the economy and society is far greater than its proportional number.

The comparison in the treatment of Muslims in India and in Mauritius is a very worthwhile exercise. Much has to be learnt as the majority of the population considers India as mother India for having originated there, and the secular governments are both democratic.

The Mauritian government has, in a way, been more generous or lenient to the Muslims by allowing foreign mullahs to work in the country whilst India has kept away from external sources. In the past, most of the mullahs were from India. Recently,for the last decade or so, there are a number of Islamic teachers from Pakistan or from Egypt working in Mauritius. Funding from other than Indian sources may well have helped the Muslim community to move away from the ties of Indian sources. Hence we have now a variety of Muslims with different schools of thoughts and following: Al Azhar from Egypt,Wahhabi from Saudi Arabia,Memons from Kutch,Hanifi from India…etc

All Muslims believe the Qur’an is error-free, but they differ on how to apply the Sunnah in order to interpret and understand the Qur’an.


#1 Olivier on 07.19.07 at 6:07 am

Very good background on the Mauritius Muslim culture. How are the Muslim treated in India? It is true that due to the Sunnite origin of Mauritian Muslims, our co-citizens are more orthodox. Is there a Shi’ite population in Mauritius?

#2 joseph on 07.20.07 at 1:35 pm

There is very small community of Shi’ite followers in Mauritius which originated also from India. Orthodoxy is not due to being Sunnites or Shi’ite following.Within each category the followers may be unorthodox or otherwise.
The treatment of Muslims in India is a very interesting subject. Reading the history of the Persian Muslim conquest of India and their rule over the country for centuries stimulates me. The conqueror has never been able to impose their monotheist religion to the multi God Hindu population in spite of the wars and violence used. Conversions mostly occurred in the lower castes of the Indian population as the ingrained castes system do not allowed a change of castes. Even today there is still an under current of conflict between the Hindus & Muslims. The surge of open violence was experienced each time the majority Hindus appeared to attempt to oppress the Muslims. It can be a very sensitive issue in the Indian Society.

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