Who are Takfiri Deobandis?

takfiris1Social media has recently witnessed the emergence of term #TakfiriDeobandi. A Takfiri Deobandi is one who declares followers of all other faiths infidel or Kafir. Such stringent and dogmatic is this Takfiri ideology that it does not spare event the moderate Deobandis themselves. It is associated with the groups that the state of Pakistan has long declared terrorist organizations; i.e, Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (now known as Ahl-e Sunnat Wal Jamahat ASWJ, also operating as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jundullah) and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). All these banned organizations are Deobandi, and practice Takfiriat (#TakfiriDeobandi), i.e., treat Shia Muslims, Sunni Barelvis and other Islamic sects as non-Muslims.

Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban are in turn inspired by global Takfiri Salafist militants who are generously financed by Saudi Arabia and other Salafist Arab countries. Here are two examples:

An interesting fact which the Pakistani media has either wittingly or unconsciously overlooked or kept obscure is that in all major acts of terrorism, be it bombing of Marriot Islamabad or attack on GHQ Rawalpindi, attack on Sunni Barelvi and even Deobandi mosques around Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, attacks on Ahmadis or Christians, it was all #TakfriDeobandi groups that were involved in it. But they only named the organizations, that too quite fearfully. Deliberately kept hidden was the fact that all these groups subscribe to Takfiri ideology, and incidentally, all of them are #TakfiriDeobandi.

What media does is to use ambiguous terms like ‘Sunni extremists’ to describe these #TakfiriDeobandis; when, in fact, these #TakfiriDeobandis have killed even the moderate Deobandis (e.g., Maulana Hasan Jan, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamezai, Dr. Farooq), Sunni Barelvis (e.g., Sarfraz Naeemi, Abbas Qadri, Saleem Qadri etc), let alone Shias, Ahmadis and Christians. This ambiguous ‘Sunni Extremist’ term is further coloured by ‘sectarian violence’ so as to present it as war between Sunni and Shia which it actually is not. It is rather a radical #TakfiriDeobandi against the rest.

Majority of Sunni Barelvi and moderate Deobandi groups in Pakistan have dissociated from Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Tailban. Here’s an example:

While one may agree with Zaid Hamid’s political ideology and agendas, his (edited by LUBP) article on Takfiri Deobandis is a must read:

Famous Sunni scholar Hamza Yousaf too has spoken against Takfiri Deobandi-Salafist militants.

According to academic research by Professor Dr Murtaza Haider, “As of late, the followers of majority Sunni sects, such as Barelvis, have increasingly become targets of militants who are followers of radicalised Sunni sects. The attack on Data Darbar, the mausoleum of Lahore’s patron saint, in July 2010 left almost 50 moderate Sunni Muslims dead. In an earlier post, I reported police statistics which showed that almost 90 per cent of arrested terrorists in Pakistan were followers of the Deobandi sect.” (Pakistan imploding under sectarian violence please read it to understand how #TakiriDeobandi thought has led to persecution of moderate Muslims, and other minorities). Also read this article on providing statistical details of violence by Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahabas and Taliban.


The network of sectarian violence in Pakistan has its roots in the Deobandi sect. Syed Ejaz Hussain, who is a deputy inspector general of police, for his doctoral thesis in criminology at the University of Pennsylvania analysed the demographic and religious characteristics of the 2,344 terrorists arrested between 1990 and 2009 in Pakistan*. These terrorists were the ones whose cases were forwarded to the courts after the police were satisfied of their guilt based on their preliminary investigation. The sectarian breakdown of the arrested terrorists revealed that more than 90 per cent were of the Deobandi sect. An ethnic breakdown revealed that 35 per cent arrested terrorists were Pashtuns who in fact make up only 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population. While there is indeed a tiny percentage of Shia and Sunni Barelvi militants (e.g., Sipah-e-Muhammad, Sunni Tehreek), none of Shia and Barelvi militants have indiscriminately attacked ordinary Shia or Sunni population, markets, army, police, mosques etc. Instead, Shia and Barelvi’s reprisal attacks have been limited to violence against known militants and terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban, and are consistent with the discourse that resistance to genocide is basic human right, in fact a moral duty! In a way, the very few attacks on Takfiri Deobandi terrorists are not much different from US/NATO’s strikes on Takfiri Deobandi terrorists hideouts in Pakistan’s tribal areas.


The Pakistani media must act professionally and honestly. They must not hide the identity of both the killers and victims. At a time when Takfiriat has been trying hard to make grounds, it has to be exposed and fought. Takfiriat has already brought huge devastation in the Middle-East. Such is its potency and stringency that Takfiri Salafs have taken on Salafi Hamas in Gaza, and Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, let alone in Libya and other states (;id=31554 and That ideology should not and must not take its roots here, lest we lose a still tolerant society.

At a time when Shia genocide has taken a violent turn, with numerous bomb and suicide attacks on Muharram processions and Majalis around country, it is ever more important to highlight it. Dishonesty or silence on it further enables Shia genocide, persecution of targeting of other moderate and peaceful Muslim sects, and minorities like Christians and Hindus.

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