Discuss – Can Darul Ulum’s and the ‘Alim’s they produce have a greater impact on the community ?

The Darul Ulum’s in the UK produce a large number of  Huffaz and Maulana’s every year who then become Imam’s and Teachers at local mosques and other institutions like Muslim schools etc. Although these Imam’s are raised and taught in the UK, they do not seem to understand the social, cultural, or even the academic systems of the country because they have been taught in such enclosed and inward looking institutions.

Why is it that even though we have so many Madrasa’s in the UK yet none can produce Imam’s at the calibre of people like Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Suhaib Webb and others from the states ???There is clearly something wrong somewhere ???  

I apologise if this post causes offence. I may have had a slightly negative experience of Darul Ulum trained Imam’s. I mean in my locality alone there are so many Darul Ulum qualified Moulana’s, yet very few are actually involved in the field of Da’wah or teaching or involved in the community and trying to help the youth out of their darkness.

Not to discredit the Darul Ulumi’s totally because I respect them a lot and love them for their efforts, and they have produced some good scholars and institutions. Shaykh Riyadh Al-Haq and Shaykh Ahmad Ali along with Mufti Ibn Adam to name but a few … I also know many Darul Ulum taught Mawlana’s who are doing a lot of good work and I do not intend on discrediting their effort, but compared to the number of so called Alim’s that come out from these institutions year in year out, even if we had one top calibre ‘Alim every year that would be sufficient to bring major changes to the society around us.

I really feel there needs to be some changes made to the system to make these Alim’s more open and accessible and also encourage them to be involved in the society and community in which they live. Your thoughts and comments on this issue will be much appreciated.

22 thoughts on “Discuss – Can Darul Ulum’s and the ‘Alim’s they produce have a greater impact on the community ?”

  1. Yeah that’s true you know.. all these latest alim/alima’s don’t really do much :s Well some of them do, but majority of them don’t! The one’s that have been abroad tend to do more i think. i think that the alimah’s especially are more westernised. im not sure if people will agree but thats what i think anyway. i went to a darul-uloom in leicester (not going to mention the name) the madressa is absolutely brilliant, but the girls themselves were too westernised and more fasion consious. sometimes the girls only do it for the ‘name and fame’ if you know what i mean? yeah there are girls that do it for thawaab and to change people or change themselves and make them selves a better muslim but girls especially do it to look good. and am talking from experiance!! i think a da’wah institute should be made, where people can go to alims or alimahs. especially adults, they need a place of their own. like all these mosques have MAKTAB/ evening classes for kids but not may for adults? i know that jameah has quran lessons for men and masjid ali has some tajweed lessons and stuff for women but thats not enough? i think a seperate place should be made for adults. and they can have their own classes where they learn stuff! i think that would be great! that would help the upbringing of a child i think!!
    dua’s requested!

  2. Salam to all.
    I think one of the problems of those who study in Darululoom is tha they can not have many things to study while they are IN the Darululoom, due to the limited time etc.
    However, there are two ways to solve/approach to the “problem” .
    1- to study at leas to the A levels, rather than just GCSC and then move to DArululom and
    2-After studying 6 years in the UK or 8 in some other institutions (subcontenent etc) do a degree in any subject from the UNI.
    what happens is that people think some time that after completing Darululoom thae are Aaims which is wrong, according to the majority of the scholars e.g. Mufto Taqi, they are on the first step oftheir life in studying Islam i.e. they are now capable to go and study without being a ful time student in front of a teacher in maktab/darululoom etc.
    But to try and study both things side by side is simply impossible, or at least a very hard tas ad these uloom/scinces require your full time and attention.
    and Allah knows best.

  3. Another thing to note is that a lot of Parents send their least able child for Madrasa teaching and send the better ones to secular schools to become doctors and lawyers. I think all our children should first be made to learn the basics of the Islamic Education and then be moved onto training to be professionals. That way they will carry their Islamic Education wherever they go.

  4. I understand the hardship involved in being an Imam with such a low salary and therefore I think Imams need to demand that mosques and madrasa’s become more professional and also find ways of raising money by providing other services other then just the prayer and also find other ways of funding so that they can utilise the Imams and Teachers to the best of their ability.

    If we stay silent, then nothing will change, and I think most darul ulum graduates come out with the mentality of never to question or go against the order of the mosque or madrasa committee’s that they work for

  5. I think one point that hasn’t been mentioned here is how little British Muslim communities value their British born Darul Uloom graduates. They are paid measly salaries of £12k or less in the London area. I know this, because I was one myself. This makes it very difficult to survive and we end up either leaving the imaamat profession (as full of barakah, as it is) or have to spend all of our spare time on ebay or employing other methods to make up for the shortfall in our living expenses. This means there is little time for preparing quality speeches and talks, which is what we really want to do.

  6. Salam

    Masha Allah, good discussion. I think one very important point is continuously missed out in such discussions. The popular scholars from the US that are being quoted here are the few who excelled from among the many hundreds who traveled to the same places for studies like Damascus, Yemen, Mauritania, Morocco, etc. It is sad to say that the majority of the students who traveled to such places have disappeared into the woodwork, never to be heard of again. I know many such people myself.

    Similar is the case with the Indo-Pak madrasa graduates. Some like Shaykh Riyad, Ahmad Ali, et al., have shone out from among the rest. The difference is that those who do not rise to “stardom” do not normally just disappear since they are given the title “maulana, mufti, etc., and the community begins to respect them.”

    In every field you will have some who will excel and the masses and even other scholars will resort to them and consult with them. The rest will do their little thing in their own areas and have a more restricted benefit but it all adds to the preservation of the faith or discipline. Similar was the case with the four Imams; Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i, Malik, and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal shone out from among the rest, like Awza’i, Layth Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Abi Layla, etc.

    You will also find that among the graduates there are many who are immensely capable but do not have the right people around them to spread their works, identify, encourage and inspire them to tackle other areas of need. I think the one way we can assist the scholars is by sincerely advising them of such opportunities, needs, etc, and help set them up to provide a solution for these things. For instance, if you see that there is a particular need in their university, or a medical doctor sees the need for certain discussions on medically related issues, they can approach the scholars to help them with that or to point them to scholars who can speak to those subjects. No doubt, there will always be room for improvement, but this is one way we can be proactive and constructive, and assist these bearers of prophetic knowledge for the benefit of humanity in general.

  7. I think the most important aspect here regarding those “widely accepted” scholars is their tolerance and their ability to interact with scholars and people from different backgrounds. Their Arabic is also very good. As they have studied in the Arab world, they don’t have this kind of “cult” mentality.

    Unfortunately with the Darul Uloom scholars, most of them have only seen one side of the coin. They are less tolerant to different veiwpoints and diverse opinions.

    This is why I respect Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam greatly. He studied both in Darul Ulooms and the Arab world and because of this you can see clearly in his articles and teachings that there is so much balance and tolerance in them.

    I think the ideal soloution would be to send Darul Uloom graduates to an Arab country for a while and have them study there as well.

    Just my thoughts, I could be wrong

    Peace and Salam

  8. ”rather than perhaps open rebellion on a blog?”

    I don’t see how I am being rebellious by opening a discussion on this topic on my blog … I have clearly stated that this is not an attack on the Darul Ulum system or their scholar’s but just a discussion on what can be improved. I think the Daru Ulum system in the UK has a lot of potential and I just wanted to collect some views and suggestion and also examples of good practice.

    Thanks for the comments none the less

    With love and all due respect


  9. I should have made my first paragraph more clear. the Darul Uloom graduates tend to start studying the deen after leaving primary school in conjunction with their secular education leading to GCSE’s. With limited exposure to the goings on of their neighbourhood. Having spoke to a few brothers from the Darul uloom programme, as an example – they said that Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam was way ahead of his age group when it came to learning and teaching the new in-take of students. So from a young age all they get is the deen.

    The scholars in america having lived life into their late teens if not twenties – they then go on to study the deen. This gives them a better scope of the needs of the community. So for example Imam Suhaib Webb having grown up around the hip hop scene knows that the muslim youth are being brainwashed by this genre of music and lifestyle. This is why you will often find him discussing this issue. Likewise Imam Siraj will often discuss topics around what affects his community.

    This is the only disadvantage I believe the graduates of the darul uloom programme have.

    Hope this makes sense.


  10. Assalamu Alakum

    Masha’Allah some very intellectually stimulating points raised in this blog, however I thought i’d just share a couiple of points as a contribution.

    Firstly, I am assuming that the above comment simply refers to integration and community cohesion. However, before anything about the Ulama, one needs to clearly define what we mean by “integration” or being “involved in the society and community in which they live”.

    According to my understanding, this is perhaps uniting as a whole on principles we all agree on, and avoiding areas of differentiation between individuals and working on common principles–that is what I define as being integrated….

    Some people may differ and perhaps performing social work, or seeking a good secular education maybe their understanding of “integration” thus before anything about the Ulama—my question is what does this mean.

    Secondly, is it necessarily a negative factor having many Ulamahs and Huffaz about in a locality–whom some may regard as not “in the society and community in which they live”. Im sure many of us would rather have our sons and daughters walking with “Muhammad Al Hafiz” or “Fatimah A Alimah” then “Yusuf Al Weed” or “Sumayah Bint Celebrity”.

    Also, in one of the lectures I recently heard (cant quote reference), one of our beloved scholars said that in time time of the Mogul invasion there were scholars everywhere–which is one of the reasons the Muslims were successful during that difficult time–because of the intellectual renesaince.

    Finally, myself whom is not an Alim (although I may plan to be–plase pray) hugely beenfits from scholars graduated from these instittions. Masha’Allah in my locality alot of the graduates are going into university to study medicine, law, politics, social work etc…Thus like I stated, I would argue (based on what definition of integration) that scholars are “open and accessible”.

    Finally, I think it is a danger with perhaps posts like this because it may create fitnah and dis-respect towards the FACT that they HAVE studied. It is not an easy task sacrificing 6 years (or more) of ones life and im sure we all an agree. If perhaps we have issues then maybe we should take it with the relevant scholars in a humble manner and maybe deal with any issues.

    Or Rather, maybe individuals like myself whom always complain should perhaps do 6 years, and with wisdom maybe change things if they are not right, rather than perhaps open rebellion on a blog?

    Just some thoughts no malice intended–Allah protect all of us, Wasalam

  11. Jazak Allahu Khair brother Jamal, very well stated Masha Allah. I think we as students and colleagues of such hidden gems need to work hard to bring their works out and publicise the good work that is being done.

    With modern technology such as internet, podcasts, mp3’s etc we should be bringing the lessons of these scholars into the global village so that they get the recognition they deserve.

    Thanks again


  12. Where do I begin?
    Firstly the scholars that are well known from america are all almost converts. They pretty much grew up in their society as non-muslims dealing with day-to-day life, and upon their conversion went out to study the deen. Based on this, comparing the american scholars to the darul uloom scholars is not fair.

    Firstly, darul uloom has graduates every year that do do work at grass roots level – which is hidden from our eyes. Not many people in the west knew the hidden gems in the likes of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf 15 years ago until Allah (swt) unveiled him to us. Likewise I think many darul uloom graduates are hidden from us. One example I can give you is the bengali Oldham community where they have 10 or more darul uloom graduates. They are all teaching and counselling students locally, whilst also furthering their own academic knowledge through university or other means. They are also trying very hard to establish a large capacity muslim sisters secondary school.

    One of their scholars works on the anti drugs programme in the worst drug hit area in Oldham, whilst others do other work that helps the community. One of their huffaz is a qualified counsellor who treats people for depression etc.

    The scholars in America did not study and graduate from the same madrassa. They all studied abroad in the arab world. Similarly many have gone abroad from the UK to study abroad and have not had much of an impact upon their return with the exception of a very few – numbers which you could almost count on one hand! Many have not even completed a full programme whilst studying abroad as it got too much for them.

    I think, the only thing that is holding back the darul uloom graduates from recognition, is unfortunately the lack of publicity they have.

    Finally, without making any comparisons I think for every well known scholar you mention from America, there will always be a name from the Darul Uloom programme e.g. Imam Siraj Wahaj – Shaykh Ahmad Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir – Shaykh Zaheer Mahmood, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf, sidi Yahya Rhodus – Imam Tahir Anwar (zaytuna institute), Imam Suhaib Webb – Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyad ul-Haq, Dr Umar Faruq – Shaykh Hassan Ali etc

  13. For me personally the standards of education in these institutions needs upgrading and changed to respond to the needs of Islam and Muslims in the west, currently they are following a very traditional back homie curriculum.

    I would most certainly want to see Darul Ulum’s producing more scholars the likes of Mufti Taqi Uthmani, Mawlana Yusuf Mangera, Mufti Ibn Adam, Shaykh Riyadhul Haq and so on …

    As for the local Imam’s … yes they have a big struggle to face with local mosque committee’s but this is something that they can use wisdom to overcome by accomodating the elders. We are not asking for readical or revolutionary changes, just for the Imams to be more active in the community. In many communities in Tower Hamlets and London the mosque Imam’s are silent while the youth are being given Da’wah to by other organisations and groups.

    The community is the flock of the Imam and he is their sheperd so he really needs to play a part, whether it be with the mosque or outside his role as the Imam of the mosque, the possibilities are all there.

    Was Salaam


  14. Thanks for your quick response. Yes I do agree societies have different needs and the Alim does have a role in fixing it, although i dont think they are entirely liable for this on their own, it is a job of the Ummah as a whole too.
    I think some of the things that I have seen, for example, where an Imam has decreed somethng at a local level, and the Musallis of that local Masjid did not agree with it (I think you know where I’m comming from), then that Imam really does not not have a future there, does he? And this is where I was talking about the transition phase we are at now, where some of these decision making situatuons will be down to younger generations soon, and in some cases now.
    It is the Alim’s job to try and implenment change, but it is also the responbsibilty of that community to ensure that they have the tools in place for an Alim to do so.
    As for the Alim’s form the US, I have a lot of respect for then. the population in the US is more than 260 million, with fitna everyday, and jahiliya widespread in contrast to this country. they have a tough job at hand without a dout. And Marshallah the Alim’s are doing their best and are great frontliners in Islam in the west.
    Would you agree with me in terms of the the community we have and the community they have in the US are completely different…in the sense that we, our grandfathers and fathers have brought Islam here with them, and we have a grass root to Islam, we have a connection by birth right and also by locality to Islam. We have the basic Aqeeda already, the basic fiqh and knowledge of Hadith, ours is a problem of not practicing what we preach. Over at the US its slightly different, they are begingining to grasp the concepts and basic levels at this stage (i’m taking about communities and normal people, not the Alims), so this is where i meant by the wider concepts in dawah and Islam. Not degrading the US Alim’s knowledge, but in terms of their target group.
    You have given great examples of scholars from the west, Alhamdulillah, and they do great works in this modern day and age. In terms of great fuqaha’s/Muhaddiths…not quite yet.
    I hope that made sense. this is a great forum, jazakallhu khair for you effort and for your invite to this discussion, we need to get some of our other brothers in this forum too.

  15. I agree with everything that you say brother Nazrul. My only disagreement would be that although our societies have different needs and does not have the islamic foundation required – I think it is the ‘Alim’s job to try and change that and work within the restriction to try and better the situation.

    I am not trying to blame anyone but there are clearly problems that need addressing. Is not the Alim’s job to try and bring change to the society and community around him?

    As for the Imam’s in the states, if you study their lives and their achievements, you will find that they are very much local bases and deal with local problems on a day to day basis alongside the broader national and international work that they do. Imam Siraj Wahhaj is one great example. He has transformed a run down ghetto in brroklyn to a clean and safe muslim estate almost single handedly …

    Thanks for the comments, it really helps me as this topic is of a lot of interest to me

  16. Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahamatullahi Wabarakatuh

    Darul Ulum do produce good scholars, the problem is our society and our needs, what do we really want out of our scholars?

    If you are to say that the product of these institutions do not produce great Alims, then you need to go in and look at what is being taught and by whom? You will most certainly find the same Quran as in your own home, the same hadiths as you hear in your Masjids…if this is not the case then we have a big problem.

    So if they are studying from authentic sources…then what the problem?

    Many people in this day and age do alot of self study, as they either did not have the chance or maybe just didnt when they were young and in their learning youth. I am one such person, who did not take advantage of my learning youth. Whats happend now is that there is a wide level of knowledge walking around our streets and society including our Masjids, and people are very quick to criticise almost anything they hear. There are many levels of interpretations and many people have different levels of undersanding. Even during the time of the Shahba’s and the Tabeyin’s there only only a handful of scholars, who really knew their stuff.

    Take the issue of Fiqh as Salat, so many people doing their prayers in so many ways, mixing up the madhabs, not fully understanding the concepts, not all but there are a huge youth population that do that.

    It is a hard job for our Imams, regardless of which institution they were raised in. The learned people of the US, mostly in the majority of converts, their approach is very different, they do not deal with local level fiqh and knowldge, theirs views are of the wider concept of dawah, hence why it is easier to go along with their opinions and views. Try being an imam of your local Masjid and try to implement a change, you will find many many cultural issues to deal with.

    I agree with the initial statement, there are alot of Alim’s comming our way now, and anybody and everybody is an Alim, so what we should be doing is making sure that we select the right Alim for our local community. Different communities will require different levels of intellect.

    We are at a transitional state now, there is a lot of changes taking palce in our individual lives and our community heirarchy. I think this is where we must have the upmost Sabr and carefullness to ensure that we do not go into a route of misguidance, and blame.

    Many of our local Masjids are primarily run by our elders. Now lets be hoenst here, we dont always see eye to eye with them (with the greattest level of respect for them). We acknowledge that they are our elders and they know best when it comes to certain issues. This is where maybe we need to take a more active role within our communities and show to our elders that we are capable of taking just responsibility, and soon inshallah as the tide of time passes by we will become elders in our community, and we will be faced with the same dilema…dont you think?

    So in my response to you…i dont think the Alims of our times are useless, but rahter the society we live in does not have the Islamic foundations that is required, and we are too quick to blame it on someone else rather then ourseles.

    I pray that I have not offended anyone with my comments, and i pray that Allah SWT gives us the tawfiq to do good and grants us Sabr and guidance in this dunia and the hereafter.


  17. Shaykh Muhammad al Yazdani grew up in Rochdale, UK, received initial teaching in the Classical Islamic Sciences from his father, Sheikh Muahmmad Ismail Misbahi. Then resumed his studies to become an Islamic Scholars at Jamia-Al-Karam and studied under Shaykh Imdad Hussain Pirzada and Shaykh Alama Abdul Bari at Jamia-Al-Karam. After Jamia-Al-Karam, he resumed to complete and graduate from well-known Orthodox Sunni Institution recognized throughout India, at Al-Jamia’tul-Ashrafia, Mubarakpur, U.P, India.

    After this he completed his BA (Hon) in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Manchester between 1994-98 where he was also send by the university to Egypt to undergo intensive Arabic Studies at Alexandria University, he has also done his MA (Hon) in Islamic Studies from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London).

    Currently he is dedicating his time at the Brent Mosque where he has been promoted as Imam, and where he continues to carry out his duties to illuminate the area with his lectures and Counselling Services. He as served as the second Executive Director of Abu Hanifah Institute from 00-01, he is currently a senior advisor to Abu Hanifah Institute.

    (He also answers questions at Islam Channel on Friday evenings).

    Source: http://www.themodernreligion.com/profile/sh-Muhammad-al-Yazdani.html

  18. I would love to read some Bio’s and works of some of the Top Deobondi ‘Alim’s in the UK. Anyone have any bio’s for Sheikh Muhammad Yazdani, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra ???

  19. “I do not intend on discrediting their effort, but compared to the number of so called Alim’s that come out from these institutions year in year out, even if we had one top calibre ‘Alim every year that would be sufficient to bring major changes to the society around us.”

    This is an excellent point. I feel we need serious answers for this.

  20. I think part of the problem is that many of our Indo-Pak Imams and Mawlanas are too occupied with their affiliation to Deobandism or Berelwism. This affiliation tends to stop them coming out of their closures and benefiting the wider community. I feel this is more of a problem with Deobandis.

    That does not mean they don’t understand the social, cultural, or even the academic systems of the country. From among their ranks you have those who have gone further and obtained degrees, phds from western universities etc.

    However, there are still good examples from amongst them, e.g. Sheikh Muhammad Yazdani, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra…

  21. Well they do produce top-quality imams and maulana’s and you’ve listed them. It is because they are not converts or commonly seen or have been promoted like others.

    It is the community around these teachers that need to help propell them into the limelight. They need to hold more open events and invite everyone and not be closed off to the deobandi circles etc.

    They are as and if not more qualified than most of the popular teachers. But I believe and know some great potential figures slowly coming out of these madrasa’s. But many work locally and are not so connected nationaly/internationaly, their efforts are usually restricted to local communities.

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