Salafi vs Deobandi: Difference and Comparison

Islam as a religion has given birth to many sects. The sectorial divisions are many. Salafi and Deobandi are two such sects.

Both these sects fall under the group of Sunni’s. As they belong to the same sector, they share many similarities, but their nature, aim and objectives vary from each other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Salafis believe in strictly adhering to the Quran and Sunnah, while Deobandis follow the Hanafi school of thought.
  2. Salafis reject all innovations in Islam, while Deobandis allow certain practices not explicitly prohibited in the Quran or Hadith.
  3. Salafis emphasize the individual interpretation of Islamic texts, while Deobandis rely on the guidance of Islamic scholars.

Salafi vs Deobandi

Salafism is a movement that emphasizes a return to the early Islamic sources, particularly the Quran and the Hadith (the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Deobandi is a movement that originated in India and emphasized strict adherence to Islamic law and traditional Islamic scholarship.

Salafi vs Deobandi

Salafi is an extreme branch that endorses terrorism and has a zero-tolerance policy for non-Muslim nations. They have the idea of going back to the practices which used to get followed by their Prophet Muhammad and his followers.

They are conservative, and their law is outrageous. Followers of this sect can be very violent.

Deobandi comes under Sunni, and the ideology is much more lenient when compared to Salafi. They believe in multiculturalism, and they are not extremists.

This sect gets its influence from Wahhabism. Most of the people of this sect support non-violence, but others retain a militant mindset.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSalafiDeobandi
Principles Salafi has strict principles.Deobandi includes less strict principles.
JihadThe theory of jihad is very extreme. The theory of jihad is not as extreme as Salafi.
Level of toleranceSalafi is not tolerant of non-Muslim people.They are somewhat tolerant.
Source of guidanceAccording to Salafi Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Salaf-us-Salih are considered to be the source of guidance.According to Deobandi, Quran, Hadith, Ijma is the source of guidance for the people.
Another termSalafi is also known as Wahhabism.Deobandi is also known by the name Hanafi Muslims.

What is Salafi?

People following Salafi are fundamentalists. They want to return to the moral practices of the Islam religion.

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The word got its origin from an Arabic phrase, “al-Salaf al-Salih”. The phrase means pious forefathers.

This sect is 100 years old. It is a Sunni-based institution that wants to follow the ways marked by the Prophet Mohammed.

The aim of Salafi is to go back to the principles and have full faith in the practices shown by the Prophet Muhammad as well as his followers. It is called the purer form of Islam.

Salafis are very strict when it comes to following their practices. They are conservative, and their idea of jihad is no doubt extreme.

They can be traced out by their attire which is long white robes. They keep long beards and also use head scarves.

Their idea of jihad being extreme advocates terrorism. They force Sharia law which, not to mention, has very cruel punishments.

Their attack on non-Muslim nations shows the violent nature of their jihad.

What is Deobandi?

Primarily, Deobandi comes down from Sunni. It is a revivalist movement of Islam.

This movement was formed in the 19th century and happened in the Deoband of India. From the place, the name of the movement was derived.

They were quite liberal, and their principles were not very conservative.

Their interfaith can be seen in the fact that they used to engage themselves in various interfaith debates with Hindu as well as Christia scholars. These debates used to take place very peacefully.

The philosophy of Deobandi advocates multiculturalism. They talked about the unity shared by Hindus, Christians and Muslims.

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They were also against the partition of India.

The doctrine of Deobandi opposed the Sufi ideology that Muhammad has knowledge of a realm that is unseen.

Their doctrine also claims that God lies, and some go beyond that and clarify that God has the power to lie but does not use that power. Now, this movement can be found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Gradually with time, it has also spread its wings to the United Kingdom, and we can notice its existence in South Africa as well.

Main Differences Between Salafi and Deobandi

  1. Salafi is a sect with very strict principles for the followers to follow, while Deobandi includes more lenient and less strict principles.
  2. Salafi is widely known as Wahhabism, and another name for Deobandi is Hanafi Muslims.
  3. When it comes to the idea of jihad, Salafi is known to be extreme, but Deobandi is not that extreme and comes out to be tolerant of other religions.
  4. Salafi is not open-minded and tolerant of non-muslim people, but Deobandi is lenient in this aspect too. They hold an open mind for people who are not Muslim.
  5. Salafi takes under Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Salaf-us-Salih as their sacred religious text and believes all the four are responsible for our righteousness, but for Deobandi, only Quran, Hadith, Ijma is enough, and they sought help from these three sources to seek direction.
  6. Most Deobandis believe in non-violence, but Salafis, on the other hand, are known to be inclined towards terrorist activities and being violent towards non-muslin nations.

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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