A reader wrote,

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

I need some clarifications:-

I always have doubts about the akabir of Deoband. That is,  I want to know regarding the negative words that Barelwis spread about Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.(rahmatullah alaih) and other akabir ulema. I respect the akabir of Deoband very much for their knowledge but after hearing the negative things about Deobandis, my heart is always in suspicion about the honesty of Deobandis.

Please,Please…. help!

And sorry for asking such questions.

Jazakallah hu khairaa.

Following reply was sent. (InshaAllah it will be beneficial to all of us.)

Respected brother  
as salam o alaykum wrwb
There are two answers for your question.
First is the ilzami (accusatory) and other islahi (reformative).
The ilzami answer is that why don’t you have doubts and suspicions about the Baraelwi comments being corrupt, false, dishonest, thimblerig & politically motivated. If you can give me some reason then we might have a discussion.  The upshot of this answer is how do you as an individual lay person can judge between the two groups?

Our akabir have taught us this, “A murid complained that when people talk negatively about you it hurts me and my heart aches.
Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Shah Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) replied;
‘There are a multitude of people who talk badly about Allah, His messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and the  scholars (mujtahideen). Have you done any thing to stop that?
If not, then why does it hurt you when poor Ashraf Ali is censured.  And you feel concerned about stopping this?
There is nothing in this attitude except kibir (arrogance).
It annoys you when your seniors are censured. You feel humiliated at this. This is a hidden deception of nafs (ego/lower self).
Suppose, even if it is not kibir (arrogance). Then I ask, why did you feel concerned about anyone  saying any thing good or bad (regarding my seniors).
What harm did it cause to you?
If you had focused on the goal (of tareeq, i.e. seeking perpetual pleasure of Allah ) you could not have time to waste on these petty issues.

Hakeemul Ummat ra kay hayret-angez waqiyat, page 81

The islahi answer is for the truth seeking sincere individual. May Allah make us both from them.Amin!
(Your openness to come forward and ask this is itself a sign of seeking the truth. MashaAllah.)
First it must be very clear that we are bound to follow Sunnah meticulously. Following Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) or Molvi Ahmad Raza Khan sahib is not an obligation. We won’t be questioned in here-after regarding this. If the following of Sunnah(both, external and inner) is facilitated through their teachings well and good. If not then you have to look somewhere else.
(Alhumdulliah, I have personally benefited a lot from the teachings of Hakim al-Umma in bringing deen into my life to a degree. May Allah allow me to benefit more. Amin! Similarly I have read about and seen personally lot of people who changed their life for better by following his teachings.)
Having doubts is natural phenomenon. However, being affected to the degree to actively suspect and consider another Muslim (irrespective of him being a pious, learned scholar/sufi)  to be intentionally dishonest is blame-worthy condition (bad-gumani, keyna, etc.) . There should be explicit proof for this.
It is usually a result of keeping company with people who have this already in them and are lax on issue of ghibet/bad-gumani/hifazet-e-lisan/etc., and/or lack of knowledge and being involved in useless.
Being sins their darkness clouds the perception of truth. This can only be lifted by repentance and resulting Divine enlightenment.

The teaching of our pious master is,
کفر است در طریقت ما کینہ داشتن

آ‏‏ئین ما است سینہ چوں آئینہ داشتن
Please, make excessive supplication, keep your focus on the following of Sunna and consult your Shaykh for the cure of these potentially fatal spiritual ailments.
For the time being the best things to do  will be,
1. Avoid all useless discussions.
2. Try your best to follow Sunnah meticulously in each and every aspect of your life.
3. Make dua excessively. Ask Allah SWT for guidance. Especially set 10 minutes daily after ‘esha salat and make dua for your own islah, isteqamat and correct understanding of deen.
4.If you lack information then please, read the book ‘Aqaid e Ulemae Deoband aur Hassam ul Haramain’. It is  in Urdu and available online.

5. Even after all these measure if the doubt and suspicion persist then the best thing will be to ignore both the groups and follow the Sunnah and scholars who affiliate with none of these groups. It is best to remind ourselves that it is a fitnah by definition when truth can not be distinguished  and things become suspicious. The best strategy as per Prophet (Allah bless and grant him peace) is to keep ourselves completely aloof from it.
I pray and hope that my rambling makes sense to you. If there are any question, please, do not hesitate to ask. The benefit is mutual. JazakAllah.

Take care.
Please, do try to make dua for me.