Taken with thanks from Ask Imam http://www.askimam.org/fatwa/fatwa.php?askid=09fab3cf050c61884b281d0e458fedfc
Of recent, the so called Salafi sect have declared the followers of the Ulama of Deoband to be out of the pale of Islam on the basis of them being Marturidis.
Who are the Marturidis?
The beliefs of Islam are quite clear, as expounded in the Quráan and Sunnah, and as understood by the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum).
It is this set of simple beliefs that are the fundamentals of Imaan.
Whoever adheres to these straightforward Aqaaid is considered a Muslim and one who rejects any of the essential beliefs of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum) is out of Islam.
It is this set of simple beliefs that is the criterion of whether a person is Muslim or not.
As Islam spread far and wide, many of the works of Greek philosophy were translated into Arabic. Muslims were for the first time exposed to the rational theology of the Greeks.
This created a climate where arguments for and against Islamic beliefs were examined in the light of Greek rational thought. This gave birth to a new discipline called Ilmul Kalam.
Thus Ilmul Kalam was not a purely Islamic discipline, having not existed during the time of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum).
It was a branch of knowledge that arose out of the need of the time, i.e. The need to refute Greek theology on the basis of rational principles.
In the process of examining Islamic beliefs on the basis of Greek philosophy, many new questions arose. These delicate and intricate questions were never posed before, nor were they discussed during the age of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). There were no explicit texts of the Quráan and Sunnah in reply to these intricate questions.
Discussions around these intricate issues led to the formation of many groups. In this field of knowledge the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah were represented by two Ulama, Imaam Abul Hasan Ashari and Imaam Abu Mansoor AlMarturidi (Rahimahumallah). They successfully covered these delicate issues in their discourses, and clarified the standpoint of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah in these matters.
Thus, as far as Ilmul Kalam is concerned, the outlook of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah is confined to the works of these two Imaams of Ilmul Kalam. Allamah Haythami states in his Fatawa Hadithiyyah ".whoever is upon a path other than the path of Ahl al-Sunna wa l-Jama'a, Ahl al-Sunna wa l-Jama'a meaning the followers of Sheikh Abul Hasan Ash'ari and Abu Mansur Maturidi, the two Imams of Ahl al-Sunna" (Haytami, al-Fatawa al-hadithiyya, 280).
The followers of Imaam Abu Mansoor Marturidi are called Marturidi. The Ulama of Deoband are Marturidi.
While these two Imaams differed on minor issues, it was merely a difference of interpretation, for the subject matter of Ilmul Kalam is rational thought, which itself allows for differences of interpretation.
Salafis and Marturidis
At the very outset it should be stated the Salafis possess very shallow knowledge. They lack depth and understanding, and are extremely hasty in rejecting that which they cannot understand, or rather, do not wish to understand.
The Salafis have taken some of the statements of these two Imaams (Imaam Abul Hasan Ashari and Imaam Abu Mansoor Al Marturidi - Rahimahumallah) and misinterpreted them on the basis of their superficial knowledge. They have thus decreed these two to be out of the pale of Islam (May Allah Ta'ala save us from such evil).
The issues discussed by these two Imaams are of a secondary nature. They are issues of rational thought, and not issues of the basic and simple Aqaaid of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). Since there exists no clear cut texts of the Quráan and Hadith on these issues, differences in these issues do not render one out of Islam, provided one adheres to the Aqaaid of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum).
If the followers of the Ulama of Deoband are to be regarded as apostates on the basis of them following Imaam Abu Mansoor Al Marturidi (Rahimahullah), then we challenge the Salafis to declare all those illustrious Ulama (past and present) who followed him to be apostates as well. The result will be that a major portion of the heritage of the Ulama of Islam will have to be thrown in the waste bin.
Salafis and Barelvis
If the Salafis continue at their present rate of Takfeer (declaring others as kaafir), they will soon resemble the Barelvis who declare almost everyone beside themselves to be kaafir. Thus, besides this handful of misguided souls, everyone of earth are out of Islam. May Allah Ta'ala save us from such misguidance.
and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best
Moulana Imraan Vawda
for: FATWA DEPT.