Are Our Madaris Doing Enough?

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The word ‘Madrassa’ is an Arabic word for any educational institution whether secular or religious and whether a school, college, university.  This concept is inherited from the Seljuk Turks .The Ottomans constructed a madrassa within every mosque they built, as an integral policy of their conquest. This arrangement beautifully catered for both the religious as well as scientific needs of the society providing symmetrically for both aspects of human as well as societal needs.

 According to Ibn-Sina, the renowned Persian scholar of the 11th century, Madaris or Madrassas were institutions of elementary level schooling, teaching students between the age of 6-14 years, Quran, Islamic Jurisprudence, Islamic metaphysics, Arabic Language , Literature, Islamic ethics and manual skills. This was followed by a secondary level of institutions which were named as ‘ Makt’ab’ wherein the pupils were asked to choose between specific disciplines which included literature, trade, commerce, craftsmanship , geometry, preaching and other fields , a system that was open and evolutionary.

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Such nuanced education system gave world the distinguished persons like Nasir-al-Din Tusi, Al-Biruni, Al-Siyazi, Al-Battani, Ibn- Yusuf, Ibn-Rushd, Al-Ghazzali and numerous other scholars, who contributed in the field of mathematics, science, geometry, geology, chemistry, philosophy, literature, arts, geography and what not. The contribution of these scholars is the backbone of modern technology and advancement.

This tradition was geared both to the provisions of the necessary religious, scientific and educational services for the society  as well as for training administrative and legal personnel for the state administration. This way, there were educated personnel for the society and individuals who were both knowledgeable in their areas of competence and at the same time able to perform their duties in terms of the requirement of Islamic Jurisprudence and customary practices.

In India this concept of madrassas has been inherited only partially as these places have been merely reduced to religious institutions where in the name of proper ‘Islam-isation’,they  have extirpated ‘Western education’ from these institutions. There are 25,000 madrassas all over the country and while most of them admit male students , they are affiliated directly or indirectly to Dar-ul-uloom Deoband where the syllabus of Darse-Nizami prepared by Mulla Nizami is still followed which dates back to 18th century, and no major changes have been made ever since. The major subjects that are taught in these madrassas are Arabic, Urdu, and Home Science(generally only taught to girls).  The degrees sought from these institutions are not recognised by most of the institutions all over the country except for institutions like JMI or maybe AMU.

People passing out of madrassas  have restricted job opportunities in mosques and Madraasas where they either work as ‘Imam’ or teachers in madrassas only. Sadly no concrete career skills are taught to these children leaving them handicapped for the contemporary world. These madrassas sadly show a negative reaction on developmental projects  and this reluctance to change has proven to be fatal for Muslims looking for job opportunities in the job-market of contemporary world. This present day arrangement of Madraasas where the entire focus is on the religious theology and Islamic jurisprudence, cutting out the skill oriented education has intellectually subjugated the Muslim folk, the scientific know-how and their all round development.

A complete package of education which completes a human in the actual sense are missing from these institutions.  Madrassas are sought to as a resort  by the poorest Muslim folk , which is at the lowest of the pyramid, unable to afford the education for their children. Children are sent to these madrassas  where indeed the education is cheap but the absence of proper skill-development in addition to the religious  knowledge leaves them further dependent and  incapable of sustaining themselves. The proof being the endless knocks on the door for collecting funds for these madrassas during this month of Ramadan. The institution that should have taught us self-sufficiency have themselves become the begging bowls.

Muslims in India as per the census of 2011 constitute a population of 13% , but we have the lowest working ratio 32.6% in Govt sector, 23.7% in private sector 6.5% in public sector, only 8.8% in IAS,IPS,IFS and shockingly 4.4% in health sector and 6% in police. This is indeed a very sad scenario and needs massive attention. We are falling behind in the field of development and this has resulted in massive poverty amongst Muslims all over the country. We need to equip our youth with mastery in every field, with the competence to face the razor-edged competition.

All this said,  we can’t scrape our Madrassas with the credit of keeping Islam alive in our society. Appreciation be to these people that all of us can read Qu’ran and know the proper procedure of Prayers. The necessity of Muftis is immense, from solving our religious conflicts to guiding people on every matter, we can’t imagine a perfect society without these elements. But, how beautiful would it be to see these Muftis lead the world in every aspect from religion to science?

 In the words of Allama Iqbal (R.A):

Murshid Ki Ye Taleem Thi Ae Muslim-e-Shourida Sar / Lazim Hai Rahru Ke Liye Dunya Mein Saman-e-Safar

The preceptor’s teaching was, “O foolish Muslim! / “Necessary preparations are incumbent on the traveler”

In the Holy Book of Quran, the second most used word is ‘Ilm’ (knowledge), after the name of Allah. Indeed, the Book is complete in itself, yet as Muslims have we done enough to explore every secret that this beautiful book beholds?  How that we see the manifestation of the Quran, the Constitution in every sphere we embark on , in the diagnosis and prescription of doctors, in the teaching of teachers, in the construction of bridges and roads by the engineers, in the toil of laborers, in the adjucation of judicial matters. Quran can indeed be our guiding book in every sphere. Paradoxically if we go back a thousand years and live our lives on the principles of The Prophet(S.A.W)  it would be a giant leap for mankind.

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