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Islam and Politics (16 Jan 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Stop Vilifying Madrasas and Start Discussing the Real Problem This Institution Faces


By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

16 January 2018

The recent statement by Uttar Pradesh Waqf Board Chairman stating that madrasas are producing terrorist has expectedly created a huge controversy. Roundly condemned by one and all, including his own party-men like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, he later clarified that his remarks were targeted at ‘few’ madrasas which in the name of education promote enmity between groups and spread fanaticism. Whether the controversy will now die down after the clarification of the UP Waqf Chairman remains to be seen; what was very disconcerting was the reaction of many Muslim organizations and individuals on this issue.

The first salvo was fired by the Jamiat Ulema e Hind, which thinks of itself as the custodian of everything remotely Islamic in India. It filed a defamation suit against the person concerned for spoiling the reputation of Islam in India with an added intent of creating religious misunderstanding between Hindus and Muslims. There were other groups which went to Court charging the statement as a hate speech designed to create enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Why such a reaction? This is not for the first time that a person, Hindu or Muslim, has levelled such charges against madrasas. Hindu groups and their leaders like Shakshi Maharaj have been saying pretty much the same thing for decades now. No one thought of moving the Court against him. And certainly, this is not about Hindu groups alone. Not so much in the distant past, it was the Left Front government’s own Chief Minister in West Bengal who proclaimed publicly that madrasas produced terrorists. Not one Muslim organization thought it fit to go to Court against him or to charge him as promoting enmity between Hindus and Muslims. What is so different about Waseem Rizwi?

Part of the reason why there is such a vehemence against him is because he is a Shia. Social media platforms like twitter and Facebook are littered with voices pointing out that his statements against madrasas are only because he is a Shia. As a Shia, he is deemed to be less of a Muslim and more of an enemy of Islam. He is doing the work of the devil in trying to defame Islam. Posts on these platforms have delved into Sunni theology to support their arguments and all of them share the consensus that Shias must be considered beyond the pale of Islam.

One can only wonder where this amount of hate is coming from and how much our own Islamic theology is responsible for this. Rather than debating on the merits of the argument, it is very convenient to call out the minority identity of the person to proclaim that his arguments have no merit at all. This is the kind of laziness which has characterised many a so called Islamic scholarship. In reality this strategy tells us about the hollowness of the Sunni argument itself.

There cannot be any debate that much needs to be changed about the present state of madrasa education. But the allegation that madrasas produce terrorists is quite baseless and bogus and is borne out of sheer ignorance of this institution. Despite historic suspicion about madrasas, there has been very little on the table to show that madrasas teach or promote terrorism.

During the time when Advani was the home minister, he instituted a special inquiry into the linkages of madrasa education with extremism and terrorism. Despite the best efforts of the state, they could not come up with anything concrete and thus the inquiry was buried quietly. Hindu nationalism has always been suspicious of madrasas and such thinking about madrasas have informed their public discourse for long.

History of these institutions points to something quite the opposite. If nationalism is the benchmark against which any individual or institution has to be judged today, then there cannot be any debate that madrasas were nationalist. They participated in the national movement and were at the fore-front of struggle against the British rule, giving a call for total freedom even as most radical organizations were still toying with the idea of ‘home rule’.

Madrasas today are synonymous with conservatism and its outmoded ideology. What happens in these institutions in the name of learning is nothing but rote memorization of certain texts which have lost all relevance in the present time. In order that they remain relevant, radical changes are certainly required in the pedagogical structure of these institutions. They have to introduce modern texts and even interpret the old ones in new light.

Those who speak of reforming the system are very conveniently dubbed as opposed to Muslims and Islam. There are people within the Muslim community who have vested interests in linking madrasas with Muslim identity. Thus, any criticism of madrasa is automatically read as an attack on Muslim identity and cries of Islam in danger start doing the rounds in Muslim circles. This has to stop.

It is not that Muslims themselves are too happy with the institution. Time and again, there have been Muslims who have voiced the need to reform the system. These Muslims have been both liberals as well as those who have come out of the madrasa system themselves. Yet there concerns have been not been paid attention to. Orthodoxies within the Muslims have been successfully able to put pressure on various governments to keep the system as it is. Various governments have conceded to their demands in the fallacious belief that these good for nothing Ulema are the true representative of Indian Muslims.

There is a need to debate about the present relevance of madrasa education for Muslims in India. Part of the problem is that the social class of Muslims who access madrasa education. They come from the poorest of the poor Muslim families who come to these madrasas in the hope of some education and assured meals. Elite Muslims have never considered this section as Muslim enough and therefore have never paid attention to the problems faced by this section.

Added to this is also the fact that it is primarily low caste Muslims who acquire madrasa education. The dominant narrative of Indian Muslim politics which has been decidedly upper caste, has never paid attention to the requirements of the majority of low caste Indian Muslims. There is a need to have a dispassionate debate on madrasa education. Instead what we get is a polarised debate between a section who think that everything is wrong about madrasas and a section of Muslims who think that madrasas need to be defended at all costs. The tragedy is that no one is thinking about the Lakhs of Muslim children who are studying in these madrasas.

Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/stop-vilifying-madrasas-and-start-discussing-the-real-problem-this-institution-faces/d/113952


  • Royalj
    White race and black race are together is more like tokenism, that love affair is getting it divorce slowly, because like Brahmins white European  race is not ready to give up.

    By the way Baba Ambedkar married two women's both were Brahmin and there many cases like this, but this are also tokenism.

    Whatever Balck American achieved, it because apart from looking outward they look inward. blacks never hated Jesus and white as Christians, Dlait do hate Brhmins  from every aspect included relgion also nowadays.(this new phenomenon promoted by Muslims to get upper hand in politics)

    In case of Dalit it  exactly opposite, they are full time busy with Communist+Muslim+Dalit hate combo.

    Dalit never needed Brhamin Hegemony, they had very good and excellent Nath sampraday tradition which is also part of  sanatan dharma and there many more excellent tradition, the problem with Dalit is they are in revenge mode nothing else, they do not want to touch the heart of Brahmins by telling them in civilised manner what Brhamin done  to us is wrong, like Martin Luther King.

    I personally include not only Brhamin but all so called whole upperclass responsible.

    Read Anihliation of cast of Baba Ambedkar, which is dilog between Gandhi and Ambedkar.

    Both were wright in their own way, but I will appreciate Gandhi becuse he was of the opinion of change of heart, while Ambedkar was about laws that will bridge gaps.

    it is question that if Ambedkar by giving privelage to Dalits had given any valid fruit to,our democracy, no we have now even upper class Brahmin and khstrryia also new class oppressed class(oppressed =Dalit as per Ambedkar.), it gave born to vote bank politics.

    Marriage and coming to each other home, sitting together that does not reflect anything as long as Dalit will produce rich culture, which they had but just want to dump and bully with Muslims to Hindu on the name of brhaminisim.

    Remember Dalit is vast population, they do not need to be protected, they had very good political achievement in India and support from education to everything, if they are unable to produce rich culture of their own it is their own problem, if they choose Muslims as thier role model, they can learn only victimhood, bullying and violence technology, 

    If their role model is Martin Luther King( unfortunately Martin Luther King role model was Ghandhi) they would have achieved something, but they cannot take Martin Luther King as role model because they have to hate Ghandhi.

    Lots Christian missionary funded South Indians Dalits go to Martin Luther King centre to tell them how Ghandhi is evil, they run hate agenda, Jhon Dayal is one of them, this people help is creating atrocities leatriture which is than used by America and western countries( mostly white supremacy)to other countries 

    I repeat if Dalit want to dump and bully it is their own problem.

    I also repeat Dalit had extrordinary nath sampraday tradition.

    I haven't seen many White family calling to other race to their home, Royalj live in your sweet dreams of Hollywood like Bollywood.Goodlick.

    Ground reality is different in America than in mainstream media.

    Here is my love from you and your sweet dream reality, this white man work by skin but his heart was neutral as many Indian bhrmains and Dalits are, goodluck go through whole website.

    I never worried about sects in Muslims, a very good Muslims who understand to nature of God will never have problem, but Articles writers  like on this website has monolithic idea is against God nature, I welcome the difference so for me all Muslims sects are God gift as long as they are not ready to wipe out each other, but Muslims will never understand this, your book Quran have given idea of one truth, but it also gave idea of only one way of realising truth, while their can be many ways so their will be many sects, but only Hinduism has that one truth by many ways, and Avtar keep coming our doors are open, Islam doors are now close so anyone who claims Nabi has to be killed, so where than can be brother and sisters among the different sect of Muslims, it same Dalit and Brahmin hate tradition the reasons are different.

    Belive me technically, all three Abrhamic religion that are waiting for messiah their Messiah has to be born out of Abhrahmic relgion, your killing machine is not stopping.

    I do not believe in Avtars and paigmaber, they were good people p, but even if it is true, the last paigmaber has to be from Hindu technically because Avtar tradition is still on killing machine is not invented in Hindu relgion to kill Avtar, so your most awaited masheeha will be from Hindu.

    May be Saudi-Arabi, Neetenyahu, trump and Modi might be working on plan to secretly introduce one Masheeha. Ha, ha..

    Jai Shree Ram

    By Aayina - 1/22/2018 2:38:25 AM

  •  Aayina, I presume you have sweet dreams, but have you ever dreamt that one day Brahmin children and Dalit children will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters?  Fifty years ago Martyn Luther King Jr had a dream that black and white children would join hands as brothers and sisters. His speech "I have a dream" is very famous . He was shot dead by a white racist. Now his dream has almost come true in many parts of America.

    I put it to you Arshad, as well as to other great writers like Naseer, Ghulam (Mr.Dehlvi), Ghulam (Mr. Siddiqi), Mohammad etc, have you ever dreamt that one day the children of Sunni, Sufi, Shia, Ahmadis would join hands as brothers and sisters?

    Abdul Kalam once advised the young people to dream, so that one day it would be materialised. In the case of racism Religious higher-achy also should give a helping hand. During white Botha government’s atrocities in South Africa, the Church appointed Desmond Tutu, a black, as the Archbishop.

    I am not preaching here, but I wish that Madrasa teachers and students knew what is happening in the world. That will make them think -why some communities are advanced and why some are behind-.


    By Royalj - 1/21/2018 5:44:28 PM

  • Royal J 

    As I said I don't care what is your relgion.

    But perception of your after life comes from relgion life.

    Abrhamic beliefs(except Jews) are straight line beliefs with start and end, so whatever you say for judgment day and trials after death is accordingly.

    We Jews and any relgion originated from Sanatan tradition has cyclic belife of life.

    Our afterlife has complex understanding, similar like gods earth filled with complex life and nature.

    You can keep your simple idea and belife for afterlife, please do not judge through your gods, he/she/???? is already cruel on earth habitants, especially to non-Abrhamic believers and other life creatures.

    By Aayina - 1/20/2018 2:10:01 AM

  • Arshad, the concept of Servant Leadership, which I have mentioned in another thread, is slowly rising on the horizon. When, the world’s management guru, Peter F. Drucker, a contemporary of Robert Greenleaf, said “No leader is worth his salt who won’t set up chairs.” It echoed all the universities in the world. I have personally seen a woman-coordinator in a university setting up 30 chairs in front of students. A school principal, with coat and suit, wearing a pair of gloves, picking up the refuse dropped by the students. Institutions are becoming PEOPLE CENTRED. Doctors coming out of their rooms and escort the patient to their consultation rooms. Bank managers do the same with clients. There are NGOs with FLAT STRUCTURE, the directives move sideways where as in the TALL STRUCTURE, directives come from above. Leaders become humble (Not Trump) and listen to the people intently.

     The Servant Leadership is best suited for the teachers. Good and humble teachers will always love the students and have high expectation of their students.  Their keen eyes, always pick up students and praise them immediately when they do a good thing. They will explain how this subject will be helpful in their later life. They keep on telling not to be jealous of other students and students will be loved by everyone if they ask opinion from other students on the subject.


    By Royalj - 1/19/2018 4:41:04 PM

  • Aayina, How many people, do you think, will understand, connect and internalize the statement of Lincoln, in the Subcontinent? Will they (Christians and Hindus) be able to say “O Dalits are our people, our blood, they have not come as slaves with chains, black coloured and curly hair, we should not discriminate them in any way; we should welcome them inside our house and give them tea in the same cups we drink? This is one of the interview questions of the Messiah, in the last Day of Judgment.

    How many Muslims will be able to say “O the Shias, the Ahmadis, the Sufis have not come like slaves with chains, they have been brought up in Islamic civilization, they believe in the oneness of Allah, they believe in the Holy Koran, therefore we should not discriminate them in anyway? If we discriminate we will not be able to face the Messiah, the anointed One, in the last Day of Judgement (Q 4:159)



    By Royalj - 1/19/2018 3:49:32 PM

  • Royalj  Read your comment again.
    Shia over sunny as prime-ministers.
    RoyalJ Whatever God you belive I don't care, for me A good moral value and highly intellectual race should be ruler and should be supported. 
    A good moral value person can only give rights to all, indigenous races or all variety of thoughts than and than only can exist, may be for sultan Shain diversity it is dyospitan society because any values derived from monotheism cannot have diversity, that is the reason Christians(hiding under westerners) had to separate state and relgion, otherwise both are supportive in nature whether you use wellbeing of humanity or make it curse, All the major relgion had finished both phase.
    Some Mughals kings are well respected especially Akbar because he enjoyed the diversity, did not see as dyospitan society, unfortunately you paigamber( I doubt it Uthman and later Hadies had destroyed everything original) finished diverse culture of Arab and relgious belife.
    If Muslim talks or shout in every street and corner of the world that we are secular and belive in diversity cannot be establish as their foundation is based on crushing diversity by their own paigmaber( I doubt it as I said).

    By Aayina - 1/18/2018 1:48:47 AM

  • Hi Aayina, Did I speak about religion?  I have given maximum praise to the great soul Abraham Lincoln, so that Madrasa teachers may take an interest in reading Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher. This is all with good intention.


    You speak about Mari Alkatiti. Greatness goes to him and the people of East- Timor. Alkatri being a Muslim could not return to his country when Indonesia captured and ruling E.Timor. Is it not a great thing when he returned to an independent 97% Catholic country he became the Prime Minister 2002-2006. Again from September 2017. The world is in desperate need of such a good example of Muslim-Catholic relationship.


    I enjoy the difference of opinion. I am busy preparing for a three month furlough. I may miss your lovely comments.

    By Royalj - 1/17/2018 10:47:30 PM

  • Lincoln talk of Master and Slave, not relgion.
    All Relgion has tendency to see the humans that do not follow its doctrine.
    Shia president/pri minister over Sunni majority is not reflecting the values of Abhrham Linclon.
    Abrahm Linclon was good because he was follower of relgion, he believed in God, but in his ownay.
    Anyway in East Timor A Muslim prime minster name Al-Katiri is over Majority Christians and indigenous people. You will Muslims will never talk of him because he true democrats not like Indian or Pakiastani leadears who do show off.
    Why Al-Katiri is not famous, because he do not use his relgion Islam entirely, but King of Brunei will be famous be use he has established Islamic kingdom and than he is lebral.
    By Aayina - 1/16/2018 9:12:29 PM

  • Arshad, thanks for your candid opinion and forthright criticism. I think Madrasa teachers may get a cue from American president Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher. We all know that Lincoln was shot dead by a white racist for his statement “ALL MEN ARE BORN EQUAL”. It was a difficult pronouncement 150 years ago, when there were African blacks who were transported from Africa as slaves with chains. In respect of language, civilisation, religion, and colour they were different. Yet he made that bold statement regardless of the cost. He also made another great statement “AS I WILL NOT BE A SLAVE TO A MASTER, I WILL NOT BE A MASTER TO SLAVES” reflecting the golden rule. I believe the White House had black President within a short period of 150 years because Lincoln stood for justice. It may take longer for a Shia Muslim to become a president/prime minister in a Sunny majority countries.


    Let us see what President Lincoln says to his son’s teacher.


    A Letter from Abraham Lincoln to His Son’s Teacher

    My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It is an adventure that might take him across continents. All adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage.

    So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know, teaching him – but gently, if you can. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader.

    Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win.

    Teach him to be gentle with people, tough with tough people. Steer him away from envy if you can and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Teach him if you can – how to laugh when he is sad, teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success. Teach him to scoff at cynics.

    Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.

    Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone, but teach him also to filters all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.

    Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patient to be brave. Teach him to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind, in God.

    This is the order, teacher but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.




    By Royalj - 1/16/2018 4:23:09 PM

  • Preventing Muslim children from getting first class modernistic education is a criminal activity. To the extent that madrasa are complicit in such an activity they should be held accountable.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/16/2018 10:33:01 AM

  • Yes Arshadji, it’s time we become mindful of children who access madrasa education! 
    Your article contextualises madrasa education within the larger Socio- political discourse. When will our policies and programmes address concerns you have raised?

    By Meera - 1/16/2018 8:38:14 AM

  • Waseem Rizvi's defaming of madrassas as the breeding ground of terrorism can be construed as the admission of a suspect charged with a crime. So the suspect can be put behind the bar and therefore it created an outburst in the Muslim community. If the outsiders - Hindus or even secular Muslims who are not involved with madrassas say the same thing it is regarded as a prejudicial statement and any loud protest is avoided as that would give publicity to an unfounded charge.Hence to explain the outburst in sectarian light may be simplistic.
    By muhammad yunus - 1/16/2018 6:19:12 AM

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