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Islam and Pluralism (02 Feb 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Nothing wrong with separate identities created by Madrasa education, says Asghar Ali Engineer

MADRASA EDUCATION - MYTH AND REALITY

 

By Asghar Ali Engineer

(Secular Perspective Feb. 1-15, 2009)

 

Madrasas have been at the centre of controversy since 9/11 attack on New York towers. It was thought that attacks were planned by Taliban who were students of madrasas run by Muslims of Wahhabi ideology. Though as far as 9/11 attack was concerned, the madrasas in focus were from North West Frontier Province but in India too madrasas came under fire especially from those who were politically motivated and also from a section of media which took a biased view.

 

Most of the views about madrasas were expressed by those who hardly had any first hand knowledge of madrasa system or what is taught in these madrasas. They just presumed that since these are Islamic institution they must be teaching about jihad and war. Even responsible ministers from NDA Government in those days made such statements. What is needed is well informed and well studied opinion.

 

I am glad that Ms. Saral Jhingran has made such an attempt to do systematic study of madrasas system in historical perspective. The other person who has made such an attempt is Yogi Sikand. These studies are most welcome to fight uninformed prejudices even among scholars. These madrasas were set up to fulfil a religious need rather than promote enmity with any community.

 

Islam entered into India from earliest time, some maintain even during Prophet’s lifetime through Kerala, and a century later through Sindh in North India. Both in South and North India hundreds of people converted to Islam and hence right from earliest time there was need for madrasa institution to teach religion and also to create ‘Ulama who in turn could teach others and also help perform prayers and other religious rites.

 

Madrasa, an Arabic word, literally means place of dars i.e. teaching. In Islamic countries even institutions of higher learning are known as madrasas. In Kolkata there was Madrasa ‘Aliyah i.e. higher institution of learning which now West Bengal government has given university status. It is interesting to note that these madrasas were open to students of other communities as well. Raja Rammohan Roy studied in Madrasa Aliyah and was as much scholar of Persian and Arabic as that of Sanskrit and Hindu religion.

 

In many cases thus madrasas in fact fulfilled both religious and secular needs and taught was necessary for secular as well as religious life. These madrasas can be, in a way, compared with Christian seminaries during medieval ages wherein too what was taught was to fulfil both religious as well as secular needs. These institutions served in those days vital scholarly needs.

 

The question today is how relevant are these madrasas today? Some would say they are highly relevant and should be abolished and replaced by modern secular educational institutions. Those who subscribe to rational secular point of view would easily subscribe to this position. However, such complex questions cannot be reduced to such simplistic solutions. Things in actual life are far more complex.

 

A large number of Muslims in India, in fact a vast majority, is of poor and illiterate variety. Most of them are converts from low Hindu caste and still pursue their ancestral vocations. Very few have emerged successfully from their inherited position to take up modern professions. These poor Muslims cannot afford, even if they want, to send their children to institutions of secular education.

 

Moreover they have religious needs and madrasas can fulfil not only religious needs but also provide free education and what is more, are conveniently located. Also, we should not homogenize all madrasas. They need to be divided into different categories i.e. preliminary known as maktabs where only preliminary religious teaching is imparted. Then comes middle level madrasas where Arabic language, Qur’an, commentary on Qur’an, hadith etc. are taught.

 

Then higher madrasas which can be compared with graduate and post-graduate level studies where apart from Arabic literature, Islamic theology, Kalam¸ philosophy and Greek sciences are taught. This syllabus in India is based on what is known as dars-e-Nizami devised by Mulla Nizami in eighteenth century is taught. Today there is debate on this issue between orthodox and modernist Muslims whether Dars-e-Nizami should be continued. There is a movement for modernization of madrasas and many madrasas have gone for modernization.

 

Now coming to Jhingran’s study of madrasa, I should say it is quite objective and systematic study of madrasas in India. In the first chapter, ‘Society, Religion, Education and Modernity’ she defines and discusses categories like society, religion, education and modernity. This discussion imparts clarity to discussion. While defining religion, particularly Islam, she observes in this chapter, “…Religion is a very complex phenomenon, which is impossible to understand in a few pages. In as much as our main interest here is in Islam, we can generally say that it regards itself as; possessing God’s final ‘revelation’, as well as being a comprehensive whole which includes not only Holy Quran but also the sunna as recorded in the Hadiths. As such religious education is more important and detailed for Muslims, especially the orthodox ones.”

 

In the second chapter Ms. Jhingran discusses, right at the outset the possible number of Muslim children going to madrasas. She quotes various sources and various estimates available. She is not satisfied by the estimate given by Sachar Committee that about 4 per cent Muslim children go to madrasas. She tries to work out her own estimate. She says, “The feed back that I have got from my frequent talks with the madrasa pass outs, now studying in JNU, or those who have roots in villages, puts the number of madrasa going children much higher …Generally they estimate that at least in villages about 15 to 30 % Muslim children go first to maktabs than to madrasas, if only for a few years.

Well, 15 to 30 per cent is a wide variation and to me it appears to be on higher side though at maktab level it may be so but not at higher madrasa level. I do not think so many maktabs and madrasas are available to that kind of number. But that is not important. What is important is that madrasa continues to be an important institution for poorer rural and to some extent urban Muslims.

 

The author also discusses reasons for preference for madrasa education among Muslims. Among reasons she points out are 1) paucity of modern schools is Muslim majority areas; 2) lack of separate girls’ schools and even female teachers in common schools; 3) cost of modern education and the poor quality of government schools; 4) poor quality of education in government schools and 5) “genuine grievance of orthodox Muslims is that there is a Hindu bias in school text books.” Then she comments, “Though such biases have tendency to creep up even in supposedly objective statements, any such pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim bias is unfortunate and must be avoided with utmost sincerity as it would cause further resistance to modern education among a particular section of Muslims.”

 

This chapter is quite important as Jhingran extensively discusses these reasons for preference among a section of Muslims for madrasa education. This chapter would remove many misunderstandings about madrasa education among non-Muslims.

 

In third chapter the author discusses historical background of madrasa education. She traces the origin of madrasa right from the time of Prophet of Islam as he established first such ‘madrasa’ in his mosque where he would teach tenets of Islam and explain the contents of revelation, which he received. The formal establishment of institution of madrasa came into existence much later. At first formal madrasa was established in Nishapur in Khurasan, and second was Nizamia madrasa in Baghdad, both in 11th century. Al-Azhar, now famous Islamic university, came into existence during Fatimid rule in Egypt around that time.

 

She then discusses establishment of madrasas in India. She traces teaching of rational sciences (ma’qulat) during Akbar’s period by Fatehullah Shirazi. He introduced, she says, and popularized various rational sciences (ma’qulat) which became major part of madrasa curriculum. It must be pointed out that rational sciences included astronomy, geography, physics and philosophy, mostly derived from Greek sources. Unfortunately all this continues to be taught even today under the general rubric of ma’qulat though at best they are of only historical importance now.

 

She then discusses madrasa system from Aurangzeb’s time to the coming of the British in India. Jhingran says, “For the first time, Aurangzeb (17th century) made a team of scholars to prepare a digest of Islamic law, later on called Fataw-i-Alamgiri. Then he granted Nulla Nizamuddin a mansion in Lucknow, known as Firangi Mahal where he established a madrasa. It was a predecessor of later madrasas and became a renowned centre of Islamic learning.” It was here that Mulla Nizamuddin developed a systematic syllabus which is known as Dars-e-Nizami and is still taught in most of the higher madrasas. Mulla Nizamuddin had tried to create quite a balanced and flexible system by standards of that time, it later on became quite rigid and no change was contemplated.

 

Ms. Saral Jhingran then discusses madrasas after independence and also devotes one chapter to madrasa nisabs (syllabus) and an effort to understand them and a critique. Her critique is also well informed about Islam. I must say on the whole the book is a learned and scholarly study of madrasa system and what is taught in them, how relevant those teachings are and what reforms are needed.

 

This book will greatly help in dispelling many misunderstandings prevalent among non-Muslims and to an extent among Muslims themselves. The critique developed by her invites orthodox Muslims to reflect seriously as to what modern madrasas should be like. Many Muslim modernists have also developed such critique. This book on the whole will be quite useful for scholars as well as for lay people.

 

Her fear about madrasa system seems to be that it creates sense of separate identity among Muslim children. While this criticism may be valid from her point of view question is in a diverse and now polarized society like India can we avoid such separate sense of identity? Our whole political system is thriving on religious, caste, ethnic and linguistic identities and sub-identities. Though there is nothing wrong with separate identities what is wrong is its politicization.

 

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-pluralism/nothing-wrong-with-separate-identities-created-by-madrasa-education,-says-asghar-ali-engineer---/d/1166

 




TOTAL COMMENTS:-   3


  • This syllabus in India is based on what is known as dars-e-Nizami devised by Mulla Nizami in eighteenth century is taught. Today there is debate on this issue between orthodox and modernist Muslims whether Dars-e-Nizami should be continued. There is a movement for modernization of madrasas and many madrasas have gone for modernization. She then discusses madrasa system from Aurangzeb’s time to the coming of the British in India. Jhingran says, “For the first time, Aurangzeb (17th century) made a team of scholars to prepare a digest of Islamic law, later on called Fataw-i-Alamgiri. [Asghar Ali Engineer]

    =================================

    Dear Friends,

    So-called Islamic Madressahs [all over the world] should include Science, Math, Computer Science, Geography, Business Law and latest research in their syllabus to enable the Mullah Manufacturing Factories [Kafir Manufacturing Factories] to play part in day to day affairs in a rapidly developing world instead of becoming distributors of Hell and Paradise Certicficate.

    I have sent a detailed book to Mr Sultan Shahin on the excerpts [in Urdu] taken from the so-called 'Islamic Fataw-i-Alamgiri' compiled on the order of Rampant Mughal King Aurangzeb, and I hope Mr Sultan will be able to translate it [by giving the Original Arabic Excerpt] and post it on New Age Islam for further discussion

    Hold your breath because few excerpts will shake you down from your very foundation:

    Condition for Imams in Hanafi Fiqh:

    If in the conditions of Imam in the first cases there is equality, then The one whose wife is more beautiful ( Dar Mukhtar vol 1 p 412)

    Then the one who has the biggest head and the shortest member [Penis] Dar Mukhtar vol 1 p 412)

    The meaning of member is penis (Rad Mukhtar Sharh Dar Mukhar, p 413)

    From the message of Dr Shabbir Ahmed dated October 5, 2007 4:49 AM and Friday, October 5, 2007 9:28 AM

    What is the Mullah? (By Fazil Deeniyat, Ghulam Jeelani Barq):

    Mullah is a specific mentality with some telltale signs:

    He is extremely closed-minded, has little tolerance for a follower of another religion. He hardly tolerates beardless Muslims, and belittles those who study the western sciences, or those who wear the western clothes. He is a staunch enemy of the Mullah in the neighborhood Masjid and takes pleasure in denouncing people as Kaafirs.

    He self-invites. To please his followers, brings easy recipes for achieving Paradise. He knows little about history and current events. The Mullah is extremely arrogant despite being thoroughly ignorant. He is totally disabled from engaging in rational discussion and takes delight in vain argumentation.

    He is a worshiper of the dead Ulama and "Imams" and reviles anyone critical of the dead Mullahs. The Mullah has very twisted, derogatory beliefs about women. His knowledge is good for neither this world, nor for the Next. And so on. That is why and how I hate the Mullah.

    DARS-E-NIZAMI (Devised by ‘Imam’ Ghazali) :

    Nizamul Mulk Toosi (1018-1092 CE) was the Prime Minister of the Suljuk King Malik Shah, and after him of King Alp Arsalan. Toosi was a Zoroastrian in Muslim disguise (Nihaayat-e-Tareekh-Abbasi, Sheikh al-Hafiz Yousuf Naishapuri). Toosi opened up the Great Nizamia University in 1067 CE in Baghdad. It was the foremost university of the Islamic world with satellites in Khurasan, Neshapur, Damascus, Bukhara etc. Smaller branches existed in Herat, Balkh, Merv, Tashkent and Isphahan in today's Afghanistan, Iran and the former Soviet states. The center in Baghdad had as its principal no less than the top criminal of Islam, 'Imam' Abu Hamid Ghazali who primarily laid down the mindless Nizami syllabus in collaboration with Toosi. Ghazali grossly insulted the exalted Messenger and his noble companions. For example, he wrote that Hazrat Umar used to break his fast not by eating or drinking but by having sex with three concubines. Soon you will see many shining tars like this.

    Since 1067 CE when the Nizamia University was founded, nearly a millennium has gone by. Until this day, the syllabus, Dars-e-Nizami, prescribed by these two Criminals of Islam (Toosi and Ghazali) is very much in force throughout the world in the so-called Islamic Madrasahs. It includes nothing but stupidities, and therefore, carries no room for understanding the Last Word of God, Al-Quran.

    Chanting to repel the invaders:

    To get a glimpse of the conspiracy of Nizamul Mulk Toosi, just one example should suffice. As the Prime Minister of the Suljuk Empire, he advised the two successive kings not to build any defenses for the Empire. He claimed that his students in the Madrasahs would work on rosary beads and do Wazifas (chanting of verses) and repel the enemy. Even today, the nonsensical sixteen ‘Uloom (sciences) prescribed by Nizamia consume eight years of the life of the Muslim youth rendering them useless for this world and the next. Ironically, ask any Mullah who has gone through these Madrasahs for eight years as to who the founder of Darse Nizami was, and there is a very good chance he won't have an answer!

    Eternal Darkness of the Unimaginative MULLAH Mind

    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2008/10/eternal-darkness-of-unimaginative.html


    By Aamir Mughal -



  • i agree with the contents of shamshad elahi's comments IN TOTO.

    madarsah is just the arabic term used for school only, there is nothing religious about it as not only non- muslims rather muslims too have started to believe.

    religion is a personal matter between man and god... and should better be left that way.

    pakistan which was originally concieved on principles of secularism ( Literally meaning separate domains for religion and state) has already turned in to nightmare by failing to understand the basic doctrine of statesmanship by likes of zia-ul-haq..

    i agree that unless the state provides education to it's subjects ( here let me define education as i understand- it is a phenomenon which liberates humans from shackles of ignorance, fixity of ideas and impart an objective mindset free from dogma and superstition- consecutively making him someone useful for the society, evolving him spiritually and morally at the same time ensuring him of his livelihood in respectable ways)

    the extremism of any form, religious tantrums, and tainted vision are ANTETHESIS of education.. whenever i see them in a person it becomes easy for me to calculate that such person though literate can not be educated in any case.

    Is our state ready to provide this kind of education which i described above?


    By Dr. Sarkar Haider -



  • Shamshad Elahi Ansari comments on Mr. Amit Bhatnagar‘s response to Dr Engineer’s article

     

    Thank you very much for your comments on the paper and pin pointing the basic root question. This is the failure of our state which could not take the responsibility of universal free education to its people. Had there been enough emphasis on the education and fund to meet the hefty requirement, we would have reached to some other level after independence of 60 years, but rulers were more interested to maintain their class difference and superiority. See the budget allocation of India what they spend on education it was never above 2-3 % alas…!!!

     The failure of state helped religious institutes to live and grow be it Madarsas or Gurukul or missionary schools in India. Poor masses relied on them since they were under psychological, physical and economic threats and moreover concerned for their identity.  This aspect is clearly explained from sociological point of view in the paper (read yellow).

     For Muslims, Islam is a complete ideology and the supreme way of life, so once they start believing in this myth, Madarsa/Quran/Hadiths etc. are the final verdict for them but it does not means that we start presuming under certain influence of media tirade that every pass out student of Madarsa is a Jihadi and Khudkash hamlawar… this is actually a false impression. It’s not even true in Pakistan as a whole. The problematic forces are coming from certain columns which are allegedly funded by KSA. I have first hand information on this subject and I can’t believe this propaganda that every Madarsa’s student is an Islamic militant.

     In my personal opinion, belief and action, Education must be a prerogative of state and it should be universal, free for each citizen with a single syllabus throughout the country without any religious injections. Religion must be a private affairs of the citizen and those who are interested in religion can study it in higher studies. Religious studies must not be allowed for the toddlers in any circumstance. If you are religious and want to give this shit to poor children, give it at home at your own. All religion of the world know this fact that if they failed to get them young, they will fail miserably that’s why what we know today is only rituals which is far from the real meaning of DHARMA. The real culprit is Government failure to provide education and what we see today is the only one side of the coin/reflection of the problem and do not check the mark sheets of our so-called LEADERS.

     Shamshad Elahee Ansari 

    ----

     

    From: Amit Bhatnagar 
    Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 6:58 PM
    To: Shamshad Elahi Ansari
    Subject: Re: Secular Perspective:MADRASA EDUCATION MYTH AND REALITY-Asghar Ali Engineer

     May be true about the history & origin of madarsas...on paper syllabus also may sound authentic but what actually is being taught there,it is the question.poor section needs these madarsas..does that mean poor sections of other religions are being denied education ??Why poor sections of muslim religion only need these madarsas ?? Does this mean that all religions should have institutions like madarsas where they could be developed in to staunch followers of their religion & have a completely different mind set when they come out of those institutions ??
    Madarsas' relevance can be understood in a period when Muslim religion was in its toddler phase & people needed to know about the religion but now how their relevance & importance could be explained when Secularism is the need of the hour. 

     

    Dr.Amit K.Bhatnagar
    Specialist Paediatrician 
    Emirates Diagnostic Clinic
    Emirates  Healthcare Limited
    Dubai

     

    On Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 12:33 PM, Shamshad Elahi Ansari <shams@tajchem.com> wrote:

    Find time to know all the details of the caption mentioned in subject line which is really a burning issue of our time. Really a good study with a (rarely) positive mindset.

     

    Regards 

    Shamshad Elahee Ansari

    Subject: Secular Perspective

      

    MADRASA EDUCATION MYTH AND REALITY

     

    Asghar Ali Engineer

     

    (Secular Perspective Feb. 1-15, 2009)

     

    Madrasas have been at the centre of controversy since 9/11 attack on New York towers. It was thought that attacks were planned by Taliban who were students of madrasas run by Muslims of Wahabi ideology. Though as far as 9/11 attack was concerned, the madrasas in focus were from North West Frontier Province but in India too madrasas came under fire especially from those who were politically motivated and also from a section of media which took a biased view.

     

    Most of the views about madrasas were expressed by those who hardly had any first hand knowledge of madrasa system or what is taught in these madrasas. They just presumed that since these are Islamic institution they must be teaching about jihad and war. Even responsible ministers from NDA Government in those days made such statements. What is needed is well informed and well studied opinion.

     

    I am glad that Ms. Saral Jhingran has made such an attempt to do systematic study of madrasas system in historical perspective. The other person who has made such an attempt is Yogi Sikand. These studies are most welcome to fight uninformed prejudices even among scholars. These madrasas were set up to fulfill a religious need rather than promote enmity with any community.

     

    Islam entered into India from earliest time, some maintain even during Prophet's lifetime through Kerala, and a century later through Sindh in North India. Both in South and North India hundreds of people converted to Islam and hence right from earliest time there was need for madrasa institution to teach religion and also to create 'Ulama who in turn could teach others and also help perform prayers and other religious rites.

     

    Madrasa, an Arabic word, literally means place of dars i.e. teaching. In Islamic countries even institutions of higher learning are known as madrasas. In Kolkata there was Madrasa 'Aliyah i.e. higher institution of learning which now West Bengal government has given university status. It is interesting to note that these madrasas were open to students of other communities as well. Raja Rammohan Roy studied in Madrasa Aliyah and was as much scholar of Persian and Arabic as that of Sanskrit and Hindu religion.

     

    In many cases thus madrasas in fact fulfilled both religious and secular needs and taught was necessary for secular as well as religious life. These madrasas can be, in a way, compared with Christian seminaries during medieval ages wherein too what was taught was to fulfill both religious as well as secular needs. These institutions served in those days vital scholarly needs.

     

    The question today is how relevant are these madrasas today? Some would say they are highly relevant and should be abolished and replaced by modern secular educational institutions. Those who subscribe to rational secular point of view would easily subscribe to this position. However, such complex questions cannot be reduced to such simplistic solutions. Things in actual life are far more complex.

     

    A large number of Muslims in India, in fact a vast majority, is of poor and illiterate variety. Most of them are converts from low Hindu caste and still pursue their ancestral vocations. Very few have emerged successfully from their inherited position to take up modern professions. These poor Muslims cannot afford, even if they want, to send their children to institutions of secular education.

     

    Moreover they have religious needs and madrasas can fulfill not only religious needs but also provide free education and what is more, are conveniently located. Also, we should not homogenize all madrasas. They need to be divided into different categories i.e. preliminary known as maktabs where only preliminary religious teaching is imparted. Then comes middle level madrasas where Arabic language, Qur'an, commentary on Qur'an, hadith etc. are taught.

     

    Then higher madrasas which can be compared with graduate and post-graduate level studies where apart from Arabic literature, Islamic theology, Kalam¸ philosophy and Greek sciences are taught. This syllabus in India is based on what is known as dars-e-Nizami devised by Mulla Nizami in eighteenth century is taught. Today there is debate on this issue between orthodox and modernist Muslims whether Dars-e-Nizami should be continued. There is a movement for modernization of madrasas and many madrasas have gone for modernization.

     

    Now coming to Jhingran's study of madrasa, I should say it is quite objective and systematic study of madrasas in India. In the first chapter, 'Society, Religion, Education and Modernity' she defines and discusses categories like society, religion, education and modernity. This discussion imparts clarity to discussion. While defining religion, particularly Islam, she observes in this chapter, "…Religion is a very complex phenomenon, which is impossible to understand in a few pages. In as much as our main interest here is in Islam, we can generally say that it regards itself as; possessing God's final 'revelation', as well as being a comprehensive whole which includes not only Holy Quran but also the sunna as recorded in the Hadiths. As such religious education is more important and detailed for Muslims, especially the orthodox ones."

     

    In the second chapter Ms. Jhingran discusses, right at the outset the possible number of Muslim children going to madrasas. She quotes various sources and various estimates available. She is not satisfied by the estimate given by Sachar Committee that about 4 per cent Muslim children go to madrasas. She tries to work out her own estimate. She says, "The feed back that I have got from my frequent talks with the madrasa pass outs, now studying in JNU, or those who have roots in villages, puts the number of madrasa going children much higher …Generally they estimate that at least in villages about 15 to 30 % Muslim children go first to maktabs than to madrasas, if only for a few years.

    Well, 15 to 30 per cent is a wide variation and to me it appears to be on higher side though at maktab level it may be so but not at higher madrasa level. I do not think so many maktabs and madrasas are available to that kind of number. But that is not important. What is important is that madrasa continues to be an important institution for poorer rural and to some extent urban Muslims.

     

    The author also discusses reasons for preference for madrasa education among Muslims. Among reasons she points out are 1) paucity of modern schools is Muslim majority areas; 2) lack of separate girls' schools and even female teachers in common schools; 3) cost of modern education and the poor quality of government schools; 4) poor quality of education in government schools and 5) "genuine grievance of orthodox Muslims is that there is a Hindu bias in school text books." Then she comments, "Though such biases have tendency to creep up even in supposedly objective statements, any such pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim bias is unfortunate and must be avoided with utmost sincerity as it would cause further resistance to modern education among a particular section of Muslims."

     

    This chapter is quite important as Jhingran extensively discusses these reasons for preference among a section of Muslims for madrasa education. This chapter would remove many misunderstandings about madrasa education among non-Muslims.

     

    In third chapter the author discusses historical background of madrasa education. She traces the origin of madrasa right from the time of Prophet of Islam as he established first such 'madrasa' in his mosque where he would teach tenets of Islam and explain the contents of revelation, which he received. The formal establishment of institution of madrasa came into existence much later. At first formal madrasa was established in Nishapur in Khurasan, and second was Nizamia madrasa in Baghdad, both in 11th century. Al-Azhar, now famous Islamic university, came into existence during Fatimid rule in Egypt around that time.

     

    She then discusses establishment of madrasas in India. She traces teaching of rational sciences (ma'qulat) during Akbar's period by Fatehullah Shirazi. He introduced, she says, and popularized various rational sciences (ma'qulat) which became major part of madrasa curriculum. It must be pointed out that rational sciences included astronomy, geography, physics and philosophy, mostly derived from Greek sources. Unfortunately all this continues to be taught even today under the general rubric of ma'qulat though at best they are of only historical importance now.

     

    She then discusses madrasa system from Aurangzeb's time to the coming of the British in India. Jhingran says, "For the first time, Aurangzeb (17th century) made a team of scholars to prepare a digest of Islamic law, later on called Fataw-i-Alamgiri. Then he granted Nulla Nizamuddin a mansion in Lucknow, known as Firangi Mahal where he established a madrasa. It was a predecessor of later madrasas and became a renowned centre of Islamic learning." It was here that Mulla Nizamuddin developed a systematic syllabus which is known as Dars-e-Nizami and is still taught in most of the higher madrasas. Mulla Nizamuddin had tried to create quite a balanced and flexible system by standards of that time, it later on became quite rigid and no change was contemplated.

     

    Ms. Saral Jhingran then discusses madrasas after independence and also devotes one chapter to madrasa nisabs (syllabus) and an effort to understand them and a critique. Her critique is also well informed about Islam. I must say on the whole the book is a learned and scholarly study of madrasa system and what is taught in them, how relevant those teachings are and what reforms are needed.

     

    This book will greatly help in dispelling many misunderstandings prevalent among non-Muslims and to an extent among Muslims themselves. The critique developed by her invites orthodox Muslims to reflect seriously as to what modern madrasas should be like. Many Muslim modernists have also developed such critique. This book on the whole will be quite useful for scholars as well as for lay people.

     

    Her fear about madrasa system seems to be that it creates sense of separate identity among Muslim children. While this criticism may be valid from her point of view question is in a diverse and now polarized society like India can we avoid such separate sense of identity? Our whole political system is thriving on religious, caste, ethnic and linguistic identities and sub-identities. Though there is nothing wrong with separate identities what is wrong is its politicization.

    ----

    Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

    Mumbai

    E-mail: csss@mtnl.net.in


    By Shamshad Elahee Ansari, Dubai -



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