By Ali Raihan, New Age Islam
14 January 2016
It is rather rich of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an affiliate of RSS to advice madrasas to hoist the national flag on republic day. There can be no disagreement over whether the madrasas should hoist the national flag or not. Whoever wants should be free to do so. But coming as an advice from an affiliate of the RSS, who has always been reluctant to fly the tricolour on its headquarters is rather ironical. The same advice to the RSS should have been better as the Sangh never hosts the tricolour but rather its own saffron flag on important occasions.
But more importantly, this misdirected advice is a product of a typical mind-set which thinks that anything connected remotely with Muslims should be viewed with suspicion. This mind-set assumes that Muslims are intrinsically anti-national and therefore there should be all the efforts to bring them into the national mainstream by inculcating in them a sense of patriotism and nationalism. Nothing can be farther from truth as far as madrasas are concerned. To be sure, some madrasas have harboured anti-national elements but so have some of the affiliated Hindu Right wing organizations. All madrasas therefore cannot be tarnished with the same brush. There can be individuals who are not attuned to the flavours of the country but such individuals need not necessarily come from a particular religious tradition. Thus to paint all madrasas with the same brush and to advice them to hoist the national flag reeks of a deeper ignorance about the madrasa system. It also tells more about the organization making this demand rather than the madrasas themselves.
The truth is that madrasas are more of an internal articulation within Muslim community. This is to say that madrasas are not concerned about other religious traditions like Hinduism and Christianity but rather more about Muslims of other sectarian affiliations. Most madrasas reflect the ideological orientation of the founder. Thus for a Deobandi madrasa, the enemy is not a Hindu or Christian but a fellow Muslim from other sect such as the Barelwi or the Ahle Hadis. Their whole curriculum is geared towards the refutation of beliefs of these other sectarian affiliations within Muslim society. Thus to understand them as antithetical to other religious traditions or being ant-national is deeply erroneous and is reflective of a deeper ignorance about these institutions.
Those who label them as anti-national also do not know the history of these institutions. Madrasas and Muslim clergy were among the first to give a call of jihad against the British. One can argue with regard to the motive behind such a call, but then different organizations had different reasons to want the British to leave India. The point essentially is that if fighting against the British is the benchmark to judge anyone as nationalist, then madrasas and Muslim clergy absolutely qualify as nationalist organization for their fight against the British. Thus to paint them as anti-national is deeply problematic and can only be done by those who do not know of its history. Those who think that they should be imbued with a sense of patriotism and that this can be done through asking them to hoist the tricolour do not know that their target is already awash with a sense of patriotism since very long. The larger purpose behind such a cajoling can only mean one thing: that the RSS and its affiliates want to paint the Muslims as the other, as the exact obverse of what they think nationalism and patriotism should look like. Only through this politics of othering can they succeed in painting the Muslims as the perpetual outsider and through this nefarious politics can they tell the larger Hindu society that Muslims are not fully integrated into the national mainstream. This is a politics which creates national disharmony rather than further any cause of national integration.
There are a lot of things which need to be changed about the madrasa system today. Their syllabus is outmoded and in need of major revision; what they teach millions of Muslim children can only be termed as violence as it does not prepare them to negotiate with the structures of modernity. Their sectarian outlook must change in a way that there is no teaching of treating Muslims of other sects as potential unbelievers. More fundamentally they need to change the very outlook in which they operate and they should realise that texts written down hundreds of years ago cannot be reliable guides for Muslims of today. But to label them as anti-national or to teach them how to be nationalist is something which should be last on the agenda of everyone who want the madrasa system to respond to present day challenges. The sooner organizations like Muslim Rashtriya Manch realise this, the better it will be for all of us.
A New Age Islam columnist, Ali Raihan is a Delhi based writer.
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In my view, Mr. President, our focus most urgently should be on what precepts of Islam we are teaching our children in schools and religious seminaries called madrasas. For it is the products of these madrasas that go on to becoming fatwa-givers on issues of concern, prayers-leaders in our mosques, etc. and thus acquire considerable influence, particularly over the not so well-educated among Muslims.
Many Muslims are not even aware of what is being taught in our schools and madrasas. I hope awareness on this score will open their eyes and also explain why we are where we are today. This will hopefully inspire some introspection. We must know that our children are being fed xenophobic literature in the name of Islam that makes it mandatory to hate and treat as enemy in word and action Muslims who do not believe in Ibn-e-Taimiya and Abdul Wahhab`s interpretation of Islam and, of course, all non-Muslims including the ahl-kitab. Would some of the Muslims who have been brainwashed into hatred and enmity for the proverbial “Other” at early stages of their life, not turn out to be easy prey to those who are looking to build a terrorist army? Is this any surprise then, we may start wondering, having studied these text books in even more detail than I can provide here, that an army of suicide bombers becomes available from the Muslim community whenever and wherever required.
As books provided by Saudi Arabia are most widely available around the Muslim world, I would like to quote here some paragraphs from a study of Saudi school text books by Eleanor Abdella Doumato in a book edited by her titled “Teaching Islam.” I would consider this book as essential reading for anyone interested in the phenomenon of spreading Jihadism.
Professor Abdella Doumato comments: “At every grade level the books assert that there is one Islam, that all Muslims are united in one Umma (community of believers), that Saudi Arabia holds a special and sacred place in the Muslim world, and that its royal family fulfils the necessary requirements of legitimate Muslim rulers. Schoolbooks condition students to respect authority, to confuse opinion with fact, and to see ethical questions in black and white, as if Islam were a single, stagnant body of knowledge with obvious and immutable answers to all life's questions. At the same time, the kingdom, like the rest of the Muslim world, is ethnically diverse and divided by sectarian orientations. Although an estimated 10 per cent of its population is Shiite, Saudi Arabia is also home to Sunni Muslims whose religious practices, such as Sufi mysticism, shrine visitation, and veneration of saints, are condemned as polytheism in the schoolbooks…. Although the texts claim authenticity in ancient roots, they espouse an Islam that is a modern amalgamation of home-grown Wahhabism, the Salafism of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a pan-Islamic agenda that inhabits the texts along with the Saudis' own state-building agenda.”
Professor Abdella Doumato has reached her conclusions by reviewing ‘the books of Fiqh (jurisprudence), Hadith (authoritative anecdotes from the life of the Prophet), and Tawhid (Islamic monotheism) for grades nine through twelve, which were used in the school years 2001/2002 and 2003/2004, and the Tawhid texts for elementary grades three, five, and six and intermediate grades seven, eight, and nine, used in the 2003/2004 school year. In addition, the 2003/2004 texts for courses that incorporate religion into the subject matter have been reviewed: Civics for grades four through Six and eight through twelve and The Life of the Prophet and the History of the Islamic State for the tenth grade. The high school religion textbooks include versions produced by both the Ministry of Education and the General Presidency for Girls.'
After proclaiming that there is only one Islam for all and there is no room for other interpretations, the schoolbooks lead to the message that philosophy and logic lead to schism, and are therefore especially to be avoided. Professor Abdella Doumato quotes the following paragraph from the text of (10b: 14):
[W]hen some people built their creed . . . from metaphysical speculation [Iilmal Al-Kilam] and systematic logic [Quwaa 'Ad Al-Mantiq) inherited from Greek and Roman philosophy, they produced deviations and divisions in the creed, and there resulted arguments and divisions in the community and cleavages in building Islamic society.
"Deviation from the correct creed," indeed, spells "disaster [Mahlikah] and perdition [dayaa'1" (10b: 15).5
Abdella Doumato comments:
“The message is that intellectual debate and individual reasoning must be sacrificed on the altar of communal harmony and political unity. The lesson is literally a textbook illustration of what Khaled Abou El Fadl describes as the anti-intellectualism of contemporary Saudi Islam's "supremacist, puritanical orientation," which retreats to the "secure haven of the text," where it can safely dissociate itself from critical historical inquiry (El Fadl 2003). The name he gives to this supremacist, puritanical orientation is "Salafabism," a combination of the words "Salafi" and "Wahhabism," the home-grown Najdi version of Islam that the schoolbook employs to locate the one Islam in Saudi Arabia and legitimize its present rulers.
“One chapter, in the tenth-grade Tawhid textbook (the unrevised edition), titled the "Call [Da’wah] of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab," describes the progenitor of Najdi Islam as the historical rectifier of deviations in the peninsula, drawing a parallel between al-Shaikh, as he is known in Saudi Arabia, and the Prophet Muhammad. The lesson explains that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (hereafter MIAW) came as a mercy from God to renew the religion of this Umma, his call for renewal fitting an established pattern: the Prophet Muhammad was sent by God to renew for mankind the creed that had been altered by deviations and innovations over time. Although Muhammad is the final prophet, God produces from time to time individuals from the Ulema to renew the struggle against innovation, to rectify the creed and protect the Sharia from change, and to "bring the light of God to people of blindness" (10b: 19). Such a person appeared in the twelfth century of the Hijra (the eighteenth century of the Common Era); he was al-Shaikh al-Islam, al-Imam the Renewer (Al-Mujaddid) Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and he appeared in Arabia when it was steeped in ignorance and practicing greater and lesser kinds of polytheistic practices (shirk).”
But what did Mohammad ibn-e-Abdul Wahhab teach and what is being taught to our children today across the Islamic world and indeed, even in the West? One of the most important lessons in these text books is expressed through the concept of Al-Walaa' Wa Al-Bara (which essentially means showing loyalty towards Wahhabi Muslims and bearing enmity towards everybody else).
Let me again quote from this chapter of Teaching Islam; “The hostility toward the outsider expressed through Al-Walaa' Wa Al-Bara has a history, and the recipients of Wahhabi enmity shift over time. For example, David Commins (2002) shows that the duty to bear enmity was used to rally resentment against the Ottoman Turks in the 1880s. In contemporary Saudi Tawhid schoolbooks, the objects of enmity range from Jews, non-Wahhabi Muslims to Western civilization in general. In the 'eight grade Tawhid text, for example, the concept is presented as showing love and friendship to right-thinking Muslims and enmity toward (or breaking off relations with) those who disagree with correct faith. The tenth-grade (Tawhid textbook uses its chapter on "showing loyalty and bearing enmity to name the outsiders, delineating the thoughts and actions that separate the believers from their enemies. …
“The textbook used in 2002 explains that anyone who practices non-conformist thought or action among Muslims should not only be corrected but also despised. Non-Muslims are not to be befriended or tolerated; nor can they be simply ignored. They are to be hated. "It is a law of Tawhid that one should show loyalty to the Unitarian (Muwahhid, Wahhabi) Muslim and bear enmity toward his polytheist (Sufi, Non-Muslim) enemies," says the text.
Only God is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow. And whoever takes God and His Apostle and those who believe for a guardian, then surely they are the party of God and shall triumph. (Quran 5:55-56)
You shall not find a people who believe in God and the last day befriending those who act in opposition to God and his Messenger, even though they were their own fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk. (Quran 58:22).
“Additional proof texts (evidence from Quranic verse or Hadith to prove a point) refer to specific events during the Mecca wars but are presented without historical context to show that disassociation between Muslims and non-Muslims is a universal and eternal condition set forth by God (10b: 109-110).10 "The place of Al-Walaa` Wa Al-Baraa` has great standing in Islam," the lesson says, "as the Prophet said: 'The strongest bond of belief is loving what God loves and hating what God hates,' and with these two one gains the loyalty [Wilaayya] of God" (10b: 110). The lesson elevates enmity for the sake of God above the pillars of Islam: "[T]he Prophet said: 'Whoever loves for the sake of God and hates for the sake of God and shows loyalty for the sake of God and enmity for the sake of God, he will achieve the loyalty of God by that, and unless he does so, no worshipper will ever find the taste of faith even if he is excessive in prayer or fasting — (10b: 110).
“Who are the polytheist enemies against whom the monotheist Muslim must bear enmity? To MIAW (Abdul Wahhab), polytheist enemies were other Muslims, especially the Ottoman Turks, Shi`a, Sufis, and anyone who wore amulets or practiced magic. The school text specifies new ways to become an enemy, explaining why Muslims must be alert to show hostility toward the offender. Student should recognize hypocrisy (al-Mudaahana) when they see it. If a person socializes with moral deviants but thinks himself immune to their 'deviancy, he's being hypocritical, and by not breaking off relations with them and showing them hatred he is showing disloyalty to God (10b: 111). The poof text is the story of Abraham, who broke off from those who did, not believe in the one God but instead worshipped idols."11
“In the Fiqh and Hadith texts, imitating the Kuffar (unbelievers) is presented as morally corrupting. Women who dress like foreigners, for example, invite temptation and corruption, so the fabric of Muslim women's dress must be thick enough not to show any skin and wide enough to conceal the contours of the body, and the face must be covered to protect her personality. Imitating the Kuffar is an insult to God because Muslims are supposed to love what God loves and hate what God hates. If a Muslim joins in holiday celebrations with the Kuffar or shares with them their joys and sorrows, he is showing them loyalty (10b: 118). To say Id Mubarak happy holiday) to the Kuffar is as bad as worshipping the cross; it's a worse sin against God than offering a toast with liquor; it's worse than suicide and) worse than having forbidden sex (Artikab Al-Farj Al-Haram); and many people do it without realizing what they have done (10b: 118).
“Imitating the Kuffar by using the calendrical designation "A.D." instead of the Hijra year is another problem, because A.D. evokes the date of Jesus' birth and shows an affinity with unbelievers. At Christmas time, Muslims are not to dress like the Kuffar or exchange gifts or attend a feast or display ornaments. The holidays of the Kuffar should be like any other day for Muslim. As Ibn Taimiyya said, "Agreeing with the Ahl al-kitab (People of the Book) on things that are not in our religion and that are not the customs of our ancestors is corruption. By avoiding these things, you cease supporting them." Some even say, the lesson warns, that if you perform a ritual slaughter on their day, it's as if you slaughtered a pig.
“The textbooks evoke the past as a warning for the present. A section of the chapter called "Judgment About Making Use of the Kuffar in Employment and Fighting and Things Like That" quotes Ibn Taimiyya as saying, "Knowledgeable people know that the protected people among the Jews and Christians (ahl dhimma min Yahood wa Nasara) wrote to people of their own religion giving secret information about the Muslims" (10b: 119). The principle is to not to cooperate with or trust the Kuffar:
"O you who believe! Do not take for intimate friends those other than your own people; they do not fall short of inflicting loss upon you; they love what distresses you; vehement hatred has already appeared from out of their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater still" (Quran 3:118).
“One should not employ an unbeliever if there is a Muslim who can do the job, and if they're not needed, one should never hire them because the Kuffar can never be trusted (10b: 121). Nor should a Muslim accept employment from an unbeliever, for a Muslim should never be in a position of subservience to the Kuffar, who would surely show him disrespect. Nor should he be put in a position requiring him to deny his religion.
“A Muslim should not live permanently among Kuffar because his faith will be compromised and that is why God required Muslims to migrate from a land of unbelief (Bilad al-Kufr) to a land of belief (Bilad Al-Islam). As for those who would rather work for the Kuffar and live among them, this is - the same as showing loyalty to them and agreeing with them. This is apostasy from Islam. And whether one were there out of greed or for comfort, even were he to hate their religion and protect his own, it is not allowed. Beware of the worst punishment. (10b: 121)
“The chapter warns against music, laughter, and singing, the proscription of which, under the Al Sa`ud-led nineteenth-century commentators to liken the Wahhabis to Calvinists. Proscriptions on joyous behaviours, according to the text, are meant to encourage Muslims to invest all their being in thoughts of God and not expend energy in frivolous activities. However, the significance of such proscriptions shifts to contemporary concerns about the new enemy, the cultural invasion from the West. The "worst kind of imitating the Kuffar" is becoming so preoccupied with the unimportant things the Kuffar have promoted in their own societies that Muslims neglect to remember God and to do good works, for God says: "Oh you who believe! Let not your wealth, or your children, diverts you from the remembrance of God" (Quran 63:9; 10b: 124). The lesson explains that the Kuffar assign value to unimportant things because, absent religious faith, their lives are empty.
“What are these unimportant things? First, there are the performing arts, such as singing and playing instruments, dancing, and theatre and cinema, which are visited-by people who are lost from the truth. Then, there are the fine arts (Al-Funun Al-Jamila), such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. (Despite the prohibition on art, some schools in the kingdom do offer art classes.) Then there are sports, which are sometimes more important to youth than remembering God and obeying him; sports cause youth to miss prayers and ignore school and household obligations. Whether such behaviours are permitted or not, the Muslim nation today should save its energy for dealing with challenges from its enemies: "Muslims have no time to waste on insignificant activities" (10b: 124-125).
“Forbidding celebrations of birthdays, especially the birthday of the Prophet, and prohibitions against fine and performing arts are all part of the modern fabric and the historical legacy of Wahhabi culture.”It’s hostility to any human practice that would excite the imagination or bolster creativity," says (Dr. Khaled Abou) El Fadl (2003), is "perhaps the most stultifying, and even deadly, characteristic of Wahhabism." Anything that suggests a step toward creativity," he says, "constitutes a step toward Kufr [infidelity]."
Dr Haq Saheb, how does it matter whether we have municipal records of Prophet Mohammad Sallallahe wasallam's birthday? You can celebrate his birthday on the designated day, as most Muslims do, or you don't. Celebrating his birthday is not a part of our faith. It's just that a people who love him want to celebrate his birthday on whatever day they have been told he was born. In any case a lunar calendar according to which Muslims do things is irrational. But is somebody pressuring you to celebrate the Prophet's birthday? I don't understand what is your problem? I didn't reply before, as I found this question irrelevant to our subject.
However, you have bot responded, I think, to the following questions, more relevant questions:
Do you or do you not condemn the teachings in Saudi schools and text books?
Do you think such books should be taught in our schools/madrasas anywhere in the world?
Do you think these books based on Wahhabi/Salafi teachings represent correct teachings of Islam?
Is this what Islam teaches, in your view?
Further questions arise.
Can students who have gone through such education co-exist with other communities?
Should the world at large allow them to be part of plural societies?
Is it any surprise that students (Taliban) who go through such education will like to create an Islamic State in Syria or Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan or Indian or Indonesia, indeed even in England and France or America?
Can such students (Taliban) be comfortable living anywhere else?
Can the world be comfortable living with them?
Dr. M. A. Haque Sb. has well-said and I fully endorse his views.
"Reference comment by Dr.A.Anburaj: Madarsaas teach basic Islam and impart knowledge related to Islam. Islam is one religion all over the world. Its basic concepts are same all over. Hence, it is not possible to alter the curriculum according to location. Islam is not like many other faiths where changes can be observed every few kilo metres. To expect that Madarsaas in India will teach something very different from Madarsaas in Saudi Arabia or for that matter any other country is naïve".
The pro-madarsa and anti-madarsa thinkers will keep speculating about the madarsa curriculum out of their curiosity. The madarsa curriculum is based on Quran, Hadees, Fiqqah, Diniyat etc. and what more is being looked into it that is out of imagination. It is a false assumption that the madarsa educated people can not survive in pluralistic society. There have been numerous renowned scholars, professional and individuals recognized all over the world for their efficiency and erudition.
My comment is limited to the unfair targeting of
Madrasas in India with nothing more than speculative innuendo. You have agreed
that you have no evidence to support what you have said regarding what is
taught in Indian Madrasas.
Far from being secretive, the Madrasas are
quite open about what is taught and no serious scholar who has carried out
empirical studies has encountered any difficulty.
This is what Usha Sanyal, a serious researcher
in her own right, has to say while reviewing Yoginder Sikand’s book Bastions
of the Believers. Madrasas and Islamic Education in India
issue of madrasas and politics more generally, Sikand ends the book with a long
chapter on Islamic militancy and its connection with madrasas. This subject has
been in the forefront of media debate ever since the events of September 11,
and even before, as I mentioned at the outset. Sikand points out forcefully
that Indian madrasas have no connection with Islamic militancy. In fact, it is
the Hindu nationalists who have been engaging in political militancy: ‘It is a
sign of the extremely loaded discourse on nationalism in India today that while
madrasas, the vast majority of which have nothing whatsoever to do with
militant activism, are routinely described as 'dens of terror', schools and
organizations run by Hindutva groups are generally seen as proudly
'nationalist', and as defending the honour of the country that is under
constant threat from 'enemies' within and without’ (p. 227).
wake of renewed Hindu-Muslim attacks such as those in Gujarat in 2002, a number
of madrasas have begun to register themselves with their state governments to
prevent harassment by the state authorities. They have also been at pains to
open their doors to outsiders to demonstrate their bona fides, and frequently
invite state officials to public events on Independence Day, Republic Day, and
the like. Sikand sees an opportunity here for greater dialogue between Muslims
and non-Muslims, and between state agencies and madrasas for building bridges
of understanding and trust, and warns that continued demonization of the
madrasas will force them to retreat behind closed doors and stop the process of
reform, which has been slow and halting at best. The book thus ends by sounding
a theme close to Sikand's heart, namely, the need for intercommunity
understanding and harmony.
What is the difference between the media which indulges in
speculative sensationalism and NAI? And
why is a Yoginder Sikand moved enough to write two books on the subject of unfair
targeting of the madrasas in India while NAI, a supposedly “Islamic” website, has joined the pack of hounds without an iota
Dr Haq Saheb, how does it matter whether we have municipal
records of Prophet Mohammad Sallallahe wasallam's birthday? You can celebrate
his birthday on the designated day, as most Muslims do, or you don't.
Celebrating his birthday is not a part of our faith. It's just that a people
who love him want to celebrate his birthday on whatever day they have been told
he was born. In any case a lunar calendar according to which Muslims do things
is irrational. But is somebody pressuring you to celebrate the Prophet's
birthday? I don't understand what is your problem? I didn't reply
before, as I found this question irrelevant to our subject.
However, you have bot responded, I think, to the following
questions, more relevant questions:
Do you or do you not condemn the teachings in Saudi schools
and text books?
Do you think such books should be taught in our
schools/madrasas anywhere in the world?
Do you think these books based on
Wahhabi/Salafi teachings represent correct teachings of Islam?
what Islam teaches, in your view?
Further questions arise.
Can students who have gone through
such education co-exist with other communities?
Should the world at large allow
them to be part of plural societies?
Is it any surprise that students (Taliban)
who go through such education will like to create an Islamic State in Syria or
Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan or Indian or Indonesia, indeed even in England
and France or America?
Can such students (Taliban) be comfortable living
is not even a hint that Madrasas in India are breeding grounds for extremism in
all the available literature on the subject by serious and reputable scholars.
can read what the reputable scholars have to say in their books/articles based
on their study :
Indian State and the Madrasa
By Yoginder Sikand
appears that the experience of madrasas in Pakistan has fuelled the fear of
madrasas in India, but clearly such a fear is misplaced as there is no evidence
of Indian madrasas being actually involved in similar activities.
attacks against them and fanning the flames of anti-Muslim terror will not only
undermine the conditions for reform, but might even make the fear of militancy
a self-fulfilling prophecy. The orchestrated campaign against the madrasas of
India by extremist Hindu elements, and backed by the centre and state
governments, must be seen as yet another assault on the rights of the Muslims
and on institutions that are basic to the preservation and promotion of their
faith and their sense of identity.
Bastions of the
Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India
Reaching the Minds of
Young Muslim Women: Girls' Madrasas in India
Mareike Jule Winkelmann
Inside a Madrasa:
Knowledge, Power and Islamic Identity in India
Alam’s Inside a Madrasa. Knowledge, Power and Islamic Identity in India offers
a timely and valuable analysis of the role and function of the madrasa in
northern India, as the book challenges not only the stereotypical image of a
madrasa as a center for the spawning of violence and terrorism in the name of
Islam but also the scholarly tendency to overlook modern day madrasas as
educational institutions... Arshad Alam’s scholarly and interesting book is a most
valuable contribution." - Shirin Jahangir, Independent Scholar; Journal of
International and Global Studies Vol. 3, No. 2 Spring 2012
Alam is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia
Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Inside the Madrasas
don’t have to look far from Pakistan to find a madrasa system that has
effectively engaged with the problems of both militancy and educational
backwardness. For although India was originally the home of the Deobandi
madrasas, such colleges in India have no record of producing violent Islamists,
and are strictly apolitical and quietist. Indeed several of modern India’s
greatest scholars—such as the Mughal historian Muzaffar Alam of the University
of Chicago—are madrasa graduates.
important study of the madrasas of India by the Hindu scholar Yoginder
Sikand,Bastions of the Believers, demonstrates how forward-looking and dynamic
some madrasas can be. In the southwest Indian state of Kerala, for example,
Sikand found a chain of educational institutions run by the Mujahid group of
professionals and businessmen which aim to bridge the differences between
modern forms of knowledge and the Islamic worldview. The Mujahid group has been
at the forefront of Muslim women’s education in Kerala, and in many of their
madrasas girls outnumber boys by a considerable margin. Mujahid intellectuals
have written extensively about women’s rights from an Islamic perspective, and
Sikand quotes the Zohra Bi, the principal of one of the group’s colleges: “Islam
is wrongly thought of as a religion of women’s oppression,” she told him.
“Through our work in the college we want to show that Islam actually empowers
would seem to confirm that it is not madrasas per se that are the problem so much
as the militant atmosphere and indoctrination taking place in a handful of
notorious centers of ultra-radicalism, such as the Binori Town madrasa in
Karachi, whose students are taught that jihadism is legitimate and noble. Some
graduates have allegedly been involved in the ongoing insurgency in
Afghanistan. The question remains, however, whether General Musharraf’s
government has the will to carry out the necessary reforms that would reproduce
the success of madrasas in India.