Friday, December 25, 2009

Why fear the constitution of the New Central Madrasah Board?

“The affiliation of the madrasah with the Central Madrasah Board should be welcomed by the Muslim community but some self-interested organizers of the madrasah are creating hurdles for personal gains,” Mehfoozur Rehman, a senior Urdu writer argues adding that the Dars-e-Nizami, the syllabus, taught in most of the madrasah, has become irrelevant today and it needs reformation.

The idea of affiliating madrasah with the Central Madrasah Board has become a hot topic of debate among the Islamic scholars in India. The people associated with the madrasah in whatever way, are strictly opposing it. They think that madrasah are mighty pillars of Deen-e-Islam, and the formulation of the board is a conspiracy to demolish the very base of Islam. In their opinion, the madrasah will lose their religious significance and character on being affiliated- even though the affiliation with the Central Madrasah Board is optional- and practically they will become an unbearable burden on the Muslims and Islam. This harmless scheme may be responsible and helpful in making madrasah self-dependent and self-reliant. Yet, some honourable scholars have made this welcome reformation an issue for the protection of Islam and Islamic culture and civilization. But that apparently seems to be unrealistic and illogical.

“According to Census data, while only about 7 per cent of the population aged 20 years and above are graduates or hold diplomas, this proportion is less than 4 per cent amongst Muslims. Besides, those having technical education at the appropriate ages (18 years and above) are as low as one per cent and amongst Muslims, that is almost non-existent.” SACHAR REPORT

Let’s see this suggestion of the Central Madrasah Board in the words of Justice Mohammad Sohail Ejaz Siddiqui, the chairman of the central commission for minority educational institutions. He told the media in a particular interview: “We travelled all over the country in relation with the formation of Central Madrasah Board and visited the small-scale madrasah where poor Muslims’ children study. Ultimately, we decided to establish such an institution, where the Muslim students can study religious as well as scientific subjects simultaneously under the guidance of Central Madrasah Board. The teaching of all subjects up to STD XII according to CBSE pattern would be arranged there without any interference of the government bodies. It would be an autonomous body founded with the seed money (Rs.500 crore), a one-time assistance given by the government.”
The affiliation of the madrasah with the Central Madrasah Board would be optional: either of the parties can terminate the contract. The government or the Central Madrasah Board would not interfere in matters of the Islamic syllabus or their financial matters. They would be run by the Islamic scholars only. On being affiliated, the Central Madrasah Board would be responsible for providing efficient teachers and financial help to make them excellent educational centres. As an advantage, the students would obtain education up to STD XII according to the CBSE pattern making them eligible to be admitted into reputed universities. Another advantage would be that they would be taught by eminent scholars to enhance their knowledge and learning. All madrasah would function like light houses dispensing the darkness of illiteracy to enlighten our lives.
The bill for the Central Madrasah Board being presented by the central ministry for education will guarantee non-interference into the syllabi of madrasah. According to the bill, the basic duty of the Central Madrasah Board will be to create a complete package of syllabus for the modern education other than religious syllabus.
The eleven-member board being represented by different schools of thought and masalik will consist of seven scholars, three educationists and one intellectual. The bill assures the protection of rights and non-interference of any kind in the functioning of madrasah. But unfortunately, a particular group of scholars considers it “interference in Deen-e-Islam”. They are also trying to propagate that the concerned board will demolish the entire system of madrasah education. This is so because a particular group of Mullahs suffering from avarice have established their monopoly over the madrasah. They are vehemently trying to protect their personal interests by halting the opportunity for improvement of the Islamic institutions. They can even go to the extent of provoking Muslims and making it an issue of interference in Islam. Their social, intellectual and political status as well as their earnings and privileges are intact because of these madrasah only.
We often hear that different managers (mohtamims) of the madrasah administration are quarrelling to have control and possession over the madrasah on account of heavy amount of donations, alms and zakat deposited in the madrasah fund. The so-called organizers of the madrasah are totally against the affiliation with Central Madrasah Board. They cannot tolerate even a slight modification and reformation in the syllabus of the madrasah, even though it is extremely outdated and totally unsuited to the needs of the present age.
The age-old syllabus Dars-e-Nizami prepared by Mullah Nizamuddin Firangi Mahli about three hundred years ago is still being taught in the madrasah. It puts unnecessary emphasis on Fiqh. The British rulers had seized the power of Qazis and their courts when they came to power, but we are still trying to solve all issues with the same old method.
In the seventh century of Hijra, education was divided in two categories – worldly education and Islamic education. Our scholars are yet adamant on the same formation of education which was unsuitable at that time as much as it is today. Dars-e-Nizami has lost its significance and implication by the passing of time and it has no capacity to solve the problems of life. The students completing their education in madrasah have to get degrees of graduate or post graduate from modern educational institutions, only then they will succeed in their social life within or outside the country. Such people are also performing their religious duties and maintaining their high social rank and status obtained by high scientific education.
The facilities of learning modern scientific subjects along with the religious topics will obviously help the students in getting admission directly in degree courses in colleges and universities.
What is wrong with it? If we provide our youth a chance to acquire both religious and scientific knowledge in the same institution which will help them to live their lives on their own, instead of working as merely Imams and Moazzins, teaching in madrasah on meagre salaries or doing the work of fake exorcism to live in absolute destitution.

By: Mehfoozur Rehman
Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami

The Jews whom we call educated and civilized take religious education as water and air. Every child of them up to 10-years of age learns religious education.
Then the most intelligent and smart ones among them are selected for getting higher education of religion. Those who are relatively less brilliant are admitted into schools colleges to get contemporary education.

Islam Bamuqabala Ahl-e-Kitab, Mazi Aur Hal (Islam Vs People of the Book, Past & Present), pages 91, 92

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