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The Other side of madrasas in Ayodhya region

Madrasas are not doing anything anti-national. Finds out VB Rawat 

Darul Uloom Jamia Ashraf at Kichaucha Sharif (above); 
Republic day celeberations at ABVM School, Ayodhya

Ayodhya: ABWM National School or Madrasa Talim-o Tarbiyat, is on the opposite side of Ramjanambhoomi-babari masjid structure. Over 200 students predominantly girls have gathered at the small open campus of the Madrasa where the tricolor is about to be hoisted. In front of the tricolor is written with flowers " Jai Hind". After the flag hoisting ceremony the entire gathering claps and starts singing " Jan-gana-Mana". The programme was well prepared by Hafiz with the help of his teaching staff, which consist of 5 female teachers, many of them Brahmins. The program was followed by songs, dances and plays by students both boys and girls. Many historical lyrics were rendered by the children including" Ai Malik Tere Bande Hum, 'Chhodo kal kee baten, kal kee baat purani; 'sare jahan se achcha hindostaan hamara' and 'Nanha munna rahi hoon.

The principal revealed that a majority of the students are unable to pay their fee and only 100 students are able to pay the monthly fee of Rs 15. While till 4th standard they impart religious education to the students, after fourth standard, they follow the normal course prescribed by the UP government. At the moment the school classes are till 7th standard but from next year they will start the VIII standard also. Interestingly, one could see about 70 students belonging to Hindu community learning not only Urdu and Arabic but also English. In various classes where I moved, I could see even the staff belong to Hindu community particularly Brahmins. 

A teacher Ms Anju Sharma told me that she felt completely at home at the school where the students are learning everything from Hindi , Urdu, English to General Knowledge. And to judge their teaching standard, I move in every class during the session and ask random questions right from 'Name of the country, its capital, name of the state, its capital, tables, our national anthem and name of our prime minister and chief minister and to my utter surprise, the students were well equipped in these.

About 70 kilometers away from Faizabad is Kichchauchha Sharif where there is a famous Dargah of Sayed Shah Maqdum Ashraf Jahangir Simnani. Near the Dargah is one of the most outstanding Darululooms named as Jame Ashraf. One of the finest libraries is being developed in the institution where some of the original writings and letters of Sayed Maqdum Ashraf Jahangir Simnani are available. Over 10,000 books are available in the library at the moment. In this religious institution, apart from Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, English and Hindi are compulsory subjects for the students. About 300 students are taking religious education in this Darul-uloom, which has more than 12 teaching staff. 

The Dargah has also a large guest house. The manager of the Jame Ashraf, Maulana M.Qamaruddin Ashrafi informs me that these guest houses are not exclusive for the Muslims but people from the other religions can stay there. In fact, says Ashrafi, a majority of people in these guest houses are Hindus who come to Kichhauchha Sharif to visit the Dargah. I meet some of the people residing in the Darul-uloom and ask them various questions. There is a family from Bihar, who has been living here for almost two years. I ask them whether they face any problem in living in this area of Muslim dominance. The woman who is heading her family including 25 years old son, says:" I and my family are completely comfortable and at peace at this place where we never felt that we are at some other place far away from our home in Bihar. Today, my son is recovering after 2 years of treatment and we are in fact grateful to this Darul-uloom that they provide us the best services at the cheapest possible rates and we are completely at home here."

A family from Delhi says : We are thankful to these people for providing us this place. This is the best possible guarantee of protection for us says the woman who does not want to face my camera because she fears her daughter 's in-laws may create trouble for her. I asked them whether they found anything 'anti-national' in this darululoom, as being rumored these days: It is absolutely nonsense. These people are doing a great service for the human kind. At least in this Madrasa I have not found anything, which could be said as anti-national. We can vouch that at this institution we are completely safe. Safer than any other place".

At Rudauli Sharif in the famous Darul-uloom named as Madrasa Chishtia Saberia Faizul Haq, about 650 students are getting education. Apart from the religious education which a few of the students, 85 in all get here, most of the students are getting modern education and learning Hindi, English, Persian and Urdu. 

The kids reciting 'Sare-Jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara', or twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.. or jisne suraj chand banaya, reflected clearly how much changes are coming in the Muslim society and one could claim that there are numerous madrasas, if not all, which are making lives of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims, who are unable to find a place in government or private schools by providing education to them. 

There were 15 teachers at the primary level in this darululoom and 7 of them were women. Mr Ataun Nabi Sabri, Secretary to Sajjada-nashin, Rudauli sharif, informs me that the Darululoom is now helping poor students to get their education and that they want to go for an intermediate college soon. The Uloom's library has more than 5,000 books on Sufism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and in different languages including English and Hindi though most of the books are in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. 

At the Yatimkhana [orphanage] madrasa, a boy tells me that he would like to be a 'sarkari naukar'. In the Baharshah Madrasa of Faizabad, an official of the madrasa spoke to me in great length of India's plural culture. When I ask this question to a local lawyer Sayed Aftab Rizvi, he says that ' a lot of new things are happening in madrasas which are the center of education for the poor students and these changes, he says, are for their good'. It is the forces like the RSS and VHP which are spreading canard about them to deny the poor Muslims the opportunity, whatever little avenue available, to educate themselves', he adds.
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