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Jameatus-Salehat: revolutionizing women education
By S Ubaidur Rahman, Rampur

If you believed that madrasas are only outdated things with their obsolete syllabi formulated centuries and centuries ago and students who come from poorest of poor families, you are due for a surprising jolt. You may be in for a further jolt when a madrasa meant for girls education established some quarter a century ago catches everyone's attention in the country.

Jameat-us-Salehat is revolutionizing the concept of women’s education in the country. It now symbolizes the success of madrasa system of education for girls too that was so far the men's bastion. Salehat is not only changing the concept of women education in the country but also giving a facelift to madrasa concept. 'Madrasas are believed to have worst educational set up in the country. People suppose that students from lowest strata of the society come here to study. But we are changing this whole scenario. Here girls from best family backgrounds come and get the best quality education in the country.' says Maulana Yusuf Islahi, the rector of the Jamea.

The madrasa established in 1972 by some local intellectuals to cater to the ever increasing educational needs of the Muslim women in the country with a handful of girls has now grown into an institution of great importance for Muslim women education in the country. To be precise it is the success of the concept. Now it is the role model of every madrasa meant for women education in the country. Every advertisement of any madrasa for Muslim women will definitely carry the name of Jameat-us-Salehat as its role model. These madrasas also try to copy the curricula and the teaching standards set by Jameat-us-Salehat. But rarely anyone has got any chance to reach the level of Salehat.

More than a thousand students now reside in the sprawling campus spread in several acres of land in the best locality of the Rampur city. More than thrice the number of hostlers come from the city in the new campus alone. Jamea has another campus-the old one too where classes for junior sections are held. Every class has at least four sections from beginning up to higher classes. Hostels having a capacity of around seven hundred students are over crowded and now lodge around 300 more inmates than the capacity. The school authorities have to return hundreds of students due to want of lodging facilities in the campus.

The rector has an interesting story to share. A man in his seventies brought his three granddaughters for admission from Kanpur. Due to the lack of facilities he was asked to take back his three granddaughters. But he was not ready to go without getting his children in. He told the rector that he has taken them and will not bring them back, so the Maulana was forced by his enthusiasm for education to admit his children in the Jamea. It is not because the Jamea gives free education to the students. Jamea charges full fees for tuition, hostel and other facilities to the students provided by it. It is only its high and unmatched educational standard that has forced the people to see to it as an alternative for their children.

Though a large chunk of Jamea's curricula comprises of theological education comprising of Qur'an, Hadith, Fiqh, Seerat and other theological aspects it gives great emphasis on modern subjects too. Till eight standard the Jamea follows complete NCERT syllabus and teaches every subject taught in modern public school. The only difference is that these subjects are taught in Urdu and are accompanied with some books in Arabic and Urdu. English is in its curriculum from very beginning. The Jamea follows English of NCERT till its final classes. It will be amazing for most of the people to know that the Jamea provides compulsory computer education to its students since standard five.

We are provided quality computer education provided by any other standard computer education institute in the city or anywhere, says Qanita Iram, a student of class ten-Aalima Doem. This fifteen something girl of tenth class who started using computer in Jamea can dexterously use Word, Excel, Corel-draw and Page-maker on computer. Her animation quality on computer has won many a admirers and accolades from all corners.

Iram is not the lone students having dexterity in computers. A number of other students use computer with same ease as Iram. The faculty of computer classes also come from the best computer institutes of the city. And if you thought money was an obstacle for hiring teachers you were mistaken. They are best paymasters among public and private schools functioning in the city.

Salehat is also planning to launch a Unani medical college for girls. In fact the registration for the BUMS course had started way back in 1997, but due to approval obstacles, the course could not start in time. It is said that the Jamea had established laboratory and all other basic infrastructure for the proposed college initially planned to offer BUMS course. Maulana Yusuf Islahi said that it was not difficult to procure affiliation and recognition for the Jamea had we used the same tactics as used by a number of other people. We were asked to pay bribe, but we refused. He is hopeful that the proposed Unani medical college will be functional within two or three years.

Had the plan of the Jamea for setting up an exclusive Unani medical college for girls visualized, it would have been the very first college of its type not only in the country but in the whole Sub-continent.

Jamia offers excellent residential facility for students. It has also made excellent food arrangements for students staying in the hostel. Canteen is also open for non-resident students of the schools. But everything comes with a price. 'We have been trying to provide best educational, residential and boarding facilities for students coming from all around the country, but due to over crowding we are not able to follow the highest standard, but still we are providing excellent facilities to students.' Says the Maulana.

Jamea has all facilities in its sprawling campus, from a small hospital to canteen, a general store and a bank. Seeing the excellent business prospects in the Jamea, Union Bank has opened an extension branch in the campus itself. Jamea also provides residential quarters to its faculty members.

Salehat has brought name and fame for the city where only a handful of government and private colleges could be seen. No government or private degree college or plus-two level college has been opened after the Independence. Be it Raza Degree College, Raza Inter College, Hamid Inter College or Zulfiqar School, all are the products of the Nawabi era that ended with the merger of the princely state of Rampur with the country. Salehat was the first of its kind established by some Jamaat people led by the famous author and owner of Maktaba Alhasanat publishing Alhasanat, Noor, Batool and Hilal, late Maulana Abdul Hai. Several educational institutions imparting modern education have been set up inspired by the success of the Salehat. Be it Sun Way School, Amatul's Convent or East West Public School, everyone has a tale to tell. But credit definitely goes to Salehat.

Now Rampur city symbolizes with Salehat. Whenever the name of Rampur comes what instantly strikes the mind is the world-famous Raza Library and Salehat. Earlier the former princely state was famous for its Rampuri chaqoos (knives,) and caps. The city, among the most backward in the country in terms of education now takes pride in the name of Salehat. 
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