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Black sheep and their fine art of fratricide
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Indo-Nepal border: Problems are not always created by others for madrasas. Most of the problems are the creation of people attached with madrasas themselves. Different people with different aims cause irreversible damage to the image of these institutions.

Few years back, Darul Uloom in Basti faced a piquant problem when a few Muslim families residing in the vicinity went to the court to get the madrasa demolished. They claimed that the place where madrasa was being constructed was an open space and so the construction work there should be stopped. Though later they withdrew the case, the madrasa, in Maulana Zaheer's words, faced irreparable damage. A Muslim MLA from the Dumariya Ganj was eyeing the madrasa land so he too went to the court against the madrasa. It is just one example. Umpteen such examples are spread all over the country.

Almost all the people in different madrasas visited by this correspondent complained about the hostility of their own people. Dr Asim Masud of Jamiatul Banatus Salehat in Tulsipur says that at times the problem is the sole creation of people attached to madrasas. He said that sometimes people running these institutions create problems for themselves and their institutions. Dr Masud adds that a number of madrasas do not care about proper auditing of their accounts. And this creates great problem for them. He also says that the unaccounted money collected by these institutions becomes a bone of contention among different people in the management with every person eyeing the largest share of the pie. Dr Masud says that the lack of proper auditing in several small madrasas makes them vulnerable in the face of slightest investigation. He says that the reckless spending by these madrasas on erecting new and newer buildings also catches everyone's attention. There are a number of instances when large mosques are erected in places where there is no Muslim family nearby. This correspondent was himself witness to some magnificent mosques built outside small villages. Hardly any devout comes to offer prayers here.

Inter-sect differences are also bowling out in the open. Dr Abdul Bari of Khairul Uloom Educational Trust feels dismayed over the increasing belligerent tone of different sects against each other. He says that everyone wants to outshine the other. Different Muslim sects propagate against each other and this has started even affecting Muslims relationship with one another. Dr Abdul Bari told this correspondent that there are madrasas that are said to have reported against other madrasas functioning in nearby areas.

Maulana Abdus Salam Rahmani of Jamia Sirajul Uloom, Bondihar, echoes the same feeling. He says that the infighting of Muslims on sectarian grounds has not only affected their standing and prestige in the area but also affected the functioning of their madrasas. The Maulana says that he feels let down over the magnitude of infighting on non-issues. He says that Hanafi vs. Ahle-Hadith and Ahle-Hadith (or Salafi as they call themselves) vs. Barelavi has caused much damage to the long-held respect of such institutions in the area.

People feel that the easy Gulf money has taken its toll on the madrasas. Though a large number of madrasas are financed by businessmen of the area settled in Mumbai, or 'Babmbayya seth' as they are commonly known, a large number of expatriates settled in the Gulf countries are also financing these madrasas in a big way. At times some projects are also financed by the Islamic Development Bank and other institutions.

People feel that access to large unaccounted funds has affected the educational standards in some madrasas. 'With money comes indifference and this complicity is affecting the whole system', says Dr Abdul Bari who runs a number of educational institutions including Khairul Uloom Technical Institute, Khairul Uloom Orphanage, and madrasas for boys and girls besides other schools.

But things are changing, feels octogenarian Maulana Shafique Naeemi, principal of Darul Uloom Fazle-Rahmaniya. He says that now Muslims are giving emphasis not only on enhancing the outlook of these institutions but also improving the educational standards of madrasas too. The future of madrasas is bright with increasing awareness among common Muslims, feels the Maulana. 

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