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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Madrasah reform or sham?
Forget mainstream, it’s curtains for madrasah alumni

New Delhi: For students of Islamic madrasahs who want to choose Unani medicine as a career, they should now better look for other options and completely forget about this vocation, one of the few open to them. Madrasah graduates are most suited for this vocation since almost the whole literature of Unani medicine is in Arabic, Persian and Urdu which students of modern schools do not know. Only madrasah graduates can properly understand and internalise that literature. But since madrasah degrees are not normally recognised by modern institutions, the practice so far has been to seek admission in ‘pre-Tibb’ qualifying course and thereafter to pursue BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine & Surgery) course in Unani colleges in many parts of the country. This allowed to practice medicine legally. This may no longer be possible. Central Council for Indigenous Medicine (CCIM), on the recommendations of Ministry of Health’s Department of ISM, in its meeting held on 30 August 2001 under chairmanship of Hakeem Jameel Ahmad, former Dean of the Faculty of Unani Medicine, and attended by a dozen hakeems and office bearers of Education Committee, decided to abolish the pre-Tibb course altogether.

Department of ISM is about to notify this deicion, after which pre-Tibb will be abolished. At present this one-year course is taught in only two institutions — Tibbia College, AMU (Aligarh) and Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi. This step, inspired by the Ministry of Health flies in the face of the government’s advertised profession to modernise madrasahs and bring Muslims into the ‘mainstream’ but in effect this will lead Muslims further away from reforms and mainstream. In effect this measure will lead to demise of Unani system of medicine since new graduates will be cut off from the centuries-old Unani heritage and literature written in a language they do not know.

Sensing a great anger and profound resentment among authorities of madrasahs and Unani institutions across the country, Jamia Hamdard organised a convention of eminent administrators of madrasahs and Unani institutions at Jamia Hamdard Convention Centre here on 9 October under the presidentship of Saiyid Hamid, Chancellor of the Jamia. The Milli Gazette was able recently to get hold of a copy of the seminar proceedings.

Syed Jalaluddin Umri, Shaikhul Jamia of Jamiatul Falah, Bilaryaganj, emphasised the necessity of associating Persian and Arabic knowing people with Unani medicine and advocated the continuation of pre-Tibb system as usual.

Dr Iqbal Ahmad Sanjari of Madrasatul Islah, Saraimeer, said that dissociating madrasahs from Tibb-e Unani will only not be construed as a classic example of step-motherly treatment to madrasah students. It will also be an injustice to Unani system because most of the original materials in Tibb-e Unani are in Arabic and Persian languages. Without properly understanding the original sources it would be impossible to teach Unani system of medicine to students or practice it. He also advocated inclusion of modern education, together with religious education, in madrasahs so that madrasah students should find no difficulty in their future interaction with modern education. He added that not only in Jamia Hamdard and AMU Tibbia College but in all medical institutions in the country, seats should be reserved for madrasah students.

Syed Abdul Haleem of Darul Uloom Ahmadiya Salfia, Darbhanga, laid emphasis on the necessity and importance of mutual relationship between madrasahs and Tibb-Unani. He said that his institution has set up Salfia Unani Medical College so that after acquisition of education in Tibb, madrasah students should practice Unani system of medical treatment and serve people. 

Expressing a discordant note, Fazlur Rahman from Jaipur said that introduction of modern education in religious madrasahs is not at all necessary because these madrasahs were originally established for imparting purely religious education and maintaining and promoting religious identity and Islamic culture of Muslims. Inclusion of modern subjects would defeat this objective. He added that it is strange that on one hand the government advocates inclusion of modern subjects in madrasah curricula and on the other it is closing doors in the face of madrash graduates.

Another participant, D Iqtadarul Hasan Zaidi of Ajmal Khan Tibbia Collge, Aligarh, said that Tibb-e Unani is not in need of madrasa students. However, if the purpose of their admission in Unani courses is to provide them means of livelihood, it would be injustice to Tibb-e Unani.

Maulana Nazimuddin Islahi of Jamiatul Falah, Bileryaganj, said that during his vice-chancellorship of AMU, Saiyid Hamid had paved the way for admission of madrasah students in Tibbia College, Aligarh, and also in AMU. If restrictions are placed by way of abolition of pre-Tibb course, madrasah students without the knowledge of modern subjects will find it difficult to compete in the race for modern requirements. Unani system, like all other systems of treatment, has also its own characteristics and its survival and promotion is possible only when madrasah students are encouraged to join Tibbia courses. It, therefore, becomes the duty of influential people amongst us to utilise their resources to ensure the continuity of the pre-Tibb course.

Maulana Tahir Madani, rector of Jamiatul Falah, Bileryaganj, and Prof Naeem Ahamd Khan of Ajmal Khan Tibbia College, Aligarh, suggested that a high level committee of representatives from AMU, Jamia Hamdard, Tibbia College Aligarh, madrasahs and Tibbia educational institutions should be formed, which should meet authorities in CCIM Education Committee, ISM etc., and convince them of the need to continue the pre-Tibb course.

Prof Jameel Ahmad, former dean of the Faculty of Unani Medicine, and chairman of CCIM’s Education Committee, said that when he was chairman of CCIM the proposal to abolish pre-Tibb course was submitted several times but every time he opposed it on the ground, among others, that if this system is abolished and madrasah students are directly admitted to BUMS course, they will have to compete against students of modern science in which case they would find it impossible to succeed.

Hakeem Madan Swaroop Gupta, present chairman of the Education Committee of CCIM, said that if people attending this meeting feel that pre-Tibb course should be abolished they can send their representation to this effect to CCIM. Alternatively, Jamia Hamdard and other universities should recognise madrasah certificates at par with intermediate science certificate and allow direct admission to BUMS course in their institutions.

Saiyid Hamid and Siraj Husain, chancellor and vice chancellor respectively of Jamia Hamdard, opposed the abolition of pre-Tibb and preferred status quo to be maintained. Siraj Husain went to the extent of saying that pre-Tibb course should be introduced in every Unani college in the country. Saiyid Hamid asked the CCIM and Health ministry’s Department of ISM not to abolish this course. Many other madrasah teachers, ulama and professionals also spoke in this convention and almost all of them, with the exception of only a very few, they favoured continuation of pre-Tibb course. 

¯ MG News Desk

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