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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Madrasah students: problems and prospects
By Khalid Waheed

Indian Muslims who played a leading role in the freedom struggle of 1857 had to face endless hostility and conspiracy from the Britishers which made them to lag behind in every field. Their social and economic conditions were made miserable. Under these circumstances two great personalities arrived on the scene who made utmost efforts for the revival of Indian Muslims.

On one hand, Maulana Qasim Nanotvi made a great contribution by establishing the Darul Uloom Deoband and on the other hand, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan tried to induce Muslims to get educated in modern sciences. As a result, today there is a vast network of Madrasahs all over India as well as the internationally famed Aligarh Muslim University.



It is alleged that Madrasah students are not good in several modern subjects and therefore not suitable for modern medicine courses. But the fact remains that in spite of being given very small proportion of seats in admission to BUMS in comparison to students coming from other backgrounds Madrasah students have outperformed them in the subsequent entrance of MD. This is at least true for AMU and Jamia Hamdard

Today, the Hindutva fascist forces are systematically targetting and defaming Madrasahs and Muslims in pursuit to actualise their nefarious designs. They are well aware of the role madrasahs are playing in upholding the identity of Muslims in the country. Unfortunately, some modern educated people in the Muslim community have joined hands with them, as reflected in their undue criticism of madrasahs and its graduates. They consider madrasah syllabi and its educational system obsolete and irrelevant and its graduates incompetent. It is indeed the prejudice of those who are unaware of the ground realities.

Is it not a historical fact that the freedom movement was started by the Ulema who raised the flag of revolt? They were hanged, shot and punished with rigorous imprisonment and suffered severely at the hands of the then Superpower. As many as 51,500 Ulema were martyred at the hands of Britishers.

No doubt, at present there are many pseudo freedom fighters who did not shed a drop of sweat leave alone blood but claim to have made great sacrifices to liberate the country. However, the history provides ample testimony of their deeds. Khilafat Movement, which has the credit of introducing father of nation Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was also started by the madrasahs.

The Ulema in the present times too are taking lead in starting various social and public welfare works. Whenever any calamity, disaster or accident occurs, their team arrives there as volunteers for relief work. Thus they perform valuable services to the community and the nation. However, for various reasons the central and the state governments have chosen to ignore the contributions made by the Ulema. In fact over the years they have been trying to isolate them socially as well as economically.

Madrasah students come to AMU, Jamia Hamdard and some other universities and colleges, to get education of modern sciences and Unani Medicine. Gradually their quotas were reduced and now the Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) has ordered to discontinue the Pre-Tibb course for BUMS courses. It is a matter of regret that those who have made excellent contribution in the field of Unani Medicine will be deprived of the same. Specially when one considers the fact that most of the original material sources in this branch of study are still in Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages. By prohibiting madrasah graduates it is not only the students who will suffer but the progress of the discipline itself would be jeopardized. It is hoped that good sense will prevail and the CCIM will review its decision in the larger interests of the students and the discipline.

It is alleged that Madrasah students are not good in several modern subjects and therefore not suitable for modern medicine courses. But the fact remains that in spite of being given very small proportion of seats in admission to BUMS in comparison to students coming from other backgrounds Madrasah students have outperformed them in the subsequent entrance of MD. This is at least true for AMU and Jamia Hamdard.

Another issue, which though related to AMU only, is its latest decision of not allowing Madrasah graduates to courses other than Theology, Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Islamic Studies. Breaking all previous conventions, the university administration supposedly at the behest of one department, has prohibited Madrasah students from being admitted to most of the courses of social sciences and arts.

Interestingly the said decision, which barred Madrasah students from being admitted to social sciences, was taken in the absence of any representative from social sciences. The university administration may look into how the representatives from one faculty could take decision about admission requirements of another faculty.

Some other points raised in the said order also need a closer look. For example, the order of the consultative meeting held on 15/16 July 2003 says that Madrasah students shall not be allowed to take admission in English, as they are not taught English at Almiyah level which is considered equivalent to 10+2. This is not true. Other objection pointed out at the meeting is that such students were never admitted except for the previous year, is also not true as several Madrasah students could be found in the university having obtained Ph.D. in the same subject.

One only hopes that Academic Council, while taking the final decision, will consider all the points and more importantly keep in mind the best interests of its own students. Needless to state that once the AC ratifies the decision it will have larger repercussions on the future prospects of all the madaris graduates. They will not be able to attend several competitive exams and professional courses.

It is an irony that instead of being given representation in their own institution madaris graduates are treated like outsiders. What can one hope from others when their own institutions are not recognizing them?

(The writer is Research Scholar, Dept of Economics, AMU)

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