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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Why opposition to women's madrasas?

By Atiqur Rahman Qasmi

Second and third rate ulama and maulanas are opposing girls madrasas which are being opened and run in villages and towns under various names like Jamiatus Salehat and Jamiatul Banat for spreading education among Muslim girls. Their argument is that the teachers in the madrasas are men who from Shar’i point of view are namahram’s and that when for going on Haj the company of only mahram is required, then why should namahram men be employed for teaching girls. The strange thing about these so-called reformers is that their own daughters are receiving education in schools and colleges where most of the teachers are male.

It has been a historic tragedy that Muslims have become victims of negative thinking or made to think so. They only know the fatwa of desecration and have nothing to do with expediency, understanding or legality because, according to them, these are the ills of the new generation. These so-called religious leaders know the art of disruption through their speeches. They are not in the habit of thinking over a problem with cool minds and on long-term basis. The better way would be that lady teachers be appointed in girls’ madrasas and schools as more and more women from the community seek admission in schools and madrasas because of the awakening among Muslim women about the importance of women’s education. There is also no harm even if men teach in girls madrasas because otherwise we would be living in fools paradise. 

I well remember that when Maulana Fakhruddin, Shaikhul Hadeeth of Darul Uloom, Deoband, returned to the madrasa after attending an Islamic conference in a foreign country, a student asked him whether the news was true that he used knife and fork for taking his meals there. Maulana said that the news was true and that he used knife and fork for the sake of Islam lest people there thought that Islam is a religion of uncivilised and backward people. There are people who will deny that they do not use knife and fork even if they use these tools for eating because of some complex or hallucination. It is said that even Aesop could not cure hallucination.

It appears that such people want an escape from some of the secret complexes or hide their secret feelings, but Muslims and the Muslim community are in no mood to give even a superficial thought to the whims of such people. Are girls madrasas are a bad idea because otherwise people send their daughters to schools and colleges? I think it is proper if women’s madrasas spread education among girls. Otherwise there should be some other plans to save the community from illiteracy. Those who are opposed to women’s madrasas have the opinion that girls’ education is the root cause of all social and other evils and that corruption in society is increasing because of educated girls.

If an honest survey is conducted among Muslims or in the Indian society, it will be found that cases of corruption or misdemeanor will be found more among the girls of villages and cities who never attended schools and madrasas. 

There is another aspect of corruption about which Shari’at does not have any opinion whether such persons or girls should he flogged, stoned or given even much harsher punishment. It need not be mentioned that great sins are being committed in our society very liberally and frequently. Minor boys are being used for dirty and immoral services and they can be procured from Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Kashmir and in fact from everywhere. This double standard and one-sided thinking has led us nowhere. We have destroyed our material as well as spiritual world. As far as their knowledge and educational attainments are concerned, thousands of students who are products of renowned madrasas are not only ignorant of roza and namaz but they even cannot distinguish between the prophethood of our Prophet and that of others.

In short, if the community and the nation is to be protected from corruption, instead of opposing girls madrasas on flimsy grounds, it would be better to organise some seminar and the matter be frankly and thoroughly discussed so as to arrive at some solid conclusion. The difficulty, however, is that these people consider themselves authoritative and think that their views are supreme and incontestable. (Translated from Urdu)

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