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

MAAS seminar on science education

The Milli Gazette Online

The Aligarh-based Muslim Association for the Advancement of Science (MAAS) organised a two-day National Seminar on “Education of Science and Indian Muslims” on May 9-10, 2005 at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. The seminar aimed at providing a forum for exchange of ideas on the educational system of Muslim madarsas and finding concrete and logical solutions to problems of science education in the Muslim community.

The inaugural session of the seminar was held on May 9 at the Convention Centre, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi. The Chief Guest was K. Rahman Khan, Dy. Chairman, Rajya Sabha. Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were Sayiyid Hamid, Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard, Prof. M. Iqbal, acting VC, Jamia Hamdard, Naved Hamid, member, National Committee for Monitoring Education, and National Integration Council, Maulana Kalb-e-Sadiq, President, Tauheedul Muslim Trust, Lucknow, Prof. Shamim Jairajpuri, former VC, Maunala Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, and Dr. M Majeed, President and MD, SABINSA Corp., New Jersey, and SAMI Labs, Bangalore, India. 

Left to Right: K Rahman, Justice Siddiqui and Dr Majeed

Left to Right: K Rahman, Justice Siddiqui and Dr Majeed

Following a reading from the Qur'an, the introductory address was given by MAAS Hon'y Secretary, Dr. M Zaki Kirmani and the keynote address by Saiyid Hamid. The learned Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard praised the unwavering efforts of MAAS towards educational empowerment of the Indian Muslims. He also expressed concern over the current abysmal condition of education of Muslims in India, especially of madarsas. He cited certain reasons and suggested various remedial measures as introduction of modern subjects in madarsas, resumption of NCERT refresher courses for teachers in Muslim institutions and proper geographical distribution of educational institutions. 

K. Rahman Khan began by saying that as Muslims we should actually have been the torch- bearers of a progressive, pro-active society and it was unfortunate that there is a need today to discuss and debate the issue of conflict between Science and Islam. He called upon the Muslim community to take responsibility for its attitude that has led to the dismal condition of Muslims today and not to blame the government for all its ills. Thus the community should take up the challenge and develop a vision to improve its educational status.

Dr. M Majeed brought to focus three important socio-technical challenges that needed to be addressed to bring about change: i) empowerment of Muslim women, ii) development of the educational assets of the community into tangible economic assets through proper management techniques, and iii) motivation of Muslim youths towards science and technology by stimulating their “intellectual” curiosity. Science education, he said, was a necessity and a religious duty of the Muslims. He also stressed that conglomerates needed to get together and use their economic assets to help build the community. 

Prof. Shamim Jairajpuri discussed the contribution of Muslim scientists in pre and post-independence era. While the medieval period was undoubtedly glorious, the present contribution of Muslim scientists is comparatively dismal. He presented a survey of the Muslim scientists working in various universities and research institutions who had received recognition by the Indian and international science academies. He said that Aligarh Muslim University has produced quite a few eminent scientists although the standard of scientific research may have actually declined. Prof. M Iqbal spoke exclusively on the Quranic message towards education, the concordance between Science and Islam and the contribution of Muslim scientists towards plant sciences.

Naved Hamid talked about encouragement of a scientific temperament among Muslims, patronisation of science and technology, proper fund utilisation and exposure of original science talent through science exhibitions. 

Maulana Kalb-e-Sadiq expressed his enlightened, religious views on the subject, saying that while Islam is Deen-e-Fitrat (religion of natural instinct), Science is Qawaneen-e-Fitrat (laws of natural instinct). Hence there is no conflict between Islam and science per se. Rather, science helps in understanding the beauty of all creations and laws of nature. Science and technology are those Uloom that are meant to serve humanity, therefore we ought to derive maximum benefit from it and not consider it as alien to Islam.

Dr. M Rafiq Sarkhawas, President, MAAS, in his presidential address, pointed out that while statistics do show a poor result as far as Science education among Indian Muslims is concerned, but actually there has been a slow and steady progress in this direction. The interest of Muslim youth towards basic sciences and quality research is slowly increasing and there are reasons to hope for the better. 

The business sessions were held at Jamia Millia Islamia. The issues discussed at the two day seminar were: 

  1. Science Talent Search Programme: Dr. Rahmatullah

  2. Coaching School Students in Science: Mr. M Husain Shamoo

  3. Meeting the National Accredition and Assessment Council standards: Dr. M Rafiq Sarkhawas

  4. Science Curriculum in Indian Madarsa Education System of the past: Prof. SMR. Ansari

  5. Curriculum development: Problems and Prospects: Dr. Arshad Mansoor Ghazi

  6. Human Resource Development for Madarsa Teaching: Dr. MZ Kirmani

The lectures were followed by important observations and comments by participants. The topics often stimulated a healthy discussion and debate. This helped bring forward various viewpoints and provided ‘food for thought', and led to important observations and conclusions on the issue of Science education in the Muslim community in general and madarsas in particular. «

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