Darul Uloom Mulling Streamlining Curriculum, to Make HS Mandatory for Admission
By Syyed Mansoor Agha
Rabita Madaris e Islamia Arabia, Darul Uloom Deoband organised a ‘representative meeting’ of UP Madrasas on 18 September and endorsed the decisions of the Delhi meet, held under Jamiatul Ulama e Hind on 6 September. At the occasion, the senior leader of Darul Uloom Maulana Arshad Madani disclosed to the media that Darul Uloom is mulling changing admission rules and making High School (C 10th) certificate compulsory to enter the seminary.
An unsigned declaration, issued at the occasion included a four-point advisory. It advised that the management of madrasas should co-operate with the survey teams. Should also maintain transparency in financial matters and maintain the records of income and expenditure properly. They should also keep the records of land and building ownership in order. The land should be registered as per the law. Last but not the least, maintain a clean and hygienic environment and provide healthy food for students.
Obviously, compliance of the latter three pieces of advice will be a herculean task for many Madrasas. Since keeping records of income and expenditure is rare except for big institutions. Many small madrasas are hand to mouth; they cannot afford to hire an accountant. Many donations are made without any formal receipts and most expenditure is made without bills and vouchers.
The same is the condition of movable and immovable properties, including the buildings used for classrooms and for lodging the students. Most buildings are built in parts and without any planning. So, getting sanctions is out of the question. Maintaining a standard hygienic environment is also not easy. For many Madrasas, separate hostels are beyond their reach. The advisory is silent on their solutions.
The two-page declaration of the Rabita highlights the role of Madrasas during the Independence movement and their loyalty to the nation and the system. It said, no Madrasa is found involved in anti-national activities. If by chance someone is blamed, in most cases, it is without proof. Even if anybody is convicted, the whole Madrasa or Madrasa system should not be blamed. One wonders about the relevance of these mentions in the context of the questions earmarked for the survey.
The advisory also appealed to the media against negativity and wanted them to highlight the nation-friendly and peaceful character of the Islamic seminaries. It also called upon the community to demonstrate a positive attitude toward Madrasas and work to strengthen them.
The document is silent about the proceedings of the meeting. However, after the meeting Maulana Mufti Abdul Qasim Nomani, Rector of Darul Uloom, senior leader Maulana Arshad Madani of Jamiat Ulama e Hind, and Maulana Mufti Shaukat Bastavi, Chief of Rabita, interacted with the media.
Maulana Nomani said the madrasas were being run as per the freedom of thought, belief, and religion guaranteed by the Constitution of India. They are fully funded by the community. He also stressed the need to maintain transparency in financial matters and get accounts audited per law.
Maulana Arshad Madani reiterated his stand “no objection to the survey”. He said Madrasas have nothing to hide. Their doors are open to all. He said, “So far the picture of the survey that has come out, there is nothing to fear or be apprehensive about.” Reiterating that madrasas had played an important role in the Freedom Movement, Mr. Madani appealed to the Managers of the madrasas “to cooperate in the survey.”
The Islamic scholar agreed that the community needs the professionals of other streams like doctors and engineers, etc., however, we also need Ulama for the moral guidance of the community, the Imams, Khateebs, and Muezzins to serve in mosques across the country. The Madrasas work to fulfil these needs.
Without mentioning the state endeavour, expressed at the time of survey order, for Government recognition and partially funding on the pretext of “Madrasa modernisation”, Maulana Madani said, Muslims endure government assistance in matters other than our religious education and training. He stressed, “We don’t seek government support in matters of religion, in running of mosques and madrasas.”
MODIFICATION IN CURRICULUM
However, his response was positive regarding the modification of the curriculum. Replying to a question, Maulana said that “Darul Uloom is working with the government on streamlining our education system”. He said, “In the next five to seven years, the seminary would admit only those who had passed the 10th standard from a recognised board.”
Maulana Mufti Shaukat Bastavi, Chief of Rabita Madaris-e-Islamia Arabia, said the madrasas played an important role in preserving the Islamic heritage. He claimed, “We fulfil the theological needs of the minority in the country and produce responsible citizens for the country.” He also pointed out that Madrasas provide free education with food, lodging, and even clothes to the children of the poorest sections of society.”
Welcoming the survey unconditionally may benefit politically. But the hurdles cannot be overlooked. The order of the survey came suddenly and is being conducted quickly. Many Madrasas may be caught for not furnishing detailed accounts and documents of the properties. It may also involve corrupt practices.
Before the Britishers overtake, the Madrasa Education in Muslim India was inclusive. Theology was essentially a part syllabus with other optional subjects. Even non-Muslim teachers were employed and non-Muslim students were enrolled without any hesitation. The system did not produce Islamic scholars only but also academicians, historians, mathematicians, geographers, philosophers, social scientists, physicians, architects, engineers, administrators, etc.
After the British takeover, the preservation of Islamic knowledge became crucial. A new system of Madrasas the community established in that era played this role very well. However, after Independence and especially during the last few decades we are facing new challenges in the field of knowledge. The knowledge imparted in madrasas is not sufficient to face the challenges. In such a case Millat looks towards seminaries like Deoband to take a leading role and it is not an impossible task. Maulana Arshad Madani’s announcement in this regard is a positive sign.
Institutions like Al Jamia Al Islamia, Santhapuram, Pattikkad and Jamia Markazu Saquafathi Sunniyya, Karanthur, Kozhikode, both in the State of Kerala, may be followed as role models. The curriculum of Jamia Saquafathi is a combination of religious and modern education including medicine, law, engineering, management, and social sciences. Al Jamia at Santhapuram also follows a holistic Islamic educational paradigm that combines Islamic tenets of knowledge with futuristic secular education. If planned, the resources will follow.
Darul Uloom Deoband’s move in this direction may revolutionise Madrasa Education in North India. It may be noted that Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow also runs a 5-year graduation course of Islamic knowledge for students after their High School Certificate. According to Abul Aala Subhani, an alumnus of Nadwa, it is a relatively more satisfactory experience. Jamiatul Falah Bilariyaganj in Azamgarh also teaches all subjects up to Class 8th. Many students take private exams equivalent to High School to get admission in colleges. The curriculum includes English and Hindi languages, with subjects of social sciences to various levels.
[The writer is Chairman, Forum for Civil Rights, [email protected]]