Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
Camps \ Workshops

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In Focus


Stress on Rational Science
Colours of Harmony


Stress on Rational Science

Seminars glorifying the Madrasas are in full swing. But where are the initiatives
and actions to implement modern subjects in the curriculum?

Madrasa Curriculum
By Yoginder Sikand

Seminar On MadrasasMadrasas play a major role in promoting learning of Islam and preserving the Islamic tradition. Today, particularly in the aftermath of the events of September 11, last year, madrasas have been subjected to a systematic vilification campaign, being branded as factories of terror and dens of obscurantism. In the third week of October this year, a seminar on madrasa education in India was jointly organised by the Iran Culture House and the Department of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. Some 30 papers were presented at the seminar, dealing with various aspects of madrasa education, from the 12th century to the present-day.

In his opening remarks, the organiser of the conference, Prof. S.M.Azizuddin of the Jamia Millia Islamia noted the great stress that is laid in both the Qur’an and the Hadith on the need for all Muslims, both men and women, to acquire knowledge of religious as well as secular subjects. He traced the evolution of Islamic education in India, from the small mosque schools established in Sind in the wake of Muhammad bin Qasim’s invasion in the early 8th century and then to the setting up of madrasas by the Sultans in various parts of northern India.

Although many of these madrasas produced leading scholars, they catered essentially to the elite, and the Sultans paid little attention to the education of the Muslim masses, although, the Professor remarked, some noted ulama and Sufis of the times, such as Mir Sayyed Ali Hamdani in Kashmir, suggested that arrangements be made for their education as well. As for the syllabus in the madrasas, Dr. Azeezuddin noted that while in earlier times, Islamic schools played a leading role in the development of various arts and sciences, by the 13th century, with the closing of the gates of ijtihad or the use of reason in Islamic jurisprudential matters, stagnation soon set in. With Shah Waliullah, in the late 18th century, demands began being made that the ‘gates of ijtihad’ be re-opened, and although many traditional ulama still insist on blind following (taqlid) of past jurisprudential opinions, the need for ijtihad to come to terms with the challenges of modern existence is now widely recognised.

In his presidential address, Prof. Iqtidar Hussain Siddiqui of the Aligarh Muslim University mentioned the important role of madrasas as well as Sufi khanqahs in promoting learning in medieval India. He pointed to the fact that both ‘rational sciences’ (ma’qulat), such as medicine, logic, philosophy, chemistry, astronomy and so on, as well as the ‘revealed sciences’ (manqulat), were taught in the madrasas at that time. Hence, he argued, for madrasas to modernise their syllabus today, particularly by introducing modern social science subjects, would in no way be going against their own historical tradition. Saiyid Hamid, former Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, also made the same point, suggesting that the Aligarh Muslim University, the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Jamia Hamdard should make special efforts to spread education among the Muslims as well as to assist madrasas to modernise their syllabi and methods of teaching. The Firanghi Mahal madrasa, established in the late 17th century in Lucknow, played a leading role in the development of madrasa education in India.

The syllabus prepared by the founder of the madrasa, Mulla Nizamuddin Sihalwi, and named as the dars-i-nizami after him, is still used in the vast majority of Indian madrasas. In his paper, Dr. Mohammad Tazeem of the Jamia Millia Islamia traced the history of this madrasa, noting the great stress that the syllabus that it taught placed on the ‘rational sciences.’ This syllabus was essentially geared to the training of qazis and muftis and other administrative officers in the Mughal court. However, since the times have changed and the traditional ‘rational sciences’ included in the dars-i-nizami are now of little relevance, Dr. Tazeem suggested the need to replace them with their modern equivalents while placing greater stress on the understanding and teaching of the Qur’an and the Hadith. He criticised the tendency in many madrasas of teaching commentaries upon commentaries of old books, and suggested the need for developing a new understanding of Islamic jurisprudence in accordance with the times. The same plea was made by Dr. Afzal Khan of the Aligarh Muslim University, who discussed the contribution to the study of ‘rational sciences’ by a number of leading Iranian ulama who were employed in the Mughal court, starting from Mir Fatehullah Shirazi, who was employed by the Emperor Akbar.

In medieval times, India was one of the leading centers of Islamic education in the entire Muslim world. In his presentation, Dr. Zafrul Islam of Aligarh Muslim University dwelt on the patronage extended by the Delhi Sultans to Islamic learning. They welcomed ulama from Central Asia and Iran fleeing from the Mongol invasions, and constructed madrasas for the teaching of Islam, providing them land grants as well as stipends for their teachers and students.

At a time when madrasas are being wrongly accused of ‘anti-national’ activities, noted journalist Anil Nauria mentioned in his paper, it is instructive to recall the leading role played by numerous ‘ulama, in particular many associated with the Dar-ul Uloom, Deoband, in supporting the freedom struggle against the British and opposing the Muslim League’s ‘two nation’ theory. The proceedings of the seminar are expected to be published within a year, and should have a major impact on what has now unfortunately become a hotly debated issue.

Top


Colours of Harmony

Maharashtra Minorities Commission Honours Police Officials

By A Staff Writer

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Minorities Commission has conferred the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award 2002 on several police officers and government employees in the state for their exemplary services in tackling communal riots and working for communal peace and harmony. The Commission named Ajit Parasnis, Commissioner of Police of New Mumbai, Rajkumar Chaphekar, Police Inspector of Jamner, S. E. Shinde, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bhiwandi, Indira Jain, Sub-divisional Officer in Kalyan in Nasik district, for the award during the year 2002.

Parasnis as Commissioner of New Mumbai during June 2000 and June 2001 organised several programmes for communal harmony and involved people from all communities to participate in religious festivals. As a result the area remained calm even when the adjoining Thane witnessed communal disturbances. Indira Jain, during her tenure as Sub-Divisional Officer of Kalyan tackled the communal elements effectively when they were bent upon creating trouble during the Ganapati festival in September 2001 in Satana area in her district. Rajkumar Chaphekar as police inspector of Jamner nabbed Ratnakar Joshi who had desecrated and secretly removed the silver eyes of a Hanuman idol and tried to trigger communal violence. S. E. Shinde as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bhiwandi took firm and stringent action in controlling riots in Bhiwandi area during his tenure as DCP. (March 2000-June 2002).

The Commission also appreciated the services of Deepak Nivaruti Nirgude of Saswad in Pune district, Rajana Ashok Jadhav of Satana in Nashik district, Dr. Farhani of Malegaon, and the role of Gram Panchayat of Hupri in Nashik district.

Nirgude saved two children of Ganibhai Hussainbhai whose house was set on fire by rioters on October 7, 2001. Rajana Jadhav attended to the mujawars of Dargah of Antapur who had been wounded in a communal riot in Malegaon during October 2001. Dr Farhani Saeed Ahmed of Malegaon personally attended and conducted surgeries on 18 of the riot victims in his Farhani Hospital during the riots in Malegaon.

The Gram panchayat of Hupri repaired seven shops looted and damaged during the riots in Hupri in May 2002 by giving financial assistance through the Hupri Rehabilitation Committee. The awards were given away at a function in which former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar also participated. Commissioner chairman Mohammad Amin Khandwani said in a statement that while sordid incidents during communal disturbances are remembered, several persons, institutions and officers render exemplary services in restoring faith of the people.

The Commission has presented it first report (April 2000-March 2002) to the Democratic Front Government Maharashtra. The report presents detailed accounts of communal riots during the period in Thane, Malegaon, Saswad, Satana, Aurangabad, Naded, Nashik, Mangale, Murbad, Kalyan, Akola, Jamner, Nager etc. The copies of the report can be had from Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, Sahyadri Guest House, Malabar Hill, Mumbai-400001.

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