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Madrasa system of education caught in time wrap: Book

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The madrasa system of education is caught in a time wrap where the core syllabus has not been changed for hundreds of years but only artificial and lopsided additions of secular learning made, says a new book.

In "Madrasas in the Age of Islamophobia", authors Ziya Us Salam and M Aslam Parvaiz narrate the decline of the madrasas from being centres of excellence to institutions of restricted learnings with dark clouds of stigma surrounding them.

They say that once a pivot of the Muslim world, madrasas today are marginalised within the Muslim community. "The well-off, the well-read, the well-placed Muslims do not send their children to madrasas anymore."

The madrasas are also short of resources, rejected by the well-heeled, and condemned by politicians.

The book, published by SAGE Select, is an attempt to peek into the world of Indian madrasas and see how far the community has to travel to revive its days of glory.

It is an attempt to go back in time, from the earliest knowledge centres of West Asia to madrasas in medieval India, and finally to post-independence India, when to be an 'aalim' (one who perceives reality) of Islam from a local madrasa is often synonymous with being ignorant of the world.

The authors say the madrasas are going through rough and challenging times.

"The funds are low, almost entirely dependent on acts of charity of the believers, or what is euphemistically called community funding. Worse though is the inability of the madrasa management to move with the times," they rue.

They say the Quran repeatedly asks believers to explore the world, introspect and ask questions; but madrasas, on the contrary, revel in their rote learning methods.

"The Quran is reduced to a book that is memorised by students in the initial years in a madrasa, kissed, touched with the forehead and put back in a velvet cover after every reading. Never is a student encouraged to ask questions about it, or seek answers through it," the book says.

The authors also argue that due to a constant fascination for looking at the supposed past, the madrasas have neither changed their syllabus to meet emerging challenges, nor prepared their scholars to work in a multi-religious society or multi-sect Muslim world.

According to them, the madrasas in India are caught in a dystopia, religious institutions whose products once acted as civil servants of the society, are today merely imagined moral guardians.

"Far from providing lawyers and judges, doctors and engineers well versed with Islamic tenets, they provide only students who memorised the Quran, or who can, at best, argue on matters of 'fiqh' (jurisprudence), books that ceased to have direct relevance in the life of the faithful with the decline of the Mughals," the book says.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 15 2020. 16:26 IST