By Mahfoozur Rahman
The fear factor has created an ongoing controversy over the affiliation of madrasas
The idea of affiliating madrasas with the Central Madrasa Board has become a hot topic of debate among the Islamic scholars in India. The people who are associated with the madrasas in any way are strictly against it. They think that madrasas are mighty pillars of Deen-e-Islam, and that this is as a conspiracy to demolish the very base of Islam. In their opinion, the madrasas will lose their significance and character on being affiliated, even though the affiliation with the Central Madrasa Board is optional. They will practically become an unbearable burden for the Muslims and Islam. This harmless scheme may be responsible and helpful in making madrasas self-dependent and self-reliant. Some honourable scholars have made this welcome reformation an issue for the protection of Islam and Islamic culture and civilization. But that apparently seems to be unrealistic and illogical.
Let’s see this suggestion of the Central Madrasa Board in the words of Justice Mohammad Sohail Ejaz Siddiqui, the chairman of the central commission for minority educational institutions. He told the media in a particular interview: “We travelled all over the country in relation with the formation of Central Madrasa Board and visited the small-scale madrasas where poor Muslims’ children study. Ultimately, we decided to establish such an institution, where the Muslim students can study religious as well as scientific subjects simultaneously under the guidance of Central Madrasa Board. The teaching of all subjects up to STD XII according to CBSE pattern would be arranged there without any interference of the government bodies. It would be an autonomous body founded with the seed money (Rs.500 crore), a one-time assistance given by the government.
The affiliation of the madrasas with the Central Madrasa Board would be optional: either of the parties can terminate the contract. The government or the Central Madrasa Board would not interfere in matters of the Islamic syllabus or their financial matters. They would be run by the Islamic scholars only. On being affiliated, the Central Madrasa Board would be responsible for providing efficient teachers and financial help to make them excellent educational centres. As an advantage, the students would obtain education up to STD XII according to the CBSE pattern making them eligible to be admitted into reputed universities. Another advantage would be that they would be taught by eminent scholars to enhance their knowledge and learning. All madrasas would function like light houses dispensing the darkness of illiteracy to enlighten our lives.
The bill for the Central Madrasa Board being presented by the central ministry for education will guarantee non-interference into the syllabi of madrasas. According to the bill, the basic duty of the Central Madrasa Board will be to create a complete package of syllabus for the modern education other than religious syllabus.
The eleven-member board being represented by different schools of thought and masaliks will consist of seven scholars, three educationists and one intellectual. The bill assures the protection of rights and non-interference of any kind in the functioning of madrasas. But unfortunately, a particular group of scholars considers it “interference in Deen-e-Islam”. They are also trying to propagate that the concerned board will demolish the entire system of madrasa education. This is so because a particular group of Mullahs suffering from avarice have established their monopoly over the madrasas. They are vehemently trying to protect their personal interests by halting the opportunity for improvement of the Islamic institutions. They can even go to the extent of provoking Muslims and making it an issue of interference in Islam. Their social, intellectual and political status as well as their earnings and privileges are intact because of these madrasas only.
We often hear that different managers of the madrasa administration are quarrelling to have control and possession over the madrasa on account of heavy amount of donations, alms and zakat deposited in the madrasa fund. The so-called organizers of the madrasas are totally against the affiliation with Central Madarsa Board. They cannot tolerate even a slight modification and reformation in the syllabus of the madrasas, even though it is extremely outdated and totally unsuited to the needs of the present age.
The age-old syllabus Dars-e-Nizami prepared by Mullah Nizamuddin Firangi Mahli about three hundred years ago is still being taught in the madrasas. It puts unnecessary emphasis on Fiqh. The British rulers had seized the power of Qazis and their courts when they came to power, but we are still trying to solve all issues with the same old method.
In the seventh decade, education was divided in two categories – worldly education and Islamic education. Our scholars are yet adamant on the same formation of education which was unsuitable at that time as much as it is today. Dars-e-Nizami has lost its significance and implication by the passing of time and it has no capacity to solve the problems of life. The students completing their education in madrasas have to get degrees of graduate or post graduate from modern educational institutions, only then they will succeed in their social life within or outside the country. Such people are also performing their religious duties and maintaining their high social rank and status obtained by high scientific education.
The facilities of learning modern scientific subjects along with the religious topics will obviously help the students in getting admission directly in degree courses in colleges and universities.
What is wrong with it? If we provide our youth a chance to acquire both religious and scientific knowledge in the same institution which will help them to live their lives on their own, instead of working as Imams and Moazzins, teaching in madrasas on meagre salaries or doing the work of fake exorcism to live in absolute destitution.
The author can be reached at Sirajnaqvi08@yahoo.com
Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami