By Shafiq Mir
January 23rd, 2015
Jamia Zia Ul Uloom Poonch
When the entire Madrasa system (Islamic Education Institutions) in India are under criticism of certain forces for providing radical education away from the present challenges of the world, there is an institution with multiple projects and targets in hand situated in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir state with difference.
Jamia Zia Ul Uloom Poonch is not only a Madrasa, but an institution of multiple projects in hands. From Islamic education to modern education and boys education to girls education, this institution is also working on various welfare fronts to change the economic conditions of the people. Not only this, Jamia has also taken a shape of an institution from where the people get advice and directions during the challenging times. Even, for political survival and success, in Haveli constituency of Poonch district, every political party tries to get the blessings of Jamia Zia Ul Uloom.
Established in 1974, in border town Poonch, this Madrasa was founded by Maulana Ghulam Qadir with just a routine aim of providing Islamic education to the Muslim students of this far flung area. But with the passage of time and transformation of world, this Madrasa realized the challenges ahead and transformed itself accordingly. Moulana Ghulam Qadir is a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and considered to be one of the top Islamic scholars of the country. In fact, this mere Islamic institution founded by him imparting only religious education realized the gravity of the situation and challenges ahead when a Christian missionary school opened its branch in this far-flung, poor and downtrodden region some three decades ago. Thus taking Christian missionary school as an apprehension, Jamia Zia Ul Uloom also started modern education as well. Not only for boys, Zia Ul Uloom also created a special space for the girls education in the institution.
As of now, Jamia Zia Ul Uloom, is not only producing Haafiz-e-Quran and other Islamic scholars but has more than 1000 students enrolled up to Hr secondary level for modern education. A Haafiz-e Quran pass out of Jamia is also equipped with all types of modern and required education. Thus the pass out of this Jamia has no job challenge as the pass outs of other Madrasa boys. The most important and significant achievement of this Madrasa is that it has special focus on the girls education and it has created all facilities for girls including their residential facilities.
Apart from its educational activities, Jamia Zia-ul- Uloom has taken a shape of an institution with multiple projects in hand. On social service front, in the recent September 2014 floods in Jammu Kashmir, this institution has played an important role in providing relief to the flood affected people in the state. As per the records maintained by Jamia, its welfare department has conducted 48 relief camps in whole of the Jammu Kashmir during recent floods majority of which were conducted in Poonch and Rajouri districts of the state. In district Poonch which was the worst flood hit, Jamia was the first hope of the flood-affected people. The most different and significant part of this institution is that it has respect and credibility across the religious sections of the society.
Maulana Sayed Habib, the present head of Jamia Poonch has a different vision on confronting issues. He says, when there was an apprehension about the Christian missionaries converting people to their faith under the garb of quality education. “Instead of confronting with them and raising hue and cry about the intentions of Christian missionaries we decided to raise the quality of our education. If we cannot provide the quality education to our people we cannot stop them to go somewhere else. And that is not a justice. We have to equip our people with all the modern requirements along with Islamic education then only we can save our people getting trapped,” says Sayed, adding that the people running Madrasas across India will have to understand that the generations “we are producing from our institutions should not face the job problem. For this, we have to equip them with scientific and technical education as well”.
Expressing serious concern about the economic conditions of Muslim community in country, Maulana Sayed cites the example of recent Agra “conversion” incident, he says apparently the statements of the victims of conversion drama they had done all this only for the sake of a ration card and BPL card. “It means the economical conditions of these people were so worst even they got lured only for a BPL card to convert,” he says adding that it is a matter of serious concern. “Instead of looking in to the basic problems being faced by our people we are just making hue and cry.”
However, Maulana Sayed expressed his displeasure and anguish over the elements targeting Madrasas in India in the name of terrorism and radicalism, he says it is mere a communal attitude of certain forces but they will never bow before any such pressure. But he says Madrasa organisations also need to give re look to their institutions and make it sure that the pass out of Madrasa does not faces any sort of job challenge. For this, he says, “we have to focus on the technical and scientific education in our Madrasas.”
Shafiq Mir is a senior journalist and columnist.