Md Ekram Siddiquee, NewAgeIslam.com
Katihar: Those who think that all madrasas preach hatred and extremism should think twice. The madrasa Ittihadul Muslimeen in Azam Nagar in Katihar District in Bihar destroys this myth. Girls of this town have turned to this madrasa to further their education demolishing the walls of language and religion. Hindu girls like Munni, Seema and Deepannita who are taking the Fawqania Examination in this madrasa have become a symbol of multicultrual and peaceful co-existence. Following these girls, other Hindu girls of this town have also enrolled in this madrasa and can now read and write Urdu fluently. Fawqania Examination is equivalent to Matriculation and generally only those students take this examination who have excellent command of Urdu. Deepannita who has filled the form from Shikarpur madrasa said that since there was no high school in villages in and around her village, many girls could not continue their studies and now they were working as labourers or sitting idle at their homes. It also became a hurdle even in their marriage. Taking a lesson from this experience, many girls decided to give up Hindi medium and continue their studies in Urdu. Deepannita said that there was a school in her neighbourhood in which her friends studied. She learnt Urdu from them. Now she has developed a liking for the language and so has decided to do something in the language. Therefore, she joined the Wastania Examination last year and passed it with good marks. Now she was writing the Fawqania Examination this year.
Madrasas in many rural areas in Bihar have been rendering eduational services to the Hindu community as well because many villages do not have Hindi medium high schools. The students particularly girls have to discontinue their studies due to lack of Hindi medium schools in their villages or towns. Not only those, many Hindu students after passing out from these madrasas get the job of Urdu teachers in madrasas and Urdu schools. Thus these madrasas are not only promoting communal harmony and a love for the language but also providing bread and butter to the Hindus and the Muslims alike. In 2010, about 100 Hindu students passed Madrasa Board Examination. Their parents far from being apprehensive of their sons and daughters studying in madrasas appreciated madrasa education saying that the students in madrasas were more disciplined.
According to a s pokesman of the Bihar State Madrasa Education Board, there were 3500 madrasas in Bihar out of which 1,111 were in government control where the state government paid the salaries to the teachers. Some of the madrasas in Bihar impart education in Urdu, Persian and Arabic language upto the post-graduation level.
According to him, surprisingly the upper caste Brahmins particularly in Darbhanga, Madhubani and Sitamarhi districts also send their children to learn Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages in these madrasas.
In West Bengal, the scenario is more encouraging. In some madrasas, Hindu students outnumber Muslim students and constitute from 50 to 65 per cent of the total number of students. Contrary to the general conception among the non-Muslims thanks to the media propaganda, these madrasas have all the amenities of a modern school from computers to science laboratories. One reason for the high number of enrollment of Hindus in these madrasas is their low fee that poor families can afford. While the schools charge as much as Rs 375, the madrasas charge as low as Rs 110.
The governments in the states where the Madrasa Boards are functioning should pay more attention to them as they are doing a great service in the spread of education in the areas where there are no high schools thus leaving the students with no option but to discontinue their studies.