By Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam
13 July 2012
In our understanding, madrasa is nothing but a school by another name. Yes some special and additional subjects are also taught like – Quran, Hadiths and Hifz as a curriculum of activity, and Qirrat as an art in order to produce Islamic instructors who have to preside over some community activities such as pesh imamat etc. But all these subjects can also be studied as part of the schooling. Of course not every Islamic student has to do Qirrat or Hifz. Some of the students can opt for these depending on aptitude.
It is therefore suggested that in a madrasa, vernacular language can be used to learn/teach Science, Social Science, Maths, Computers, English as link language (there is an abridged curriculum along with books developed on all these subjects by IGNOU and no further labour is needed to design the course material). A compulsory subject of basic Islamiat, and one optional specialization scheme with any one of the three as optionals – Quran and Hadith (Higher paper in Islamiat) or Qirrat or Hifz and another optional subject – a vocational skill subject shall also be part of the curriculum.
For each region there should be language teaching policy. Rudimentary level Arabic, working level Hindi and proficiency level vernacular in different stages up to class ten can be considered. This much of education can be completed in school level which will be in the form ten plus two. Madrasa/school level education will end at this point and Qari, Hafiz and Maulvi would have been prepared at this level. These school passed outs should be employable in mosques, qabristans (every qabristan should have a manager), a community library/centre/information room, and madrasas, and be also encouraged to practice their skills in their locality with the support of other Muslims. They should also be employable in government job or any secular activity job at par with any plus two student.
Fiqh should be removed from madrasa and be made a part of postgraduate Islamic Law course where madrasa /school students could both merge. Of course, Islamic studies at Graduate/Post Graduate level could attract Quran & Hadith students as well as secular students on the passing of a preliminary paper. The language of instruction for Islamic Studies could as well be English, and quality Arabic as an additional subject could be started at this stage. Islamic Studies subjects can be designed to include finest topics of Philosophy (universal excluding atheistic parts), Sociology (universal), Jurisprudence(universal), Management Concepts(Abstract course to be designed - in fact some parts of IGNOU’s first year management curriculum is enough) , Concepts of Physical and Biological Sciences (a new subject tailored for Islamic scholars), General Islamic history without glorifying battles, History of Islamic thoughts and thinkers and general history of the world. A portion of the existing large sized madrasas can be earmarked for such Islamic Study Centres whose status should be of Graduate and post-Graduate college either as a University, deemed university or as part of a University. The infrastructure and the management of the said large sized madrasas can run these courses with some augmentation if necessary.
The method of madrasa teaching where Islamic discipline prevails should be acceptable to the community with little reforms as may be necessary. The management of these Islamic Study Centres should lie with a committee of elites of Muslim society that should include, bearded as well as non-bearded observant Muslims - madrasa educated as well as engineering/ medical/management educated Muslims. This sacrifice the bearded Muslims have to do if they want the mainstream to be seen with them. Of course there should be a method of control to exclude ‘non-observant’ kind of Muslims. This 3year/5year course on “Islamic Studies” should be able to provide Islamic scholars for us who should be appointed as advisors by all Muslim institutions/governments to support this kind of education. The Islamic Studies should be completed in three plus five years at the Graduate and post Graduate levels and the standard of education should be really high and should not entirely depend on charity.
The support to appoint these scholars should come from the community business houses, governments, NGOs, media, and educational institutions at the international level. In the two year post graduation level, with slight modification Islamic Law can be introduced by making it a three year course instead of two years (total college education being six years) and governments of at least Muslim countries should be requested to recognize them as professional Islamic lawyers to practice law. Similarly at the post graduate level an Islamic Media course can also be introduced which is bound to be qualitatively superior. Needless, all secular options of employment should also be available to these students as being eligible to compete.
In the end this narrative looks like a dream and even if this dream is achievable or worth achieving, it cannot be done overnight. If worth achieving, let us try slowly but sure footedly.
Manzoorul Haque is an advocate based in Patna. He occasionally writes for ‘New Age Islam’. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org