By Zaboor Ahmad
April 12, 2016
India for all practical purposes presents itself as largest democracy by quantifying it, and simultaneously championing itself as housing the second largest Muslim population in world. But the dismal rate of educational benchmarks of Muslims is one of growing blot on its face more particularly of females. Nearly half of Muslim women folk are illiterate, while the pictures are encouraging in south India they are equally worrisome and dismal in north the hot bed of communalism.
Fatima al-Fihri did commendable job in mid eighth century AD when she founded University of Morocco, first in world by a women and first institute to grant degrees. By 12th century women could earn academic degrees and become Ulema, religious scholars. The respectability and educational benchmarks of women were so high, that a 12th century Sunni scholar ibn Asakir says he received his education from eighty different female teachers.
Muslim world is still engaged in constructing debate about the genre of education that shall be available to women; the dichotomization of education in to Islamic and modern worldly secular planes is a false paradigm. This notion has no underpinnings in Quran. Still a consensus eludes Muslim community more particularly so called religious leaders about whom we had crafted the image of torch bearers. All the translations of Islamic literature dealing with Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been written by men, and interpreted as well, justifying everything on praxis of patriarchy. Islam became the only religion in world which introduced the concept of rights in its discourse, even if it gave in dribs and drabs, but they were enlisted at a time when none existed in other religions.
It would be pertinent to underscore here that entire discourse in Quran is rights based for women and duty based for men, but using the institution of patriarchy it has been turned upside down. Feeling deprived, a feministic movement started within Islam to change the distorted narrative of women led by Fatima Mernissi, Amina Wadud and Laleh Bakhtyar an American based scholar translated Quran from feministic perspective. The genesis of feminism within Islam is direct fallout of distorted version of Islam and denial of entitlement to women. Modern education began to replace the Ulema in Darbars of kings and courts through judges, their resentment reflected in challenging the discourse on so called western education, as it was thought it would be a step towards Christianity, only to produce horrendous consequences for Muslim societies.
Women folk has been kept aloof from modern education in India and denied a share in it and poverty is often cited as one of probable reasons for it. Let us concede this thing that Indian government has failed in its attempt to provide a modicum of basic education to its Muslims through its resources, but so has it for other communities as well. But it begets an important questions that what about the resources that we mobilize internally within the Muslim communities through Zakat.
Lets us concede this fact that resources are used to run madrasa’s and Maktabs, aren’t they in sordid conditions lacking every infrastructural facility from toilet to blackboard. But equally important question is what sort of education is being provided to them. Will the education being provided enable them to earn a better living, enter market and earn handsome money or else will make her a social parasite banking on the Zakat, only engendering a vicious circle of poverty and dependency.
But the essential fact that emerges is what if one were to question the religious leaders responsible for running the Awqaf property, how much it yields annually to us , how money is being spend, who gets what. The oddity of whole scenario is that a collaborator class within the Muslims has worked in tandem with corrupt officials and sold away property at rock bottom prices making Muslim community to fend off.
Muslim in India are essentially facing acute leadership crisis of gigantic proportions, a leadership dedicated to the cause of betterment of Muslims, having heart ache for them, that class is yet unable to develop. Without expending considerable energy if Tirupati temple in Orissa is financing the network of schools and colleges and university, where is money, being paid at Sufi shrines used. Has seeking of Ilm been an invitation to men only or else it is for both sexes; to think and cogitate about the wondrous creation that God has created.
Zaboor Ahmad is lecturer political science.