By Md. Asif (Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi)
A little More than 8 years ago at the end of 2013 when India was witnessing Anna Hazare Movement, which had enveloped in its ambit entire India and the swift shift evidently was simmering in the proclivities of the masses from the most primitive party, Congress, to a 3 decades old party and with a new set of ideology whose precursor was eventually decided by the father organization RSS and Modi Ji was placed as a forerunner to 2014 general election, it was a moment when we were growing up and gradually getting to know what Indian politics is and what the largest democracy is ailing from.
It was the time when having spent almost 5 years in a reputed seminary of India, Darul Uloom Deoband, which comes into the limelight only when a Fatwa Controversy erupts, I had written a piece of writing in Urdu, with the title “Is democracy dying in India?” Before it could be published in the magazine, it was to be scrutinized by an Editorial Board, and the board, having a glance at some of the content which was critical to the government of the hour, categorically denied its publication.
I had not that much clue about article 19 back then, else they could have deleted some of the disparaging, denunciatory, and scathing sentences but the Madrasa didn’t tolerate the criticism of the government and opprobrium of democratic structure. Despite the fact that the entire article was corroborated with empirical data, the Editorial Board didn’t approve an article raising questions on the deteriorating conditions of the Indian Governance system.
Structure of a Madarsa
The body comprises a group of Puritans. Their aim is directed at the pleasure of God denouncing worldly affairs and engrossing only in activities that bring them closer to God.
Being strict on religious and moral issues insisting on modesty and simplicity, the theologian in Madrasas instruct students Not to even read Newspapers, lest mundane affairs involve them and can cause abstention or diversion from a life that is believed to be eternal, immortal which is “hereafter “.
Standard of Education
They hardly know of A, B, or C of the English language yet the education they obtain and the knowledge that they seek is far better than our Indian govt schools. As per Indian Express Survey, Students studying in govt schools are unable to read even an English text till 8th Standard far from comprehending, explaining or translating it in their own language while students in Madrasas are able to read the text that they are taught in the 1st standard and they are able to grasp it fully by the time they reach 3rd standard.
The Concept of Necessity and Mandatory
What is believed in almost all religions is, that gaining religious education is essential but in Islam, the emphasis is laid not only on priests or saints, it’s mandatorily instructed for each and everyone to learn religious education to the extent that an individual could make a distinction between what is legitimate and illegitimate, what is moral and immoral and what is right and wrong.
The mentality that now prevails is, that what is alien to me is useless.
Students of Muth (मठ) where only the teachings of rites, rituals, and how to conduct a specific ceremony are imparted, will can their knowledge be a contribution to the nation at large or they favorably fit in because they represent the notion of the majority?
Sanskrit was a language of the elite class earlier but today the significance has somehow deteriorated and it’s just confined to books, very few scholars speak it or can be heard only on occasions of some rituals and ceremonies.
Will it imply or the inference can be drawn that the department of Sanskrit should be shut down as it adds no value to the community at large?
The fact is, what might seemingly appear redundant Or needles to us might be needful to others as in the case of Kannada, Telugu for North Indians, and Hindi for South or North Eastern Indians.
What is there to understand is, that uniformity in any aspect in such a diverse country like India is unpragmatic and people making an attempt to unify this country under a sole shade of color either are naive or want this country to face some horrifying experiences like never before.
The objective of Madrasa Education
Madrasa education is not meant to upgrade a student of theology to a level of scientist, engineer, doctor, Or any other professional, the parents of students deliberately get their kids admitted in Madrasa knowing well that they are not going to gain a sound Or profitable earning from Madrasa. Then What makes the parents send their kids to Madrasa?
Following are the reasons:
1) Their religious belief
2)Their conviction that the Madrasas despite many shortcomings are still the best place to teach their kids moral and ethical values.
3) Madrasa students are relatively poor economically, naive in terms of lacking worldly wisdom, and lowered in rank or position however they are comparatively conformed to the law.
4) Parents’ financial crunch with contemplation that they can’t afford school fees, compel their kids to join Madrasa to get some knowledge of Deen (religion) so that it could become a source of salvation.
The ratio of Madrasa students
In a lecture delivered by a Member of Parliament, he quoted that only 2.3 % of students from Muslim families attend Madrasa Education and amongst them, 99.3 % either belong to either below the poverty line or backward classes to whom education is imparted free of cost and no charge of hostel and mess facilities is incurred.
With 2% Madrasa goers, let’s assume, are doing no service to the nation but what is the government doing for 98% is something that should be contemplated.
Madrasa Students and their sinister appearance
What’s is believed to be abhorring in Madrasa students, their Long Kurta, Pyjama Or Shalwaar sometimes untidy and the long beard sometimes mustache shaved Or at times trimmed, make their countenance having striking resemblance with Usama Bin Laden Or Afghan Taliban, who are till today are shown on the TV screen atrocious, abominable, barbaric or believed to be people from a flagitious, wicked Or egregious community.
It is left to the reader to judge how justified it’s to believe on the TV screen in a Post-truth world, more specifically at a time when the TV channels have a certain set agenda to spew poison bringing at times community against community, at another religion against religion.
I have read somewhere In Mahatma Gandhi’s book that “clothes don’t make men” yet we have heard the stalwart supreme leader saying ” people protesting can be recognized by their clothes “.
Western World, since 1924 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire has left no stone unturned to paint Muslims, their lifestyle, and their system of governance in a very shabby, despicable, nasty, and contemptible color lest the world in any corner give them any chance of rising again.
The Government is it Congress-led Or BJP-led at the center or in a state has nipped the Muslim organization in the bud.
Students of Islamic Movement in India (SIMI) is One of the instances which was banned by the government alleging involvement in unlawful activities. Hardly any student from Madrasa was traced to this organization.
Tablighi Jama’at another Movement an organization that is spread across the globe was targeted very recently during the Pandemic for solely spreading Corona in India while their donation of Plasma on large scale didn’t draw TV Channels Headlines.
Madrasas, which to a great extent are considered a custodian of religious values are now under a suspicion merely because they disseminate religious knowledge and information whenever necessitated.
Accusations like Madrasas are a den of terrorism, can be held baseless because, they know nothing about the weaponry, machines, artillery, or basic science that’s required and moreover their teachers can’t digest any deviation not only in the views but in the activities as well.
Why Madrasas are under a cloud?
The governments to garner vote banks go out of the way not only to distract the mind of the majority from real issues of unemployment, hunger, poverty, and concentration of wealth in certain hands but also to appease the major chunk of their votes with no regard to the fragmentation of society, culture, and harmony.
Very recently, a piece of news from Assam circulated, that Assam Government ordered to raze a Madrasa to the ground and a bulldozer Justice was served but not less than three days after the government ordered to reconstruct the same Madrasa. Whose tax money is going to be spent on this Madrasa now, which was first destroyed in a hasty manner with no deliberation of consequences, and then the order of rebuilding it was issued?
Madrasas: a nightmare for the British.
The number of Madrasa clerics who fought and sacrificed their lives for India during the various phases of the great 1857 revolt goes up to more than half a million. These were the products of the Madrasas that have been under the constant vigilance of the govt and the masses but their loyalty towards this country has been buried under the debris now. –
It was one of the visionaries of Madrasa, Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehlawi, who prophesied about the enslavement of India and made plans tirelessly to liberate this country from the clutches of the British.
He started a movement for this and made madrasas the centers of a national movement. In 1731, the plan for the country’s freedom was prepared under the leadership of Shah Saheb and ulemas like Shah Abdul Aziz and Shah Rafiuddin.
Madrasas under the leadership of Shah Saheb, Shah Abdul Aziz, and Shah Rafiuddin became the centers of anti-British Govt activities and there only the declaration of Jihad was announced
After this declaration of jihad by the Imam-e-Hurriyat, the scholars of religious madrasas made the freedom of the country the mission of their life.
According to Maulana Azad’s Al-Hilal, Hazrat Alif Mujaddid Sani, Maulana Ajmal Khan, Maulana Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari, Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Ashfaqullah Khan Kakorvi, Maulana Imam Bakhsh Suhbai, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, and Shah Abdur Rahim Raipuri were all madrasa products who fought the English tooth and nail.
The Madrasas, the teaching staff, and the students studying there are quite like normal human beings.
They are not studying to replace the Constitution with Sharia Law. They lead a very simplistic life. They don’t have time to orchestrate, hatch a conspiracy and take the lives of their own people. However, what they are repeatedly told, taught, and, in fact, instilled in their mind is,” don’t bend the knees in front of a cruel man, you shall win or die, and the death of martyrdom is better than the thousands of lives”
There lies a tranquillity beyond the TV Screen
The politics of peril at play, kindly ensure the harmony is maintained, else harm is only going to hurt us and nobody else. As to menace of Madrasa and Madrasa students, kindly make a visit to your neighboring Madrasa, have an interaction with them, ask them what made their parents send them there in Madrasa you will get the sense of Shakespeare’s quote “Fair is foul and Foul is fair”.