At the outset, I request you to read this letter carefully with open mind and heart.
I write to you as a concerned citizen of this multi-religious, multi-cultural, secular democracy called Bharat. As I went through the news that Madarasas in Uttar Pradesh will bear a new look on 15th August 2017 on the occasion of India’s 70th Independence anniversary. The government led by you in Uttar Pradesh has directed all madrasas across the state to hoist the national flag, recite the national anthem, sing patriotic songs, organise cultural and sport-related programmes, and pay tribute to freedom fighters on Independence Day. What has caused a flutter amongst the madrasas is that they have to show proof of the activities by videotaping everything.
Sir, this move is highly discriminatory and the move could be seen as a highly biased approach toward Muslims in the state. Your order has come despite the fact that madrasas celebrate this red letter day in India’s history with great fanfare and enthusiasm on 15th August every year,.. Then after all, why such an order?
May I ask you why only single out madrasas?” No schools and Gurukuls come under the purview of this order. Why only madrasa students and madrasas have been chosen? Does it mean that they are not loyal to their country by any means? It clearly indicates that the government doubts the credibility of madrasa students, which is extremely unfair. The move could be seen as a discriminatory approach toward Muslims in the state in general.
Sir, as a journalist and as a citizen of our great country India, I have full right to put some facts about madrasas, which are doing yeomen service since many decades in India.
Actually, your order is unfair, unconstitutional and unwarranted. In fact, Madrasas are religious centers committed to peace and aim at inculcating spiritual values among the youth. Teachings of love and reverence and human values are imparted in these centers. Madrasas also teach students to love their brethren. The ability to declare oneself a patriot is also part of person’s character.
As per the definition mentioned in Encyclopedia Britannica, Madrasah means “school, in Muslim countries and an institution of higher education. The Madrasah functioned until the 20th century as a theological seminary and law school, with a curriculum centered on the Quran. Arabic grammar and literature, mathematics, logic, and, in some cases, natural science were studied in Madrasah in addition to Islamic theology and law. Tuition was free, and food, lodging, and medical care were provided as well. Instruction usually took place in a courtyard and consisted primarily of memorizing textbooks and the instructor’s lectures. The lecturer issued certificates to his students that constituted permission to repeat his words.”
Princes and wealthy families donated funds for the erection of buildings and for stipends to students and lecturers. By the end of the 12th century, Madrasahs flourished in Damascus, Baghdad, Mosul, and most other Muslim cities.
As per Wikipedia, “However, in English, the term Madrasah usually refers to the specifically Islamic institutions. A typical Islamic school usually offers two courses of study: a Hifz course teaching memorization of the Qur’an (the person who commits the entire Quran to memory is called a hafiz); and an Alim course leading the candidate to become an accepted scholar in the community. A regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, Tafsir (Qur’anic interpretation), Shariah (Islamic law), Hadiths (recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad),mantiq (logic), and Muslim history. In the Ottoman Empire, during the Early Modern Period, the study of hadiths was introduced by Suleyman I. Depending on the educational demands, some Madrasah also offer additional advanced courses in Arabic literature, English and other foreign languages, as well as science and world history. Ottoman Madrasah along with religious teachings also taught “styles of writing, grammary, syntax, poetry, composition, natural sciences, political sciences, and etiquette.”
Sir, putting Madrasahs under the scanner is a gross injustice as these institutions have contributed to the national cause. Graduates from the Madrasah as well as the founders of some of the leading Muslim seminaries in India played an important role in the struggle against the British. From 1857 to 1947 they never compromised with the British government and always held aloft the torch of freedom. It is now a known history that Madrasah people not only participated enthusiastically in the 1857 revolution but also they led the movements at various places. ReshmiRumalTahrik (Silky Handkerchief Movement) was purely an Ulama-based movement.
Madrasas are the greatest NGOs in the world that promote education among the people. Madrasah and Maktabs offer free education; free board and free books while the government of India yet could not managed to provide children with free education.
So, please do not doubt about Madrasas and their patriotism.
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
Editor of Gujarat Siyasat, Ahmedabad
[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior journalist at Ahmedabad. He is the Editor of Gujarat Siyasat newspaper and General Secretary of All India Milli Council- Gujarat chapter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org]