Madrassa Move is a Step to End Appeasement

The Maharashtra government’s move to consider madrassas as “non-schools” and their students as “out of…

The Maharashtra government’s move to consider madrassas as “non-schools” and their students as “out of school” has stirred a national debate in India. Opposition politicians and some journalists, without considering a Muslim child’s fundamental right to free and compulsory education, have criticised the decision.

Abu Azmi, the Maharashtra leader of Samajwadi Party, has declared: “Any interference in operations of madrassas will be fought tooth and nail. The Samajwadi Party will fight for the society including Muslims.” Mohammed Zahoor Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a religious organisation with no consequential legacy to the benefit of Muslims, has threatened legal action against the Maharashtra government. A Muslim citizen’s right to free education is not discussed by any politician or journalist.

Evidence from past decades proves conclusively that Indian Muslims who enroll in madrassas do not go on to become physicists, economists, space scientists, chartered accountants, software engineers or doctors, not even political leaders. Madrassas are the wheels of this institutional exclusion of Muslim citizens from India’s public life.

Picture of a Mosque cum madrassa

Therefore, if citizens are being excluded from India’s social mainstream and denied the choice of professions in this manner in a sustained way, it becomes obligatory on the Indian republic to remove such roadblocks from the life of its citizens. Yes, a few madrassa students do enter modern professions, but this is due to their personal striving not due to the contribution of madrassas, much like a girl from a Mumbai slum overcomes hardships to enter the famed IITs, or other institutions of excellence.

Evidence from past decades also proves conclusively that Muslim children who enter madrassas predominantly go on to become the following: Islamic clerics, Urdu poets, Imams of mosques, revivalist preachers of the kind found in the Tablighi Jamaat and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, or political parasites of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind type.

It is simple to observe that madrassas limit options for Muslim children while schools expand their life’s choices. Once in a rare while, a student of Darul Uloom Deoband turns up in Delhi’s television studios for debate or becomes an engineer, which does not automatically mean that madrassas are producing journalists, engineers or experts on international politics. Generally, madrassas paralyse Muslims from opening their minds at a young age when a child’s curiosity should empower them to mentally prepare for inter-planetary travel.

Therefore, it is obligatory on the Indian state to ensure that the country’s education system opens up choices for Muslims in the manner it does for non-Muslims.

The Maharashtra government’s move to treat madrassas and Vedic institutes as “non-schools” and their students as “out of school” is a simple administrative measure that will expand choices of life for citizens, whether Muslims or non-Muslims. This measure is not aimed to dis-empower Indian Muslims.

In fact, it was part of a survey carried out by the Maharashtra government on 4 July to identify and ensure that all children of 6-14 years age enter schools. This is a constitutional objective that the Indian state is required to fulfill irrespective of whether these children are Muslims, Hindus, Christians or others. Effectively, Maharashtra’s move de-recognises madrassas that do not teach mathematics, sciences and social studies.

Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act passed by the previous Congress government, madrassas and Vedic institutes that do not meet the teaching standards in mathematics, sciences and social studies were already de-recognised. The Maharashtra government is merely implementing the RTE Act.

In Indian democracy, education is the only effective tool that empowers citizens in their day-to-day life. Education creates multiple turning points in the life of a citizen, offering numerous career opportunities to progress in life.

However, evidence also shows that madrassa students fail to rise in life because ideas and skills taught to them exclude them from mainstream professions. As a result, Muslims are pushed to the margins of society. While the rest of the society thrives, Muslims end up in ghettos. Madrassas’ overwhelming role is to close doors of public life to Muslim girls, but India’s ministry of women and child development has shut its eyes to this vast problem.

There exists a serious problem with madrassas whose key objective is to spread Islam. Generally speaking, madrassas are of two kinds. One, seminaries established by Muslims which teach the Quran, Hadiths (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad) and Islamic studies – sometimes also teaching basic Hindi, English and Mathematics. Such madrassas survive on charities and are not accountable to any government authority for their activities.

Two, in some states such as Bihar, madrassas get funds from the government for introducing science, mathematics and social studies in their curriculum. In these cases, it is clear that some of the state funds are used to finance the study of the Quran, Hadiths and Islamic studies, since all teachers of madrassas get salaries from the state. This is a violation of the constitution, which requires the Indian state to remain secular.

Under Article 30(1) of the Indian constitution, religious and linguistic minorities have the “right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” The Indian constitution does not offer a definition of “educational institution” but teaching of the Quran, Hadiths and Islamic studies is not the constitution’s objective and therefore madrassas imparting religious education cannot be called “educational institutions”.

Madrassas teach religion and can benefit from the Article 25 which guarantees the “the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” What is important is that every Indian child, whether Muslim or not, is guaranteed a fundamental right to free and compulsory education under Article 21(A), and therefore every child of 6-14 years of age must be in school during school hours of the day. Only after 14 years of age or outside school hours, children can go to a madrassa.

There is a larger problem: madrassas are not designed to preparing Muslims for life in this world. Their sole objective is to teach Quranic subjects and prepare children for the propagation of Islam and for a life after death. Madrassas, whether aided by the state governments or not, excel at this objective. Naturally, students emerge from madrassas as misfits for modern society.

The Darul Uloom Deoband is the world’s second largest madrassa after Cairo’s Al-Azhar university.

Let’s look at some fatwas (directives) delivered by it in recent years: talking to fiancé on phone is haram (forbidden); Muslims must not work in banks; women cannot preach or deliver sermons at mosques; donating blood is un-Islamic; saying “talaq, talaq, talaq” to wife on cellphone is valid divorce; acting and modelling are disallowed by Islam; women cannot become qazis (judges); homosexuality is an offence in Islam; adolescent girls are barred from riding bicycles, and so on.

Darul Uloom Deoband. Pic Courtesy: Google Image Search

Some Islamists and their brethren on the Left argue that fatwas are merely advisory opinions. However, they forget that these opinions have more power on the lives of Muslims. The ideas contained in these fatwas, whether or not a fatwa is issued formally, are taught by all madrassas across the world, not just in India.

Students who emerge from madrassas in India create a value system based on these fatwas. Also, thousands of students graduating from madrassas like the Darul Uloom Deoband go on to establish numerous similar madrassas, teaching the same retrogressive ideas, producing misfits for our society and creating ghettos in our neighbourhoods.

Each madrassa is a mini-Darul Uloom Deoband that dictates the lifestyle choices in its neighbourhood. It takes just one madrassa graduate to stand up and deliver a sermon that shuts up an entire village of Muslims. Some analysts argue that not even one per cent of Muslims go to madrassas, but this one per cent Muslims from madrassas rules over the remaining ninety nine per cent of Muslims.

Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is the executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. Ahmad is the author of “Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim.” He tweets @tufailelif
  • Atif Rahman

    I just read your oped today…my only point is …why not give time or ultimatum to madarasas to bring in new syllabus by say 2015-16 session as per normal school or be derecognized.
    This way both parents and the madarassa guys will have time to change and kids will not be loser of a year.
    If within this period no progress happening then parent will shift to new school by next session…it will create pressure on Maulanas to change.

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      Where are Muslim girls educated? And why Urdu and arabic are the only languages taught?

  • Pingback: Madrassa Move is a Step to End Appeasement | featuresgalleried()

  • Wonder if UK will take a cue and stop allowing faith schools in UK.

  • Jishnu

    madrasas are non-schools. India is rotting after independence because veda is not taught in formal education. Of course, in a legacy of the first education minister Maulana Azad how can anyone expect Indian education system teach Indian education to Indian kids.

  • शरण् कुमार्

    Essaying reform in Islam is like training pigs to fly.

  • Rama

    Good article. I will not compare Vedic schools with Madarasas. In one , you are always asked not believe anything until you are convinced. In the other, you accept everything without any questions.
    @ Deva
    “They should follow Azim premji, Shabana Azmi, amir khan, shah rukh,”

    Give me a break. I don’t want anyone to follow any of the above ( Azim Premji is an exception, ? Is he an Ismaili?) All semi closet Islamists to the core.

    • शरण् कुमार्

      Well said. A Muslim should never be trusted as false flag is an integral part of Islam. Telling lies for the cause of Islam is one form of Jihad and therefore perfectly halal.

  • शरण् कुमार्

    The government is wrong in putting a Madrassa and Vedic school (paatashaala?) in the same basket, and treating Hinduism and Abrahamism as mere “religions”. Whatever Islam is, Dharma is not a political ideology. Vedic schools gave rise to great linguists, doctors, engineers and scientists. This is not the case of Madrassas whose only contribution is global terror. Can any “mainstream” “secular” English-educated Indian match the brilliance of a Vedic school trained Panini, Bhartruhari or Aryabhatta, for example? What “egalitarian” gobbledygook?

  • Deva

    Well said. This is the crux of the problem of why the Muslims stay in their own ghettos refusing come out and be a part of the main stream Indians. They should follow Azim premji, Shabana Azmi, amir khan, shah rukh, qnargis and others who left the madarsaa and became big in India. There are more countless Muslims of their ilk. By doing so they did practice their religion and prospered. It is high time the Muslims come out of the cluches of the mutwas and find their own path as in India marches towards its greatness.

  • krishnakumar

    Kudos to Jb.Tufail Ahmad. Not the sole sane voice from our Moslem brethern. I would like to invite our friends to view “Aap ki Adalat” programme of Sh.Rajat Sharma which was aired in India TV soon after Sh.Narendra Bhai Modi won Parliamentary elections. One of the guests of that programme was Maulana Sajid Rashid, a veteran of Dar-ul-uloom, Deoband. Maulana Rashid is also a member of AIMPLB. He echoed the same sentiments covered under this brilliant article. other moslem guests / veterans in that programme also shared similar views.

    For the country to go in the path of development, the saner voices like this shall also become louder.

  • uday

    Very good article. I think the BJP has the worst PR and media advisors:

    1. As per my understanding, the ruling holds for both madrassas and vedic schools (and it should). How does it become anti-islamic? Where are the BJP spokespeople and PR champions to quash this perception?
    2. What’s wrong with MA Naqvi? Why is he insistent that this is as per UPA’s RTE and BJP will work to rectify this “mistake”? You call a move by your own progressive government a “mistake”??

  • sushilpershad

    Will Realization Ever dawn on Muslims ??

    • शरण् कुमार्

      Let me try to answer this question. Islam is not about mindful realization; it is about mindless submission.

      • sushilpershad

        God Does Not Want Submission only Devotion Which Is Acceptance Of Realty !!

        • शरण् कुमार्

          You are committing the same mistake as the folks in the Maharashtra Government by assuming that the Hindu concept and the Islamic concept of God are one and the same. Allah clearly states that complete submission and death in the name of Islam are the two qualifications for a Muslim to be accepted in his jannat.

          • sushilpershad

            How Is Devotion And Submission Same ??

          • शरण् कुमार्

            They are not the same; hence the need to make a clear distinction between Hinduism (devotion or bhakthi) and Islam (submission and lust for terror).

          • Shubhangi Raykar

            And do you know what Jannat ? Where there are 3 rivers, trees from which fruit can be easily plucked, 72 hurries who do not cough, pass urine or defecate and do not age, pubescent doe eyed boys with curly locks, where only men have access and their age is frozen at 30. Also some kind of wine.

  • cool

    MADRASA EDUCATION IN INDIA- Is it to sustain medieval attitude among Muslims

    MODERNISATION OF INDIAN MADRASAS- Why this convergence of the Muslim Elites and the Mullahs?

  • devinder Singh

    This we called article full with truth. I am very sad for indian muslims bcz they don’t have voice like author. I am also very sad for indian muslims bczz mulah dictate them and they has leader like stupid owisi.

    • Voice_of_Truth

      read my comments above..

  • Voice_of_Truth

    i feel utmost sad that such rational thoughts donot have ANY representation in the Indian media circles.. its the ‘blood-thirsty muslim’ that sells.. I tremendously appreciate the author in his actions like these. Only concerted efforts in elaborating the logical and rational narrative will help in propagating true sense in the minds of my many fellow Muslim brothers who unfortunately are still victims to those who want to keep them in the ‘blood-thirsty muslim’ mould. This, my many Muslim brethren, is true Jihad !!

  • Ravindra Singhaniya

    The article is logical and unbiased. Author has rightly pointed out the impact of Madrssa on Muslim society even though only 1% children go to Madrassa. Why Muslims are so concerned about life after death. A man should follow humanity in this life on earth even though one may be sent to hell after death. (if it exists) . There is no point in a desire to go to paradise after death one should create a hell on earth. One should live in present and work for society without caring for its fruits in future.

  • shailesh patel

    its a good article but i dont live in fake optimism. i m pretty sure that ALL MUSLIMS commentator would start nit pickking in the article and prove it wrong anyhow with firm backing of seculars. for instance writer has used “evidence”. where is this evidence??

  • Harsh

    An eminently sensible article ! The author is fortunate to be based in the US – if he was in India, Sicko’s would have hounded him and forced him to apologize. Translation of this article should appear in Urdu press, so that ordinary Muslims can be influenced by these ideas rather than the poisonous rumblings of Owaisi- types !