An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Muslims and Freedom of Education: my experience.

Rubab from Pak-times.com asked that it is important to know why a secular country "denies" the Muslims the right to education? I think to an outsider it is a fair question to ask. But lets look at it a little deeper. I have discussed a study that I had undertaken in late 1990’s in UP (largest Muslim percentage). Read this article which refers to one main experience. Here are some of the telling instances that I saw:

1. Muslims are mandated to include Deeni (religious) education with the Duniyavi (worldly). That was one of the main reasons why many Mullahs make it imperative for the people to go to Madrasas. But a Madrasa education at the end of high school age leaves a kid with nothing to go to a college and get a real job! So, then it is discrimination . right? Well if it was any other country – the Government would have literally asked the community to take it or jump off a ship! But the UP government thought.. fair enough… lets give BOTH! So, started the Arabi-Farsi Board. Its curriculum not only includes the learning in Arabic, Urdu, Persian but also Quranic education, apart from the regular studies. And the standard 12th is equivalent to the UP board 12th standard. That is not all. The Government also pays for the teachers’ salaries. That should be ideal right? NO! Since the "Indian" Government has started this board… Deoband and other Madaris pronounce it as "UnIslamic". At least that is informal dictat and everyone repeats the same thing on the ground.

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2. The road from Madrasa takes the kids to becoming Maulanas in the mosques. At one time it was a lucrative profession when they used to go to "Saudi". but no more. There is a crying need to provide "real" education to the students. One personnel at a big Madaris during our discussion did admit that madrasas should teach Computers. So we asked him why he didn’t speak up? Well, if he did – he wouldn’t be part of the main committee any more – was his reply.

3. There was another very interesting "case study". There was this lady who was bathing her kid. A Sikh family. We went to her and asked her where her son (that she was bathing) studied? "Does he study in the Gurudwara School?" we asked, since the village had a school in the Gurudwara. "NO!" she said. "He studies in the town." Oh, the government school, I exclaimed. "NO! Do the Government schools have any education? He studies in the Private school!". And, what about your daughter? "Same school!" she exclaimed.

Now, we went next door. A Muslim family. The guy who was standing there told us that his son had studied in the madrasa and now goes to the bigger madrasa in the town. His daughter never studied. Why, dont they study in the local school? we asked. Well, they teach math and science.. it is against Islam. The Mullah says so. That was it! Thank you very much. One master stroke and the entire community is gone aground!

There were many insightful experiences, but these stood out.

There is enough in the name of education opportunities for Muslims to make good their future.. if they choose to in India! It is upto them to see when they would like to grow.

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