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Friday, October 09, 2009

Ulema's opposition to Central Madarsa Board

Lately there has been a hue and cry over the UPA government's plan to form a Central Madarsa Board.

Ulema are up in arms over the government's intervention in religious institutes. They feel that it a step towards changing the basic character of the madarsas.

Is the proposal so useless and destructive, which some of the vocal clerics want us to believe? Or it is opposition for the sake of opposition without proper anlaysis of the merits and demerits of the entire scheme?

Constructive criticism is okay but rejecting it without proper debate is nonsense. Here I am posting excerpts of an article written by M Wadood Sajid, that was published in a prominent Urdu daily.

Mr Sajid says that everybody has the right to speak their mind but issuing statements without bothering to talk about the pros and cons of the scheme, suggests that probably many of these MPs and 'scholars' lack the intellectual competence and capability to discuss the issue. Else, they should express their reservations over the draft bill and seek further changes rather than outrightly rejecting it.

Here are the excerpts:

1. HRD Minister Kapil Sibbal had called a meeting of Muslim MPs who were invited twice and the amended draft was also sent along with the invitation, but just 20 out of 59 MPs turned up. Of the five ministers, four didn't attend the meet.

2. Of the three MPs who have studied at Darul Uloom Deoband, two didn't bother to participate in the meeting. Mahmood Madani, Badruddin Ajmal and Israrul Haq Qasmi were invited but the former two didn't attend the convention though they did issue strong statements against the plan on the very next day.

3. Speaking to over a dozen persons running madarsas, one finds out that they believe the Board would not be beneficial because the 'senior clerics' affirm that it will pave way for government intervention in future. Most of them have no first hand information about the proposed bill. They don't realise that even if the Board comes into existence, there is no law that will force them to join it, rather than stay away from the Board if they wish. Or even join and later get de-affiliated.

4. The Board will only hold examiantion in mathematics, computer science, English and would have nothing to do with religious curricula. However, the certificate would help the madarsa gruduate to pursue higher studies in other universities with ease.

5. Many madarsas run with the help of donations and there is no system by which donors can see whether the money is put to proper use. The students live and study in poor conditions and the teachers get paltry pays, ranging from Rs 500 to a few thousands. However, those who run the madarsas get the chunk of the earnings. In Urdu papers, students often write about the princely lives of those running these insitutions and the poor condition of the students. Is the opposition to the board because of the reason that such malpractices may get exposed?

6. If the board is established, then those teaching the above-mentioned subjects will get salaries at par with the government employees. In that case, those running madarsas for pure personal profit, may be confronted with the question that why they don't pay substantial salaries. This could be one of the reasons for the fear of the anti-Board lobby.

7. Trying to bring the Ulema belonging to various sects on a common platform is a daunting task. When the Barelvis, Deobandis, Hanafis, Shafais, Shias, Sunnis and those of other denominations can't come together for the most vital issues that affect the community, how can they join hands for a progressive project that has the potential to uplift millions of poor children of the community. It's as difficult as bringing goat, squirrel, rabbit, fish and frog in the same boat and making them stay together. Doesn't such project augur bad for them, as it could signal the closure of their own establishments that are solely aimed at getting personal benefits and prosperity (for them and their families) at the cost of the rest.

[The article was published in Urdu daily Sahafat]


urdudaaN said...

Firstly, why are madrasas interesting the government? Secondly, Muslims need their due in other fields rather than such petty interventions. I am sad to see you getting carried away on this topic.

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for sometime time now and am very impressed with the quality of issues you raise. I hope and pray the efforts of people like you help make Indians achieve their true potential and live harmoniously.

Yasir said...

Have you seen Javed Anand's article in Indian Express Read Similar sentiments echoed by him in this article.

Saif said...

Muslims specifically in India are not open to "Change". Every new subject is dealt with "scepticsm".
Especially when it comes to religion we are more "conservative" & "orthodox" in our interpretations.
It is also understood that Madrasa's mostly run by donations may loose their "authority" with so called "government intervention".Wakf board is a good example of how Muslims can heart themselves...
Having said that, outright rejection of Madrasa board without disussion is foolishness.
Last but not the least it surprises me (if its true) that Moulana Madani & Moulana Badruddin Ajmal did not attend the meeting.

indscribe said...

Urdudaan Sahab: You may find that there is more to it than meets the eye but the point is why should issues be disregarded.

Why not discuss and put your point across properly before rejecting something. The MPs are elected so that they take up the issues forcefully but they are mostly apathetic.

I have personal experience that while Madarsa Board model may not have succeeded in UP, at least in MP it has brought quite a lot of change.

When the boys get the mark-sheets issued from Madhyamik Shiksha Board or similar govt entities, it helps them and boosts their confidence.

And we all don't discuss it, who will. Muslims are supposed to speak and discuss their own issues.

There are others who have genuine objections, so that may be mentioned. Who stops them? Syed Shahabuddin has today written a piece against the Board.

@ Anon, Yasir thanks for comments

@ Saif sb: Ya, these two Muslim MPs didn't attend the meet.

urdudaaN said...

Adnan Bhai,

I think we lack consistency in approach here.

E.g. I'm no big fan of Bukhari Sahab and am not for a Muslims political party either. But, when he said he wanted to float a political party for Muslims, many of us rejected the idea saying Muslim masses needed ground work rather than a political party.

However, when it came to political parties/governments run by them, trying to do something that cannot be considered the much needed ground work, we changed the previous argument.

Why doesn't the government address rampant corruption in schemes that are supposed to feed the school children?

aamir sheikh said...

I have personal experience that many Madarsas try to brain wash children. Many Madarsas physically beat innocence and fragile children. In some cases children are treated like servant by Madarsa persons. As per law, physical beating and molestation lead to severe punishment.

It is these discrepancies that need to be dealt with through law and regulations.