Misrepresentation, Misinterpretations And Madarsas: Busting The Common Myths Around Muslim Religious Education

“The Difference Between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war” Sydney N Harris.

File photo of a Madarsa

Very recently Madhya Pradesh Govt directs state Madrasas to send video proof of Tricolour rallies on Independence Day. Last year Yogi Government, in Aug 2017, passed an order for all the Madrasah in UP to hoist National Flag, Sing National Anthem and submit video graphic proof. 

While the government is trying to appease Muslim minority through all corners but when it comes to Madarsah as a religious educational institution, all absurd impositions are forced. Misrepresenting Islam, Muslims and Madarsah give political and financial gains to many contributing to misinformed public opinion and thus without any factual proof the allegations pour thereby activating the denunciation of an entire religion and a melee of thoughts of the audience.

Madarsah is misrepresented and claimed to be gloomy, retrograde, scandalous, unpatriotic and draconian institutions imparting knowledge of a religion which promotes teachings of regression at individual and national level. 

The popular portrayal of Madarsah as the hub of antipathetic group unfavorable for the society has no basis either in the history of Madarsah or the present scenario. In Islamic history, the existence of Madarsah can be traced back to the time of Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] and over the period the Madarsah have imparted knowledge equivalent to today’s education system comprising primary, secondary and higher education. 

The areas included Qur’an, Medicine, Geometry, Trade, craftsmanship, Arabic, Islamic Ethics, Law as well. In the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, as the English call it, the Madrasas had become hubs of nationalism and had to bear the wrath of the British. 

The alleged cases of sodomy or sex scandals in Madarsas are often quoted against the very existence of Madarsah which is quite ironical to the claim many make that Madarsah should be converted to modern schools with national Board affiliation when one knows of uncountable cases of sexual abuses existing in the very modern schools throughout the nation. The need of the hour is neither the subjugation of this institution which has played an important role in the development of our country in many ways nor smothering the freedom they practice.

The requirement is to boost the functioning of Madarsah and support it in a way that it paves way for the development of members of a community and nation as a whole. The penury condition of Madarsah needs political support as well.  Madarsah, as an institution is always criticized for political gains along the political spectrum, they consider banning it easier then uplifting it. As, Irfan Habib says about de-recognition of Madrasah education (2015), “most Madarsah function on community support, with little state funding. Most are not even recognized as schools by the government in the first place”.

Many a time, Madarsas are the only educational option available to Muslim children, especially in areas where no schools have reached the Muslim masses. Very often, children go to Madarsas not out of choice but due to the non-availability and inaccessibility of other schools, and a near absence of education in their mother tongue. It’s simply outrageous to think about ending of Madarsah system either through slow means of de-recognition or other abhorrent ways as Madarsas have been an integral part of the life for millions of Muslims, directly or indirectly. 

There are many who are opting for Madarsah after being a part of a mainstream modern education system, some even turn to madrassas later in life after a successful professional journey. I personally know someone who left his lucrative job to join a Madarsah to study Qur’an and Arabic. The Madarsas were and will be part of approx 170 million Muslims living in India and a need to resuscitate this institution which represents millions. 

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Madarsa education religion india nationalism

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