Madarssa Education in India – An Introduction
Madrasah literally means “a place where learning and studying takes place”. Madrasah
simply means the same as school does in English language. The term madrasah refers
specifically to Islamic institutions. Acquisition of Islamic knowledge is said to
be a fundamental duty binding on all Muslims. Madrassa education in India, have
rendered invaluable service to the development of the community and the country.
They have played a silent but significant role in educating millions of Muslim population
in the country. The services of Madrasas are not limited to spreading literacy,
but also encompass social, political and academic fields. In fact the educational
development of the Muslim community cannot be imagined without the Madrasas and
maktabs. Ulema or scholars produced by these Madrasas provide leadership not only
in religious matters but also in social and political spheres as well. Prominent
luminaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
and Dr. Sachidanand Sinha and thousands of others got their elementary education
Madarssa Education in India - School Education
The madrassa movement has a very rich historical past. The Deobandi movement was
a resultant reaction to the British colonialism, which was believed by a group of
prominent Indian scholars to be corrupting the Islamic religion. In 1866 this movement
helped in the establishment of an Islamic school Darul Uloom Deobandh, at Saharanpur
in Uttar Pradesh. The school adheres to the deobandi doctrine of being nationalistic
and advocates the orthodox authentic version of Islam besides repeatedly distancing
itself from religious extremism. In 1893 a breakaway Deobandh group formed Darul
Uloom Nadwatul Ulama whose objective was reaching a middle path between classical
Islam and modernity. It was a modified version of Deobandh and its foundation stone
was laid by John Briscott Hewitt, Lieutenant Governor of India on November 28, 1906
at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. The other institution worth mentioning is the Jamia
Arabia Islamia at Nagpur (1938). At present there are an estimated 35,000 madrassas
in India, big as well as small with an enrolment of 1.5 million students.
Madarssa Education in India - Higher Education
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Madrassa education in India typically offers two courses of study: a hafiz course
teaching memorization of the Quran (a 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
(Quranic interpretations), shariah (Islamic law), hadiths (recorded sayings and
deeds of Prophet Muhammed), mantiq (logic) and Muslim history. The word Jamia in
Arabic means University, but the classification of madrassas as “universities” is
disputed on the question of understanding of each institution.
Madarssa Education in India - Future
Even after accepting and appreciating the hallmark achievements and accomplishment
of Madrassa education in India, the system is till today not free from shortcomings.
Some of the major and important shortcomings of madrassa education in India are
- The absence of aim and objectives.
- Unscientific approach of some of the curricula of the madrassas.
- Lack of basic facilities in a majority of the madrassas,
- Outdated traditional techniques of teaching and learning.
- Isolation from modern developments and techniques.
- Degrees are not market friendly.
- Defective system of examination and evaluation.
- Poor quality of planning and administration.
- Poor financial condition and management.
- Lack of innovation, experimentation and research.
- Low status of teacher in society.
Looking at the shortcomings many institutions have geared up and adopted approaches
which are market centric without disturbing their core teaching practices and principles
and made considerable progress to align themselves and their students to the national