Madrassa Education in India

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 at madrassas.

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

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 as below:

  • 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 mainstream.

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