By JAWED ANWAR
This is a series of columns for the understanding of the history of centuries old Madrasah and Islamic Education System in South Asian perspective published in Muslims Weekly, New York, USA, in 18 series of the weekly column “Personal Notes.”
First Published: Muslims Weekly, August 13, 2004, Issue #232
VARIOUS efforts have been made to merge the two systems --Secular, Western education and Islamic education-- but unfortunately most of them failed. Here are two examples:
Jamia Osmania, Hyderabad
Mir Osman Khan was the ruler Nawab of Hyderabad Deccan, a Muslim Independent State under the dominion of British India. He, an education-friendly ruler, established Jamia Osmania in 1917. The initial planning was made by Islamic and educational experts like Syed Ali Bilgrami, Allama Shibli Nomani, and Maulana Hameeduddin Farahi. Islamic knowledge and Western knowledge were merged after a process of deep thinking and research by these elders, but the administrations of the university and the State later amended and changed the system.
The Eastern Islamic tradition in the university was maintained due to the overall State’s traditional practices; however, the hopes of a revival of the Islamic education system proved to be an illusion. This university’s medium of education was Urdu, and the technical and scientific syllabus books were available in Urdu.
The government of Pakistan (established in 1947) maintained from the beginning that Urdu was not sufficient to be used for higher education or as the government’s official language. Osmania University, however, proved in its beginning that the Urdu language was rich and powerful enough to educate and communicate in the modern world.
Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh, Delhi
Khilafat Movement started in India in 1919 by an Aligah Alumni Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. Created out of the anger against the British who played a significant rule to end the Khilafat-Osmania (Caliph of Ottoman), Turkey, the movement attempted to save the institution of Khilafah of Turkey and protect the concept of the Unity of Ummah (Muslim community of the world).
The administration of the university retained the pro-British policy. The rebellious students of Aligarh, under the leadership of Maulana Jauher, established an Islamic Institution in the Jamaa Masjid of Aligarh. Sheikh ul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan Deobandi, who was released from being imprisoned in Malta by the British occupying government on October 29, 1920, was invited by the rebel students of Aligarh to inaugurate the “Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh.” The financial supporter of this effort was Hakim Ajmal Khan Dehlavi, a great physician of his time. Khawja Abdul Majeed, B.A., Cambridge, became the first principal of the university. In the curriculum committee, along with Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and the principal, following were the members:
Tasadduq Ahmed Khan Shirwani, B.A., Cambridge; Secretary Jamia Millia Islamia; Muhammad Ali Khawja, B.A., Cambridge; ex-principal of Habibia College, Kabul; Maulvi Mohiuddin Qusuri and his father Maulvi Abdul Qadri Qusuri; President Khilafat, Committee, Punjab.
In the introductory book of Jamia Millia, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, the purpose of the Jamia was stated, “Our purpose of the education is that we want to produce from our institutions those youth who, will not only be educated from all modern standards, but will be Muslims in true meanings and will have the spirit of Islam and be educated at such a level that they will work as preachers of Islam independently. For this purpose, we declare that the understanding of the complete Qur’an is the foundation stone of our education.
“Now, in this way, the knowledge of this Duniya (World) and Deen (the Islamic way of life) will gather under one roof from which everybody will be benefited, and curtains of ignorance between the two system that makes the knowledge of Deen senseless and knowledge of Dunya purposeless and Godless will disappear.”
Arabic syllabus was implemented similar to Aligarh; however, the full focus was on Arabic literature and eloquence, and there was only a short syllabus of Islamic education. There was one book on each: Tafseer and Seerat e Rassol (s.a.w.). There was no book on Hadith, Fiqah, and Kalam.
The most important thing about this education was that, instead of English, Urdu was the medium of education, and technological and vocational training was given importance so that students could get economic freedom and start their professional lives independently.
The British government of India closed the door to employment for the students of Jamia; however, the universities in Europe accredited the Jamia. Several students, after completing their education, went to Europe and, upon returning, they could get government employment in India.
This university was later moved to Delhi. Dr. Zakir Hussain (Aligarian and ex-President of India) became the first vice chancellor of Jamia Millia. The academically prestigious Professor Mujeeb and Dr. Abid Hussain were professors of the university. These people had struggled and persevered in a difficult situation and promoted their cause by wielding the weapon of the pen and page.
This university was established in opposition of Aligarh. From outer appearances, it seemed that they were different, but it was finally proven that the difference was the opposition of the British government. The approach to education, however, was similar. Islamic Colors as defined by its founder faded away soon. In the Khilafat movement, Hindu-Muslim friendship was developed, and soon, in opposition of the British, Hindus and Muslims joined the Congress Party of India and brought Indian nationalism inside the university. They painted the new ideology of the university with Indian nationalism and the Islamic color was completely faded away. Even the weekly holy day of Jummah was replaced by Sunday.
The roots of Jamia Millia Islamia were cut off from Aligarh (Muslim nationalism) and Deoband (Islam) and became the Indian nationalist university, which is opposite to its name.
From these efforts and practices, one should realize that any effort to place a human mind in the body of a monkey (Islam in a secular education system) would be fruitless. Similarly, any effort to place a monkey’s mind in a human body (secular education in an Islamic setting) will equally be in vain.
Jawed Anwar can be reached at: jawed@TheMuslim.ca