بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Light of Education: Curriculum of Madarsas and its Contributions

Significance of education in the light of the Qur’an and Hadeeth:

Significance of education is obvious. Human being has got superiority over other creatures solely because of education. Allah the Exalted sent down His first revelation with the word “Iqra” and taught human being to equip themselves with the education. The second verse of the first revelation is interpreting the first verse, that the real education is something which helps a man to know his Creator and Sustainer Who created him with a dirty drop of semen and that the main objective of education is to lead one’s life according to the will of his Lord.  

Moreover, Allah the Exalted swore with pen in another verse in the Qur’an. This too illustrates for us the great significance of education. In this verse the word “pen” means pen of destiny. So it is clear that the true education teaches a man to have faith in the destiny.

“Can those who have knowledge are equal to those who do not?” (Surah Al Zumar: 9).

The above mentioned verse too is clear about the importance of education. If we go through the context of this verse, we will find that the education can be a blessing only if it guides us to the path of Allah.

“Allah will raise those, in ranks, who have believed and are given knowledge. Allah is well-aware of what you do." (Surah Al Mujadala: 11).

Addressing to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Allah the Exalted says in another place: “And do not hasten with (reciting) the Qur’an before its revelation to you is concluded, and say, My Lord, improve me in knowledge.”  (Surah Taha: 114).

Both the verses indicate that education is an endless ocean which has no limitation. Human beings are supposed not to stop at any point. Rather they should keep striving and praying to achieve more of the knowledge.

“Only those of His slaves fear Allah who are knowledgeable. Surely Allah is Mighty, Forgiving.” (Surah Al Fatir: 28).

All the interpreters of the Qur’an agree that the word “Ulama” in this verse means scholars of Islam who study the Qur’an and teach it, have knowledge of Allah and ponder over His creations to acknowledge His greatness and majesty and fear Allah. From this interpretation we can conclude that the only education which raises human being in rank is the education derived from the Qur’an and Hadeeth.

Significance of education has also been described in various Ahadeeth. I will mention only one Hadeeth which is enough to highlight its importance. The Prophet (PBUH) says: “And whoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah will make easy for him a path to the Paradise. No people gather together in one of the Houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that Sakeenah (tranquillity) descends upon them, and mercy envelops them, and the angels surround them, and Allah mentions them amongst those who are with Him. And whoever is slowed down by his actions, will not be hastened forward by his lineage. "(Muslim).

Education is acceptable to Allah only if it leads a person to the path of the Paradise. Another part of this Hadeeth also concedes this point. Real knowledge is the knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadeeth.

Human beings achieve knowledge using one of the three sources.

  1. Senses which include eye, ear, mouth, hand and leg
  2. Intellect
  3. Revelation
  4. Some people believe that Madarsas’ curriculum is totally useless in the current scenario of the world. It needs complete change and modern education should be incorporated so that the products of Madarsas cop up with the graduates of colleges and universities. This type of opinion is held widely by those people who never went to Madarsas and understood their curriculum. Surprisingly these people show their false concern regarding 2% of Muslim students who go to Madarsas, but they never think about giving basic Islamic education to 98% or 90% of Muslims who go to schools. 
  5. Contrary to this, there exists another type of people who do not tolerate any change in Madarsas’ curriculum. Obviously both groups are extremists and are on the wrong side. We cannot say that Madarsas’ curriculum is totally useless and needs overall change, as the sole objective of these establishments is to spread and preserve the Islamic educations and guide humanity towards the path of Allah. If existent curriculum is completely changed, it will certainly lose its target. Nor it will be right to say that Madarsas’ curriculum does not need any change, as it has been failing to fulfil the worldly needs of the people.
  6. Moderate opinion in this regard is that Madarsas should continue with the same system and curriculum with slightest change in the books and subjects. Teaching the Qur’an and Hadeeth and other Islamic subjects should remain the point of focus of Madarsas. However, books of the Qur’anic interpretations and Hadeth explanation as well as books of Nahaw, Sarf and Arabic literature need to be compiled in new way considering the requirement of the present time. Some books of Mantiq and Falsafa will be better to be replaced with English, Math, and Computer etc. It does not mean that we should neglect the Islamic subjects. Rather these subjects ought to be given priority with the addition of few modern subjects. We are not advocating the complete change otherwise Madarsas will be deviated from their right objective. As Allama Iqbal said: “Leave these Madarsas at their own pattern, let the young poor Muslims study there. If these Ulama disappear you don’t know what will happen. I have witnessed with my own eyes in Istanbul. Muslims have ruled there for 8 centuries. But today only demolished and deserted signs of Muslim regimes are there.” (Monthly Darul Uloom Magazine, Issue of December 1994).
    1. Imparting education of the Qur’an and Hadeeth, these Madarsas have contributed in many ways in spreading the Qur’anic and Hadeeth teachings in the Indian sub-continent. This is one of the significant contributions which other institutions have not done. It will not be an exaggeration, if we say that spreading Islamic educations without the existence of Madarsas is impossible.
    2. Establishment of modern institutions, products of these Madarsas have established schools, colleges and universities so that Muslims can avail the opportunity to get modern educations. Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hassan laid the foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar played a very significant role in the development of that university. We cannot overlook Allama Shibli Numani’s services towards Aligarh Muslim University. Apart from these Islamic scholars, there are many other Ulamas who not only encouraged Muslim for modern education, but they also established schools and colleges. Currently Maulana Wali Rahmani and Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Wastanwi are living examples. They are running various colleges in India which produce a large number of doctors, engineers etc every year.
    3. Madarsas are known for their unbiased approach. They do not discriminate between groups of people. Their doors are equally open for both rich and poor students i.e. Madarsas are successful in spreading the educations even in poor community.
    4. Madarsas have established education system in rural areas more than any other government or non-government institutions. Their products are not only serving in the metropolitan cities, but they are also going to remote rural areas to create awareness for Islamic education among Muslims. Not only that, there are some Madarsas in the remote areas of Bihar and UP where non-Muslim children are also getting education.
    5. Islamic institutions have served to keep Urdu language alive. Thus we see large numbers of books on Islamic subjects are in Urdu.
    6. If we study the history of independence of India, here too we will find that Madarsas are not behind any other institutions. Considerable number of Ulama sacrificed their lives in the freedom fighting.
    7. Madarsas are running Darul Qaza and Ifta in various cities and towns where family disputes are settled in the light of the Qur’an and Hadeeth free of cost. These Daru Qaza and Ifta save Muslims from going to courts. 
    8. Every community has its identity. Islamic Madarsas have inspired Muslims not to lose their Islamic identity and culture. Today, the whole world is striving to demolish the Islamic culture. But these Madarsas are big obstacle in their way. That is why Madarsas have been their main target for quite a long time.
    9. Several Muslim welfare movements are run by Ulama of Madarsas in India

Knowledge achieved through senses and intellect has the possibility of mistakes. But the knowledge achieved through revelation does not have the possibility of mistakes, as it is endowed by Allah to the prophets and through them it reaches to the human being. This type of knowledge provides the human being answers to various questions which senses and intellect do not do. So we can conclude now that only senses and intellect are enough to guide human beings to the right path. They also need divine knowledge, which is superior to the knowledge of senses and intellect. Islam does not stop from obtaining knowledge using first two sources.

We believe that the science of the Qur’an and Hadeeth is superior to other sciences. But we should strive to achieve knowledge of senses and intellect as well. History is witness that Muslims had been far more ahead in every field of education and had contributed in every subject. But painfully I am acknowledging that today majority of them have left the knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadeeth and also they are far behind in the worldly educations. We need to restore our lost dignity which cannot be possible without the knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadeeth.

Establishment of Madarsas:

Now we talk about those Masajid, Madarsas and religious establishments which are serving to guide Muslim Ummah to the right path. It is generally believed that Madarsas’ systems was started in the fourth century of Hijrah. But the fact is that Muslims paid attention towards Islamic education even at the time of the Prophet Muhamad (PBUH). Daare Arqam, Masjide Nabawi and the circle of Masjide Quba are clear evidence of it. In the fourth and fifth century of Hijrah, Al Azhar University in Egypt, Madarsa Abu Bakar Al Asfa’hani in Asfa’han and Madarsa Abul Is’haq Al Asfa’rani in Nishapur came into existence. Arab businessmen established Masajid and Madarsas in southern part of India (Malabar) in the seventh century of Hijrah. As for the northern region of India, Madarsa systems started there with the victory of the Turk kings. But in 1206 when Muslims established their regimes in Delhi, they started several Madarsas and primary Madarsas in Delhi and several other surrounding villages.

Objective of Madarsas:  

The sole objective of establishing Madarsas is to teach the Qur’an and Hadeeth and all other sciences which are derived from the Qur’an and Hadeeth. Creating selfless people who can take forward such education to other generation is also part of the objectives of Madarsa education.

What is taught in Madarsas?

Subjects which are taught in Madarsas are listed here: Ilme Tajweed, Ilme Tafseer, Ilme Usoole Tafseer, Ilme Hadeeth, Ilme Usoole Hadeeth, Ilme Fiqh, Ilme Usoole Fiqh, Ilme Mirath, Ilme Aqaa’ed, Ilme Nahaw, Ilme Sarf, Ilme Mantiq, Ilme Falsafa, Ilme Balaghat and some other Uloom as per the requirement of time.

Modification in Madarsa Curriculum:

Modification in Madarsas’ curriculum is one of the issues which is raised by people times and again. Three types of opinions are generally found in this regard.

Similarly, Islamic scholar Allama Sayed Sulaiman Nadwi says: “We will need these Arabic Madarsas in future more than today when India’s atmosphere will take on quite new form where all the people will go mad in search of wealth and position. At that time, these Madarsas will serve as centres for Islam. So their protection and proper administration is the responsibility of every Muslim.

Contributions of Madarsas:

Madarsas’ contributions are endless. But here I will enlist only a few major services that Madarsas have rendered in the society.

Modern institutions need to incorporate Islamic education:

As mentioned earlier, Islam does not prohibit from modern education. It is fact that today majority of Muslim students learn in modern institutions. Most of them are unaware of Islam. That is because those institutions are run by people who do not know about Islam. The responsibility falls on Ulama. They need to come ahead and establish such institutions where apart from modern educations, children are also provided with the facility of basic of Islamic educations and are brought up in the complete guidance of the Qur’an and Hadeeth. So that they can produce religious doctors, engineers, lawyers etc who can represent the right Islam in all sectors. Schools, colleges and universities run by Muslims are supposed to give utmost importance in creating the Islamic environment. Parents are requested to prefer such institutions where children’s faith and morality is in safe hands while selecting schools or colleges.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)