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Madrasa 5: The History

22 Jun 2012
Madrasa 5: The History
By SYED JAWED ANWAR

First Published: Muslims Weekly, Issue No. 219,May 14, 2004

IN his last khutaba (speech), the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s.a.w.), clearly declared, “There is no messenger after me, and you have to transmit this message to all who are not present here.” As a light-bearer of the message of the last Messenger of God, Muhammad (s.a.w.), Muslims began a major worldwide migration and brought their incomparable education system, fully intact, with them.

Now Madrasahs of South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan) are under attack by so-called scholars, media, and writers of mainstream publications of the West. Either these purveyors of information are ignorant and completely fail to understand the Madrasah system, or they intentionally write these falsehoods to hide the crimes of the Western occupying powers from the history of the destruction of Muslim education system when they occupied the lands and established colonies and enslaved its citizens.

In these columns, I seek to uncover the facts from falsehoods and disclose the truths from the lies.

Muslims adopted four methods of education in their history of education: 1. Talqeen: by advising, convincing, sermons, public speeches, and one-on-one contact; 2. Tadrees: by teaching, book reading, writing, and developing curriculum and syllabus; 3. Tarbiyah: training to develop good habits and abandon bad habits, development of high character and morals; 4. Tadeeb: training to discipline, educating the social etiquette and norms; 5. Tadreeb: physical health exercises and training to maintain a healthy and strong body.

The education system of Muslims was based on five components: each had different focuses: 1.General education: everyone could speak, deliver lectures or can advise and instruct; there was no need of Madrasah or teacher for this general education, and everyone can participate; 2. Tadrees: the center of proper and organized teaching was Masjid in the beginning till the first four centuries of Islam; later Madrasah was separated; 3. Tarbiyah: In the beginning the Masjid was the center of training; later it were separated and called “Khanqah”; 4. Physical exercises: there were organized centers for the physical training (a strong Muslim is better than a weak Muslim --Hadith): 5. Knowledge of skill and technology: these types of education were given generally in factories and homes.

These education and training centers were independent, with separate teachers and trainers who were responsible for their programs.

After the conquests of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi (1030) and his descendants, the current area of Pakistan became the part of Ghazni. The last Ghaznavi descendants made Lahore their capital. During these periods, Madrasahs ( schools) and Khanqahs (training centers) flourished. Shah Hussain Zanjani (1040) and Sheikh Ali Bin Othman Hajweri, popularly known as Daata Gunj Bukhsh (1009-1072), established their centers in Lahore.

Muizuddin Muhammad Ghauri Ibn Sam, popularly known as Shahabuddin Ghori (died 1206) had established a Muslim State in India in 1192 (589 hijri of Islamic calendar), and the education attained prime importance under his rule. This education-friendly king established first Madrasah in Delhi, named Madrasah Moizziya. The next ruler and the founder of slave dynasty, Qutbuddin Aibak (1206-1210) established a Madrasah in Ajmer (presently a city in the State of Rajasthan,India) that was called “the hut of two and half days”(Dhai din kaa Jhonprah). Nasir uddin Qabacha established a Madrasah in Uchch. After these establishments, Madrasah was a movement, a fashion, and spread out very fast in all the corners of Muslim India. At the period of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq (1350), historian Isami writes, “Delhi was the proud competitor of Bukhara and Baghdad (two most educationally advanced cities of the time).” The Egyptian historian Maqrizi writes, “In the period of Shah Muhammad Tughlaq, there were one thousand Madrasahs in Delhi. Teachers  had been receiving high scholarships from the king’s funds. Riyazi (Mathematics) and Maaqoolat (Philosophy and Physical Sciences) were taught along with Deeni (divine, religious) education.”

The full support for the education continued till the last days of their government in India. Even after the weakening of the Muslim central government of Delhi, “Five thousand ulema (scholars) were teaching in the districts of Rohail Khand (nearest districts from Delhi). All were receiving scholarships from the state of Nawab Rehmat Khan Ruhaila (1774)” [The Life of Hafiz Rehmat Khan (in Urdu)].

These systems did worked very well until the rule of British occupiers who destroyed the system from its roots, started in eighteenth century and completed destruction in the mid-nineteenth century.

Few survey reports of the British India compiled by the Britishers:

1. The State of Bengal was among the vanguard of the education movement.  Max Muller compiled reports of government and Christian missionaries. The state had eighty thousand Madrasahs in the beginning of British rule. That means there was one Madrasah for every 40 homes.

2. A Christian missionary, William Adam (1796-1881), compiled the reports in 1835-1838 with the permission of Governor General of India, William Cavendish Bentinck (1774-1839). This report was very comprehensive despite his religious bias. However, one should note the fact that this report was compiled after the Resumption Act of 1818, in which Madrasahs in large numbers were already closed because of government’s occupation and control of the properties of the trusts of Madrasahs and practically started the closure of these Madrasahs.  William Adam reported about 291 Madrasahs in South Bihar, in which 279 of them were Farsi (Farsi was the window of worldly knowledge of that time) and 12 of them were Arabic Madrasahs. There were 287 teachers whose salaries were 5 to 6 rupees a month and two teachers taught for free. He reported about the Bareilly, a district of state of Uttar Pardesh, “There were total of 375 Madrasahs, 228 Madrasahs of Farsi (focus worldly knowledge), 17 Madrasahs of Arabic (focus religious knowledge), and 130 Madrasahs of Mahajni (commerce). Hindus and Muslims both were studying by sitting together in these Madrasahs.

3. Richard Jenkins compiled a report in 1827 on one of the districts, Nagpur in Central Province, and wrote, “There were 1,936 students in general schools whose expenses were born by their parents. There are 56 private tutors teaching 1, 259 students and free of cost. In these Madrasahs, Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Farsi, and Telugu languages were taught. About the city of Malwe, Malcolm reported that there was one Madrasah for every 150 homes.

4. Richard Burton has written on the education condition of the masses in the period of Mirs of Sindh. He wrote that there were six major universities in the Sindh state.

After the British occupation of Sindh, Ellis Barrow was appointed by the commissioner of Sindh to examine the educational condition of the state. He reported in 1856, “There are 374 Makatab (primary schools), 52 Farsi Madrasahs, and 376 Arabic Madrsas, in which about 5,000 students were studying. In Makatab (Primary School), girls were studying together with boys. However they were completing further education in their homes. Makhdoom (the principal of Madrasah) was getting monthly Rs.200, and Maulvi (the teacher of  the Arabic Madrasah) was receiving Rs. 30 to 60 as a monthly salary. It was enormous amount of money at that time.

5. Punjab was conquered by Sikhs and taken from Muslim rulers in 1795. However, they never changed or disturbed the state’s education system that Muslims had established. After the British occupation, Mr. Arnold had been appointed the first director of public instruction. He compiled an educational report in 1856 and admitted that education was very common in the State. Students comprised all communities --Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. However all the teachers were Muslims, and most of them taught free of cost and just to please Allah (S.T.). All of these Madrasahs were run by Awqaf (trusts) and Maafees (government-allotted and tax exempted properties).

These reports compiled by British occupiers confirm that Muslims left no corner of the country or any village of India without education. There was more than 80% literacy till the nineteenth century of Muslim India. In 1947 (in the year of so-called independence from British occupation), the literacy rate of British India was 11 %.  This was the intellectual massacre of Muslim India. British occupiers promoted illiteracy in the masses, rendering majority of the people slaves; established a permanent rule and created a permanent class system of rich and poor. The intellectual genocide of Muslim India is  the most heinous crime of the history perpetrated by the “Enlightened West".

(This is a series of columns for the understanding of the history of centuries old Madrasa and Islamic Education System in South Asian perspective published in the Muslims Weekly, New York, USA, in series of the weekly column “Personal Notes.” Syed Jawed Anwar can be reached at jawed@seerahwest.com )


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