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The Intellectual History and Education System in Muslim India

25 Jun 2012
The Intellectual History and Education System in Muslim India


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 a series of the weekly Column “Personal Notes in 2004.”

The Purpose of Education

We, humankind, are the earthly viceroys of Allah. "And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth (Al Quran-2: 30)." So if the viceroy is not well educated and highly knowledgeable and does not possess wisdom, what will happen to our governance on earth? So, as mentioned in Al Qur'an, everyone should be knowledgeable and educated.

The first man of this world, Adam (AS), was created well informed, knowledgeable and possessed the necessary wisdom, thus rendering humans' status as superior to Angels. "And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: 'Tell me the names of these if ye are right'" (Al-Qur;an2:31). This verse of the Qur'an exhibits the path, Al-Islam but also taught the names of the elements and all things on the earth, i.e., the knowledge of physical science. With guidance and wisdom, Allah also taught us the technology: 

Indeed, We granted David a ˹great˺ privilege from Us, ˹commanding:˺ "O mountains! Echo his hymns! And the birds as well." We made iron mouldable for him, instructing: "Make full-length armour, ˹perfectly˺ balancing the links. And work righteousness ˹O family of David!˺. Indeed, I am All-Seeing of what you do."

 (Al-Qur'an: 34:10-11).

The first verse of the Qur'an (according to the sequence of revelation), revealed to Prophet Muhammad (S.) by angel Gabriel begins with, "Read in the name of your Lord Who created" (Al-Qur'an: 96:1).

The Prophet Muhammad (S.) said, "I have been sent as a prophet to teach the attributes of the utmost best character." So the primary purpose of Islamic education is to instill the "best character" unequivocally in all followers and humanity.

"Our Lord! And raise up in them a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Thy communications and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify them; surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise" (Al-Qur'an 2: 129).

What are the goals of the believers who ultimately hold the best character? "They are those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs" (Al-Qur'an: 22:41).

Seeking knowledge is the most important obligation for a Muslim. Several Ahadith (Sayings of Prophet Muhammad) confirms this statement over and over. To acquire education in Islam is not just a social requirement; it is a spiritual and psychological requirement of every individual.

Education is seen as not a mandatory requirement in the West, but something additional, sort of a material gain. But in Islam, it is an issue of existence and obligation. Islam has given much respect and dignity to education that no other system of life and thought can reach that level. Qur'an clearly said that Adam (AS) was superior to the angels because of his knowledge.

The Prophet Muhammad (SW) and his followers initiated an educational movement, and, for the first time in history, they established an obligatory educational system. To convey Allah's message and guidance, Islam has depended on "public speaking" social advocacy or Waaz and Nasihah. A regular educational system was developed to produce the people of knowledge and wisdom.

The first Madrasah, "Darul Arqam," was established by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in Makkah during the earliest period of Islam when he and his companions were facing extreme hardships and were severely victimized because of the message. After the establishment of Islam in Madinah, the educational institution "Suffah" was established. Prophet Muhammad (SW) was the teacher, and Sahabas (companions of the Prophet), Muhajireen and Ansar, were the students. After the battle of Badr, Prophet Muhammad (SW) announced that if any educated prisoner of war taught (reading and writing) ten Muslims, the prisoner would be freed. Several captives were released through this method. The release of the war captives in exchange for educating the people is a unique event in the history of humankind.

When Omar Farooq (RA) became the Caliph (head of the state), he sent an educator with one governor and one judge to every conquered land and nation. He made sure that the students must be taught with the syllabus and non-syllabus. He also deputed trainers to correct the morality and character of society in general. The education policy in the period of Umayyad was weak, but when Omar Bin Abdul Aziz became the Caliph, he corrected the education policy by declaring, "Allah has sent Prophet Muhammad (SW), not just as a tax collector; he has been sent to us for the guidance of the people."

The Islamic educational system is universal; it is not to serve any ethnic, racial, national or communal interest. The foundation of this system is based on 1.unity of the Creator, 2. unity of the creature (human beings), and 3. accountability on the Day of Judgment. This system is beyond and above the communities, nations, countries, and time and space. These concepts provide the Islamic education system with stature and exaltation where education becomes worship. It means participating in the classrooms students and teachers both are worshiping.

With this concept, the purpose of education is no more just for professional or material gain; it is a moral and spiritual gain. These concepts change the school environment and the classrooms and the characters of students, teachers, and all the people involved in this system. This education system and the environment provide peace, love, respect, brotherhood, sisterhood, amity, harmony, kindness, helping and complementing each other, generosity, self-control, open-mindedness, and easy acceptance of the truth.

Suppose education's purpose will be for success on the Day of Judgment in front of Allah, all the hatred. In that case, competing and harming others, selfishness, disrespect, racial or ethnic bigotry will disappear, and only peace, love, and respect will prevail. And this is the purpose of Islamic education.

The Priorities of Education

IF you think about Greece, your first thoughts are of its highly reputable philosophers. However, during the hey-day of these great thinkers, they were regarded as anything but philosophers. These philosophers had not received any respect from their nation. 

The disrespect was also from both sides: philosophers were dead-set against the excessive materialist culture that drove Greek culture. Greeks badly indulged in materialism, luxury, and pleasure. The philosophers were against such indulgences, and they criticized them in their works and discourses. The great thinkers sought to divert society's attention more towards realism and wisdom. Socrates initiated this movement. In the beginning, Socrates acted in the same manner as his fellow citizens. Lately, he had enlightened himself and realized that humans are superior to materials; therefore, our main concern should be with people, not material wealth. After that, he coined the famous statement and idea, "Know Thyself." This concept became the gist of his thoughts. It was a revolutionary slogan of the time that affected the life and thoughts of generations after generations. Based on his thoughts, the priorities of knowledge were established as follows:

1. Knowledge of wisdom (metaphysics, morality, and education);

2. Knowledge of society (law, politics, and medicine);

3. Knowledge of material (science);

4. Industry, skills, arts, and crafts;

These priorities were taken and implemented worldwide, including China, India, Arabia, and Iran.

When Islam came to Arabia, it revolutionized the entire education system. However, its sequence and priorities remained almost the same. This arrangement continued for nearly 2,000 years after Socrates, until the sixteenth century, the European Renaissance. 

During the renaissance, the Western intellectual class changed the whole sequence. They had a different mindset and were not ready to accept anything that came from the Church. They were biased. They believed everything rooted in the Church was nonscientific, illogical, and systemically oppressive. Therefore, Socrates's methods and priorities of education were changed just because the Church was practicing the system.

Frederick Herbert (1776-1834) claimed that there are only two types of knowledge: knowledge of the human and the knowledge of nature or society and science. A French scholar Auguste Comte (1795-1857), went further and concluded that there is only one knowledge: observation and experimentation (materialism). These thoughts changed the Western trends that granted science priority number one in the modern system of education. Social science education was considered inferior, and the teaching of religion and morality found no place in their system. It was the beginning of the downfall of society.

When Western powers conquered Muslim lands through deception and conspiracy, they implemented the same materialistic education system after further distortions. They had been looking to produce from this education system; obedient soldiers, head-down clerks, thoughtless intellectuals, and conformist politicians. This education system is still protected, guarded, and implemented by the West's loyal and slavish rulers in the Muslim world in the post-colonial period.

Now, suppose the policymakers of Islamic education will repeat the same thing and establish the same priority and make the same mistakes and follow the same rules. In that case, such a system will be even more terrible. Muslims must not waste Muslim resources, time, and money to establish the existing copied education system just in the name of education.

The division and priority of education is the most critical issue in the Islamic education system.

1. Humans live in the material world and culture; everyone has to face and confront this environment. We must be resourceful and utilize all Allah's given ability to do so. Our God-given intellect is to conduct research, inquiry, and observation—most recent studies and information correct mistakes in these fields. After centuries of effort, now we have enough available information to utilize to benefit humanity.

2. Another area is the human world itself; knowledge of internal human relationships, understanding of human beings, anthropology, and understanding social sciences. In comparison to lifeless atoms, the study of the human mind and behaviour is very complicated. Studying, research, and having a definite and reliable conclusion of all the time-changing behaviour of mind and people is extremely difficult. There are a series of actions and reactions, results and after results. Until now, in the field of social sciences, from all the collective knowledge of history, there are some facts, some ideas, some visualization, and most are mere hypotheses.

3. The third area is the universe. There are several questions we face every day. What is the purpose of life? What is the function of the universe? What is the goal of creations? What are life and death? Is there life after death? What is right and what is wrong? What is the truth, and what is falsehood? What is the criterion of real success? These questions affect everyone; we all need the answers. The rise and fall, success and failure of an individual, community, and nation depend heavily on finding the answers to these questions. Human minds limited in space and time have failed to find the correct answers to all these questions.

With the mercy of the creator, Allah has given us intellect and enough wisdom to perceive reality in the first sphere. However, for the second and third spheres, He (ST) sent the prophets to guide people. From Adam (AS) to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), there are two hundred twenty-four thousand prophets (according to a Hadith) that came to this earth. They brought the manuals (the books of guidance) to operate the complex machine of humans and society.

Therefore, the Islamic education system should be very open for the first part of knowledge called acquired knowledge, i.e., "Maqoolat" (the terminology was used in Madrasahs). The information and knowledge obtained by any individual to make this life easy, fast, and comfortable are the property of all ("The word of wisdom is the lost property of the believer. Wherever he finds it, he is most deserving of it." –Hadith; Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2687). 

The Islamic education system is accommodating in the first part of knowledge. However, in the second and third types of knowledge, the Islamic education system is always rigid and must be rigid like a rock. The reason is; this is the knowledge given by the Creator through His messenger that must be protected in its letter and spirit. Muslims follow the last divine book, the Qur'an because other books are not available in their original form and are not protected. The Qur'an is the latest edition in the field of guidance and divinity. In every discipline of education, older editions become obsolete when they are replaced by a new. However, Muslims believe in all the prophets and believe they brought the same message as Muhammad (saw).

Based on these necessities and requirements, Islam established its priorities of education under its different headings.

1. Farde Ain (mandatory for everybody): To know the purpose of life and knowledge related to the faith are compulsory like the five daily obligatory prayers, fasting in the month of Ramadan, Zakat, and Haj (pilgrimage), etc. The knowledge of the guidance is mandatory on everyone. Even a person who can't read and write has to know this part by any means. Without this knowledge, a person can't be fully human. For this education, we have two books; the book of Allah (Qur'an) and the book of the Prophet [Ahadith (sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad) (SAW)].

This education is the education of faith, prayers, behaviours, relations with others, social etiquette, and the heart and soul's cleaning. This knowledge is the root knowledge. No tree can stand up without its root, and the deeper the base, the stronger the tree will be. Not acquiring this type of education is close to sin. Therefore, Muslim society should focus and make it easy for all to receive this education.

2. Farde Kifayaa (mandatory for most): This is the type of education for which most people in the Muslim society should always be available. It is the discipline of knowledge that helps to get the more profound understanding of the guidance. The recitation, memorization of the Qur'an, the in-depth knowledge and comprehension 

of the Qur'an, Ahadith (sayings and deeds of the Prophet), Fiqah (Islamic rules and laws), Arabic language, etc., come in this category.

Islam also makes that knowledge mandatory for some or most to fulfill the responsibility of the khilafa (the state) because Islam doesn't promote a monastery lifestyle. All knowledge that benefits the society --like business, industry, agriculture, medicine, science and technology-- will also come in this category.

3. Mustahsab (necessity). All the knowledge that helps to acquire knowledge of Fard-e-Ain and Fard-e-Kifayah, for example; language, grammar, mathematics, and computer, etc. is Mustahsab

4. Mubah (not mandatory; not necessary). Harmless education is a Mubah. Examples are literature and light entertainment. However, whenever it is proven that any knowledge in this category weakens the first two parts of the education, this part will not be a Mubah, but it will become a Makrooh.

5. Makrooh (not likable). This is the type of unfruitful knowledge and a waste of time. Islam prohibits wasting time. The devotion in this type of learning is harmful to the society; for example, the experience of "Nujoom," astrology, palm reading, etc.

6. Haram (prohibited). Any knowledge is not permitted if it weakens the purpose of life, belief and good deeds, disorients from the goal, the unity of thought and action, pollutes the mind, and invites the fall of character.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prayed, "O Allah! I find a refuge of You from the knowledge that does not benefit.


The Teacher

The role of the teacher in the Islamic Education System is pivotal.

First, Allah requires us to seek knowledge actively. Remained ignorant is closer to sin. 

Second, educating and sharing knowledge is Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet). "Narrated Abu Huraira R.A.: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Whoever is asked about some knowledge that he knows, then he conceals it, he will be bridled with a bridle of fire." Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2649

Those who decide to dedicate the life to the honourable teaching profession destine themselves into a most divine field.

Teachers can change the hearts and minds of people. Their influence is tremendous. In a sense, the struggle of a teacher is more valuable than a Mujahid (warrior). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "The ink of Ulema (scholars and teachers) is better than the blood of a martyr soldier." 

From our teachers, we learn the meaning of real success and failure. They instill higher values and polish the character of the students with good habits and etiquette. Teachers represent positive behaviours and attitudes. They also dare to stand against evils.

Teachers are educators, trainers, guides, role models, and symbols of the best character. They represent the better side of society. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared, "The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur'an and teach it." (Sahih al-Bukhari 5027).

Abu Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "The scholars are the successors of the prophets. Verily, the prophets do not pass on gold and silver coins, but rather they only impart knowledge." (Source: Musnad al-Bazzār 10/68)

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has also introduced himself as a teacher:

"Verily, I have been sent as a teacher." (Ibne Majah Book 1, Hadith 229)

The first human, Adam (AS) –the first Prophet of Allah, was sent as a teacher. Allah bestowed Adam (AS) with knowledge and intelligence. "And He taught Adam the names of all things" (Al Qur'an 2:32).

These concepts prove that education is worship; teaching and learning are a form of prayer, and both teachers and students are worshiping in the classrooms. In the thawab (the rewards in the hereafter), teachers and students are equal.

"The scholar and the seeker of knowledge will share the reward, and there is no good in the rest of the people." (Hadith: Ibn Majah 228)

All the creatures of the universe pray for the teachers. The cosmos is on the side of the teachers of good. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Indeed Allah, His Angels, the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth - even the ant in his hole, even the fish - say Salat upon the one who teaches the people to do good." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2685)

Islam doesn't appoint any particular class, caste, family, or group for the teachers' designation. There is no white or black race, or Brahmin and Shudra in Islam. 

In Islam, anyone can be a teacher. The only criterion for the teacher stated in a hadith is acquiring knowledge. "Acquire knowledge and teach it to the people" (Mishkat al-Masabih 279). And it is straightforward. It doesn't mean that a person is highly educated and learned before starting to teach. Islam began as an effective movement for education, a lifelong jihad (struggle). Everyone is supposed to participate in this movement. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w says: “Convey from me even an Ayah of the Qur'an.” (Bukhari. Ref. Riyad as-Salihin 1380). Islam encourages education by rewarding the educated people.

These principles of Islam revolutionized the concept of education and pedagogy.

Teaching is a profession, but it is also above what the career entails. Anyone who owns even the least amount of knowledge educates someone. Islam provides an education system that is easy and affordable for everyone.

With Allah's fear and accountability in the Day of Judgment, knowledgeable people were always ready to educate. They even enthusiastically sought students to educate and instruct. Instead of getting money or a salary, they were providing food, shelter and clothing to attract students. Even the kings and members of the government had been spending some time to teach the students;


1. The King, Sultan Tajuddin Firoz Bhamani (1397-1422), was a very learned person. He associated himself with noted Ulema and scholars of the time. He was an expert in various fields like arts, physical sciences, and mathematics. He was a dedicated instructor and taught at a local Madrasah three days a week (Saturday, Monday, Wednesday).

2. Qilich Khan, the father in law of Mirza Danial, son of Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605), was a high government official. In the period of his Governorship of Lahore, he had been teaching TafseerHadith, and Fiqah, three hours daily in a Madrasah.

3. Before 1857 (the year of the last organized revolt against the British occupation of India), the British ruler of Rohilkhand established a college in the city of Bareilly. He offered Maulana Abdur Raheem (d.1818) of Rampur to teach in the college on a salary of Rs.250 (Rupees; Indian Currency). Maulana refused with different excuses, like, "I will lose my students, I will miss my home and the berries of my courtyards." But the British ruler insisted and said to give all facilities and fulfill all his requirements. At last, Maulana's excuse was, "What will be my plea on the day of judgment for getting the salary for teaching?" The British ruler had no answer for this excuse.

4. Shah Ulfat Hussain (d.1881) of Azeemabad; the present name of the city is Patna, in the state of Bihar, was the ambassador of Nawabs of Murshidabad in Calcutta in British India in the mid-nineteenth century. In his biography, his son Humayun Mirza writes; 

"My father was very enthusiastic about teaching; students were punctual in his class. Daily, from 10 am to 2: 30 pm, he had been teaching students before going to his office in the afternoon."

After giving his commentary for this example, Maulana Munazir Ahsan Gilani, in his book "Taleem wa Tarbiyyat" (Education and Training), concluded, "This was the last knot of the burnt rope." (Burnt rope = the destruction of the Islamic education system by the occupying British powers.)

5. Dr. Lightener, the first principal of Oriental Collage Lahore (formed by British occupying power), witnesses and writes that Muslims were in the majority in the education. Most of the teachers taught for the sake of Allah and to get rewards from Allah. 

6. Teachers never discriminated against Muslims and non-Muslim students. The late ex-President of India, the Hindu Dr. Rajendra Prasad (President: 1950 to 1962), writes in his biography, "I started my education at the home of a Muslim elite of Bihar, Khan Bahadur Nawab Shams ul Huda, a famous lawyer of Patna. I lived in his home and learned Arabic and Farsi languages."

7. With the fear of Allah and of being a culprit of not offering education to others, Ulema (scholars) was extremely conscientious and was educating their students even in extreme hardships. After the revolt of 1857, the British occupying soldiers arrested, charged, hanged, and deported thousands of Ulemas. They were the great scholars of the time. Few Ulema of Azeemabad (Patna, Bihar) took refuge in the plain of Nepal, and, to get halal earnings, they harvested the land by themselves. During the process of cultivation, with the help of oxen, they also conducted walking classes. Their students ran along with the teachers, with the open books in their hands, and getting lessons. These Ulemas had been carrying slingshots on their shoulders to pretend jihad against British occupiers.

8. Ulema were not silent even while imprisoned. The environment of the island of Andaman ("Guantanamo Bay" of that time) echoed the sounds of praise of Allah and His Prophet. The first book of biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH ) in the Urdu language "Tawareekh e Habeebullah" was written by Mufti Inayetullah Ahmed Kakorwi (1860) in the jail of Andaman. Maulana Fazlul Haq Khairabadi (1859) wrote the history of the revolt of 1857 against British occupiers, "Alsaurah Al Hindiya" in Arabic language, by coal (instead of ink and pen).

Ulema educated the community; they taught them to fulfill their responsibilities as vicegerents or Caliph of Allah on this earth.

Above mentioned examples show the quality and highness of the character of our Ulema, Maulvis, Mullahs (branded, stereotyped and accused by our ill-informed modern scholars).

In the thirteenth century, Mongols conquered Baghdad, the center of Abbasid Caliphs of Muslims of the time. In 1258, they seized and largely destroyed Baghdad. Mongols massacred and killed the caliph Al-Mustaʿṣim bi-'llāh (Abd Allāh ) and established their dynasty on peoples' corpse. 

Hülegü Khan (1217-1265), a grandson of Genghis Khan, was crowned as the government's head. However, he did not have any other options to hire some Muslim ministers in their government. The reason: Muslims were intellectually superior to them and other nations at that time. 

King Hülegü Khan hired Naseeruddin Muhaqqiq Tusi (d. 1274), a great scientist and scholar of the time, as his Prime Minister. He announced his education policy for the teachers: 

"Up to 25 years of age, one has to engage in education as a student. From 25 to 40 years of age, one has to study and teach both. From 40 years to 50 years of age, one has to engage in teaching and writing books. From 50 to 60 years of age, one has to research and write books. And after 60 years, the teacher will be retired, and his salary will be doubled."

I challenge anyone to present an example from the so-called advanced, most modern and highly educated West closer to Muslims' erudite education policy and practices.

* Hind wa Pak mein Musalmanon ka Nizam e Taleem o Tarbiyat (Urdu), by Professor Syed Muhammad Saleem (b. 1920, d. 2000), the ex-president of Tanzeem e Usatza Pakistan, and ex Principal of Shah Waliullah Oriental College, Mansura, Sindh. 

 The Student

THE student is the central component of the Islamic education system. It is the students’ responsibility to acquire education that is obligatory. As a vicegerent of Allah, the life of humans can be seen as very significant roles needed to be played in order to establish and maintain peace, justice among other things. Muslims have an additional role to play; “Ye are the best party (Ummah), evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong” (Al-Qura’n 3:110).

Education that provides knowledge and wisdom of “what is right” and “what is wrong” and gives the power to establish the “good’ and demolish the ‘wrong” is compulsory for Muslims. On their journey to education, students must face difficulties with perseverance and resolve. In Islam, there is no age limits in the process of gaining knowledge, it is a life long process, from birth to death.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) often prayed “O! my Lord! Enhance me in knowledge”

Acquiring education was never an easy task. In both old and modern times, it was a bed of thorns. There are a lot of hindrances: internal, external, psychological and other worldly. Satan constantly works to divert the attention of a student who works in the way of a “good purpose” to a “bad purpose.”

Only the attachment and love of Allah, a strong will power, and an iron commitment, can help the student to overcome the Satanic designs. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “If a person acquires knowledge in which Allah pleased, but he acquired the knowledge only for selfish worldly needs, that person will not even smell the heaven.”

To acquire the pure and required education, one must be obedient to Allah. Imam Shaafei (the great scholar of Islam and founder of one of the five main schools of law of Islam) said that “I complained Imam Wakee about my short memory; he advised me to abstain from sins and said the knowledge is the light of Allah and disobedient can’t get the divine light.” Most of the scholars of Islam advised students to purify their purpose of education, make commitment to Allah, and pray to succeed in acquiring knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “a person who came out from the home to seek knowledge, he is a soldier (Mujahid) in the way of Allah until he returned home”-Tirimidhi

Another Hadith explains: “In respect, angels spread their wings in the path of student”-Abu Daud.

According to a Hadith of Muslim; “Those who travel to seek knowledge, Allah will ease the way of heaven for him.”

These concepts of great rewards left no excuse for anybody says that since they do not have a teacher or Madrasah in their city or town, they cannot learn Qura’n and Hadith. No! There is no excuse. You must take this particular hardship and overcome it in order to learn the knowledge that is mandatory, Farde Ain.

If you learn the history of Muhaddesin (collector and compiler of Hadith, sayings of Prophet Muhammad — PBUH), these people traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to meet and study person who remembers Hadith. In general, twenty years of their life spent in journey only to seek knowledge.

I can give several examples of the dedicated students from the history of Islam who faced extreme hardships in the way of seeking knowledge.

Few examples from the history of Muslim India.(References: the late Professor Syed Muhammad Saleem)

1. Maulana Shibli Noamani (1856-1914), a great scholar of Islam of India of his time, and author of a very famous book on the biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “Seerat Un Nabi,” when completed his formal education, he wanted to learn Arabic literature. Maulana Faiz ul Hasan Saharanpuri, a teacher of Oriental Collage, Lahore was the famous Arabic poet and man of literature of that time. Shibli Nomani requested him to teach. Maulana excused that he had no time other than the time he spends on walking from and to his college every day. His collage was at the distance of two miles from his home. Enthusiastic student accepted this offer (time). Every day Shibli would reach the home of Maulana Faiz, and walk with him to his college. During these walking periods, he was taking Arabic language lessons. No matter sizzling summar or chilly winter or stormy rain, Shibli remained steadfast and punctual in attend his “walking class” for several years and completed his Arabic language.

2. Maulana Syed Abul Aaala Mawdudi (1903-1979), a great and world renowned scholar of Islam asked Maulana Abdus Salam Khan Niazi, a prominent scholar of Maaqoolat (Philosophy & Physical Sciences) to teach the subject. Maulana Niazi who had no time but couldn’t refuse Mawdudi due to his respectable family background asked Mawdudi to come at dawn and finish the lesson before Fajr prayer (the prayer before sun rise), if he could. It was an extremely hard condition and synonymous to refusal. But the zealous student accepted this challenge. Syed Mawdudi attended his class for a very long time and finished his lessons before the Fajr prayer.

3. Munshi Tek Chand, a Hindu, non-Muslim student, a product of Madrasah, presented a unique example in the history of learning. He was writing and compiling a Farsi dictionary “Bahar e Ajam.” Nadir Shah of Iran with his force attacked Delhi in 1739. It was a “golden opportunity” for Munshi Jee to learn Farsi from Iranian soldiers. Daily from the early morning, he would go to the camps of Iranian military and do research on Farsi words, phrases, idioms, jargons, and vocabularies. Even at the day when Nadir Shah ordered the massacre and bloodshed in the city (on March 11, 1739, from 9 am to 3 pm), Munshi Tek was as usual doing “research of words” in the middle of a massacre.

The importance of learning for students gave them a sense of high respect of their teachers. After the Creator (Allah) and parents, teachers received the highest respect for every one. Students did their best and put in a lot of effort to please their teachers. To make teachers angry meant the invitation of anger of Allah; and a student who was seeking the mercy of Allah couldn’t afford it. A teacher, Maulana Abdul Haq Khairabadi (1898), once became angry with Hakim Barakat Ahmed Tonaki (1928). It took Hakim Barakat two years to please the royal temperamental teacher. He pleased the teacher and returned back as a student.

The History

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".


The Economy

WHEN Muslims ruled India, their government never established a separate department of education and never appointed salaried teachers. Already established was a tradition where the kings, rulers, and the affluent citizens had to establish educational institutions. This system was facilitated with the intention of  thwab (as a deed to receive rewards in the life hereafter). The rulers had allotted scholarships to scholars, teachers, and students.  They established trusts, assigned assets, and tax-exempted properties in order that the teachers and students involved in the education process would be economically free. The rulers and wealthy citizens never interfered in the education system, even down to the curriculum and syllabus. These were the exclusive responsibilities of the teachers and scholars.

These trusts and properties were made available at every corner of the country, and no area was left without an educational facility. This education system was independent from the interference of the government. No changes in the political climate affected the system. There was nary an instance where a Muslim ruler tried to retain the properties assigned exclusively for educational purposes or tried to discontinue the scholarships of ulema (scholars), teachers, and students. To have done so would render any ruler extremely unpopular, as those acts were considered completely non-Islamic, anti-education and anti-people. This education system flourished enormously in India before the British occupation. Even a Hindu or Sikh ruler of any State (province) did never touched it.

The above-mentioned situation was the general practice. However, several Muslim rulers took special interest in spreading education. Ali Adil Shah, the ruler of Beejapur, in 1561, established a palace in the Beejapur Castle in 1561 and built a huge Masjid.  He also built two big Madrasahs with it --one Arabic Madrasah (for divine knowledge) and one Farsi Madrasah (for worldly knowledge). Additionally, he also established several maktab (primary schools) in the city. At these schools, students were fed hearty and healthy meals twice daily. All educational expenses were met by the government. Students received a monthly scholarship of one Hun (a gold coin) for books and stationery. Zul Hajj (the last month of the Islamic Calendar) marked the end of the academic year. The academically excelled students of the year received huns (gold coins), and talented students were granted government jobs. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (d.1707) ordered the rulers of the provinces to provide a daily stipend to every student. The amount, depending on the category of students, was from one aana to eight aana (six cents to seventy-two cents, the good amount of money at that time ).

Teachers and students both benefited from these financial resources. The Islamic notion was that education is mandatory, and, therefore, there was no concept of tuition fees. Traditionally, instead of students’ having to pay fees, students were being compensated. If the teachers were affluent and wealthy, they taught their students in addition to taking care of the financial needs of their students. Only the impoverished teachers accepted salaries for their expenses.

In the first four centuries of Islam, Masjid and Madrasah were unified. There were not separate buildings for the Madrasahs. However, in the period of Nizam ul Mulk Tusi (1019-1092), the celebrated minister of the Saldjuqid sultans Alp Arslan in Khurasan, the tradition of separate buildings, organized syllabus, and curriculum, were established. Madrasah Nizamia Bughdadia (1067) was the first separate building of Madrasah. Other than Masjid and Madrasah, the big homes of the affluent people were also used as Madrasah. Whenever there was extra space, it was almost immediately converted to a Madrasah. As testimony, some times, the green grasses under the shadow of trees became Madrasahs.

These traditions of separate buildings for Madrasah of  Khurasan were imported by the Ghoris when they later conquered India.

The types of Madrasah in Muslim India according to financial resources were:

1. The Madrasahs established by one or several affluent good citizens and trust were established to meet their expenses for life. All expenses of the teachers and students were met by these trust properties.

2. The Madrasahs established by a rich person. All the expenses of Madrasah, teachers, and students (including food and lodging) were met by that one individual.

3. The Madrasahs established by a rich person when he appointed a teacher to teach their children in their homes. Other children of neighborhood could attend the classes. No student was turned away. Their rooms, kitchens, dining rooms were open and available for students and teachers.

4. The Madrasahs, established by an Alim (scholar). Students lived in the residential rooms in the Masajid or in the homes of affluent people, and meals came from different homes, and teachers and students ate together. It was an established tradition.

5. At the last era, the expenses of teachers were met by affluent parents and other people. However, tuition fees and expenses of meals were never asked to pay by students.

6. The doors were open for any interested students. Whenever, a student asked a teacher to teach him, one couldn’t deny. The hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was always reminded: “If any scholar will show stinginess in promoting knowledge that he knows, his mouth will be burnt in fire in the day of judgment.” Even the government officials, educated businesspeople, and others taught students in their available times.

Establishment of a Madrasah was extremely easy. Whenever, a teacher was available, the Madrasah was established.

The furniture of the Madrasah was very basic. Students sat on the rugged carpet with a small low wooden table, and teacher, on a cotton pillow. Tables and chairs were not available at that time even in the homes of the rich.

The economy of establishing a Madrasah is a low cost; that is why it was easy, affordable and practical for all.

When the East India Company of Britain occupied India, they passed a “Resumption Act, No.1 of 1793, and “Land Resumption Act, No.2 c of 1818-1819.” From these two acts, they occupied all the trust properties, lands, buildings, all the facilities of the Madrasahs provided by the Muslim rulers from centuries. According to William Hunter, “That was the government’s death blow on Muslims’ education system” (Our Indian Musalman, p.177). Madrasahs (according to Max Muller, there was one Madrasah for every 40 homes) started collapsing. The East India company didn’t take interest in education in their first century of government. After first century, when they opened the door for the Christian missionaries and secular education, they were targeting Hindu Brahmins and wealthy Hindus in their “Downward Filtration Theory” of education. There was no room for Muslims and general public education. They gradually banned Arabic and Farsi languages and enforced English, an alien and difficult language for Indians.

The Western historians couldn’t hide the truth despite all their lies and deceptions. The British history of occupation is a bleak history of education. 85% of literate Indians of the eighteenth century were reduced to 11% literacy in 1947, the year of the independence of Indian Subcontinent in Bharat and Pakistan.

The Education System

BECAUSE of its immense importance, I’d like to reiterate that, before the British occupation in South Asia, there were various types of Madrasahs readily available for students. There were the Arabic Madrasahs (specializing in deeni and religious education), Farsi Madrasahs (specializing in worldly education), and Mahajani Madrasahs (specializing in commercial education).

Students who showed interest in vocational and technological skills were taught by experts in their respective fields.  Often some of the teachers were factory owners. Workers of the factory never hesitated to pass on their skill and knowledge to the tudents.

As times changed, adaptations were made to the curriculum; however, the basis remained the same. There were three stages of education: 1. Maktab [elementary (primary) school for Qur’an and Farsi language];  2. Madrasah Farsi (Farsi language and all kinds of worldly and physical knowledge); 3. Madrasah Arabic (Arabic language, Deeni knowledge, and higher education).

The development of the education system evolved alongside the collective progress of the society. There were various curricula of the Muslim education system, and the “Nizami Syllabus” (Darse Nizaami) became very popular in India. Its founder, Mulla Nizamuddin Sahalwi (who settled in Firangi Mahal, Lucknow), had developed this system by a particular and special pattern, however, he left enough room for necessary adjustments.

Islam as a Power came to South Asia through the Turk emperors of Central Asia. Hadith, one of the basic subjects of education, almost never saw a place in the system; instead, Fiqah (laws and interpretations of Islamic codes) received a high position on the syllabus. During the tenth century of the Islamic calendar, for the first time, Sheikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi (R.) attempted to spread the knowledge of Hadith. The credit, however, went to Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlawi (R.), his kin, and his students for the spread of knowledge on Hadith by education, translations, and interpretations. They included the important book of Hadith “Sahahe Satta” in the curriculum, which later became integral part of the Darse Nizaami. (This book was a compound of six concrete books, including  Sahih Al-Bukhari,, Sahih Muslim,, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Tirmidhi, Sunan Ibn Maaja, and Sunan Nissai.)

Arabic literature and history did not receive a place in Darse Nizaami. Later on, however, some books were included. Muslims were constantly changing and updating their systems according to the needs and requirements of the society.

There was no age limit to get admission in Madrasah. One could find elders attending classes in any given Madrasah. This system of education was not grade-based, but it was book-based. When a student completed one book, he would be given another book, and it would be said that this student had completed these books and was now reading that book and now reading that lesson. Every student was taking a different lesson. It was one-on-one education; i.e., one teacher and one student at one time. All the students could learn the lessons by sitting in the same place and classroom. An intelligent student could move much faster than a slow-learning student and could complete his education at the earliest possible time. The modern grade- or class-based system may facilitates teachers and management, but it hinders the individual student. A genius student has to study one full year with weaker students, and a slow-learning student who can’t move with the class feels compelled to drop out of school. The difference is, in Madrasahs students were the focal point, and in present school system, teachers are the focal point.

It was a tradition in the educated family that on the day a child reached four years, four months, and four days, a celebration would be held as a starting day of the education that is called “Bismillah.” That was the joyful day and festivity of the family. Relatives and friends were invited. It was a wedding-like festival. A teacher, generally a religious and pious person, would visit and sit with the child and would ask the child to say, “Rabbi Yassir Wala Tuassir Wa Tammim Bilkhair, Bismillah Hir Rahma Nir Raheem.” After that, the teacher would recite few Ayahs (lines) of Surah Iqra of Qur’an and Surah Fatiha. The child would repeat the recited words. Then sweets would be distributed. The teacher was presented clothes and other gifts according to the capability of parents.

The Madrasah time would start at dawn or after Fajr Prayer (prayer before sunrise), and it would continue till Zuhar Prayer. (There was a break for noon prayer, generally at 1 pm.) The classes would continue till Asar prayer (generally till 4 to 5 pm). The Friday was the holiday, and Thursday was half-day. However, the half-day of Thursday was also utilized in cleaning. All the students worked together to clean the Madrasah. In several Arabic Madaras, Tuesday was the day for copying (writing) the written books (age before the availability of printed books). There were 15 to 20 annual holidays in the year. In Arabic Madrasah, there was an annual holiday of two months at the end of education calendar year; that was Shaban 15 to Shawwal 15 (fifteen days before Ramadan and fifteen days after Ramadan).

There was a system of punishment. Nobody could drop out from Madrasah or was free to do anything inside the Madrasah. Education in Islam is mandatory. Therefore, parents generally gave open-hand to teachers to beat the students to discipline them. “Bones are mine, and flesh and skin are yours,” was the parents’ philosophy for teachers. The security personnel of Madrasahs searched for and brought back the run-away students. Some teachers became notorious for beating students. There was no concept of “failure” and “not getting education”; therefore, teachers maintained forced education.

There was no importance of “sports” in Madrasah; however, in some Madrasahs, there was a provision for physical exercises. The teacher used exercise to instill self-discipline. However, Imam Ghazali, a great philosopher and thinker of Islam, declared sports as a necessity for students.

The students living in cities were called “residents,” and students coming from other places were called “wayfarers.” The wayfarers slept on the rough carpets of the Madrasah or Masjid. Even students from affluent families accepted such hardships.

There was no concept of preparing food inside the Madrasah. Neighbors took the responsibility of preparing home-cooked food at different times and on various days. All the teachers and students took their meals jointly while sitting together.

Intelligent students could complete all the deeni (religious and Qur’anic) education and worldly education (i.e., highest education) in fourteen or fifteen years. Shah Waliullah Dehlavi completed his education in fifteen years. Other average students took seventeen to eighteen years. Slow-learners could take more years.

After the completion of education, there was a tradition of convocation (graduate ceremony). All the scholars, teachers, and parents participated in the important, festive ceremony. Surah Fatiha was recited, and there were special prayers for the successful students. It was called “Fatiha of Completion.” A senior or elder scholar would tie the turban on the head of the student, a symbol of his certification as Alim (scholar).

There was a system of “Moeed” (repeater). There was a classroom tradition that, when a teacher completed the lessons, the most competent student had to listen to the lessons from other students and ask them to repeat to correct misunderstanding and mistakes. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, a government servant of Bombay province, Dr. Andrew Bell, saw the system of Moeed in Madrasahs and liked it very much. He introduced this system in England and called it “Monitor” when he returned to England. British also introduced monitor system in the new enforced education system of schools in South Asia.

Student completed his Farsi education (worldly knowledge) was called “Munshi.” The expert of Arabic knowledge (knowledge of deen, Quran and Sunnah) was called “Alim.” Before the Mughal period, all the students who completed the education were called “Danish Mond.”  In the period of Maulana Ghulam Ali Azad Bilgirami (d.1785), the words “Danish Mund” were replaced with “Maulvi.”

After the completion of Farsi School, one was qualified for a government job. It was a qualification for all kinds of civil service jobs. Hindus and other non-Muslims in general stopped their education at this stage and generally got jobs and started their family life. However, the Muslim students generally continued the education for Arabic and deeni knowledge.

Teachers graduated from Farsi schools were called “Mian ji,” “Akhwand ji,” or “Mulla ji.” Hindu teachers were called “Munshi Jee.” Highly educated teachers and scholars of Arabic and Deen were called “Maulvi” or “Mullah.” Mullah Abdur Rahman Jaami and Mullah Abdul Hakim Sialkoti were among the top most scholars of that time. Later the experts of deeni knowledge were called “Alim,” and experts of worldly knowledge called “Danish Mond.”  Unfortunately, the words “Maulvi” and “Mullah” lost respect in the society due to continuous campaign by the colonial and Western occupying powers.

 The Curriculum

WESTERN secular education is directed at the gathering of information. In contrast, Islamic scholars and educators consider the main purpose of education to be the character building.  Therefore, fashioning each child with good etiquette and polishing the character was the focus of the primary education.

 Al-Qur’an is the fundamental book, and acquiring Qur’anic education is a Farde Ain (mandatory for all). Early childhood is the best time for learning languages and for memorization. Therefore, in primary classes, a student was not given any other books until he or she completed the reading (Nadira) of the Qur’an and memorized at least a few surahs.  The memorization of the entire Qu’ran or portions of it and of duas (prayers) was integral to the primary school curriculum.  Most of the non-Arab, Islamic scholars who secured intellectual achievements were those who memorized the Qur’an in their early childhood.

The syllabus of primary school was based on the books that teach about Allah and Rassol (the messenger of Allah) (s.a.w.) and short stories written to improve the morale of students. First of all, students were given copies of the book Qaeda Bughdadi which taught the Arabic alphabets and word structure required to facilitate the reading of Qur’an. After that, students had to study the thirtieth Juz (part) of the Qur’an, and then the entire Qur’an. No other book preceded completion of reading the Qur’an. It is a proven fact that simply reading the Qur’an makes a deep impact in building the character of a child’s personality.

After the Qur’an, there was a simple book, Karima, of morals and etiquette that were memorized. Good storybooks were given. How to do cleaning, Wadoo (ablution), and prayer were other main parts of the primary education.  Generally a student completed the primary education by age seven or eight.

From the period of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi (1030) to the period of the British East India Company (1835), Farsi was the official and most popular language of South Asia (Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, etc). Farsi was also the language of the world’s dominating powers of the time, and the Farsi language covered a larger area of Muslim control. Muslim India was the next country of Farsi language after Iran. In the Farsi language Madrasah is the name given to the Farsi education, resembling a combination of modern-day, junior high school (primary school), high school, and at least two to four years of college education, and there was no separation of deeni and worldly knowledge. The Fiqah (Islamic Jurisprudence of the time), moral education, history, literature, writing, calligraphy, correspondence, reading techniques of all types of handwriting, and mathematics were the essential elements of the curriculum. After completion of the Farsi Madrasah, a student was eligible to do any kind of job. These Madrasahs were providing the best talents to all the departments of government and court of the time.

The duration years of the Farsi education were not defined but varied from student to student. In a letter, Mirza Daag Dehlavi (1832-1907) writes that he completed his Farsi education in four years.

The general system was as follows:

1. After the completion of Qur’an, a student could start the Farsi education.

2. Students generally memorized books written in poetry form for easier memorization.

3. Students learned by listening, reading, and memorizing.

4. Each student was assigned individualized lessons for a book-based grading system. Whenever one would successfully finish one book, he or she would be given another book.

5. Afternoon was the time for improving writing skills and mathematics.

Generally, a new book was started on Wednesday. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said that “the work that will be started on Wednesday must be finished successfully.” The Arabic language was the language used in acquiring the highest education. The student completing the Arabic Madrasah was called Alim and was entitled to the title of scholar and teacher.

The syllabus of Arabic Madrasah was:

1. Books that give basic, detailed and deep knowledge of Fiqah (Islamic jurisprudence that was the law of the land of the time).

2. Brief, extremely summarized books specially written for the syllabus. The advantages of these brief books were:  A. Students had to work hard and became habitual to do research. B. It opened the minds and developed inquiring capabilities of the students. C. It involved each student in a deep thinking process.

3: One specialized and masterpiece book of every subject; that made other books of the same topic easier to understand.

4. Philosophy and logic were included later in the syllabus to develop more critical and intellectual capabilities in the students. There were three types of books:  1. short, 2. medium, and 3. detail. There were different methods to teach them: 1.cold method, 2. method of thinking and debating, and 3. the research method.

This system was producing the kind of scholars who were good thinkers, critics, and researchers and who had an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of given subjects. The present Western education system prevalent in the post colonial entire Muslim world has not produced a single person of that caliber. The Western and borrowed education system in the Muslim world is simply providing a blind follower (Muqallid), not a researcher (Muhaqqiq) and reformer (Mujaddid).

Students had to work diligently in study and research before sitting with the teacher in the next day’s class. Students debated each other and raised questions and tried to get answers in their hostel/residential rooms. Everyone had to participate in the class room discussion. The silent student was considered “dumb.”  After this method of education, there was no importance and need of examination. Every student had to produce his capability of scholarship in the classrooms.

This curriculum was established in South Asia for centuries with minor changes according to the time and requirements. However, Mullah Qutubuddin was the first person that felt the need of major change in the syllabus, and he introduced one book on various subjects of the time. He was the resident of Sahali, district Sultan Pur, Awadh, India and was a teacher in a Madrasah. He was killed for reasons unknown. After his death, his family moved to Firangi Mahal, Luckhnow. His son Mullah Nizamuddin Sahalwi (d.1747), who was also a great scholar and teacher, revised the syllabus again and put two books (practically there were more than two books on every subject and skill) on various subjects of the time. This syllabus was called “Daras e Nizami” and became the most popular one. As a matter of fact, it was a revolutionary change in the syllabus; however, the system of education remained same. This was the time when Muslim intellectuals adopted the habit of reading philosophy. There were about 100 books in “Dars e Nizami, in which there were 44 books on philosophy.

The knowledge of philosophy was already being Islamized by Abu Nasar Farabi (950), Hakim Bu Ali Sina (1037), Sheikh Shahabuddin (1183), Fakhruddin Raazi (1209), Saaduddin Masood Bin Omar Tazzazani (1389), Qutbuddin Shirazi (1501), Mullah Sadra (1640), Mir Baqar Damad (1630), and many other scholars and intellectuals of the Muslim world.

“The seed of the tree of this education system was sown by Mullah Fathullah Shirazi, and the tree was formed by Mullah Nizamuddin,” said Shah Suleman, Sajjada Nashin Phulwari Sharif, Patna.

A person not completing Daras e Nizaami would not be called “Alim”; however, many people have a difference of opinion and do not want to confine the word “Alim” to a particular syllabus and system.  This syllabus, however, spread like a wild plant all over South Asia. Interestingly, all the sects, and followers of different religious schools followed the same “Daras e Nizami” with minor amendments. The best thing about this syllabus was its comprehensiveness and unity of deeni and worldly knowledge. This system provided personalities of versatile quality.  Till the last period of British occupation, this Madrsah system led to personalities like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Nawab Muhsinul Mulk, Maulana Shibli Nuamani, Maulana Syed Suleman Nadavi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azzad, and Maulana Syed Abul Aala Mawdudi. These scholars had a comprehensive and versatile knowledge, and their writings showed them to be experts on various subjects.

Colonel William. H. Sleeman (1809 - 1856 A.D.) studied the educational condition of Indian Muslims concluded, "Perhaps there are few communities in the world among whom education is more generally diffused than among Muhammadans [Muslims] in India."

"He who holds an office worth twenty rupees a month commonly gives his sons an education equal to that of a prime minister. They learn, through the medium of Arabic and Persian languages, what young men in our colleges learn through those of Greek and Latin-that is grammar, rhetoric, and logic. After his seven years of study, the young Muhammadan binds his turban upon a head almost as well filled with the things which appertain to these branches of knowledge as the young man raw from Oxford-he will talk as fluently about Socrates and Aristotle, Plato and Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna; (alias Sokrat, Aristotalis, Alflatun, Bokrat, Jalinus and Bu Ali Sena); and, what is much to his advantage in India, the languages in which he has learnt what he knows are those which he most requires through life."

There were a lot of qualities in that curriculum; however, there were few basic flaws of the curriculum:

1. The Qur’an and Hadith are the fountains of knowledge of Islam; however, there were not more than two books on each, and only portions of these books were taught. This is the basic shortcoming of the syllabus.

2. Social sciences, history, geography, and literature had a great importance. In Daars e Nizaami, there is not a single book in either of these subjects. According to an education critic, “The students of this system have no insight of history.”

3. The literature is the beauty of language; however, the first requirement is the comprehensive and deep knowledge of language. The syllabus on Arabic language has failed to produce experts of language with few exceptions.


Women’s Education

“…Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge…” (Al-Qur'an 35: 28). “They will further say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not (now) be among the people of the Blaze” (67: 10). “…Say: ‘Lord, increase me in knowledge’” (20: 114).

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim man and woman,” and, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

The guidance of the Qur’an and of the Hadith (teachings of the Prophet) inspires every man and woman to seek knowledge. Aisha (r.a.), the youngest wife of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), was the most learned lady of her time. One of the reasons that the Prophet married Aisha (r.a.), in her youth, the part of life most pliable and conducive for learning, was in order to inculcate the values needed to lead and influence the sisterhood of Muslim women. Aisha (r.a.) had an outstanding quality of intelligence and memory and, by virtue of these qualities, is considered to be one of the most reliable sources of hadith (sayings and traditions of Muhammad, s.a.w.).  She reported more than a thousand ahadith and is regarded as one of the greatest teachers of the hadith. She had expertise in the Qur’an, law of inheritance, other lawful and unlawful matters, poetry, Arabic literature, Arab history, genealogy, and general medicine. Men and women both attended her teaching sessions.  Imam Ibn al Jawzi mentioned in the Cream of the Cream from Hisham ibn Urwa that Urwa said to Aisha, “Umm! I am not surprised at your knowledge of poetry since you are the daughter of Abu Bakr, but I marvel at your knowledge of medicine.”

The first Madrasah for women and with a female teacher was established in the home of Aisha (r.a.), the mother of Muslims.  With a curtain separating the men from the women, men also attended Aisha’s classes.

Both men and women also received knowledge and instruction from the Prophet’s other wives and from female companions like Umm Sulaym, Umm ad Darda’, Fatima bint Qays al-‘Adawiyya, and other women after them. When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) migrated to Madina, he ordered the women of the Ansar (native of Madina) to gather in one house, and he sent Umar ibn al-Khattab to them to convey the teachings of Islam, reported Umm ‘Atiyya (Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab at-Tabaqat al Kabir). This was the first Madrasah for women taught by a man. The Prophet even commanded that the slave girls be educated, and he asked Shifa bint Abdullah to instruct his wife Hafsah bint Umar. Both men and women have attended lectures of the Prophet, and by the time of the Prophet’s death, there were many women scholars.

Asma bint Abi Bakr was another highly knowledgeable person. She was also an expert in the science of dream interpretation. Amra bint Abdur Rehman was a student of Aisha (r.a.) and very close to her. Her opinions overrode the views of other authorities. Ibn Saad refers to her as an aalima, or scholar. In the Muwatta she is taken as the authority of three legal issues: the prohibition against digging up graves, the ban on selling unripe fruit, and the effect of crop damage on the sale of agricultural produce.

In the long list of scholars in the early centuries of Islam, one was Nafisa bint al-Hasan (d.208/824), a female teacher of Imam Shafi‘i, one of the five most famous Imams (founders of a school of opinion). The Imam sat in Nafisa’s circle in al-Fustat at the height of his fame in Egypt.  In his History of Damascus, Hafiz Ibn Asakar (1175) mentioned the names of eighty women from whom he studied the knowledge of Hadith. The Imam of tasawwuf, Hafiz Ibn-e Asakar, was the student of Shuhda bint Abi Nasr (d. 574/1178), one of the best scholars of her age. She used to lecture publicly in one of the main mosques of Baghdad on various topics.

In Islamic history, there are several examples that Muslim men taught women and Muslim women taught men. However Imam Bukhari, after referring to some examples from Hadith, set some principles for teaching the opposite sex (in his chapter on warning and teaching women). He allowed the presence of women at meetings and assemblies on the condition that they would be safe from sexual temptation.

Women of Islam took great interest in spreading mass education in different parts of the world. The sister of Ghazi Slahuddin Ayyubi (1193), Zammurd, and niece Uzra, founded two separate Madrasahs. A Muslim woman Fatima bint Muhammad al-Fihri is the founder of the oldest living university of the time (much older than Oxford, England and Al-Azhar, Egypt), the University of Qarawiyyin (founded in 245H/859A), Fes, Morocco. Her father was a rich businessman, and she spent all her inheritance money to build and decorate the university. To become closer to Allah, she fasted continuously during the construction of the university. The university building is the finest standard of architect. Within the university is a masjid in which thirteen thousand people can pray at one time, and there is a huge, unique library. Students from Algeria, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, and other African nations come here to seek knowledge and higher education.

Razia Begum (637H/1240A) the third ruler of Muslim India, established two Madrasahs in Delhi; Moazzia and Naseriya. In the period of Sultan Muhammad Shah Tughlaq (d. 752H/1351A) there were one thousand Madrasahs in Delhi, and several of them were for women. There were Madrasahs for women all over Muslim India. During his journey in South India, the famous Moroccan voyager Ibn Battuta (d. 779H/1377A) mentioned about two girls’ Madrasahs in the Islamic state of Hunnoor. In the castle (secretariat and capital) of the ruler of Malwa, Sultan Gyasuddin Khilji (d. 906H/1500A), there were ten thousand women employees. According to the famous historian Farishta, thousands of them were Haafizat ( women who memorized the whole Qur’an), Qariyat (expert in recitation of the Qur’an), Aalimat (scholars), and Mualimmat (teachers).

Women’s education must have a system to fulfill the three basic responsibilities of women as defined in the Qur’an and Hadith: 1. the bearing of children; 2. the evolving, nurturing, and training of kids; 3. the providing of comfort and peace in the home.

In the Western modern civilization, a woman is a commodity, an advertisement tool, a material producer, and a sex idol, and family life is optional. But in the Islamic civilization, a woman is a wife, a mother, a sister, and a daughter, and family life is obligatory. Women are exalted spiritually because of her contribution in the natural reproduction of the best creature on this earth, human beings.  “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), ‘Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal’” (Al-Qur’an 51: 14). It is reported that a man came to the Prophet and asked, “Messenger of Allah, who is the most deserving of good care from me?” Three times the Prophet replied, “Your mother,” then he said, “then your father, then your nearest relatives in order.” In another hadith, the Prophet said, “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers”; in other words, Paradise awaits those who cherish and respect their mothers.

Population growth has decreased dangerously low in all Western and Western-influenced countries. However, the birth and reproduction is necessary to continue the human race. Nurturing and training young boys and girls is the woman’s primary job, and this is the best job in the eyes of the Creator. Earning an income and struggling for livelihood is an inferior job and is a responsibility solely assigned to men.

The kindergarten of even an uneducated and untrained woman’s lap is better than the information center of public kindergarten. A woman of any knowledge or no knowledge is the best educator of her baby. Through providing milk, singing, and telling stories, a mother can teach love, respect, sympathy, sacrifice, attachment, and other moral qualities. By sending children to pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, or day care centers operated by secular teachers (now even gays and lesbians) or to secular baby sitters, parents morally slaughter and bury their children. All the most noble, respectable, and highly moral and spiritual people were trained in the laps of good women of high character.

Biographies and articles of Khaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (d.1235), Khawja Nizamuddin Mahboob Ilahi (d.1225) of medieval India, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1818-1898), Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (1873-1931), and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (1873-1931) of modern India who did great services to Ummah (community), confirmed that they were the products of wonderful mothers. On the other hand, the kindergartens of broken and disturbed families produce evil and revengeful personalities, as confirmed by the biographies of Hitler and Mussolini.

A duty of the married woman is to provide comfort in the home. When her husband comes home after a hard day’s work, she should welcome him with a smile, warm hugs, comfort, and love. She should develop an environment where everyone in the home can find peace and stability.

The elementary or primary education of the Madrasah was co-education; boys and girls attended together until the age of nine or ten. There was also a tradition of lady teachers operating girls’ Madrasahs from their homes, and young boys also attended these schools.

The syllabus of the girls’s Madrasah was different from boy’s Madrasah and was designed to equip a woman to fulfill her responsibilities assigned by the Creator. Although there was not an organized or uniform syllabus, information gathered from different sources shows the syllabus of women’s education were as follows: Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqah, responsibilities of women, Akhabar –e-salf (life history of prophets, scholars and other great people of Islam), Milad (birth and seerah of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), calligraphy, cooking, handicrafts, sewing, and weaving. In Muslim India, higher education for women was neither obligatory nor highly recommended (especially when it negatively affected family life), but it was never banned. Women of high-class society --from the homes of rulers, government officials, and from the homes of Islamic scholars-- generally received higher education.

Selected examples in different disciplines of education recorded by Professor Muhammad Saleem:

1. Knowledge of Hadith:  Several women learned Mishkaat with the help of its Farsi translation. Maulana Shah Ismail Shaheed educated her sister with Mishkat. The daughter of Muhammad Bashir Sahsawani Muhaddis was also a Muhadissa (an expert of Hadith).

2. Tasawwuf:  Several women learned Fawad ul Fawwad, the sayings and writings of Nizam uddin Mahboob e Ilahi and Masnavi Maulana Room. Jahan Aara Begum, the daughter of Emperor Shahjahan, has written a book on the life of Sufis.

3. Fiqah:  The daughters of Maulvi Abdul Ahad, Malik Matba Mujtabai were scholars and poets. Most of the women of the Shirwani family were high scholars.

4. Arabic Language:  The niece of Nawab Ammad ul Mulk had written letters to her uncle in the Arabic Language. She also knew the English language. The daughter of Muzammil ullah Khan was a poet in the Arabic language.

5. Logic: Sharful Mulk Nawab Ghaus Mohammad Khan, chief minister of Karnataka, studied logic from her mother.

6. Medicine: The daughters of Hakim Abdul Majid Khan Dehlavi were all practicing medical doctors.

7. Skills of Warfare:  The women of the family of emperors were trained in the skill of warfare. When the emperor Humayun was leaving India and going to Iran without any force, his sister Gulbaden Begum joined him and was fully armed. Zeenat Mahal, wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar (d.1274H/1857A) commanded a battalion in the freedom movement in 1857 against the British occupation force.

8. Expertise in Official Affairs: Nawab Sikander Jehan Begum Bhopali (d. 1285H/1868A), learned “Daftar Abul Fazal,” was an expert in mathematics and could read extremely broken handwriting.

9. Wide-ranging Knowledge:  When Nawab Shahjahan Begum of Bhopal was on a tour of Calcutta in 1870, a woman submitted a job application to her. The applicant had mentioned, “This applicant belonged to the ruined city of Delhi. I have an expertise in the Farsi and English language and poetry and know various skills and art crafts, know the history of cities, learned calligraphy from Hafiz Muhammad Punja Kash Dedlavi (pioneer of one of the schools of calligraphy), and Bahadur Shah awarded [this applicant] the title ‘Nadir Raqam.’ I can write the court cases like a Munshi (court clerks), and also have full authority in the field of medicine, particularly in gynecology.”

10.  The daughter of a famous man of literature of style, Maulana Muhammad Hussain Azad (d.1328H/1910A), was a noted scholar and literary person. Azad wrote, “There was not a single book of mine that was not edited by my daughter.”

11. Propagation of Education: Women took great interest in the propagation of education. A lady servant of Emperor Akbar founded Madrasah Maham Anga. Fatima Sughra Begum from Bihar left a huge property as a trust called “Sughra Waqf State” for education. A learned woman from Calcutta, Saulat un Nisa, presented a huge amount of thirty thousand rupees to Maulana Rahmatullah Kiranwi Muhajir. Maulana built a Madrasah in Haram Shareef, Makkah named Madrasah Saulatia (1291/1874) in the name of the donor. This Madrasah is still alive.


Medical Education

DISEASE is of such concern among human beings that, from the beginning, Allah gave some prophets healing ability in the form of miracles so that the prophets would be recognized as legitimate, thereby validating their warnings of the hereafter.  Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was given the capability to cure the blind and the leper (Al-Quran 5:110). Prophet Muhammad (saw) was given the knowledge of how to protect the body and to live a healthy life; and his wife Hazrath Aisha r.a, became a medical expert who passed on her knowledge to others.  A field of science known as “the Medicine of Prophet Muhammad” was developed by various scholars and doctors with the help of Ahadith [the collection of words and deeds of Prophet Muhammmad (saw)]. A Qur’anic Revelation tells us that honey can be used as medicine:  “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.” (Surah 16: 68-69). The Sahaba (companions of Prophet Muhammad) and Muslims of all periods have always been curious to know how Prophet Muhammad used honey and other things to cure diseases. Knowledge of medicine was acquired by Muslims throughout history and was part of the syllabuses of different curriculums adopted by Muslim educators.

According to the teachings of Islam, health is a trust from Allah given to a person, and any carelessness or act to damage good health will be considered mistrust. A person’s body truly belongs to Allah, so a person does not even have the right to damage his or her body with such things as tobacco products, alcoholic drinks, unhealthy diets, and unsafe lifestyles.  Deeds that help to protect health and to cure diseases, however, are good deeds and will be highly rewarded by Allah. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said that Allah has not allowed any disease for which there is no cure. Taharah (nearest meaning in English: cleanliness) is a part of the Muslim faith, and Taharah is the foundation of good health.  Such concepts as these have inspired Muslims in research and development in order to produce medicines, tools, and techniques to cure and prevent diseases and to make human life healthier and more enjoyable. As humanity was made to be Allah’s representative over creation, the sciences that improve the health and preservation of plants and animals are also within Allah’s mission for humanity.  A proverb famous among people of knowledge states that there are only two types of knowledge: Ilmul Abdan (knowledge of physical bodies) and Ilmul Adian (knowledge of faith, practice and ways of life)

Contributions of Muslim scientists have been recorded in manuscripts. An American Muslim Amir N. Muhammed has written a book Contributions of Muslims to the World in which he collected the following facts:

In Damascus (now Syria’s capital) in 809 AD, Harun ar Rashid, a Muslim Khalifa (ruler), founded the world’s first hospital, and he funded it from the state treasury. In the ninth century, Ali ibn Rabban al-Tabri wrote Firdaws al hikmah (The Paradise of Wisdom) in which he synthesized the Hippocratic and the Galenic traditions of medicine with that of India and Persia (Iran). He was a great teacher of medicine, and one of his students, Muhammad ibn Zakariyya’ al-Razi, was one of the great physicians who emphasized clinical medicine and observation. Al-Razi was the first who identified and treated smallpox. He was the first person to use alcohol as an antiseptic and to make medical use of mercury as a purgative.

Muqtadir Sinan ibn Thabit extended hospital services (908-932 AD) to meet the needs of neighboring rural areas and prisons. The fame of the tenth century Adudi hospital in Baghdad spread far and wide. The hospital hosted twenty-four doctors equipped with lecture halls and a library. Certain type of music was also played in some hospitals to soothe the patients and to speed up recovery. Anesthetics were made from hemp to help ease pain.

Muslims invented the ambulant clinic carried on camel back to provide services to people outside the towns and villages. Muslims invented pharmacies, produced the first pharmacopeias, founded the earliest school of pharmacy, and were the founders of institutions for the blind, dispensaries and institutions for special diseases.

In the late tenth century, Ibn al-Haitham, the greatest scientist to devote himself to optics, wrote a book, The Book of Optics, which gives detailed anatomy and the treatment of the eye. He rejected the previous notion that rays issue from the eye; instead he stated the eye receives the light from the object perceived. In the eleventh century, Ibn Abu Ali Husayn ibn Abdullah Ibn Sina was born in Bukhara, Central Asia. Ibn Sina was “the Prince of Physicians” and wrote the most famous of all medical books, Al-Qanun Fi-al Tibb (The Canon of Medicine). Ibn Sina discovered many drugs and identified and treated several ailments including meningitis. Ibn Sina created a system of medicine in which he combined physical and psychological factors along with drugs and diet.  Ibn al-Nafis (1213AD-1288AD) born in Damascus, worked in Cairo at the Nasri and Mansuri hospitals discovered the circulation of the blood, hundreds of years before Harvey.

In the sixteenth century, a manuscript written by Syrian-born Ali Ibn Isa consisted of 280 pages of the famous treatise on ophthalmology. It was divided into three parts: the anatomy of the eye, visible diseases of the eyes, and hidden diseases. He documented both the causes and remedies and was the first person to propose the use of anesthesia for surgery. His work was translated into Latin as the Tractus-de Ocalis of Jesu Ben Hali.

Hunain ibn Ishaq (809-873 AD) ((known in the West as Joanitius), born in Iraq, was a brilliant linguist, scientist, and physician who wrote at least twenty-nine original treatises on medical topics. The most significant is a collection of ten essays on ophthalmology. The essays cover the anatomy and physiology of the eye and treatment of the various diseases afflicting vision.

Ibn Baitar, one of the most famous botanists from Andalusia (Muslim Spain), after traveling all over the east to find medical herbs, wrote a famous book called Collection of Simple Drugs and Food.  He wrote about herbs, preparation of drugs, and drug administration, purpose, and dosage.  Abu Marwan’ Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr (d.1162 AD) (known in the West as Avenzoar), native of Seville, Muslim Spain, made numerous important medical and surgical discoveries.

Abu al-Qasim al Zahrawi was the first to use silk thread for stitching wounds.

-Contributions of Muslims to the World by Amir N. Muhammed

South Asian experience:

In the famous “Nizami Syllabus” there were five or six medical books for the last years of the theoretical education. The student who were looking to practice medicine was required to do internship with an expert doctor (known as Tabeeb e Haziq) and had to apply practical knowledge for several years before starting his or her own clinic. Hakim Ajmal Khan (d.1348H/1929A) was the father of medical science in Muslim India and is credited with innovations in different fields of medicine. Most of his writings are in Arabic; therefore most people are still unaware of him. In the First World War, there was a world epidemic of influenza.  While Western-educated doctors were struggling for a remedy, Hakim Ajmal took initiative and made a medicine jushada (a liquid form; extract of various herbs) and placed it all over Delhi in water tanks. People on the street each took a bowl of free jushada and the whole city was saved from influenza. Ajmal’s forefathers taught medicine and gave certificates to students completing two or three years of study. Ajmal’s elder brother Hakim Abdul Majeed Khan established the first medical college, in 1879, in which there were three years theoretical and two years clinical education. In 1919, Hakim Ajmal Khan established a MedicalCollege (Tibbiya College) in which there was a four-year syllabus of medical education including modern medical and surgical techniques.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, in his book Aasaar us Sanadeed (on the buildings and architecture of the city of Delhi in the nineteen century), mentioned a medical college “Darul Shifa.” Manik Chand, in his book Ahwale Shahar Akbarabad (about the city of Akbarabad), mentioned another “Dar ul Shifa” in Agra; it was a hospital plus medical educational Institute (according to Mughal Hindustan: Cities and Industries by Hameeda Naqvi, a woman author).

The medical profession was one of the most respected professions, and Muslim physicians were generally very close to Allah and loved Him and all of humanity as they prayed for their patients. This was a profession of service and dedication --not a money-centered, exploitative business— and maintaining patient confidentiality was their top priority.

Smallpox shots and surgery for eye cataracts were prevalent in Muslim India where doctors applied their own technology. The details of smallpox shots are described in the diary of Hakim Menhdi Ali Khan, translated and published in English in the journal Asiatic Affair, London, in 1804.

Several Muslim rulers and scholars of India were interested to learn the development in the field of medicine in the West. The brightest and bravest ruler of Muslim India, Abul Fatah Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), established the first institution in India to translate Western books into Arabic and Farsi, the languages of the entire Muslim world of that time including India. One of the translators was Mirza Muhammad Nasir Afshar Turk. He translated six important books of the time on medicine, surgery, and pharmacy, from English and French. Mir Muhammad Hussain Londoni (1777) (named Londoni because he used to travel to London) wrote a book Magazine of the Knowledge of Physiques, a translation of a book, in English, on medical science.

The father of Hakim Athar Ali Khan came to Delhi as a doctor of the Iranian military commanded by Nadir Shah Afshar. Athar Ali was born and educated in Delhi, migrated to Calcutta, and, following in the footsteps of his father, studied medicine. In 1783, he wrote, in English, a dissertation, “Cure of Elephantiasis,” that was published in the 1792 historical academic journal of London, Dissertations on Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the History and Antiquities, Science, Literature of Asia.  The noted scholar of Pakistan Dr. Khawja Abdur Rashid found that publication and reproduced it in the July-September 1962 issue of Pakistan Journal of Medical Research (“Maghrabi Zubanon ke Maahir Ulema” by Professor Syed Muhammad Saleem).

Muslims from South Asian background, who are deluded by a historical myth that English language education was started and conducted by Sir Syed’s Ahmed Khan and his Aligarh M.A.O.College, will be amazed to know that a Muslim scholar’s dissertation in English was published more than one hundred years ago in one of the most prestigious journals of the West.  Also Sheikh Hafeezuddin (in 1821), Dr. Fazluddin Ali Dehlavi (in 1844), Hakim Nasseruddin (in 1848), Hakim Munshi Hussaini (in 1853), and Syed Zainul Aabedin (in 1852) wrote books on surgery, medicine, and pharmacy.  These scholars had proficiency in English and  well educated and informed of the Western knowledge.


Business and Technology

MUSLIMS had intellectual, moral, geographical, scientific, and industrial superiority and vast human and natural resources over the West before Muslim lands were occupied by Western powers.  The West had no edge over the Muslim world other than that attributed to political and military conspiracy, lies, deception, and propaganda --all fueled by disinformation and misinformation.  With no concept of selfish nationalism, Muslims allowed Western companies, businessmen, and professionals in Muslim controlled lands. Muslims believe that this earth and all its resources belong to the Creator Allah and that everybody has the right to settle anywhere in the world. There was no requirement of passport, visa, or permission to enter into and reside in any Muslim country. The first Islamic state in Madinah, under the rule of Prophet Muhammad (saw), had only one condition of citizenship, which was “ having a desire to live in Madinah.” A person of any faith, race, and ethnicity could live in Madinah and enjoy full religious freedom in his or her personal and family life if he or she wanted to live there. Throughout history, before the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’ colonization and before “secularization” and “modernization,” all post-occupation, Muslim governments and rulers retained this principle of citizenship.

At one time, India, particularly its Capital City Delhi, was where people of arts, literature, all kinds of skills, and technology from all over the world  were always eager to come, live, perform, and excel. According to an Urdu poet, “Dilli jo tha Aalam me Intikhab” (Delhi was a city of distinction in the world).  India was an industrially advanced nation throughout history.  Various products of India were in great demand all over the world, and there was a huge flow of wealth towards India until the eighteenth century and the British occupation. Known as “the gold bird,” India experienced its best and golden period of business and industry under the Muslim rule of Allauddin Khiljee (695H/1296A-1716H/1316A) and Mughal Empire Shahjehan (b.1037H/1628A-d.1068H/1657A). During these two reigns, there was general prosperity, and India had an exemplary position, which prevailed until the British occupation. According to several British historians, the seths (businessmen) of Bengal had a business all over the world equivalent to the Bank of England (the largest bank of England). According to Captain Alexander Hamilton, “The assets of Mr. Abdul Ghafoor, a businessman of Surat (in Gujarat, India), are more than the total assets of East India Company” [Musalmanon kaa Roshan Mustaqbal (in Urdu) by Mohammad Tufail Ahmed Manglori].

Syed Ahmed Shaheed, a great Mujahid and freedom fighter, stayed, along with his team, in Calcutta in 1821 during their journey for Hajj. They were guests of a big businessman Ghulam Hussain who took bait (oath) at the hand of Syed Shaheed. The author of Wiqa e Ahmadi  has written that Mr. Hussain’s business expanded into different countries and far places in the world, and he had houses in different countries. From the head office of Calcutta, the team of Mr. Hussain conducted business correspondence in thirteen languages --English, French, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Kokni, and Indian provincial languages.

Muslims did not have an organized academic curriculum for the education of business and technology in Madrasahs, but this education was available in the factories and business centers. Students were welcomed and encouraged to gain knowledge in working and practical environments. The industrial position (some of the sectors) of Muslim India was as follows:

Textile Industry

The "birthplace" of cotton is India.  According to Siyuti, “The word Sundas in the Qur’an indicates the cotton of Sindh (presently a province of Pakistan). Indians wore sophisticated cotton clothes at the time when most other people were wearing coarse clothes of wool. The military personnel of Alexander of Greece first saw cotton fields in Sindh and considered “the trees of cotton” as one of the “wonders of the world.”  The English word cotton and the Arabic word Qatan derived from the Hindi word Kaatna.

Julahas (weaving workers) of India had a monopoly on the world’s cotton clothing industry. Muslim rulers promoted and facilitated this industry at its highest level. Shams Siraj Afeef has written about the period of Feroz Tughlaq (752H/1351A-790H/1388A), “There were twelve thousand industrial workers in thirty-six royal factories located at different places. The chief of the factory was called ‘Malik’ or ‘Khan.’ The chief executive of all the factories was Khawja Abul Hasan. Different clothes were produced here by order of the government.”

Sultan Muhammad Khilji, the ruler of Malwa, took great interest in women’s education in skill areas. According to famous historian Farishta, he provided women with training in carpet weaving, knitting, and cloth/dress making.

India produced dozens of types of sophisticated clothes --Garha, Gazi, Nainsukh, Malmal, Mashroo, Mahmoodi, Kashmiri, etc. The centers of manufacturing of Kamkhab and Zartar were Surat and Varanasi (Banaras). The centers of manufacturing of Malmal were Bengal and Azeemabad (Patna). Aab e rawan, Shabnam, and Hawabeft were different names of malmal. A sophisticated bolt of malmal (the finest cotton) ten yards long and one yard wide weighed only four ounces and could be passed through a finger ring.

Indian clothes were in huge demand all over the world. The English name of zartar was brocade and named after a city of India, Bharuch, a seaport in Gujarat and export center of the cloth. Calico was a cloth called cheent in the local language and named after Calicut, a harbor and export center in Kerala. When India’s clothing dominated the market of England, the local industrialists began protesting, and they demanded a ban on the import of Indian clothes. In the name of protecting local industries, the British government passed the Calico Acts between 1700 and 1720, thereby legislated it a crime to sell or wear Indian clothes in England.

When the British got control over Bengal and various industrial centers of India, they enforced several rules and regulations to destroy the industry completely. Jullahas practically became a bonded labor of the British Government, and labor oppression on these workers was so immense that most of the workers cut their thumbs to have an excuse of disability (The Rule of Company by Bari).

Arms Industry

India was in arms manufacturing country from ancient times. In Arab lands, the Indian sword Saiful Hind was popular long before Islam. Different type of arms were manufactured in ancient times --swords, knives, daggers, and various sharp blades known as bhala, bercha, katar, garz, etc. Muslims are credited with several innovations in the arms technology of the time, including new types of arms --tampancha, bandooq (guns), GajnaalRehgalaZanboorak, and tanks. Hakim Abul Fateh Gilani invented a twelve-fire gun for Emperor Akbar (1014H/1605A). The tanks, Lamdhek and Malikmaidan of Beejapur and Zamzama of Lahore, manufactured in Muslim India, are still recognized as examples of fine skill and technological expertise.

In the war against Britain in 1763, Nawab Mir Qasim Khan used the native gun Maskeat. Broome, in his book History of Bengal Military, admitted that Nawab’s Masketa was superior to the Tower Proof (the gun used by Britain’s East India Company military) and that its barrel was excellent.

The tank Chaqmaq was also collected from the mountains of Rajmahal. After 1806, England started manufacturing tanks on the Indian pattern. Indian tanks were light, effective, mobile, and easily transported. Duke of Willingdon, an opponent of Tipu Sultan, praised the tanks of Tipu Sultan.  In 1815, during the Duke’s fighting with Napoleon, Duke stated that he wished he had a tank like Nagori Bail of Tipu Sultan so that he could easily conquer.

The British occupiers couldn’t tolerate this sensitive and important Indian arms industry. By the charter of 1813, the British government forced the closing of India’s furnaces for iron and steel casting.  As a result, a nation, once superior in arms manufacturing became dependent on England and Japan for things even as simple as needles and pins.

Ship Industry

The best and strongest wood of the world, sagwan, was exclusively available in India, the center of ship industry. The ships built by sagawan were seaworthy for fifty years while the European ships had a lifespan of twelve years. Indian-built ships were in demand all over the world. The ports of Murshidabad, Bengal and Surat, Gujarat were famous for this industry. Abdur Raheem Khan Khanan (1036H/1627A), during his governorship of Gujarat, built three big ships --Raheemi, Kareemi, and Salari. In the season of Hajj, these ships provided free transportation to poor Muslims to Jeddah. These ships were continued manufacturing until the British destroyed the industry completely in 1868.

Although Muslim India was never a naval power, fleets were available to defend the ports. Emperor Akbar established fleets that were available in the Bay of Bengal and ports of Gujarat. When the British Company occupied the Bengal, they captured and controlled the navy of 768 armed and fast-running boats.

Chemical Industry

The two living examples mentioned by Professor Muhammad Saleem in his book, Musalmanon ka Nizaam e Taalim and Tarbiyah, proves Muslim India’s superiority in the chemical industry. One is the calligraphy using an indelible ink on the inner doors of Jama Masjid Delhi. After three hundred years of abusive winter and summer weather, the calligraphy is still bright and vivid. This proves the high quality of the chemicals. The other example amazed British occupiers who saw the Taj Mahal, built in Agra by order of Emperor Shahjehan (1323H/1905A). The water of the pond was always warm without any visible source of heat. When Lord Curzon became viceroy of India in 1905, he eagerly wanted to know the “secret” of the source that maintained the water’s temperature. The bottom of the pond was broken to uncover the amazing cup of burning chemicals. It was deactivated by exposure to the air.

Most Muslim countries and their lands were physically liberated by the middle of the twentieth century, but they are still psychologically occupied through the Western education system, economy, culture, media, and the corrupt political agents, dictators, and military powers. They are practically enslaved and not free to decide their own destiny. The Western criticism on Islamic systems, governments, and intellectual contributions in the modern world is the criticism from those who enslaved and cut the hands and feet of a far superior nation of the history.



Western Educated Ulemas, Mullahs and Maulvis


IN GENERAL, people think that English and Western Education started in India after the British occupation and after the educational movement of Muslim scholars (for example, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan) who cooperated  the British occupiers. Historically, however, this notion is not accurate. Several British historians have noted that only few nations throughout history can match the educational tradition that Indian Muslims had. The scholars of Muslim India were always trying to learn every knowledge and skill that might be fruitful and beneficial to them.  British historians and orientalists, however, distorted history and made accusations that “Muslims were reluctant to learn and were against the English language.” In actuality the opposite was true. Muslims were not against any language or skills, but were wary of Western civilization and its cultural values. British writers used the respectful titles of Muslim Scholars --Ulema, Mullah, and Maulvi-- in a humiliating way despite the fact and they knew that Mullah Abdur Rehman Jaami, Mullah Abdul Hakim Sialkoti, and Mullah Jeewan Amethi were highly respected and knowledgeable people of their time.

Professor Muhammad Saleem (d. 2002) researched Western educated Ulemas of India before Sir Syed’s Aligarh and wrote a biography of 150 Ulemas, Mullahs, or Maulvis who studied and traveled to obtain Western education at a time when Arabic and Farsi were the dominating languages and when English was not required in order to get clerical jobs under the British occupation. Based on his research, Professor Saleem wrote a book in Urdu, Maghrabi Zubanon ke Maahir Ulema, Aligarh College ke Qayam se Pahle (The Western Languages Expert Scholars Before the Establishment of Aligarh Collage). He got help from an unpublished dissertation, in Urdu, by Hakim Mahmood Ahmed Barkati of Karachi, Pakistan.

Muslims had a very obvious intellectual superiority over the West. The people of the East viewed Westerners as sea pirates, thugs, looters, and ignorant. They were known as firangi (aliens from the West) several centuries before the occupation. Mujaddid Alif Saani (the great scholar of Islam, 1564-1636) wrote a letter about someone and described him as “ignorant like firangis .”

When Mughal Emperor Akbar received news of the death of his finance minister Mir Fatahullah Shirazi, he promptly responded, “If he had been kidnapped by a 'firangiasking ransom for Mir Fatahullah, I would have given the firangi all my wealth and treasure to get Mir Fatahullah back, and I would still have felt that I was the one who profited.” In the eyes of Akbar, firangis were just sea pirates; however, he gave full freedom to firangis to travel, stay, buy lands, and do businesses wherever they want and without any type of restriction.

Scholars before Aligarh College, who learned Western languages, strictly adhered to Islamic ideals; however, after Aligarh College, the values of Western-educated Muslims began to be diluted in the salt sea of Western civilization. Higher educated people of these colleges and universities were now westernized and secularized, and most of them practically left the Islamic values to adopt the new one --the new master’s “code of life.”

Islamic View Point for Learning Foreign Languages:

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) advised and encouraged his Sahabas (companions) (r.a.w.) to learn foreign languages. He ordered Zaid Bin Saabit Ansari to learn Siriani, Aramaic, Farsi and Habshi and Zaid (r.a.w.) learned these languages (quoted in Mishkaat). Umaru bin Alaass knew Siriani. A famous scholar of Fiqah Hanafi, Mullah Sultan Ali Qari Harwi (1014H/1605AD), in a description of this Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad), said, “Islamic Sharia allows us to learn any language, whether it be Hebrew, Suriani, Hindi, Turkish, Farsi, or any other language.”

From the teachings of Islam, Muslims learned every language wherever they went. When Muslims came to India, they even learned Sanskrit, the language of Hindu gods, and Hindi, the language of Hindus. Masood Saad Suleman Lahori (d. 515H/1121AD) and Amir Khusru (d. 725H/1325AD) were famous poets of the Hindi language.

When English was brought to India, Muslims of India immediately began learning English. Shah Abdul Azeez Muhaddis Dehlavi (son of Shah Waliullah, b1702-d1763, a great reformer and scholar of India), the most influential and respected personality of his time, and Maulana Firangi Mahli Lucknavi (1886), the most influential scholar of his time decreed (fatwa) to learn English: “To learn the English language for tashabbah (resemblance) is prohibited; however, to learn English to read letters and books is allowed” (Majmooa Fatawa, Volume 2, Page 80). (Tashabbah means to try to resemble people from another culture and to emulate their values at the cost of your own identity.)

Islamic scholars of India learned Western languages at the level that they have written books in English, delivered speeches, and edited books and transcripts.  Here are a few examples from the history (all these examples are mentioned in Professor Syed Muhammad Saleem’s above mentioned book):

1. Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) invited Father Edward Leiton and Christopher de Vega from Goa (a state/province of India and a colony of Portugal at that time) and told them to establish a school to teach firangi languages. Children of elite and high officials, including his son Murad, were admitted to the school. These students were taught Latin and Portuguese languages. However the Christian religious teachers were not interested in teaching languages; instead, they were only interested in converting Muslims, particularly the King, to Christianity. However, it was the first firangi Madrasah established by order of the king. Abul Fazl, the Prime Minister of King Akbar, translated the Bible into Farsi. Abdur Raheem Khan was appointed by Akbar to learn firangi languages. Farid Bhakri wrote about him, “Abdur Raheem knew all the languages existing in this world.”

2.  In the period of Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707), Rustam Khan Bin Dianat Khan Badakshani, alias Muatmad Khan, was the first Indian who visited western countries. He visited Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. He translated a book of mathematics from Latin to Arabic. The name of the book was Clavious On Gromonics, first published in 1581 in Rome. The original book and its translation in Arabic are available at the India Office Library, London.

3. Abul Fatah Tipu Sultan (1782-1797), the bravest and most farsighted ruler of India, was well aware of modern education and its development in the West. He invited several scholars from France. He established a huge library with thousands of books. After his martyrdom, most of his books were moved to Fort William College, Calcutta. Charles Stuart prepared a catalogue of the books, “Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental Library of Tipu Sultan” by Charles Stuart,London, 1809.  Tipu Sultan established the first center in India for the translation of books written in Western languages. These books are generally on medicine, pharmacy, and surgery.

4. Nawab Fakhruddin Khan, of Hyderabad Deccan, who was married to the daughter of Asif Jaah Sani, took special interest in Western skills and technology. Perhaps inspired by Tipu Sultan, he formed an institution for translations. This institution has translated various books of geometry, algorithm, astronomy, physics, hydrostats, chemistry, and medicine in the Urdu language.

5. Nawab Ghulam Ghaus Khan Bahadur (1844-1855) established a Madrasah, Madrasah Aazam in Arcot (presently in Tamil Nadu state/province of India). This Madrasah was open for all, and the English language was taught along with Arabic and Farsi. Nawab Salaar Jang, of Hyderabad Deccan, was an expert in Arabic, Farsi, and English. He established a Madrasah, Madrasah Aaliya in 1854, in which English was taught along with Arabic and Farsi.

6. In the beginning of the East India Company, the court law was still Fiqah Hanafi. The famous book of Hanafi, Hidaya was translated into Farsi from Arabic by Qazi Ghulam Yahya Bihari, with the help of Maulvi Tajuddin Bangali and Syed Muhammad Yasin Irani. Captain Hamilton translated this book into English in three volumes, with the help of the Farsi translation. By order of Chief Justice of Calcutta, John Herbert Harrington, Mufti Muhammad Arshad (1221H/1805A) edited all manuscripts for accuracy.

7. Mir Mohammad Hussain Londoni (1777) wrote a travelogue of London and translated a medical book from English to Farsi.

8. Abdul Qader Jaunpuri (d. 1787) wrote several books in Arabic on chemistry, geography, and literature. Two of his most famous books are (1) Alhakma Bainul Uloom al Mashraqiya and Al-Maghrabia (Comparison of Knowledge between East and West) and (2) Kitab fi Taaqub Alial Bacon al Magrabi (The Book on the Criticism of Francis Bacon’s book). The depth of his Western knowledge was apparent.

9. Allama Tafazzul Hussain Khan Kashmiri, a native of Sialkot, Punjab, was a brilliant person of his time. At age thirteen, he moved to Delhi and got various types of education from different teachers. He had almost all the necessary knowledge available in the world.  He studied physics, mathematics, optics, and various other subjects in depth. He knew English, Latin, Greek, Farsi, and Arabic languages and translated more than a dozen important books. He translated Sir Isaac Newton’s book Principia Mathmatica (1687) directly from Latin to Arabic.

10. Hakim Athar Ali Dehlavi was a reputed medical doctor of his time. He wrote a dissertation “Cure of Elephantiasis” in English in 1783; in 1792, the paper was published in a historical academic journal of London, Dissertation on Miscellaneous Pieces Relating to the History and Antiquities, Science, and Literature of Asia.

11. Dr. Wazeer Khan, son of Nazeer Khan Pathan of Bihar, completed his modern medical education from Calcutta and went to London for further education. He was disturbed to know that Christian missionaries, after learning Arabic and Farsi, were active in religious debates and fooling Muslims to divert them from their faith. He collected all available editions of the Bible and the Torah and their commentaries and brought them with him to India. He earned expertise in English, Latin, and other languages. He was posted in Agra as a physician. He collected Ulema (Islamic Scholars) in Jama Masjid and started teaching them the Bible and the western languages. After three to four years of teaching, he prepared several Ulema to respond to the Christian missionaries. In 1854, there was a religious debate (Munazra) between a Christian and a Muslim religious scholar in Agra. The debate was won by the Muslim scholars. Dr. Wazeer Khan and Maulvi Rahmatullah Kiranwi, defeated Christian missionaries on every debate and on every occasion.


The Complete Destruction

WHEN the British first started controlling India, Muslims were the ruling power and the heart and mind of the society.  They held intellectual and physical superiority over other communities. Therefore, the British East India Company instigated a policy to humiliate and degrade Muslims from all spheres of life. Governor General George Hilario Barlow (ruled from 1805 to 1807), in his letter to Lord Willington, wrote “I can’t shut my eyes to the fact that this race [Muslims] is basically our enemy; therefore, our correct policy should be to please Hindus.”

To degrade Muslims and make them ineffective and humiliated, the British devised three strategies:

  1. Render Muslims bankrupt and impoverished so that they must spend all their time managing basic survival needs, thereby distracting them from contemplating serious issues related to religion and politics.
  2. Disconnect them from their glorious past, and then it would become easy to sweep them out.
  3. Break their educational incline and prohibit access even to Western education. Ignorance would keep them from rising again.

This was the policy of the Company government for almost a century. The result was obvious and according to their wishes. A most civilized, cultured, developed and enthusiast nation descended to the level of illiterate, poor, and declining. A nation had been thrown from the stars to the dust.

Muslims had three main economic resources: agriculture, industry and skills, and government employment. The Company government adopted the policy to seize all these three resources from Muslims. It was a government of a Corporation, and profit was the sole purpose of governance. The complicated system of Moghal’s collection of revenues (easy for tax payers) was eliminated by Governor General Warren Hastings (1772 to 1786). Without sympathy for lands or landlords, he adopted a policy to auction the lands on annual contracts. One can imagine the level of atrocity to the farmers and harvesters by the contractors who had never gone through relationships with landowners and workers. When the next Governor General Charles Cornwallis took control of the government, he didn’t want to bother with an annual auction but instead gave the land to the contractors permanently and developed new landlords and created a new elite rich class. In the Moghal period, there were special courts to defend the rights of farmers. These courts were abolished, and peasants, land workers, and cultivators were left to the mercy of merciless new landlords. All the cases were referred to the civil courts where justice was impossible. The new ruling class imposed dozens of taxes, including “kitchen tax” (on cooks) and “beard tax” (on bearded men). Even taxes were collected in the name of  “Durga Puja” and “Kaali Puja” (Hindu festivals) from Muslims. (British Policy and Muslims in Bengal by A. R. Mullick.)

Resident Delhi (Mayor of Delhi) has commented that there would be no other country in the world where there was such atrocity at that level where few people got all the lands by bribing and by using different wrong means.

The new rich class of Sen, Das, Gupta, Banerjee, Chatterjee, Mukharjee, and Tagore emerged and were the products of the new arrangement.

In the Islamic periods and Muslim rules, there was an established tradition that government, rich people, and businessmen were to allot properties and build trusts in favor of Ulema (scholars), Fuqha (interpreters of Islamic laws), Mashaikh (trainers of morality and characters), and Durvesh (a person who has assigned himself to do a task for the benefit of humanity) so that these people with economic freedom can educate, train, and develop the standard of the society. Muslim governments never formed a separate education department; instead, education was a self-developed department established with participation from all the members of the society and had a complete freedom and noninterference from the government. Muslims in general showed big hearts to donate for the cause, particularly education. Thousands of institutions were working under these trusts and tax exempted properties. Scholars and teachers had no need to worry. British government spotted the high quality and standards of the Muslim educational system and the leading and dominating role of the Ulemas in society. They also knew the respect of these ulema was because of their economic freedom and independence.

Governor General Richard Wellesley passed “Resumption Act” in 1818 to obtain control of all the trust properties and lands from ulema. Lord William Cavendish-Bentinck passed another “Resumption Act” in 1828 to get all remaining properties. The Bengal residency of that time extended from Burma to East Punjab. A new department “Department of Resumption” had been formed, and a collector, deputy collector, and other officials were appointed only for that purpose. The spies of the agency were spread out everywhere to search out any property that supported Muslim education. False and paid witnesses were disseminated and forced to give false statements about these properties. According to William Hunter, it was the deathblow of Muslims Education System. (Information from Our Indian Mussalman by W.W. Hunter, p-177.)

The class of Ulema was completely destroyed, and ultimately the high society of Muslims dropped to its bottom level. Lord Minro and Duke of Willington said that it was an act to create enmity of Indians and make them beggars. However, from these “resumptions,” the Company got annual three hundred thousand pounds income.

Several groups of the Indian Muslim society were industrially and technologically advanced. The textile industry of Bengal and Bihar was most advanced industry. The Company government did severe atrocities and made several oppressive laws to destroy this industry completely. The textile industries of Manchesterf lourished only after the destruction of the Indian textile industry. Company government forced julahas (Muslim textile workers and owners) to make clothes according to the government’s required quantity, required quality, and at a fixed government price. Julahas fell from owning their own factories to being slave workers and bonded laborers of the East India Company government. They were whipped, and their properties were confiscated if they didn’t follow the new rules. Several Julahaas cut their own thumbs in order to be excused for disability.

All the other industries were also destroyed in the same pattern. The Western historians lie when they say that India was an agricultural nation, and the British made them industrialized. As a matter of fact, they De-industrialized first in order to rebuild an exploitative system of capitalism and profitism where workers didn’t get any benefit from the production, and capitalists and governments had full control over their enslaved industrial workers.

A large number of Muslims were employed in military, civil, and court systems. The Company government took measures to oust them from all these jobs. Governor General Warren Hastings (rule 1773 to 1786) abolished the speedy “Revenue Courts” established all over India in the Moghal rule. Next Governor General Charles Cornwallis abolished the department of village police (security), thereby making law and order worse and putting Muslims out of work.  Muslims were the overwhelming majority in the military, but they were limited because the Company government didn’t trust them. Muslims could be employed as ordinary soldiers but not officers; they were not allowed to have any noble civil or military position.

The judges of the Islamic era were highly respected persons, but they became degraded to the lowest level. Most of these posts were contractual and only for profit. Governor General Henry Hardinge, by an order, closed the door of employment to anyone not fluent in English. After this order, a Muslim who might be a scholar in all knowledge, but didn’t know English, couldn’t get any job. New Chatterjees and Mukherjees, however, got high positions just because they knew a little English or just alphabets of English.

In 1860, Sadar Adalat was converted to High Court, and all the proceedings were changed from Urdu to English. In 1864, the government passed Qazi Act;  after that, there was no need of Muslim judges even for the personal laws of Muslims (divorce, inheritance, etc.), and the lawyers became jobless. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan said, “Go and see the condition of those who have Eastern knowledge [lawyers]; flies murmur on their mouths.”

In 1812, the Company government imposed “house tax” that was unknown to the citizens of India. Muslim governments of past never imposed such a tax on them. There was a big turmoil in the society over the tax, and it was withdrawn after a widespread revolt, particularly in Bareili.

A historian commented on the Company rule, “They made pacts, and then broke them and changed them. They plundered and killed the people and formed a large state within a century.”

Cross Waite writes, “It seems the world has been created as marketplace and job place for one nation.”

Other Europeans were never allowed to enter India after the British occupation. A missionary, Richter has written, “The government of the Company never allowed any European so that they couldn’t know the colonial style of government. There were many things in the government that had to be hidden from the eyes and ears of the European.”

The year 1857 was when there was a final revolt, mutiny, freedom movement, and Jihad against the occupying power. The Company government had succeeded to crush the revolt completely. Ulema was the main target of the government’s anger. About seven thousand ulemas, scholars, and education experts were martyred; hundreds of them were deported to Andaman Islands (called black water punishment). Several ulema escaped and migrated to plain of Nepal and Harmain Sharifain. (In Makkah and Madina, several Madrasahs inSaudi Arabia still exist as evidence.)

There was complete and final destruction of a civilized nation by a group of barbarians.

In Britain there was no scarcity of gentlemen, but they didn’t travel or venture outside the country or involve themselves in evil deeds of the Company. The Company government brought only the third-class people and hard-core criminals from England to employ and rule over India. Criminals were released on a contract to serve outside. The younger criminals became high officials of the occupied country. East India Company always discouraged the appointment of any true gentleman to the Company in order to preserve the interest of its shareholders. (Information from The Law of Civilization and Decay by Brooke Adam).

Finally, after the defeat of freedom struggle in which a lot of British soldiers were killed along with Indians, the Queen’s government of Britain took control of India, and that was the end of the Company government. The life of Muslims was eased a little bit in the new setup. However, the discriminatory and biased policy towards Muslims continued until 1947, the year of the end of the occupation.

Louis Mountbatten was the last viceroy of occupied India. He was criminal number one from Muslim point of view because he divided India in a way that the Muslim sufferings were multiplied and left a never-ending misery on them. He was the person who facilitated the situation where the Muslim-ruled states in the British period, like Hyderabad Deccan,Bhopal and Junagarh, and Muslim-majority states, like Kashmir, were annexed and controlled by India.Pakistan was created from divisiveness, one in the East and another in the West; there was a seed of division from the beginning. The Muslims of India are now divided in three countries with Hindu dominance of the region.  This was the plan of Mountbatten.

To know the character of Lord Mountbatten, review this news item of November 18 1972: “Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India and the uncle of Prince Philips the husband of the Queen, is convicted today for adulterating milk with water while he sold it from his Cant Farm (South East England) [Pakistan Times, Lahore November 19, 1972].


Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Aligarh

DURING the complete destruction and occupation of India under British rule in 1857, over 7,000 Muslim scholars and educationists were executed, and the rest were deported or forced to leave.  This left an abnormal situation in which to revive the Muslim education system. The only alternative for remaining Muslims was to adjust and compromise as they accepted the harsh reality that Muslims were eliminated from government, politics, business, and education and that the Muslims of greatest genius and enlightenment were gone.  The only Muslims left were those of mediocre intelligence, and, to survive, they had to reconcile their faith and ideals with the new situation into which they were thrust.

Two groups emerged under the new circumstances. The first group advocated the adoption of the Western education system with the addition of the subject of Deeniat (Islamic basics) and the development of residential institutions where Muslim students could be trained in the Islamic way. However, the main purpose of the education was to prepare students for getting jobs in the new system and to be acceptable to the new rulers.

The leader of the group was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1234H/1818A-1315H/1898A), founder of  Aligarh Anglo Oriental College (grown up Aligarh Muslim University in 1920).

The second group believed that Muslims should be apart from this world of politics and business and develop institutions that could continuously produce Imams of the Masajid and Mudarris (teachers) of the Madrasah, and that Muslims should restrict their roles to religious affairs and leave the worldly affairs for others.  This group’s main concern was to protect the intellectual work of their Islaaf (ancestors). (I will write about this group in the next column.)

In India, when Muslims and their states became weaker, a group of elite people started a relationship with the British East India Company. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan belonged to an elite group who had a good relationship with the East India Company and British. Sir Syed’s grandfather (maternal), Khawja Fareeduddin, obtained employment with the East India Company. Sir Syed started his career with employment in the East India Company in 1839. His book Aasaar As Sanadid (Monuments of the Great), written in 1847, was about the landmark buildings of Delhi.  It was dedicated to the Company’s Resident in Delhi (against the tradition) instead of to the Muslim Mughal Emperor. One chapter of his book was about the life of Syed Ahmed Shaheed and Maulvi Muhammad Ismail Shaheed, who were Mujahideen (great freedom fighters) and were martyred. The chapter was obviously disliked by British officials because they wanted to keep Muslims ignorant about their Mujahideen and their freedom struggles. In the second edition of the book, published in 1854, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan deleted the whole chapter to please his masters. As indicated by the change in the book, the author’s mindset was for the benefit and progress of the East India Company. In the mutiny, revolt, and last freedom struggle from Muslims in 1857, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, risking his own life, saved the lives of various British occupying forces . When the revolt was crushed by force, Sir Syed’s image was multiplied in the eyes of the Company government; however, the government retaliated by destroying the Muslim society completely. Sir Syed was shocked. He was deeply concerned about the nation and committed himself to pro-action.  He wrote, “What was the revolt? It was started by Hindus, but they protected themselves and became clean like taking a bath from the Ganga [a river of religious significance for Hindus], but all the families of Muslims were destroyed.”

He became so grieved that, even at his young age, he looked like an old man. After deep thinking, he outlined his strategy and came up with a solution. He decided first to improve the economic standard of the Muslim society and make Muslims respectable. First he had to cool down the ruler’s anger and develop a good relationship between government and Muslims. He tried his best to play a middleman between Muslims and British government officials and clear the misunderstanding and mistrust. It was such a time that even a Brit could not speak in favor of Muslims, but Sir Syed bravely spoke out in favor of Muslims. He was an iron man crossing all hurdles. He lived forty years after the mutiny and spent every moment advancing toward his goal. He succeeded in calming the anger of the ruler and in convincing Muslims to get a Western education.

He wrote another book, Asbaab e Baghawat Hind (The Causes of the Indian Revolt), which was appreciated by the British Government in London, and this book paved the way to reject the extremist point of view of British against Muslims of India. He started publishing a journal Loyal Mohammedans of India in which he published stories of Muslims who, risking their own life and safety, saved the lives of British. Only a few issues of this journal were published; however, it helped to some extent to change the image of Muslims in the eyes of British.

British didn’t like being called the Muslim word “Nasara,” but Sir Syed explained that the word “Nasara” is not a derogatory word. William Hunter wrote a book Hindustani Musalman, in which he tried to prove that Muslims, particularly Wahhabis, were bound to revolt against British rule according to their beliefs and could never be loyal citizens. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan criticized and rejected this viewpoint and wrote a review, “Hunter on Hunter,” and proved that all Muslims, including Wahhabis, are loyal. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan wrote Tabayyin ul Kalam, a book in which he presented a comparative study of religion. On each page of the book were three columns presenting the texts of the Qur’an, Bible, and Torah. It was difficult and extremely laborious work never before attempted. The Christian authors in general appreciated his effort.

Sir William Muir, Governor of UP, wrote a blasphemous book on Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, extremely disturbed after reading the book, responded with the book Khutabat e Ahmadiya. He traveled to London and used the Western research method in refuting the polemics of Muir. He also managed to translate the book and publish it in English.

For twelve years, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan tried to build an atmosphere in which Muslims could live without persecution. However, in clarifying the misconception and bridging the gap, he also distorted several teachings of Islam and disagreed with the clear-cut authentic ahadith. In several matters of life, he made his own and deviated point of view of Islam. However, by considering the fact that he was the product of extremely unfavorable circumstances and was extremely serious and committed about the community, his shortcomings should be forgiven. It must be said without doubt that his services to the community were extraordinary in an extraordinary situation.

His son Syed Mahmood got a government scholarship to study in London. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan took a long vacation in April 1869 and joined him in the journey to see and learnEnglandand also to collect the contents to write a book to refute William Muir. He also planned to build a university for Muslims inIndia.  He studied theCambridgeUniversityin detail and designed his own details to build a university inIndia. He brought various syllabus and non-syllabus books and teaching materials.

In England, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was welcomed and got more praise and respect than he ever expected. No Indian had ever been praised and welcomed like Sir Syed. Duke of Argyl, in a celebration on August 16, 1869, awarded him as CSI and presented a shield. Royal Queen Victoria by herself met him on November 6, 1869. The Queen’s eldest son Prince of Wales also met him separately. The Royal Asiatic Society of London gave him fellowship. A club of intellectuals and highly learned people, Athenium Club, gave him honorary membership. These favors, awards, and honors tremendously influenced the heart and mind of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. When he returned back to India in 1870, he was a completely changed person. One can imagine his mental situation by his saying, “All the best qualities, whether worldly or heavenly (Deeni), which should be in a human being, has been given by Allah to Europe, particularly England.”

Sir Syed Khan established Aligarh Mohammedan Anglo Oriental Collage in Aligarh, U.P., India, on May 24, 1875, the birthday of Royal Highness Queen Victoria. The Viceroy Robert Bulwer-Lytton, on returning from Delhi to Calcutta on January 8, 1877, placed the foundation stone of the building.  In the beginning, it was affiliated with Calcutta University (which covers all north India including Punjab). This A.M.A.O. College became a university in 1920, named Aligarh Muslim University). Internal administration of the college was on the pattern of public school Rugby, Eton, and Harrow of England. Extra curricular activities were more emphasized like Oxford and Cambridge. The principal of the college and several important faculties were always British. The principal was not only independent in the educational affairs but was also a guide in political and social affairs implemented by Sir Syed. The British rulers took special interest and visited the college frequently. They always gave heavy funds and scholarships to the college. In the next hundred years of British occupation, no other college got so much attention and interest of the government likeAligarh. This college opened the door of the government employment mainly clerical on Muslims. The teachers and principals were very influential people, and they always helped their students get jobs. Now the Muslim youth had only one purpose of life: “Compete with Hindus in Economic Life.”  Their motto was, “Jo Tum Karo Ge, Hum Karen Ge” (“What you will do, I will do the same”). This purpose of life and ambition has continued till now.

The group of people claiming to be agents of Allah on this earth (Khaleefatullah Fil Ardh) to lead the nations to the right path, were now satisfied just to get bread twice a day. In the Muslim heartlands, as in the West, the difference between humans and animals was diminished. From the very beginning, Aligarh College had a political agenda.  In his speech to the Students Union Club on August 26, 1884, Sir Syed explained his political agenda: “If you (the audience) want to promote a better education in our communities, then the best strategy is to join ‘Crescent’ and ‘Cross’ together. Several British and Indian friends think that it is impossible. However, I am positive that these will merge like this” (and he showed pictorially the merger of cross and crescent).

From this speech, one can ascertain that the purpose of the Aligarh College was to make Muslims good friends with the British and provide assistance in their governance and to accept the occupation forever. However, Aligarh Education movement made a great impact on Muslim India, and a chain of Islamia Schools and Islamia Colleges was formed all over India in the pattern of Aligarh.  Presently, whatever the mindset of Muslims of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh had is the impact of Aligarh. This movement promoted the Western concept of nationalism. Neo Muslim nationalists emerged in the Islamic world. Indian nationalism, Pakistani nationalism, Bengali nationalism, Turk nationalism, and Arab nationalism are only the byproducts of Muslim nationalism. Like a mad dog bite of Western education, they became crazy over nationalism. Muslims were always encouraged to strive in the name of Allah (s.t.) and Rasool (s.a.w.). Sir Syed was the first person who invited the Muslims in the name of “nation.” (In Arabic, Qaum was used as a group of people; Sir Syed used it as a nation, in a Western meaning.)

Sir Syed wanted to induct the Islamic education with Western education, but his meaning of Islamic education was just the introductory education, praying, and fasting. He appointed a Peshe Namaaz (Imam) in every hostel in the pattern of Cambridge University. The religious Fathers of the hostels of Cambridge were highly educated and respectable persons; however, Aligarh’s Muslim Imams were ignorant and were always a laughingstock of students.

Sir Syed was not in favor of deep knowledge and understanding of Islam as a way of life and as a solution of the modern world’s problems. The fear of Allah, high character, justice and righteousness were the integral values of the Islamic education system. Muslim educational institution’s environment was echoed with the teachings of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Bukhari, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Imam Ghazali, and others. The new education system under the leadership of Sir Syed brought selfishness, hypocrisy, and manipulations. They divided the education system and divided the educated groups into Misters and Mullahs.  According to Akbar Allahabadi, “Dil Badal Jayen ge Taleem Badal Jaane Se” (“Heart will change with the change of education”).

Aligarh education movement changed the heart and mind of the Muslim intelligentsia of the Indian subcontinent.  The formation of Pakistan may be one of their success stories (for those who believe it as a success story) inspired by the Western concepts of nationalism. This group still controls and rules Pakistan. The Pakistani nation was divided again in 1971 in the name of Bengali nationalism . If this “Islamic” Western (Aligarh style) educated group of people continues to rule over Pakistan, it will break into pieces. The division, selfishness, and corruption are deep rooted in this education system. Now, you can find people who never went to college and university more honest and honored than the educated people of this system. Unfortunately, most of the present efforts from the Muslims all over the world in the education field are more or less Aligarh style (secular, Western education with old patch-ups of Islam).

At the end, by the looking to the products of his own institution, Sir Syed realized his mistakes. In his speech in April 1894, in Jalandhar, he said, “My dear friends! Our education will be our own when we will be independent from the universities (Calcutta and Allahabad) and we will control our own education. And we will promote education in our nation after getting freedom from these universities. Philosophy will be in our right hand, Natural Science will be in our left hand, and the crown of Lailaha Illallah Muhammad ur Rasoolallah (Islam) will be on our head. The education of universities is making our students donkeys.”  He died four years after his speech, and Aligarh College turned into university in next 25 years. Nothing has changed, and no efforts were ever made to change after getting the "freedom from the universities". If Sir Syed were alive, only Allah knows what would be his next course of action.

Aligarh corrupted and polluted the Muslim education system. Any effort to follow this education system in the Muslim society is disastrous and a criminal act. It will only increase “donkeys” (in Sir Syed’s own word) in our society.


Deoband and Its Movement

AFTER British occupation, India was in a situation in which financial resources were completely under control of the new government and it was extremely unfavorable to run an Islamic educational institution. There was a danger of discontinuation of Imams and educators of Qur’an, Hadith and Fiqah. A group decided to establish institutions in which Imams and Mudarris (teachers) could be continuously produced. This group decided to separate itself from the affairs of politics and business and to restrict its roles to religious affairs. This group’s main concern was to protect the intellectual work of their Islaf (ancestors) and continue Islamic education without undue attention to the new political and economic climate. The leader of this point of view was Maulana Inayat Ahmed Kakorvi. After his release from prison in Andaman in 1860, he established a Madrasah, Faiz e Aam, in the newly developed city of Kanpur, U.P.,India. From his effort, this Madrasah became successful, and noted Ulema (Scholars) were produced from this institution.

However, the public figure of this point of view was Maulana Mohammad Qasim Nanotvi (d.1277H/1880AD). He inaugurated the Madrasah “Darul Uloom” in a village Deoband district Saharanpur, U.P.,India.  Keeping distance from and operating independent of the government and depending on public donations were the basic policies of the Madrasah. All the hardships in establishing and running the Madrasah were assumed to be good omens in favor of Madrasah. Maulana Nanotvi wrote in his will, “Until there is no definite source of income, this Madrasah, Insha’Allah [God willing], will be continued flourish. If there will be a certain source of income, like property or factory, or there is a promise of any authority, then it seems that this fear and hope that is a blessing for looking towards Allah, will be gone; hidden help of Allah will be vanished, and dispute will arise among the workers. In short, the paucity must be maintained in income and development.”

The volunteers and teachers of Darul Uloom Deoband Madrasah went all over India to collect the donations, and, in so doing, helped to build a closer public relationship. No educational institution in India had such a large number of sympathizers and promoters.

The syllabus of Mulla Nizamuddin Sahalwi, continuously in development, was implemented in Deoband. The education of hadith, literature, and history was added. In the first year of education, students had to read six books of Sarf (the grammar of Arabic to know the structure of words), three books of Naho (the grammar of Arabic to know the structure of sentences), one book of Adab (Arabic literature), and three books of logic. In the second year, students had to read two books of Sarf, three books of Naho, two books of Adab, two books on Fiqah (Islamic Laws and Jurisprudence), three books on logic, and one book of history; in the third year, one book of Naho, one book on Maani and Bayaan (Arabic idioms, language, writing, and speaking)), one book on Urooz (Arabic Poetry), one book on literature, one book on history, two books on Fiqah, two books on Logic; in the fourth year, one book on Maani and Bayaan, one book on history, one book on Kalam (art of Speaking and Argument), two books on Fiqah, one  book on Munazra (debating),  two books on logic, and one book on Hikmat (usage of wisdom); in the fifth year, one book on history, three books on Kalam, two books on Fiqah, two books on Hadith, and two books on Tafseer (description, explanation, and commentary of Qur’an); in the sixth year, three books on literature, one book on history, four books on Fiqah, one book on Farayez (knowledge of inheritance), two books on Hikmat, and two books on Hindsa (mathematics); in the seventh year, one book on Maani and bayan, two books on Kalam,  two books on history, two books on Mantaq (logic),  two books on philosophy, one book on Tafseer, and four books on medicines. Teaching coinciding with these books may be expanded according to the capabilities of the students. The seventh year has a “yield” sign; by this is meant that all the necessary and old syllabus has been completed here. Then in the eighth year, students participated in Daura Hadith (extensive study of Hadith) in which ten books of ahadith were taught. Then in the ninth year, there were two books on Tafseer and twelve books on Tajweed Qur’an.

From the beginning, this Madrasah got the teachers who were genius scholars, pious and committed for the cause. They dedicated themselves and faced all hardships. The graduated students from this Madrasah dispersed all over India and kept the light of Islam cutting through the darkness of new political and social storms. This Madrasah became the most famous Madrasah of the subcontinent, and students from outside Indiaalso started coming here for education. Following the pattern of Deoband, several Madrasahs were established all over India. It then became the tradition that Alumni try to establish Madrasahs wherever they go. These people never surrendered to the Western civilization, and they protected the work of ancestors (Islaaf) and their heritage. Darul Uloom produced Ulema of Hadith of high caliber. Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri and Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani may be counted in the top names in later Muhaddethin (researchers and experts of Hadith).

The renowned scholar of Egypt, Allama Syed Rashid Raza (1935), praised these scholars with his high regards in the preface of his book: “If our brothers Hindustani Ulema didn’t devote themselves in the pursuit of knowledge of Hadith, this knowledge might be completely faded from the world. From the tenth century (of Hijrah, Islamic Calendar), this knowledge has been weakened in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Hijaz, and now in the fourteenth century its weakness is in the last stage.”

This Madrasah combined several Islamic educational traditions of India because of the purpose of protecting all the previous works and knowledge. The curriculum and syllabus of the Madrasah became very heavy, cumbersome, and a burden on students.  Maulana Munazir Ahsan Gilani, an Alumni of Madrasah, and an education expert said, “The syllabus of Deoband is very heavy and long. To complete this syllabus, students spent most of the time of their youth.” The personality of Deoband developed in a way that he was highly concerned to protect the past but would not have any interest to shape the future.

Along with the spreading of education, this Madrasah also helped to reform the society from different false beliefs and centuries-old, deviated Islamic practices. However, several wrong Fatawa (decisions) also damaged the reputation of the Madrasah. The high responsible characters of the Ulema of the past diminished day by day. The dominance of philosophy and logic in the system complicated the minds, and such minds lost straight forwardness. They became habitual in lengthy arguments and irrelevant arguments and debates. They are unable to understand and solve even the simple problems of everyday life. Their logical, philosophical, argumentative minds divided the Madrasah, Masjid, and the whole Ummah. The Darul Iftas (judgment offices) became the factory for producing “Fatwas” (judgments) against all those who did not share a similar point of view. The difference of opinion on any issue was considered a healthy sign (from a meaning of Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), but now the difference of opinion became synonymous of Kufr (denier).

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) taught us to ask Allah for Hasnah (good things) of Duniya (this world) and Hasnah for Akhira (world after death), but now this system taught us to ask only for Akhirah. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) told us that this Duniya is the cultivating field for Akhira, but now the Ulema of this group kept distancing themselves from the affairs of the world, the society, and the people. The group produced a people with the mindset of believing that everything can be achieved  from “Dua.” They distorted the reality of life to fashion a myth that human beings can be angelic enough to earn whatever they want in this life, when the truth is that humanity is placed in a world of struggle, in a world governed by cause and effect. Whatever the founders of Deoband did, it was an “Ijtihad” (the creative and pragmatic decision of the time in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah), and the founders were Mujtahid (reformers) of their time; but later, the Madrasah began producing mere Muqallid (blind followers of ancestors).

There were several scholars of Deoband who were pro-reform in the system, but they didn’t have courage to do or speak in front of their elders. Several Madrasahs of Deobandi school thought in Pakistan, however, made minor adjustments in the syllabus. The old Nizami syllabus was good to counter the challenges of the time, but it was not developed according to circumstances and new challenges. Islamic knowledge, particularly Tafseer, Hadith, and Fiqah, also didn’t get the attention needed and required. In Tafseer, energies were put into the first quarter of Sura Baqra, and the rest of the Qu’ran was taught quickly and lightly. In teaching Hadith, instead of focusing on the comprehensiveness of the Islamic system of life, most energy was put into proving the validity of Fiqah Hanafi.

In Fiqah, the chapters of Taharah (purity) and Ibaadah (prayers) were focused on, and the matter of public affairs and mamalaat studied superficially. Teachers barely touched on the practical approach in the different fields of social, political, economic, educational, and cultural life. Even on the focused area of “Taharah,” one could comprehend the horrible state of the Madrasah and Masjid managed by these people.

Also Seerah of Rasool [Life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)] and Seerah of Khulfa e Rashideen [the life of first four Khulfa (heads of the state) after Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)] didn’t get even an entry in this syllabus.

In the West, the education of social sciences, political science, sociology, history, geography, and literature had been developed in a different way and level. The knowledge of business and technology was also developed outside of our system. All such knowledge needed to be categorized, prioritized, and Islamized, and then incorporated into our education system.

Imam Abu Hanifa, whom they followed, was the most successful businessman and trader of his time. He supported his work, students and other scholars through his business. However, the products of this new system came under the employ of Masajid controlled by large donors, and the Islamic scholars became dependent on the neo rich and idiots of the Muslim society. Ulema lost their independence, honor, and self-respect. A continuous derogatory attitude of Western-educated Muslim Masters and the continuous campaign from the West against Mullahs changed the image of Islamic scholars in our society. Ulema dropped from the upper ladder of leadership and scholarship position to the ground level. This is the result of the absence of Ulema from politics and business. Now all the complaints against the West and their system and all the time blaming the West for a “hidden conspiracy” would not help. The British government allowed the Deobandi pattern and never objected in the affairs of the Madrasah because of the reason that this education system was not a challenge to the new establishment and couldn’t harm its political and economic agenda. The Madrasah intentionally cut their students from worldly affairs and kept them aloof from the world.

In the past, Ulema played a leading political, social, and economic role, and the education systems were designed accordingly. But now Ulema were cut off from the mainstream of life. As a result, after freedom from Britain in 1947, the mainstream of Muslim politics and society was occupied by Western-educated people, and they are still controlling the power. After a breakthrough and success in Afghanistan and power-control by Madrasah educated Taliban for a short period of time, now the Western lobby and America’s enslaved Pakistani military no longer want to tolerate even the existence of these harmless Madrasahs.

Some individual Ulema from Deoband struggled and fought for the liberation of India from Brits and played some political role after independence on both sides --India and Pakistan. However, in general, Deoband depoliticized our education system and kept the scholars of Islam away from power and left this world for Fasiqoon and Mushrikoon (the aggressors and oppressors).

However, the credit of protecting basics of Islam in South Asia goes to Deoband who produced Muttaqi (Allah-fearing) Ulema in large numbers who, despite severe financial hardships, taught students and are still doing so. Wherever an Alim of Deoband goes anywhere in the world his first priority is to establish a Madrasah.

In this part of the world, we have some Madrsahs because of their effort. They are the initiators, and others follow.

Several scholars of Deoband now are thinking to change the system and accommodate it according to the needs of the era and world. However, the “Ijtihad” and taking forward and practical steps are not easy for those who are practicing “Taqleed” from centuries.

Efforts of Merger

VARIOUS efforts have been made to merge the two systems --secular, Western education and Islamic education in India-- 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 was 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 syllabus books became more technical and scientific.

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 Aligarh Muslim 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 HadithFiqah, and Kalam.

The most important point 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 only 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 out from Aligarh (Muslim nationalism) and Deoband (Islam) and became the Indian nationalist university, which is opposite to its name.

More Refined Efforts to Develop a New System

 Now I will discuss in brief the more intelligent and refined efforts in India.

Nadwa tul Ulema, Lucknow

In the annual ceremony of Madrasah Ila’hiyat in 1892, an organization of Ulema (scholars), Nadwatul Ulema, was formed. The president of the organization was Maulana Muhammad Ali Moongeri Khalifa Hazrat Shah Fazlur Rehman Gunj Moradabadi (1895).

Maulana Abdul Lateef Aligarhi, Maulana Abdullah Tonki, Maulana Habib ur Rehman Khan Sherwani, Maulana Shibli Nomani and other Shia and Ahle-Hadith ulema were the members. This organization’s main success was the establishment of the educational institution “Madrasah Nadwa tul Ulema,” Lucknow. The first meeting was held in Kanpur on Shawwal 15-17, 1310 (April 22-24, 1893), and all the members of Nadwa agreed to establish a Madrasah, but to finalize and agree on the curriculum and syllabus was the most difficult task, taking five more years to finalize. Darse Nizami had already become an old and gradually dried curriculum.  After a long struggle, Nadwatul Ulema (the organization) developed a new curriculum. Tafseer and Hadith got the right status in the syllabus, and the education of logic and philosophy were given a lower priority. New books were prepared in modern style. Arabic was taught as a living language. English and some modern education were also incorporated into the systemSocial sciences, especially history and geography, were ranked high in importance. Ulema accepted the amended syllabus and broke the “idol” of Nizami Syllabus (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulvi Muhammad Ismail Meerathi criticized the Nizami Syllabus in very strong words) and opened the door of reform.

Maulana Shibli Nomani started a magazine Al-Nadwa to publicize the ideas of the Madrasah. The Madrasah got its final shape in 1908, and Maulana Shibli, who was teaching in Aligarh College, left Aligarh to join Nadwa as a chief. Maulana Shibli was gifted with diversified qualities. Under his leadership the Madrasah Nadwatul Ulema progressed tremendously. There were three stages of education: Ibtadaiya (pre), Aalmia (secondary), and Faazlia (higher).

Ustaad Taqi uddin Hilali wa Al Marakashi (Moroccan) developed a true taste for the Arabic language in students. Alumni of Nadwa got a reputation not only in India but also in the Arab world. Nadwa got an excellent position in this field and also in the field of writing research papers and books. Darul Mussanifin (the house of writers), an academic and research organization of the Muslim intellectuals of the time, was the by-product of Nadwa.  This Madrasah produced many men of letters.

Unfortunately, Nadwa did not have the impact on society as Deoband and Aligarh had in their circles. This institution failed to reform the Muslim society from stagnation and is not known to have made any major achievements. It did, however, produce some individuals who contributed great services to Islam and Muslims.

Except Jamia Abbasia, Bhawalpur, no other institution followed the pattern of Nadwa.


Madrastul  Islah, Sarai Meer

 The founder of the famous Anjuman Islah ul Muslemin (foundation in 1903), Maulana Muhammad Shafie, led the foundation stone of Madrasahtul Islah in a barren field of Sarai Mir, a suburb of Azamgarh, U.P., India. Disheartened with the situation of Nadwatul Ulema, Maulana Shibli Nomani also joined this Madrasah in 1912. The initial sketch of aims and objectives of this Madrasah was also drawn by him. He found the environment of this Madrasah to be more suitable for him to serve the purpose.

Maulana Shibli Nomani, the most prominent Islamic scholar of his time, was disturbed because of the Munazra (religious debate) of Hindu Arya Samajis. Grukul Kangri (Adjacent Hariduar) was the religious and residential educational institution of Arya Samajis. Maulana Shibli Nomani in a letter to his cousin (maternal) Maulana Hameeduddin Farahi wrote, “I advise you to manage this institution in the pattern of Grukul Kangri.”

Maulana Shibli Nomani didn’t have much time to implement his ideas and died in 1914. His cousin Maulana Hameeduddin Farahi, disheartened with the situation in Jamia Osmania, Hyderabad, left the Jamia and started living in his home Azamgarh. He spent most of his time for Madrasahtul Islah till his death in 1930. Maulana Hammeduddin Farahi was a brilliant person. He, graduated from Aligarh, had a deep knowledge of Islam and modern education. He was an expert in various languages including Hebrew. He spent forty years in thinking over the meanings of the Qur’an. He is known as a founder of a new school of Tafseer (commentary and description of Qur’an). He proved that every Ayah (sentence) and every Surah (chapter) is connected with next Ayah and next Surah. It is in sequence, and they confirm and complement each other.

He declared that the Qur’an will be the main source of knowledge in understanding any knowledge. He designed a wonderful syllabus, approved the explanatory books, and discarded the difficult-to-understand and complicated books.  He approved only two to four books on SarfNahoo, and logic. As far as teaching methods, he started one field of knowledge in one year and with extensive practical workshops. Vocational training of technology and industry were included in the curriculum so that Ulema could work independently.

Independence, self-respect, commitment, and sincerity were the main characteristics of the Madrasah. The bad impact of the tradition of door-to-door collection of funds established by Aligarh and Deoband was already revealed, and Maulana Farahi was extremely against this type of fund collection and donations. Some people had given some property in Bombay and Rangoon, and a few people were donating by themselves regularly. Teachers and students were living and learning in huts and eating simple foods. However, the survival of any Madrasah without donation became difficult in newly established traditions, and ultimately this Madrasah had to start collecting donations.

The designer of the curriculum claimed, “Neither in India nor in any Islamic country was there ever implemented a better curriculum than this.” Maulana Ameen Ahsan Islahi, Maulana Akhtar Ahsan Islahi, Maulana Abul Lais Islahi, Maulana Sadruddin Islahi, etc were the products of the Madrasah and experts in the understanding of the Qur’an.  The deep understanding and in depth knowledge of the Qur’an were specialties of the Madrasah.

Some of the Madrasahs were established in the pattern of Madrasahtul Islah: 1. Jamiatul Falah, Balaria Ganj, Azamgarh; 2. Dersgaah Islami, Mahmoodabad, Rampur; 3. Islamia College Shantapuram, Malapuram, Kerala, South India; 4. Darul Uloom Port Billiard, Island of Andaman, India.

After the independence and creation of Pakistan, the old Indian pattern of education (dominant Aligarh and Deoband) was implemented in Pakistan without realizing that they are now living in a completely new situation.

The present effort of General Musharraf and his team to change the system of Madrasah and all the schools to make them more compatible as required by his Master, the empire, have an evil and nefarious design. No wise Muslim is going to accept such changes. Only Allah-loving educational experts can change the system to make it more relevant and to place the Muslim Ummah in a leading role.



MUSLIMS had their comprehensive education system during the period of their rule in India. The system was uniform, cohesive, and provided the people with in-depth knowledge with a holistic look in different fields of life. When British occupied India, they ruined the economy of Muslim education, de-educated the masses and massacred the intellectuals. After a gap of about a century, a small group of people was educated under the new policy of British educationalist Lord Macaulay in 1835. The purpose of the education was to serve the British Raj, working as clerks and overseers.

At the time of independence, the literacy rate had been reduced to 11% as compared to more than 80% in Muslim India before the British occupation in eighteenth century. In two centuries, Indians were not only de-educated but also secularized. Muslims and Hindus had forgotten their golden religious principles of unity, respect, universal brotherhood, and tolerance, and they were de-politicized with narrow nationalistic outlooks. Hindus and Muslims united separately in their nationalist political platforms, namely Indian National Congress and All India Muslim League. It was the dissemination of Western thought by John Locke, Milton, and Thomas Paine, etc. at the Calcutta and Allahabad University that injected the ideas behind Hindu nationalism.  At M.A.O.College, Aligarh initiated the emergence of Muslim nationalism.

Muslims of India feared that the British would leave the country with the new Western style of democratic government (dictatorship of the majority) led by Western educated Hindus (racist Brahmins) that would crush the ambitions, wishes, culture, and language of Muslims.  Even the lives of Muslims would not be safe under the new political environment of Hindu nationalism promoted in the Western education system. Muslims started their demand for a separate Islamic state, Pakistan.  In the beginning, Hindu leadership opposed the division of India. Gandhi stated, “The division of India is like the division of my mother.” Brahmin leadership, however, convinced the Hindu political players of the benefits of the division of India by arguing that migration of Muslim leadership and intelligentsia to the two corners of Pakistan will guarantee full freedom and non-interference to fulfill the Hindu wishes in India. The third party British, ruling India under the divide-and-rule policy, also saw the division of India to their benefit for the continuation of economic and cultural control of the subcontinent. The enemy and occupier became the mediator and judge in the case of the two nations. The mediator was foul and biased. The last viceroy Mountbatten divided India unfairly against Muslims, and gross injustice plagued Kashmir, Hyderabad Deccan, and Junagarh.

One can think that the occupation of Muslim India by the British and the unfair division ofIndiacould definitely lead to hatred against British systems and that, whenPakistanwas formed, all the symbols and signs ofBritainwould be destroyed and abolished. Unfortunately, however, the small percentage of educated Muslim intelligentsia, military, and bureaucracy was so westernized and in habit of obedience that they did not have the courage to reverse the Western influence.

Nawab Bahadur Yaar Jang, the second in command of the Muslim League after Qaide Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, declared the Islamic education policy of Pakistan in the last public meeting of Indian Muslim League held in Karachi; Qaide Aazam approved it and promised he will not accept anything less. Nawab Bahadur Yaar Jang had a clear concept of Islamic Pakistan and its system of education and economy, and he was declared “Qaide Millat” and was supposed to be the first prime minister of Pakistan.  He was murdered, however, by poison put in the water of a huqqa at a meeting in the home of a Nawab in Hyderabad a few years before the creation of Pakistan.  (A huqqa is used for smoking; the tobacco is burned at the top, and the smoke is drawn down the tube, into the bottle which is full of water, and up through the other pipe to the mouth.)

In 1947, after the independence and birth of Pakistan, the first conference on education was held in Karachi, the capital of Pakistan of that time. The conference was under the instruction and guidance of the first Governor General and founding father of Pakistan, Qaide Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.  He said in his speech, “You know that the importance of education, and the right type of education cannot be ignored as our first priority.  Under foreign rule for over a century, in the very nature of things, regretfully sufficient attention has not been paid to the education of our people, and if we are to make any real speedy and substantial progress we must earnestly tackle this question and bring our educational policy and program along the lines suited to the genius of our people. We must consider our consonant worth, our history and culture, and the modern conditions and case developments that have taken place all over the world.”

At the same conference, the first education minister of Pakistan Fazlur Rahman emphasized the importance of Islamic education.

The resolution passed in the conference: 1. Islamic system of life will be the foundation of our education system; 2. The education of Islamiat will be mandatory; 3. Islamic moral system, universal brotherhood, fraternity, and justice will be the values of our education. The conference suggested establishment of a Center of Islamic Research, research departments in Teacher’s Training Institutions, an educational advisory body, Inter University and several other institutions.

Quaid' Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his last message on 14 August 1948 (the first anniversary of Pakistan), said, "The foundations of your State have been laid, and it is now for you to build and as quickly and as well as you can." He died on 11 September 1948. Lord Pethick Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India said, "Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan."

Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, tried to fill the vacuum created by the departure of the Father of the Nation. Under his Prime Minister ship, Pakistan took its first steps in the field of constitution making, as well as foreign policy. He presented the Objectives Resolution in the Legislative Assembly. The house passed this resolution on 12 March 1949.

Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on16 October 1951; that created anarchy and political destabilization in Pakistan for a long period.

In 1957 a Commission for National Education had been formed and was headed by the education minister. In 1959 the commission submitted its report popularly known as Sharif Commission Report. The report had 27 chapters that suggested the expansion of education, efforts for the uniformity in quality of education. This policy reiterated the objectives of 1947 Educational Conference and provided a rational framework for translating the abstract concepts into practical realities. According to the report, Islamiat should be mandatory till eighth grade. This report categorized the education: 1. General Education;  2. Technical Education. The report emphasized broad-based and technical education, and a need was articulated to shift the focus of education away from rote memorization and to expand facilities for scientific and technological education. The report was partially implemented. General Ayuub Khan, President, martial law administrator and the ruler of the time, said that we had to organize and revive our education system to reflect our moral, spiritual, and cultural values. He said in his speech, “The present system of education prevalent in Pakistan is the heritage of the pre- partition British India. This system of education was designed by Lord Macaulay to produce ‘your most obedient servants.’

In 1970 another education report popularly known as Noor Khan Report was prepared. The first part of the report discussed the educational condition of the time, and in the second part some recommendations were proposed. The government saw this report positively but never got a chance to implement it.

The failure to develop a proper education system that suits to the beliefs and wishes of Muslims of Pakistan and the failure to make a consensus constitution led to the disaster and fall of East Pakistan and its breakup into Pakistan and Bangladesh. Active from the beginning to make  Pakistana failed state, Bharat and other enemy countries played a great role in the division.

In 1973, under the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the nation passed a consensus constitution and provided the guidelines of the education system in “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Pakistan took Shahada by its constitution and became an Islamic State. Before the independence of Pakistan, a leader asked Quaede Azam what would be our constitution; Quade Azam replied, “We already have a constitution, and that is al Qur’an.” The popular slogan of the Pakistan Movement was, “Pakistan Ka Matlab Kiya (What is the meaning of Pakistan?) La-Ilaha Illallah (No god but Allah).” However, the practical and final announcement, endorsement, principles and laws came in the shape of the 1973 constitution. The objective resolution was incorporated in the constitution that says, “The Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.”

Article 31 of the Constitution says:

1. Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.

2. The State shall endeavor, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan: A. to make teachings of Holy Qur’an and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language, and to secure the correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Qur’an; B. to promote unity and observance of Islamic moral standards.

General Ziaul Haq came to power on 5 July 1977. He carried out a bloodless coup overthrowing Bhutto's government and enforcing Martial Law in the country. In 1978, a National Educational Conference was held in Islamabad. This conference presented various important recommendations and should be called the first educational conference that emphasized amalgamation of Islam into the education; it was decided that if any word against Islam or contradictory to Islam was found in any book of Syllabus, it would be removed. According to this policy, Masjid MaktabMohallah Maktab, and Dehi Maktab (village centers of education) were accommodated in the system. This policy, called National Education Policy 1978, defined the purpose of education: “To foster in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis in general and students in particular a deep and abiding loyalty to Islam and Pakistan and a living consciousness of their spiritual and ideological identity, thereby strengthening unity of the outlook of the people of Pakistan on the basis of justice and fair play.”

All the recommendations, policies and plans failed in Pakistan because of the Pakistan’s civil and military bureaucracy’s determination to never implement it and only fool the people on false promises. Dr. Muhammad Afzal was the education minister at the time of the educational plan, 1978. He had a secular mindset. He put the plan on the shelf and made his own “working plan” to implement it. One can know his thinking by an example. In the working plan, he was against Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib, Akbar Allahabadi and Allama Iqbal (the top Urdu poets) and advocated only “working knowledge” of Urdu. However, various international Islamic conferences were held in the era of General Ziaul Haq and presented practical recommendation for Islamisation of knowledge and Islamisation of education. When Late General Ziaul Haq announced a Sharia ordinance, he also established an Educational Commission under the leadership of an educationist Dr. Raziuddin Siddiqui. The purpose of this commission was to revive the education system in a way that fulfills the requirements of Islamic Sharia. This commission was different from the past because it had given a permanent status.

Benazir Bhutto came to power bringing more disaster in the education system. Her education minister was Ghulam Mustafa Shah who was deadly against Urdu language and Iqbal. He promoted regional and ethnic nationalism. He brought World Bank in the education that prepared a scheme for the education in Pakistan. The scheme was kept in top secret and waited for a proper time. Benazir Bhutto’s government was toppled and Nawaz Sharif came to power. Fakhar Imam became the education minister (education ministry of Pakistan was always given to the person who were loyal to and darling of the West). He put the World Bank’s report on his table for a long time, but finally published it. Nawaz Sharif’s government began working on it, and General Musharraf enforced the same plan by his military power. It was the same American agenda that had been highlighted and discussed in the American media after 9/11 and the factor of the Taliban. The world bank plan is the implementation of more cultural and materialistic oriented Western education system by privatizing the schools and by putting loans in dollars and by developing special curriculum and syllabus to produce a generation who continues to be slave to the capitalist unipolar system and subordinate of Western civilization. The “Private Power” that is planning to control the education system is now willing to destroy the Madrasah system of Pakistan. It is continuously campaigning against it as it hinders the power’s cause because the education in Madrasah 1. is free, 2. is classless (rich and poor join together and accommodate each other), 3. is in accord with Qur’an and Hadith that liberates the mind and purifies the heart from materialism and greed.

American Shaukat Aziz now became Pakistani Prime minister under the protection of powerful military of Pakistan and Bush administration to set and enforce the “new world order.”

The education of science and technology in Pakistanis is outdated and not compatible to the West. But instead of reviewing it and making it more modern, the government is interested in changing the books on Islam and deleting the Qur’anic Ayahs from the books of school syllabus. All the governments of Pakistan worked hard to de-Islamize the society in the name of “Islam” and de-educated in the name of “education’ in 57 years, with all their efforts to maintain their old Master’s education system. The horrible state of the education can be judged by the following horrible data and facts:

  1. Pakistan produced a total of 2,000 PhD’s till now. Till 1985, the average was 2 to 3 PhD’s per year in all the fields of art and science combined. After 1985, the average is 20 to 30 per year.
  2. The annual budget of a good American university is twenty times more than the annual total budget spent on science and technology in Pakistan.
  3. According to some notification of Public Service Commission, the quality of education of candidates appearing in Commission exam is deteriorating fast. Medical doctors were unaware of even the ABC of medical science. Engineers are not fit for any employment. M.A. and M.Sc. were disqualified for any job. B. Pharmacists and M. Pharmacists were unaware about even the ingredients and compositions of medicine.
  4. Reports published in the newspaper showed that criminals and ethnic mafias control education centers. Examiners can only distribute the papers and materials; they can’t check any irregularity. Students openly copy the answers from the textbooks. Controllers of examination receive threats from students that if they do not receive better than 80% marks, they would kidnap the controllers’ daughters. University administration has to bring Rangers and Police on campus just to maintain peace and avoid violence.
  5. Pakistan spent 2.5% of the total gross national production (GNP). Malaysia, another Muslim country liberated much after Pakistan spends 7% of its GNP. Pakistan spends only 6% of its budget on education while Malaysia spends 26% of its budget and India spends 11% of its budget.
  6. Pakistan has a literacy rate of only 26.2%. That means 73.8% of the population is still illiterate.

It seems that sooner or later people of Pakistan will have to fight again to liberate Pakistan from the clutches of  American slaveswho are corrupt, criminals and illegal occupiers working against the wishes and ambitions of the people.

 (Jawed Anwar can be reached at e-mail jawed@seerahwest.com)

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