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Issues in Madrassa Education in India

Yoginder Sikand’s new book Issues in Madrasa Education in India published by Hope India, Gurgaon is a promising publication. Here is a review by Nasir Khan:

A number of books have been recently published on the madrasas of India, and, in addition to this, madrasas have become a subject of considerable debate in the mass media. This latest addition to the writings on Indian madrasas makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the subject.

The issue of madrasa reform is much debated today, and several of the articles in this volume examine the question from various angles. The opening article of the volume, titled ‘A Day in Deoband’, based on the author’s visit to the Dar ul-Ulum madrasa in Deoband, India’s largest madrasa, suggests that even many traditionalist ulema, wrongly berated as being wholly opposed to change, actually do support madrasa reforms to some extent, although the way in which they imagine the project of reform substantially differs from that advocated by many outside the madrasa system. This emerges even more clearly in the following article, titled ‘The State and Madrasa Reform: An Indian Deobandi Perspective’. The point is reiterated in subsequent articles, such as one on a Deobandi madrasa in Kashmir which is engaged in providing new forms of technical education in addition to traditional religious instruction, another on traditionalist madrasas in Kerala that have launched innovative experiments to combine religious and secular education, and yet another, on the educational model of the founder of the Jamaat-e Islami, Syed Abul Ala Maududi. A piece on the growing number of women’s madrasas in India makes the argument that promoting women’s rights from within a broader Islamic paradigm is also part of the project of madrasa reforms as even several traditionalist ulema see it. The author argues that this might have important consequences
in the future for the nature of religious authority as well as gender-relations among the Indian Muslims. […]

September 28th, 2008|books, India, Islam|7 Comments

Journeying into mysticism (noted as one the best articles of 2007)

Indian Muslims Blog is now two years old. The IM team have compiled the best articles published at the blog in 2007. Shameless as it sounds, one of my guest articles – Journeying into Mysticism is included in the category. As the editor Mohib, said the “colorful downloadable pdf file is worth reading for the diversity of views and opinions. IM blog team has been most kind to allow me to occasionally contribute to the space. In the process I have learnt a lot about the country and its Muslim population. But most importantly, I have found a few good friends from Lucknow, Kakori, Bhopal, and Bihar among other places. wah wah, kiya kehnay blogosphere ke…

To blow my own little trumpet in this seamless and infinite blogosphere, here is my piece for those readers who may not have read it earlier.

Journeying into mysticism

I turn my face towards the monsoon breeze and lament that I’m in Delhi for work. How will I manage the sightseeing agenda? The faint scent of champa flowers seems hauntingly familiar and I am reminded of Lahore. Despite my efforts, visa hassles and my non-Indo-Pak-peace-brigade status have prevented this journey from materialising for years. Driving through Delhi at night, I almost start the litany of superficial judgments but stop for fear of falling into the abyss of cliches. Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice the images of exotic India, or the official Incredible India. Yes, incredible is the word.

The Maurya Sheraton hotel is a haven of comfort totally removed from the real Delhi world. This is what I resent about luxury hotels in developing countries: the sense of disconnectedness, the ultimate denial of what lies beneath. Maurya is packed with party-hoppers as there is a huge weekend bash at the hotel. The Delhi party-goers are far more free-spirited than the Pakistani lot. They appear at ease with what they wear and do, and conduct themselves in a remarkably unselfconscious manner. The hotel driver, Uttam Ram, warned me that the ‘real’ India is different, that this crowd is too Westernised and the influence of Bollywood is to be blamed. . . but how can I agree? I live on Bollywood myself. The journey has been too long and that first night in Delhi, I crash on the huge four-poster bed. I am not a party boy after all!

Sunday morning passes in work – yes, I work on Sundays and have often thought of killing myself for accepting such terms in my mortal life. After an afternoon nap, I wake up to a sense of regret for having wasted a day in Dilli. I get in touch with Sadia Dehalvi, hoping for her company during my visit to Nizamuddin Auliya’s tomb. She is already planning to go there and we plan to meet a little before sunset.

I reach Mathura Road in an hour and soon find myself wading through its distinctly medieval ambience: labyrinthine alleys, crowds of beggars and street-vendors, a bazaar mood. To my delight, I spot a sign pointing towards Ghalib’s mazaar . This is a traditionally Muslim area: there are several signs offering Umra packages and most signs are in Urdu. The stereotype of suffering Indian Muslims gains currency here. I try not to notice all that and walk around until I find Ghalib’s mazaar . Having being fixated on Ghalib and his poetry for the better part of my life, I am a little disappointed by the matter-of-factness of the place. Even though the tomb has recently been renovated after a court order, it is quite low-key. Nevertheless, the area retains a unique atmosphere and the building itself is somewhat alluring. Near it is the Ghalib Academy, but I rush to Nizamuddin’s dargah and follow the scent of desi roses until I find my way to the tomb. […]

January 15th, 2008|India, Sufism|6 Comments