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. […]