Reviews are categorized by topics :
Book: Muslims in Indian Economy
Author: Omar Khalidi
Publisher: Three Essays Collective, P.B.No 6, B-957, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon, Haryana-122017. Price:Rs. 575.
2. National Level: Medieval and Colonial India
3. National Level: Independent India
5. Uttar Pradesh
7. Deccan and Andhra Pradesh
10. Summary and Conclusions
About the Book:
The 130 million Muslims in India form the second largest Muslim population in the world. Scholarship on them has however focused on a limited range of issues. There is little by way of macro studies on the economic condition of Muslims in various parts of India.
What is the condition of the Indian Muslims at the dawn of the twenty first century? What is the demographic profile of the community? What is the percentage of its population in agriculture, industry and the tertiary sector? How do Muslims fare at the national level? Does the Muslim economic condition differ from state to state, given the regional imbalances in the country resulting from unequal develop-ment? How does Muslim economic condition in the early twenty first century compare with the recent and distant past? To what extent can the political changes account for these varia-tions? How does the economic profile of the Muslims compare with the majority Hindus, Dalits, and minorities like Christians, Sikhs and Parsis? Historians, politicians, journalists and others agree that Muslims in general lag behind other communities. Does Islam, or Islam as interpreted and lived, have anything to do with it? What is the role of the State in this matter? What is the record of the post-independence central and state governments? The author tries to answer some of these questions. He argues that understanding these issues is not only a matter of academic enquiry, but also necessary for taking appropriate corrective measures by the community leader-ship as well as by the state.
The various chapters focus on the pre-Independence legacy, the impact on Muslims of Partition and politics on ownership of assets, employment, access to education, public services or their role in labour, commerce and industry. It is a report on the current status of the Muslim minority in India, particularly the Urdu-speaking Muslims.
Densely documented, with hard to find statistical data, written with an economy of words, no one remotely interested in Indian economy, society or politics can afford to ignore this immensely readable book.
"Omar Khalidi's book fills a very large gap." AbuSalef Sharif
About the Author:
*Omar Khalidi* is an independent scholar and a staff member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. He is author of the widely-acclaimed book 'Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India', 2003. His other publications include 'Indian Muslims Since Independence', 1996, and the edited volume 'Hyderabad: After the Fall', 1988.
x + 242 pages, includes appendix, Demy 8vo
ISBN 81-88789-23-2 Hardcover Rs575 (India) Elsewhere $25
Reviewer: Mujibur Rahman
When India's Hindu far right unleashed a concerted campaign of pseudo-secularism during the post-Shah Bano era, it put the otherwise erudite, articulate secular intellectuals on the defensive. It almost cornered them. Its appeasement accusation generated a popular perception as if Indian Muslims were born with silver spoons.
It made people believe that the community's contribution to art, culture, literature, Bollywood or even cricket was completely fabricated and was a product of the Indian state's blind patronage as if merit or talent played no part in their success stories. This campaign also catalysed Hindutva's hostile political passion and made it overshadow a very well rooted public reason of Indian secularism completely.
On the fertile ground of these imaginary theories and constructed grievances grew the demon of political Hindutva whose ever-growing capacity to destroy the diverse, modern India is still defying any accurate assessment. The portrait of the Muslim community, it can be argued, presents a glaring contrast of extraordinary accomplishments in some areas and sustained backwardness in others.
Why does a community that can legitimately boast of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, M.F. Hussain, Azim Premji, Irfan Pathan, Shah Rukh Khan and Sania Mirza still have such a large number of its members leading lives of an underclass? It would be indeed outright racist to argue that the community is genetically designed for inferior abilities or has some sort of divine tryst with raw misfortune of all sorts. It is ironical to see the presence of such massive suffering in a community that has historically ruled the region for centuries. How did it happen? Who is to be blamed? Is it British colonialism or India's flawed development strategy or internal factors of the community life or Indian Islam or some indecipherable factor?
This book sheds insight into these questions that have been neglected for years by historians, economists and scholars of other disciplines.
It details facts about the socio-economic conditions of the community prior to the Partition and afterwards. Indian Muslims, it claims, have branched out to new professions from the conventional ones like the army, civil service and traditional education.
In addition to the general narratives on the conditions of the community during medieval, colonial and independent India, it has chapters on specific States like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. It articulates a subtle argument for a well-crafted affirmative action policy for Muslims, for it could cause expansion of its middle class presuming that the latter can anchor a positive change in their socio-economic conditions.
One wonders why this research completed only a few months ago is without a chapter on Gujarat or even on Jammu and Kashmir. Since frequent riots have been attributed as a dominant factor for worsening economic conditions of the community, research on riot-free States like West Bengal or Kerala could help understand how they fare in the economic project for Muslims.
What the reviewer found indeed deeply problematic is the notion of `homogeneity' of Indian Muslim identity on the basis of purely Urdu language employed in the research design here because the challenges of non-Urdu-speaking Muslims are not substantially different from their Urdu-speaking counterparts in India. In addition, it would be self-defeating to offer a generalised formulation on the finding on such a narrow idea of homogeneity.
There are, without doubt, several aspects calling for further inquiry for an enhanced understanding of this puzzle. A need for a sequel to this well written book is warranted and the dimensions that are untouched here but need further interrogation are: the role of tiny Muslim elites who profited enormously professionally during the heydays of India's symbolic secularism or pre-Hindutva era of modern India if there was one; the role of Muslim fundamentalism; and most importantly, specific research on key States like Gujarat, Assam, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, and others.
Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the book definitely merits the attention of general readers and scholars because it offers refreshing insight into the understanding of the economic condition of India's Muslims, and also because of its attempt to challenge the `herd mindset' of scholars who have been only tangentially dealing with such an important theme.
Reference: The Hindu
Bastion of the Believers : Madrasas and Islamic Education in India
By Yoginder Sikand
PP: Rs 395
Reiewed by: Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, London , UK . Email: email@example.com
There is no denying that the devastating attacks on the Twin Towers on 11 September
2001 have accentuated the demonisation of Islamic beliefs, adherents, and most importantly, institutions. Madrasahs, as renowned pundits, journalists, scholars, and terrorist experts continuously allege, are the sites where militant and fanatical ideologies are imbibed.
It is such a rapidly evolving and tumultuous context that prompted Yoginder Sikand to embark on the writing of a data-laden, well-argued, and yet readable book; a book that is situated at the intersections of history, sociology, political science, and Islamic studies. As Yoginder has duly professed in his preface, "the polemics of the enemies of Islam have gone beyond the orientalist mould and pretensions of detachment and objectivity" (p. xvii). Bastions of the Believers is thus a noble attempt by an Indian scholar-activist to dispel the negative images of madrasahs as "dens of terror". By utilising sources gathered from in-depth archival and field research, Yoginder presents us with a nuanced and non-homogenising portrayal of the madrasahs.
The book begins with a discussion on the importance of knowledge (ilm) in Islam and the sacred role of the scholars (ulama) as the preservers of knowledge. Yoginder convincingly argues that the idea of a differentiation between secular and sacred knowledge was nonexistent in the early years of Islam. Rather, to Prophet Muhammad and his companions, knowledge of the religious (dini) and secular(duniavi) were of equal importance towards the achievement of success in the world and the Hereafter. Established several centuries after the Prophet's demise, madrasahs manifested the prophetic approach to knowledge, retaining a high degree of dynamism by training students in both religious and rational sciences. Consequently, career options were fairly wide and graduates of madrasahs took on important roles in state-based institutions.
It was different for the case of madrasahs in India. In Chapter 2, Yoginder delves into
the genesis and evolution of a shift from the original model of madrasahs in the Arabian
Peninsula to that of educational dualism. This had led to a dini–duniavi divide in the
minds of Muslims in India as the Mughal Empire entered the modern phase of world history. Such a condition was made worse by the onslaught of British colonialism which saw the suppression of Muslim revolts and rebellions. Suspicions towards secular knowledge amongst the ulamas heightened and, in consequence, diminished the unending attempts by Muslim reformers to harmonise modernity and Islam.
Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of the book narrate the challenges faced, resistances to change, and further attempts at reforming the madrasahs in post-partitioned India. It is pertinent to note that a considerable amount of established information and arguments in these three chapters is often repeated, which is revealing of Yoginder's endeavour to bring home the point that madrasahs are essentially heterogeneous. Indeed, these institutions had been and are still differentiated along ideological lines between different Sunni schools of thought (maslaks) such as the Barelwis, Deobandis, Jama'ati Islami, and Ahlul Hadith and sects, as seen from examples of the Shiites and Ahmadiyyas. The madrasahs are also sharply divided on the issue of receiving aid from the state and on the establishment of networks with non-Muslim organisations. Whilst the author documents the dismal state of infrastructure, salary scales, syllabuses, and pedagogical methods of many madrasahs in post-independent India , he seeks to provide a balanced depiction by highlighting successful examples of reform and adaptation. Cases in point are madrasahs in Kerala, the Jama'atul Falah in eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Dar ul-'Umoor in Karnataka. Graduates of these educational institutions are said to be contributing to various sectors of the Indian economy and society. To be sure, these three chapters vividly demonstrate that widespread transformations are indeed occurring within the madrasahs. Such efforts to reform are, nonetheless, dampened by a concerted campaign to discredit Islam and its institutions.
This brings us to the last and perhaps most important chapter of the Bastions of Believers. Yoginder is at his best as he deconstructs the spurious correlation between madrasahs, radical politics, and militancy. On the claim that madrasahs are centres of political radicalisation, Yoginder argues that the curriculum is "overwhelmingly conservative, literalist and legalist, but definitely not politically radical"(p. 225). In point of fact, promoters of radical ideologies such as Osama bin Laden are known to have received education in regular universities in the West rather than madrasahs. Contrary to the notion that the ulama were unpatriotic to India, Yoginder cites numerous examples of known personalities who insisted that India, rather than Pakistan , is the place where their loyalty lies. The ulama, Yoginder maintains, has devised various ways to come to terms with the idea of a nation-state by arguing that they are residing in a "land of peace"(dar ul-aman) or a "land of agreement"(dar ul-ahad) rather than "the abode of war"(dar ul-harb)(p. 238). Although there are remnants of Pan-Islamic tendencies within the madrasahs,Yoginder contends that that "does not necessarily lead to militancy, although it does make for certain rigid insularity and cultural separatism" (p. 242). Going further, Yoginder illuminates on how the madrasahs had in fact incorporated studies of other religions in their curriculum so as to promote inter-faith dialogue and provide training of skills for their students for missionary work. Militant madrasahs, as the author forcefully posits,are not to be found in India but in war-ravaged parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan,and Kashmir . With the ever-increasing incidences of clashes between these radical groupings and state authorities, coupled by virulent propaganda of Hindu right-wing movements,the stage was set for madrasahs in India to be reductively labelled as "militant".
It is certain that even if one were to disagree with many of its conclusions, this book will be an important and indispensable text for both students and scholars of Islam in the many years to come.
Exploring Past And Future Of Madrasas In India
27 November, 2005
Madrasas have become very popular among the non-Muslim world in these terror times when every act of terrorism or violence is somehow linked to Madrasas. While there are very little known facts about Madrasas and how they became important in Muslim world, it would be absolutely incorrect to blame Madrasas for the rise of political Islam or terrorist violence.
Yoginder Sikand's Bastation of Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India published by Penguin Books therefore reveals hitherto unknown facts about Madrasas. Though I have seen the earlier work done on Madrasas yet I would say with conviction that this reveals much. The reason for the same are two. One, Sikand does his work not only meticulously but also passionately. His passion for unfolding history is unparallel and for this purpose he has been traveling nook and corners of the country, scanning Urdu, Persian and Arabic literature and visiting various Madrasas and related institutions. Secondly, he does not suffer from any prejudice as either glamorizing the entire thing as many Muslim scholars might have done in the past or like a Hindu critique who would demolish the entire argument of the Madrasa system as 'communal' breeding 'terrorism'. He has not gone on the issue as a Hindu critique who find fault in everything that the Madrasas do. However, Yoginder Sikand's work reveals many facets of our social system particularly when ones identity decides the quality of the work. This is simply agonizing as he mention in the introduction of the book the suspicious look he got during his research because being a non-Muslim. These things are true also but they also reflect the grave reality how the work gets relegated to back space while an individual's caste and religious identity become big factor.
It is interesting to note that the Madrasa system in India is as diverse as Indian Muslim. There are various sects and sub sects who impart Islamic knowledge to students. Prior to partition, many of the Madrasas were getting help from the state. Partition was double blow for the Muslims as a majority of their secular leadership has in fact migrated to Pakistan. Secondly, the community was still feeling the burden of the cause of partition. The systematic marginalisation of Muslims in the mainstream of India particularly in government offices, schools etc provided fodder for further ghettoisation. Madrasas became a place where even a poor Muslim could get a space to live with and learn religious education. Yoginder Sikand suggests that it is another propaganda about the Muslims that a majority of them go to Madrasas. Muslims also want better education for their children and send them to modern schools.
After the political campaign of the Sangh Parivar in post 1980s, Madrasas became synonymous to Muslim culture and a den of 'terrorism. Word terrorism became another meaning of 'Islam'. Everyday, newspapers would be full of reports regarding the 'terrorist' activities inside the Madrasas. Their number was always speculated. The right wing columnists, the patriots all started writing about the Madrasas, the Muslims and terrorism.
One point that seems missing and would have given more thoughts is not only girls education in Madras which the author has pointed out but also the about non-Muslim who used to get educated in Madrasas. One must not forget that in the past many Hindus were also taught in Madrasas. Even today, many of the Madrasas are educating non-Muslim girls and have introduced computer education also. In major Madrasas of the Avadh region, we can find space for non Muslims also. Madrasas also want to change and those who blame them for doing things in isolation forget that many of the Madrasas in state like Uttar-Pradesh are under direct supervision of the government. In fact, said a Maulvi to me some years back that these days the CID people continue to visit them for a 'break' news. The problem is the stereotyping of the Madrasas a shelter for 'terrorism'. Many Madrasa people in fact asked the government for more resources and funding so that they can start other subjects also. But that has not happened yet.
The September 11 incident in the United States turn things worst for the Madrasas. Now the focus of the international community became not only the life style of Islam but also its education system. Therefore, growth of Madrasas was linked to growth of Muslim fundamentalism. Pakistan clamp down on Madrasas after the US pressure became an example for India to follow. Talk of modernization in the Madrasas started gaining ground again without any hard work done in practice. The grave fact of the matter is that those who are allegedly involved in terrorist activities do not come from the traditional Madrasas but from 'modern' educational institutions. At the same point of time we must be careful not to deny our children modern education for the fear of painting the community in such a way, as it would be bringing back the entire community to Madrasas. It is important to work among the community rather than putting it on tenterhook of either this or that.
I still remember a dialogue with a principal of a Madrasa in Faizabad when he said that Madrasa education impart religious values like Gurukul and the communities do not go commercialized therefore they needed religious education. However, in a country like India, as Yoginder Sikand points out in his conclusion, isolationist tendencies framed by religious institutions like Madrasas could be counter productive for the community. Sikand emphasise on more interfaith dialogues between different communities and not just Muslims and Non-Muslims.
The author has done justice to his work. Not only he has gone deep into the Islamic education system and traditions of the past but also went in detail to find the evolution of the Madrasa system in the country. He has suggested alternative for reform and debunked many myths about the Madrasas. An interesting book for those who want to understand Madrasa system in India.
Name of the Book: Bastions of the Believers--Madrasas
and Islamic Education in India
Publisher: Penguin Books, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Dominique Sila-Khan
Apart from being a brilliant treatise on Muslim education in its contemporary Indian perspective, Yoginder Sikand's book on the madrasas of India comes at a time when distorted, confused and contradictory ideas about Islam continue to pervade the media. This long expected response to the misgivings and prejudice spread among the general public comes at a time when it becomes urgent to fill the gap.
Based on a wide range of authentic documents and direct inquiries, it has the merit of giving detailed but clear information to a broad readership. Above all, it brings forward a number of distinctions which need to be made between the following elements that are often mixed up: the strengthening of Islamic identity, "orthodox" trends within the madrasas and militant Islam; decline of tolerance and increasing gender discrimination. For example not many are aware of the fact that members of Islamic terrorist organisations have not studied in those madrasas which are have been portrayed in the media as "dens of terror". On the other hand, the establishments affiliated to more conservative schools of thought, such as the Deobandi, are often those who advocate a certain modernisation, such as active participation and education of women.
In order to make us understand the present context the author starts with a brief introduction on the scholarly tradition in India; this is followed by a historical survey of the development of madrasas in South Asia. The historical perspective is meant to remind the reader of an essential fact which is too often overlooked: the basic diversity of Islam and the struggle between conflicting schools of thought that, from the very beginning, has shaped the history of this complex religious tradition. Besides, our attention is attracted on the tremendous impact that the British colonisation had on the madrasas as on religious education in general. It is also noteworthy that most Muslim organisations played a key role in the struggle for Independence.
The second part of the book is devoted to a description and analysis of the madrasa phenomenon in independent India.A survey of the madrasa system in North India, as for instance contrasted with South India, and particularly, Kerala, stresses the diversity of the Islamic education network. Far from being limited to the Deobandi-Barelwi opposition, it is characterized by significant regional differences.
The subject of reforms in the teaching method and in the curriculum is tackled through a number of documents (mainly from contemporary publications) and direct interviews. The conclusion that can be made after having examined the heated debates on modernisation, girls madrasas, state sponsoring and other issues, is that the response to the challenges of contemporary life are many. On the whole it may be said that strong opposition to all form of modernisation and intolerance do not represent the majority of the ulama of the madrasas. Besides, the lack of unity, which characterizes the Islamic education system as well as the personal beliefs and practices of Muslims in India, evidently contradicts the idea that a global "Islamic menace" basically originates from the madrasas.
Finally the much vexed question of the links between madrasas and militancy has been explored by the author with the same deep insight and attempt at maximum objectivity as the above mentioned issues. It appears that even the most conservative and "orthodox" Indian madrasas have little to do with the training of terrorists or invitation to violence. A few individuals working in those educational institutions may occasionally support extremist organisations, but most madrasas leaders have openly condemned terrorism in the name of Islam.
The conclusion proposed by the author brings us back to the stark reality of contemporary India “ but also of the rest of the world “ the widening gap between religious communities, which mixed with complex political, economical and social issues - represent the real threat. Yoginder 's book should be read by all those who wish to have a better and more nuanced understanding of this complex issue.
M. Akhtar Siddiqui, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEmpowerment of Muslims Through EducationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?, New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies,
2004, ISBN: 81-85220-58-21, pp.374.
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Muslim educational marginalization is an accepted fact, and, according to official figures, Muslims rank among the least educated communities in India today. This owes to a host of social, economic, cultural and political factors, which this admirable book very succinctly points out.
The first part of the book deals with the classical madrasa system of education in India. It provides a broad historical survey of madrasas in India, and then focuses on the contemporary situation. In the aftermath of the Partition, the author says, Muslim education suffered a tremendous set-back, with the dissolution of princely houses and feudal estates on which numerous madrasas had depended for patronage, and discriminatory policies adopted by the state vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis the Urdu language. Siddiqui shows how Muslims in north India have sought to maintain and promote the tradition of Islamic education in the face of tremendous challenges through novel experiments. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, as a response to the marked Hinduisation of the government school syllabus and the numerous negative references to Islam and Muslim personages in government-prescribed textbooks, the Dini Talimi Council established a number of maktabs that provide religious and secular education as well as Urdu till the fifth grade and allow their students to join government schools thereafter.
Similarly, the author refers to the government-recognised madrasa education boards in some states that provide teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ salaries and prescribe a syllabus for affiliated madrasas that combine both religious as well as secular subjects. In Assam and Maharashtra, he says, some madrasas are now directly affiliated to the State Board of Secondary Education, which has allowed for their students to join the educational ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ because their certificates are recognised by the Boards.
The author stresses the need for modernisation of the madrasa curriculum, and points to the often ignored fact that many ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama themselves are in favour of such changes, provided, however, that the religious core of the madrasas remains intact. He also argues that the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama, in general, believe that reforms in the madrasas should be initiated by the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama themselves and not by the state as this might impact on the autonomy of the madrasas. If state assistance is at all to be accepted, the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama believe, it should be in kind, in the form of books, teaching equipment etc., and not in the form of money. Similarly, Siddiqui says, many ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama do favour state-level madrasa boards but they insist that it should be outside the direct control of the state.
Siddiqui challenges the notion of madrasas being impervious to change, offering examples of several Indian madrasas that are seeking to modernise their curriculum. An interesting model that other madrasas could emulate, Siddiqui suggests, is that provided by the Jamaat-i IslamiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Darsgah-i Islami in Rampur, western Uttar Pradesh, which includes both secular and religious subjects in its primary level eight-year course and then specialises in religious education in its secondary level seven-year course. Several madrasas in India are said to follow the DarsgahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s syllabus, enabling their students to prepare both for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“alimiyat degree given by the madrasas and for the senior secondary examination conducted in regular government schools. Another interesting experiment in madrasa reform is the Jamia Hidaya in Jaipur, established by the noted Naqshbandi Sufi and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“alim, Maulvi Fazlur Rahman Mujaddidi. Students study both secular and religious subjects, and after the initial four-year course, which begins after the sixth grade, they can choose to continue with religious education or else join a regular school. Students intending to become religious specialists are obliged to learn one among a range of numerous trades and crafts.
The next part of the book deals with the conditions of Muslim schools in India. Siddiqui sees the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s discriminatory policies vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis the Urdu language as one of the major reasons for Muslim educational backwardness, particularly in north India. However, he argues, while Urdu is ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“an important elementÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of Muslim identity, it is wrong to identify the language as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ as such, even though today, for all practical purposes, non-Muslims have abandoned it, as a result of which Urdu is today restricted largely to madrasas. This is one reason why many Muslim families prefer to send their children to madrasas instead of schools, he says. In the Urdu ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“heartlandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of Uttar Pradesh, Urdu today languishes, dying a slow death, there being hardly any Urdu medium schools in the state, this being a gross violation of the Constitutional right of Muslims to be taught in their own mother tongue. The situation is considerably better, however, Siddiqui points out, in states beyond the Hindi-Urdu belt, such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where state governments have funded several Urdu schools, although their standard is said to leave much to be desired.
In the face of state indifference, if not hostility, to Muslim education, numerous Muslim organisations are today playing an important role in the field of education. This is particularly marked in Maharashtra and southern India. Siddiqui provides interesting details about the schools, colleges and vocational training centres run by a number of Muslim NGOs in these states, contrasting this with the grim situation in north India, where, he says, Muslims run relatively few educational institutions other than madrasas. While Siddiqui welcomes this investment of community resources in education, he points out that much of this investment has been in institutions of higher learning, such as engineering, medical and technical colleges, while basic education, especially for the poor, has been ignored. Further, many of these
institutions have more non-Muslim than Muslim students on their rolls because of the high capitation and other fees that they charge. Many of them are actually commercial ventures and do little for the community, especially for the poor among the Muslims.
The third section of the book deals with the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s policies on minority education. Given the magnitude of the problem of Muslim educational marginalization, Siddiqui stresses that Muslims cannot address the issue alone. Rather, they have to work in tandem with the state. Siddiqui quotes with approval the Programme of Action for Minorities laid down in the National Education Policy of 1986, in which, for the first time, the state recognized Muslims as an educationally ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“backwardÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ community. Yet, he laments, little has been actually done by the state to ameliorate the situation. One reason for this is that the suggestions put forward in the Programme document were left to the state governments to be implemented, and many of these are indifferent to Muslim education.
In fact, Siddiqui argues, many state governments deliberately create hurdles for Muslim organizations that wish to set up educational institutions. Hence, Siddiqui suggests, there is need for statutory action at the Central level to fully implement various minority-related programmes funded by the state and to streamline the procedure for recognition, affiliation and funding of minority educational institutions. This could possibly be done by providing additional statutory powers to the National Minorities Commission and the various State Minorities Commissions, each of which should have a separate unit to deal with educationally marginalised minorities, or by establishing a Minorities Education Board at the Central as well as state level to help the governments implement various programmes meant for educationally deprived minorities.
Another major difficulty in developing effective educational programmes for Muslims and other educationally marginalized minorities, Siddiqui says, is the acute paucity of publicly available statistical information on Muslim education and employment. Although the government has these statistics, it refuses to make them public, on the specious grounds that this would promote ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“communalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Siddiqui rightly argues that suppressing such vital information leads to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“worse results, untested hypothesis, and unfounded claims and complaintsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and insists that these figures be made available so that the extent of Muslim marginalization as well as the role of state policies in addressing it can be gauged.
Yet, gathering and highlighting statistics are not enough, and, in the absence of political will, surely this cannot work wonders. Siddiqui refers to the High Powered Panel headed by Gopal Singh in the 1980s to look into the conditions of the Muslims, and which found that Muslims were one of the most marginalized communities in the country, hardly better off than the Dalits, providing detailed statistics to back this claim. It also suggested various measures for the state to undertake to help address the problem of Muslim educational and economic marginalization and to prevent communal riots.
The then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had issued a 15-Point Directive after the submission of the interim Report of the Gopal Singh Committee, laying down elaborate rules and guidelines for promoting Muslim education, which was later reiterated by her son and successor Rajiv Gandhi. Yet, no action was taken. Recognising its failure to do anything substantial in addressing the issue of Muslim educational ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“backwardnessÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, in 1992 the Union Government came out with what it called a Revised Programme of Action, whose pious proclamations on Muslim education later met with entirely the same fate, with both the Union and several state governments showing clear lack of interest in doing anything about Muslim education at all. In this light it appears that the present Congress government-appointed ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“High PoweredÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Committee set up by Manmohan Singh and headed by Rajinder Sachar to look into the socio-economic conditions of the Muslims might meet the same dismal end.
Elaborating on his argument of state neglect of Muslim education, Siddiqui provides detailed information on the failure of various government-funded schemes ostensibly meant for minority education as well as the routine harassment that Muslim educational institutions seeking recognition and grants-in-aid are subjected to in many states. Even schemes that were officially declared to be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“successfulÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ were often a mere hog-wash, Thus, for instance, the Programme of Action 1992 claimed that all 41 districts in India with a high minority concentration had been covered under the community polytechnic scheme but in many districts it was found that Muslim representation among the students of such polytechnics was between 3 and 12 per cent, much less than the Muslim proportion in the total population of the district. In several places it was also found that the polytechnics were located at a considerable distance from Muslim localities.
Another scheme that was advertised as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“success storyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, the setting up of resource centres in selected universities with a high Muslim presence, soon turned defunct. Other schemes proved to be major flops. The scheme of providing Urdu teachers, Urdu textbooks and Urdu teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training facilities, envisaged in the Revised Programme of Action, proved to be a non-starter. A good indication of the indifference with which the government greeted the scheme is the fact that in Uttar Pradesh, home to the largest Urdu-speaking population in the country, there is today only one Junior Basic Training Institute for Urdu-medium primary school teachers. Likewise, despite the Programme of ActionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s show of firm commitment to the official three-language formula, it still far from adequately being followed in many states, with
Urdu-speaking Muslim children denied their right to learn the language in state schools.
Yet another much-touted government-funded programmeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?the Madrasa Modernisation Scheme, launched in 2000ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?failed, being hardly taken seriously, by the government, the bureaucracy and the madrasas themselves. The scheme provided for small grants to madrasas to employ part-time teachers for mathematics, science, English and Hindi, plus a one-time small grant of Rs.7000 to each madrasa to purchase science and mathematics kits and set up libraries. The scheme failed due to several reasons, not least because in many madrasas who joined the scheme the teachers did not get their salaries and also because of suspicion on the part of the madrasas about the intentions of the government, given the fact that the coalition ruling the Centre at that time was headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, notorious for being anti-Muslim. On the other hand, as Siddiqui points out, some other schemes, such as the Area Intensive Programme, are said to have benefited at least some Muslim families in various states.
Overall, Siddiqui argues, despite its ambitious programmes for minority education the Union government has been able to do little in this regard due to a combination of various factors: apathy and indifference; political compulsions; lack of funds; and inability to force state governments, who are responsible for implementing the schemes, to comply. Such is the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s indifference to the plight of the minorities that, Siddiqui laments, that for several years now the annual reports of the Minorities Commission have not been tabled in Parliament although the Commission is actually obliged to do so, thus making the Commission, in the authorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s own words, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“an exercise in futilityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
While recognizing the culpability of the state in perpetuating Muslim educational marginalization, Siddiqui also recognises the role of the Muslim leadership in this regard. He says Muslim leadersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ apathy towards education of the community might have further encouraged many state governments to ignore the schemes conceived by the Union government. This apathy might well be due to the vested interests of sections of the leadership that sees mass education as a challenge to its own claims to authority, but, Siddiqui opines, is could also reflect the fact that many Muslims have completely lost all faith in the state and its promises. This situation cries out for urgent remedy and Siddiqui argues that addressing Muslim educational backwardness requires joint efforts on the part of the state and Muslim community organizations. It also requires a climate of peace and tolerably good inter-community relations which can allow Muslims to focus their attention on community development, rather than, as at present, on defending their lives and identity in the face of a hostile or indifferent state and Hindutva chauvinists thirsty for Muslim blood.
Siddiqui concludes by providing an impressive list of suggestions for promoting Muslim education: establishing adult education and vocational training centres, involving Muslim youth in state developmental programmes, modernization of madrasa curricula, using madrasas as adult education centres, encouraging the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama to participate in educational awareness drives, forcing the Muslim leadership, both political and religious, to make education a top priority, and encouraging Muslim NGOs to work with the state to promote awareness of and to implement various development projects. He calls for the Union government to set up stricter regulatory mechanisms to ensure that state governments actually implement various schemes meant for minority education. He suggests that the Minorities Commission be armed with
statutory powers, which it presently lacks, to address the educational and other problems of the minorities, which generally go ignored by state and Union governments. He proposes the setting up of a Minorities Educational Financing Corporation or Bank in each state, with initial capital from the Union government, to provide soft loans to minority educational institutions and NGOs working for minority education. Along with this, he asks that the government substantially raise the meager corpus fund and annual grant of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation to help improve infrastructural facilities and quality of teaching in minority educational institutions.
For their part, Siddiqui suggests, Muslim community organizations should seek to mobilize zakat, sadqa and other such funds for educational purposes, including for scholarship schemes, girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ hostels, research on Muslim education-related issues and curricular and teacher development programmes in Muslim-run institutions. Siddiqui also points to the need for Muslim NGOs to be run more efficiently and in a more professional manner, arguing that they should work with non-Muslim organizations and the state in order to improve their own standards and be more effective.
Book: Glimpses of Muslim Education in India : Peeping Through the Convocation Addresses of The Aligarh Muslim University
Edited: Shan Mohammad.
Publisher: Anmol, New Delhi
Volumes: 2 vols.
Pages: 776 p.
Price: $125 (set).
1. The first convocation, December 28, 1922.
2. The second convocation, February 16, 1924.
3. The third convocation, January 26, 1925.
4. The fourth convocation, December 29, 1925.
5. The fifth convocation, November 15, 1926.
6. The sixth convocation, February 11, 1928.
7. The seventh convocation, January 21, 1929.
8. The eighth convocation, January 25, 1930.
9. The ninth convocation, December 3, 1930.
10. The tenth convocation, December 21, 1931.
11. The eleventh convocation, December 22, 1932.
12. The twelfth convocation, November 14, 1933.
13. The thirteenth convocation, December 22, 1934.
14. The fourteenth convocation, November 18, 1935.
15. The fifteenth convocation, March 7, 1937.
16. The sixteenth convocation, January 23, 1938.
17. The seventeenth convocation, December 3, 1938.
18. The eighteenth convocation, December 16, 1939.
19. The nineteenth convocation, December 21, 1940.
20. The twentieth convocation, February 7, 1942.
21. The twenty-one convocation, February 13, 1943
22. The twenty-two convocation, December 22, 1943.
23. The twenty-three convocation, November 25, 1944.
24. The twenty-fourth convocation, December 1, 1945.
25. The twenty-fifth convocation, February 16, 1947.
26. The twenty-sixth convocation, January 24, 1948.
27. The twenty-seventh convocation, February 20, 1949.
28. The twenty-eighth convocation, February 27, 1950.
29. The twenty-ninth convocation, February 4, 1951.
30. The thirtieth convocation, December 8, 1951.
31. The thirty-one convocation, January 24, 1953.
32. The thirty-two convocation, February 28, 1954.
33. Thirty-three convocation, February 22, 1955.
34. The thirty-fourth convocation, December 13, 1955.
35. The thirty-fifth convocation, February 27, 1957.
36. The thirty-sixth convocation, December 13, 1957.
37. The thirty-seventh convocation, December 30, 1958.
38. The thirty-eighth convocation, December 23, 1959.
39. The thirty-ninth convocation, November 21, 1960.
40. The fortieth convocation, January 28, 1962.
41. The forty-one convocation, January 14, 1963.
42. The forty-two convocation, January 12, 1964.
43. The forty-three convocation, December 19, 1964.
44. The forty-fourth convocation, February 27, 1966.
45. The forty-fifth convocation, March 29, 1967.
46. The forty-sixth convocation, February 10, 1968.
47. The forty-seventh convocation, January 25, 1969.
48. The forty-eighth convocation, February 14, 1970.
49. The forty ninth convocation, February 29, 1971.
50. The fiftieth convocation, March 2, 1972.
51. The fifty one convocation, March 13, 1976.
52. The fifty two convocation, April 29, 1986.
53. The fifty three convocation, February 26, 2002.
54. The fifty fourth convocation, March 27, 2003.
55. The fifty fifth convocation, April 9, 2004.
56. The fifty sixth convocation, March 2, 2005.
"Glimpses of Muslim Education in India traces the growth and development of modern education among the Muslim community of the sub-continent. In moulding ideas of his conservative community from medievalism to modernism Sri Syed had played a vital role. Had he not been there, Muslims would have stayed in the medieval age even today. The MAO college founded by him was the nucleus for disseminating western education among the Muslims. The college was raised to the status of the university in 1920. Its convocation, address are revealing and one can study plans of their education since the time of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who may right, be called a pioneer in a difficult age." (jacket)
"Hyderabad Ke Dini Madaris Mai Sunni Ladkiyon Ki Talim-o-Tarbiyat"
(ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“The Education and Training of Sunni Muslim Girls in HyderabadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Religious SchoolsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢)
Author: Asma Arif Ali.
Henry Martyn Institute, Hyderabad, 2002.
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
This study documents the history of girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas in Hyderabad city. It begins with a brief overview of girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ religious education in Hyderabad city under the Nizams, showing how the Muslim nobility patronized religious schools located in mosques, Sufi lodges and madrasas. It points out that the institution of girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ religious schools in Hyderabad is a novel one, the first such school, the Madrasa Aisha ul-Niswan, having been established as recently as 1986. In the pre-1947 period, religious education for girls, generally from economically better-off families, was provided in Sufi lodges and the homes of the nobles, generally by female teachers or ustanis. This sort of education was informal and was largely restricted to basic religious instruction, and did not aim, as is the case today, to train ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“alimas and fazilas, women with an expertise in religious disciplines. Although from the early twentieth century onwards the Nizam and members of HyderabadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s nobility began establishing some girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools wherein secular as well as religious subjects were taught, they were not, strictly speaking, religious madrasas. Rather, they focused particularly on secular subjects, although Islam was taught as a subject as well.
In Hyderabad today, Ali writes, there are almost 50 girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas, some of them being residential. Most of them have been established in the last 20-25 years and are, broadly, of three types. Firstly, those that conform to the traditional dars-i nizami curriculum without any changes. Secondly, those that follow the dars-i nizami but with minor modifications. Thirdly, madrasas that have developed a new curriculum, incorporating English, computers and arts and crafts, in addition to standard religious subjects. A common feature of all these madrasas is the stress on moral training, character building and appropriate Islamic etiquette. Strict pardah is enjoined for all students. Students are also encouraged to participate in some extra-curricular activities, including debates, writing for their madrasaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s magazines, reciting the QurÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢an and poems in praise of the Prophet and delivering lectures on religious and social issues. In contrast to other schools, these madrasas, Ali says, do not ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“encourage aggressive competition among the studentsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Rather, she contends, they train them to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“cooperate with and help each otherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. As Ali sees it, they madrasas serve a crucial role in protecting and strengthening Muslim identity from the threats of Westernisation, materialism and consumerism.
Ali writes that today in Hyderabad there is a rapidly growing demand for such girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas, especially those that also teach some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects. Some of these madrasas have adjusted their syllabus in such a way as to enable their students to join regular schools after the tenth grade. Several girls who have graduated from these madrasas have gone on to take admission in regular schools and perform well. Because religious instruction is their primary focus, many Muslims see them as providing an appropriate sort of education for their girls. Yet, Ali says, there is considerable room for improvement. The level of English in madrasas that teach the subject is quite low. None of the madrasas that Ali surveyed teaches Hindi or the state language, Telugu. Ali suggests that the teaching of English be improved, that basic Hindi and Telugu be introduced in the curriculum and that madrasas explore the possibility of working together with open universities to enable their students and teachers to take various other courses as well.
Name of Book: Islamic Education, Diversity and National Identity: Dini Madaris in India Post-9/11
Editor: Helmut Reifeld & Jan-Peter Hartung
Publisher: Sage Publications, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Recent writings on madrasas in South Asia have tended to view them from the point of view either of security or of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“reformÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Various other crucial aspects of madrasas, including their social, economic, cultural and political roles, have received little attention from both writers who tend to see them in stereotypically negative terms. Yet, as the various contributors to this volume argue, madrasas need to be seen in a broader perspective and the debate about them needs to move beyond security-driven concerns and the agenda of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“reformÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ that is sought to be imposed from without.
Jan-Peter HartungÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s piece on the discourse of madrasa reforms examines various arguments put forward by a range of actors, including many ulama, for suitable modifications in the madrasa curriculum. The central point Hartung makes is that Muslim social activists regard madrasa reform as crucial but yet insist that it must not lead to a complete secularisation of madrasas because they see their principal purpose as being to train ulama or religious specialists. Reform, Hartung says, is not easy, because there is no central church-like authority in Islam that can lay down official doctrine or policy for all Muslims. Reform is made even more difficult by sectarian divisions, because of which a common reform programme is rendered almost impossible.
In another piece included in the book, Hartung looks at the reformist efforts of the Nadwat ul-ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Ulama in Lucknow, dwelling particularly on the influence of the Nadwa in the Arab world, principally as a result of the work of its former rector, the late Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi. Hartung links the contacts between Nadwa and institutions in the Arab world and elsewhere to accusations about Indian madrasas as being allegedly linked to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terrorosmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ levelled by Hindu fascist groups and elements within the state apparatus, and stresses the point that these charges are baseless. He argues that it must be acknowledged that Muslim scholarship has always had a crucial transnational dimension and that this is not a modern phenomenon geared to promoting ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terrorismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In fact, he points out, the ulama of the Nadwa and other noted Indian madrasas have always stressed their support of the Indian Constitution as the best presently-available dispensation for Muslims living as a minority in India. Hartung ends his essay with an appeal for the state to adopt a truly integrative policy that acknowledges the rights of every cultural and religious group to protect and preserve its traditions and run its own institutions. In particular, he insists, the ongoing campaign to stigmatise Muslims and the madrasas must cease for there to be any dialogue at all.
Saiyid Naqi Husain JafriÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article provides a brief overview of madrasa education in late Mughal India and then examines discourses of madrasa reform in colonial India. It shows that an important section of the ulama were indeed open to changes in the madrasa curriculum to meet the challenges posed by British rule, Orientalist, Hindu and Christian critiques of Islam, and the growing tendency towards irreligiousness. This was best exemplified in the case of LucknowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Nadwat-ul-Ulama, which, although it was intended to be an alternative to both the Aligarh Muslim University and the Dar ul-Ulum, Deoband, did not prove to live up to the dreams of its founders. Somewhat the same arguments are presented in Farhat HasanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper, which deals particularly with perceptions about madrasas in colonial India. It shows the impact of colonialism on the views of numerous Muslim ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ regarding madrasas, challenging the notion of a rigid separation between ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“religiousÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ knowledge in Islam. At the same time, Hasan says, it would be incorrect to regard the ulama as wholly opposed to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ knowledge, as is often imagined. What they resented was the tendency to conflate modernity with Western culture, which they saw as inevitably leading to irreligiousness. Thus, for instance, some of the leading elders of the Deoband madrasa allowed for their students to learn ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects after completing their basic religious degree, and even argued for the need for ulama to learn English, particularly for missionary purposes. The chain of madrasas that began being set up in the period of British rule, Hasan writes, was also intended to counter religious ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“fuzzinessÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, religious spaces and traditions that Muslims and people of other communities shared with each other, these being seen as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“un-IslamicÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. However, while these madrasas stressed a notion of a unified, essentialised Muslim community, they were, for the most part, associated with one or the other maslak or school of thought, and one of their principal purposes was to combat other, or what were seen as rival, forms of Islam. This inevitably led to increasing sectarianism, and a further fracturing of the wider Muslim community.
Another interesting aspect of the colonial impact on Muslim education, which Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri discusses, was the gradual replacement of Sufi hospices or khanqahs by madrasas as major centres of Islamic instruction in colonial India. This he traces to a variety of factors, including to Islamic reformist and colonial critiques of popular Sufism and to the expropriation of landed estates attached to Sufi shrines by the colonial state which undercut their economic viability. The transfer of the management of many of these shrines to government Waqf Boards further undermined the autonomy of the shrines and their traditional role as centres of learning.
Sayyed Najmul Raza RizviÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“s article examines the history of Ithna Ashari Shia religious education in Awadh, tracing it to the establishment of Shia rule in the area. He shows how royal patronage was crucial in sustaining a number of Shia madrasas in Lucknow and in other towns of the region, many of whose graduates then went on to take up various jobs in the royal court and in the administrative services. This tradition of learning was, however, seriously undermined when the British annexed Awadh and forcibly closed down numerous madrasas. Today, some Shia madrasas survive in Lucknow, and, unlike in the past, are attended mainly by students from poor or lower-middle class families. Some of them restrict themselves to the traditional curriculum, while others have included certain ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects or else have adjusted their timings to allow their students to attend private or state schools as well. Yet others have adopted the curriculum prescribed by the state-affiliated Arabic and Persian Board that makes provision for some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects as well. Another way in which Shia organisations in Lucknow have sought to respond to the growing demand for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education is by setting up or running madrasas and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools and colleges under the same management body, thereby facilitating the entry of madrasa graduates into the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education system.
Paul JacksonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper looks at the past and present of madrasas in Bihar, IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most poverty-stricken state and home to a sizeable Muslim population. He notes that a number of madrasas in Bihar are affiliated to the state-constituted Bihar Madrasa Board, which provides them with grants-in-aid for teachers for selected subjects. Yet, this model of state assistance to madrasas has not worked satisfactorily, and should serve as a warning to those who argue for more state intervention in order to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“reformÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ the madrasa system. In most cases of aided madrasas, funds from the state come late, if at all, sometimes taking more than two years for the money to be disbursed. The entire process is also racked with corruption and red-tape, for which Bihar is so notorious. Consequently, many madrasa teachers go for long periods without salaries, which, in any case, are pitiably low. Most madrasas have no funds for infrastructural development, appointing good teachers or introducing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects, even if they wanted to, as indeed many of them would ideally like to. In these madrasas as well as madrasas not affiliated to the Board, there is no evidence to suggest, Jackson says, any evidence of militant indoctrination or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terroristÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training being imparted to students, who come mainly from very poor families and for whom madrasa education is often the only available avenue of education because it is provided free. It also assures them some sort of employment as religious specialists. In fact, Jackson says, madrasa teachers often stress the importance of harmony between Muslims and people of other faiths, general moral values, the role of the ulama in IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s freedom struggle as well as the need for students to work for the welfare of the country.
In a similar vein, Patricia, Roger and Craig Jeffery discuss madrasas in rural Bijnore, a district with a large Muslim population in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Contesting the argument that Muslims are themselves wholly to blame for their educational marginalisation or that they are averse to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education, the authors point out that significant numbers of Muslim families choose to send their children to madrasas because of poverty, the Hinduistic ethos of government schools and the relative neglect by state educational authorities of Muslim localities. This problem has been particularly exacerbated as a consequence of privitisation, because of which state investement in Muslim education, already negligible, has been further reduced.
The authors write that there is no evidence to suggest that madrasas are engaged in promoting ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terrorismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or hostility between Muslims and others, as is often alleged. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“IndeedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, they say, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“madrasa staff often comment on the need for religious tolerance and on the variety of legitimate paths to spiritual understanding and moralityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Far from promoting ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ views, many madrasas organise events to commemorate IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Republic Day and Independence Day, where the duties and rights of citizens of India, Muslims and others, are stressed. A crucial point that the authors make is that the madrasas should not be seen as a radically different form of education, with absolutely no parallels with other systems of education that exist side-by-side in the same region. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Far from being hermetically sealed streams of formal educationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, they point out, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“schools and madrasas display numerous inter-linkages and similarities. Teachers in these and other schoolsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?government as well as government-aided and private schools managed by HindusÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?and madrasa teachers display overlapping and parallel educational philosophiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, as for instance in their stress on discipline and the importance paid to moral education and obedience. In fact, the authors go on, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Schools often display a more militaristic tone in their disciplinary regimes than madrasas, through the physical routines in the daily school assemblies, with children lined up in the school and performing exercises to a senior childÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s shouted instructions and the relentless beat of a huge drumÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Another point that the authors are at pains to stress is that the notion of madrasas and their ulama being relentlessly opposed to girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education is erroneous. In fact, they write, in many places girls outnumber boys in maktabs or mosque-schools, and recent years have witnessed the emergence of the number of girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ higher-level madrasas. These institutions are geared towards what the authors term as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“domesticated femininityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, training girls to be good mothers and wives in future, their future place being seen as within the home. Yet, even here there are fine nuances that should be recognised. Thus, the authors write of the urban ulama that while they display a variety of views on the quantum and level of education that girls should receive, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“most are keen to see girls receiving formal schooling even after adolescenceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Related to this is the point that the ulamaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s views on girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education is not that very different from that of many Hindu community leaders. Thus, they stress, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ[S]nipping away the explicitly Islamic aspects of the maulawisÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ [ulamaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s] views on girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education exposes parallels with the rationales of local Hindu and Muslim school teachers, who likewise emphasise the importance of educated mothers in extending the teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“civilisingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ role into the homeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?. This role is related to the notion that the ulama, being experts in certain texts and disciplines, are in a position of authority over other Muslims, who, therefore, are seen as being in need of the ulamaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s guidance. This ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“civilisingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ mission is not, of course, unique to the madrasa teachers, and is, in fact, something that they share with middle class urban dwellersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ views of the poor.
Madrasas have, in recent years, had a bad press, and are routinely described in lurid terms in the non-Muslim media. Marieke WinkelmannÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper examines Muslim reactions to recent media discourses in India regarding madrasas. She refers to fake intelligence reports designed specifically to malign madrasas as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“dens of terrorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ as feeding into Western and Hindu fascist discourses about Islam, and looks at Muslim defences of the madrasa system from charges of being associated with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terrorismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Partly as a response to ongoing media discourses, many madrasas have recognised the need for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“reformÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and the author presents examples of certain noted Indian madrasas that have made important efforts to introduce ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects in their curricula. At the same time, Winkelmann notes that most Indian madrasas are opposed to state offers of assistance for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, seeing these as insincere and motivated to dilute their autonomy and their Islamic identity. In any case, she says, government-run madrasas are known for their low standards because their teachers, being assured of a regular salary, do not generally take their duties seriously. Hence, the best hope for reform is from within, rather than by being imposed by the state or any other external agency.
Appealing for a shift in the way in which madrasas are often discussed today, in terms of whether or not they have any association with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terrorismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, Arshad Alam argues the case for understanding madrasas in the particular social contexts in which they are located. After making the point that the madrasas that he has visited have no association whatsoever with militancy, he argues that the largely ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste/class student profile of the madrasas is related to the fact that they provide free education and access to the Islamic scriptural tradition for these groups, which is a powerful symbolic asset in their quest for upward social mobility. At the same time, Alam argues, madrasas must be seen as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“hegemonic institutionsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, with one of their ideological functions being to maintain class relations within Muslim society, being largely silent on issues of class and caste dominance within the community, thereby reproducing the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Muslim elite agenda of identityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Alam argues for the need to interrogate this silence on internal divisions within the community for, as he puts it, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIslam in India cannot be carried on the tired shoulders of poor lower-caste Muslims, while the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“benefits of IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ continue to be cornered by privileged sections of the Muslim communities in IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?.
Yoginder SikandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article examines the diverse ways in which madrasa reform is imagined by a range of actors, including ulama, Muslim ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and Islamists. These views are related to the different ways in which the notion of Islamic knowledge is constructed, being presented as static and fixed but, in actual practice, being internally contested. The author notes that some ulama see no need for reform in the madrasa curriculum and argue that since the madrasas produced great scholars in the past they can continue to do so today and in the future by using the same curriculum. They regard the traditional curriculum as perfect and hence see no need to change or to learn from others. In a sense, this is related to their claim of being authoritative spokesmen of the faith, this resting on their mastery of certain texts. If these texts are altered or if the curriculum is expanded to include ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ disciplines their claims to authority might well be undermined. Others argue that if ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects are included it might lead their students astray, being trapped by the snares of the world.
However, Sikand suggests that the notion that the madrasas are wholly opposed to reform is erroneous. He highlights numerous cases of madrasas that have incorporated ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects into their curriculum. Of particular concern in this regard is the controlled ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ that the ulama argue for, and their point that it should not lead to the complete secularisation of the madrasas or turn them into general schools or dilute their specifically ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“religiousÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ character, because their particular function is the training of religious specialists. Hence, they insist, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“reformÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ should be such that would enable the ulama to perform their task as religious specialists in the contemporary context. There is no need, they stress, for specialised training in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects as then the burden on the students would be simply too great and they would be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“neither good for this world nor for the nextÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. At the same time, they stress that Muslim parents who want to educate their children in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects are free to send them to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools. Arguments for reform are also linked to the recognition of the need for the widening of career options of madrasa graduates, to counter anti-Islamic propaganda, to the need to develop a religious leadership that can help empower the community and to awareness of the fact that unless the ulama are aware of contemporary debates they may not be able to reach out to non-Muslims as well as to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ educated Muslims. The actual pace of this reform is, however, slow, and, besides inertia, it is also related to the poor financial conditions of most madrasas.
This book, bringing together diverse perspectives on IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s madrasas, is a major contribution to present debates on the subject. It strongly suggests the need to examine madrasas in terms different from which they are often seen, as simply in terms of their political roles. It marks an important shift in they way in which madrasas are often described, as simply religious institutions, by seeking to locate them in the social contexts in which they are located. The ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Post 9/11ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ tag attached to the subtitle of the book is, of course, unfortunate, and reflects the tendency of Western ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“scholarsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ [this book is the outcome of a conference organised by a conservative German foundation] to see the world through Western lenses, and to impose an event occurring in the West as a defining moment for the rest of the world. That, the unnecessary historical details that abound in certain articles and the considerable overlaps between several of the contributions detract from the merit of the book, but that is no reason why the book itself should not be recognised as a valuable effort to bring an element of seriousness into ongoing discussions about madrasas, which is still dominated by those who actually know little about them.
Table of Contents
Towards a Reform of the Indian Madrasa? An Introduction
Part I: Historical Perspectives
1. A Modernist View of Madrasa Education in Late Mughal India
Saiyid Naqi Husain Jafri
2. Madaris and the Challenges of Modernity in Colonial India
3. Madrasa and Khanaqah, or Madrasa in Khanaqah? Education and Sufi
Establishments in Northern India
Saiyid Zaheer Husain Jafri
4. Shi'a Madaris of Awadh: Historical Development and Present Situation
Syed Najmul Raza Rizvi
Part II: Regional Perspectives
5. The Nadwat al-'ulama': A Chief Patron of Madrasa Education
in India and a Turntable to the Arab World
6. Madrasa Education in Bihar
Paul Jackson, S. J.
7. Understanding Deoband Locally: Interrogating Madrasat diya' al-'ulum
8. Islamic Education in a Tamil Town: The Case of Kilakkarai
Part III: Current Developments
9. The First Madrasa: Learned Mawlawis and the Educated Mother
Patricia Jeffery, Roger Jeffery and Craig Jeffrey
10. Muslim Reactions to the Post 9/11 Media Discourse on the Indian Madaris
Mareike Jule Winkelmann
11. The Indian Madaris and the Agenda of Reforms
Part IV: A View from Within
12. The Introduction of Natural Sciences in Madrasa Education in India
Syed Abul Hashim Rizvi
Afterword: Dialogue and Cooperation with the Islamic World
About the Editors and Contributors
Name of the Book: Madrasa Education in India: Eleventh to Twenty First Century
Edited by: S.M.Azizuddin Husain
Publisher: Kanishka, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
South AsiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s madrasas, or Islamic schools, have come in for considerable discussion and debate in recent years. Much has been written on the madrasas, often by people who have little or no understanding of the subject. This book, a collection of essays, examines various aspects of madrasa education in India in a historical perspective.
In his introduction, Azizuddin Husain deals with the concept of knowledge in Islam, arguing that the notion of a rigid distinction between ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“sacredÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“worldlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ knowledge is foreign to the Islamic scriptural tradition. All forms of beneficial knowledge are considered to be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“IslamicallyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ legitimate, he says. This explains how early Muslim scholars studied both ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“religiousÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects as well as those that would now generally be considered as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and made remarkable strides in both. He then turns to Islamic education in medieval India, pointing out how while many Muslim rulers generously patronised scholarship, others sought to restrict it to the elites, mainly of foreign extraction. While Islam mandates learning for all, irrespective of caste, class and gender, these rulers sought to make it a close preserve of the ruling class. In turn, Azizuddin tells us, this was actively critiqued by numerous Sufis, including among them leading ulama. Azizuddin notes the development and flourishing of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“worldlyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ knowledge under the patronage of various Muslim rulers but also remarks on the fact that a significant section of the ulama sought to put a curb on new developments by arguing that there was no longer any scope for ijtihad or personal effort to develop new perspectives on a range of issues on which the previous ulama were believed to have arrived at some sort of consensus.
Broadly the same points are covered in Iqtidar Husain SiddiquiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper. Siddiqui also discusses the content of madrasa education in medieval India, showing that it was not restricted only to what are commonly seen today as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“religiousÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects. As the principal institution of education in medieval times, madrasa students were able to take to a wide range of careers, not just as religious specialists. Mansura Haider takes the argument further by discussing the impact on Indian madrasas of their counterparts in Central Asia, with which some of them had strong ties. In particular, she deals with the impact of the noted seventeenth century Iranian alim, Mir Fatehullah Shirazi, whose stress on the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“rationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ sciences exercised a particular influence on many Indian Muslim scholars. Partly as a reaction to the growing importance of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“rational sciencesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, Mujeeb Ashraf argues in his paper, late medieval India witnessed the emergence of ulama who stressed the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“revealedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ sciences, particularly the Hadith, traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. Ashraf discusses this in the context of the seventeenth century alim, Shah Abdur Rahim and the Madrasa-i Rahimiyah that he set up in Delhi, which went on, under his son Shah Waliullah and his descendants, to play a key role in moulding the shape of Islamic studies throughout much of the Indian subcontinent and even beyond.
The remaining articles in the book deal with madrasas in colonial and contemporary India. Nasim AkhtarÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper focuses on womenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s madrasas. Stressing that Islam mandates education for both men and women, the paper discusses the role of numerous women, particularly those associated with the Mughal ruling elite, in scholarship and patronage of learning. It then turns to the emergence of a number of girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas in contemporary India, examining their curriculum and pointing to their crucial role in promoting girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education and carving out new roles for women as religious authorities in their own right. Quite the same points are made in Talat AzizÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper.
Perhaps the most interesting article in the book is Mohammad SajjadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s piece titled ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Resisting Colonialism and Communalism: Madrasas in BiharÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Arguing against the view of madrasas as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, so central to right-wing Hindu discourse, he shows that numerous madrasas in Bihar were actively involved in IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s freedom struggle and, opposing both Hindu and Muslim communalism, demanded a united India with equal rights for all religious communities. In this regard he discusses the role of a charismatic alim from Bihar, Abul Mohasin Muhammad Sajjad (1880-1940), founder of the Imarat-i Shariah and one of the key actors in the formation of the Jamiat ul-ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Ulama-i Hind. Abul Mohasin played a leading role in mobilising the ulama as well as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ordinaryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Muslims in the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movements against the British. In 1937 he established the Muslim Independent Party, which was resolutely anti-imperialist and also took up the demands of BiharÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s oppressed peasantry. The Party advocated a united India, supporrted the Congress and opposed the Muslim League, while also insisting on adequate safeguards for Muslims. In the 1937 elections, the party won 15 of the 40 seats reserved for Muslims in Bihar, carving out a particularly strong base among the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Muslims of the province. Abul Muhasin also set up a number of madrasas among the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ castes and through the Hizbullah, an organisation that he founded, he sought to promote communal harmony between Muslims and Hindus in Bihar. Immediately after the Muslim LeagueÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s 1940 declaration, which paved the way for the launching of the Pakistan movement, Abul Muhasin came out with a carefully-worded statement denouning the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“two nationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ theory of the League, according to which the Hindus and Muslims of India were two completely different ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“nationsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Abul Muhasin insisted that IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Muslims, Hindus and others were members of the same nation and he appealed to Muslims to shun the Muslim League and to work for a united India based on a loose federation.
Masroor HashimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s piece looks at methods of teaching employed in many madrasas and advocates suitable reforms, a subject that has been written about extensively before. The essay by Qamaruddin, published elsewhere previously, sheds light on the little noticed reforms already underway in many madrasas in India. The essay argues that the vast majority of Indian madrasa teachers do indeed want that their students learn at least a modicum of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects, without this diluting the essentially religious character of the madrasas. This effectively challenges the stereotypical notion of madrasas as wholly impervious to change.
At a time when misunderstanding about madrasas abounds, almost any book written by well-meaning scholars is to be welcomed, and hence this book deserves a careful reading if only for that reason. Several of the essays are marred by clumsy use of language. Numerous essays simply repeat what other essays also included in the book argue. Much of what many of the contributors have to say has been said before by other scholars, and, in that sense, the book does not add substantially new to the subject. Important issues related to the madrasas in contemporary India, such as allegations about madrasas and efforts of the ulama to counter the propaganda against the madrasas as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“dens of terrorismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, new experiments underway to combine ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“IslamicÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“seclarÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education within and without the madrasas, policies of the state vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis the madrasas, the role of madrasas in preserving and promoting Islamic identity as well as in sustaining inter-sectarian rivalries and so on, have been left out, making the book, overall, much more concerned about the past than the present. This calls for more empirically grounded studies of madrasas in contemporary India in order to shift the debate from the historical legacy of the madrasas to the question of their multiple roles today.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œModernisation of Muslim Education in IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
Publisher: Adhyayan Publishers, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ModernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of madrasas is a much-debated topic today. State authorities, the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama as well as Muslim activists and intellectuals have different understandings of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas. This book is a major contribution to the ongoing debate on the subject, based on a study of selected madrasas in Uttar Pradesh that are currently receiving some sort of financial support from the Government of India under the Madrasa Modernisation Scheme. In Uttar Pradesh there are 119 such madrasas, and the study is based on a sample of 30 of these.
The book begins with a general overview of madrasas in India, looking at such features as their history, recent growth, types and levels, background of students and teachers, curricula, sources of income and heads of expenditure and perceptions of reforms needed in the system. The author shows that many madrasas do, indeed, wish to reform, while preserving their religious core intact, but notes that some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama are opposed to this. He regards this opposition as dangerous and counter-productive, and as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“leading to a kind of self-imposed isolationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and social exclusion.
While appreciating the madrasasÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ role in preserving and promoting Muslim identity and the education of poor Muslims in the face of hostile Hindutva forces, Fahimuddin sees that the insistence of some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama that Muslims stay away from modern education is dangerous for the Muslims themselves. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“The majority of Muslims, being poorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, he says, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“were swayed by the propaganda of the hardline ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama of danger to Islam and thought to [sic.] protect the faith by advocating the irrelevance of mainstream education and the need of [sic.] madrasa education for Muslims to protect IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Fahimuddin regards the opposition of some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama to madrasa modernization as reflecting what he says is lack of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“serious thoughtÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ given by them to the issue. He argues that such ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama have ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“misunderstood the meaning, scope and purpose of such modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and have failed to learn from the example of past Indian and foreign Muslim reformists. They need to be convinced, he says, that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ does not mean the complete replacement of the present syllabus with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects. At the same time, Fahimuddin calls for madrasas to be more open and receptive to people of other faiths, and in this regard speaks of some madrass in Bihar that also have Hindu students. Arguing against the stern exclusivity many madrasas seek to reinforce, he argues that madrasas ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“should abandon the fixed notion that nothing is to be taken from non-believers and that even the good of non-Muslims is to be avoided. Muslims need to adopt, modify and temper with pragmatism their own ideas as well as their knowledge of othersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Another worrisome development that the author notes is that from the 1970s onwards money from Gulf sources has been used to set up madrasas in India that propagate an extremely literalist understanding of Islam and that some ulama have set up such madrasas simply to attract foreign money. He sees what he regards as the rapid growth of lower-level madrasas in many parts of the country as worrisome because, as he puts it, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“they are assuming the place of mainstream education among MuslimsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Further, he says, Muslims do not require the vast number of religious functionaries that these madrasas churn out every year. It is these smaller madrasas that are in particular need of reform, he argues, because, in contrast to the big specialised madrasas like Deoband and Nadwa, they cater to the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of Muslim children. At the same time, Fahimuddin vehemently denounces the charge of Indian madrasas being training centres for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terroristsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and points to the fact that the state authorities have, till date, not been able to identify a single madrasa (in contrast, one must add, to scores of schools and shakhas run by Hindutva fascist groups) providing armed training to their students or openly preaching violence against other communities.
The book then profiles 30 madrasas that the author has surveyed, and enumerates their numerous problems. Most of the students come from poor families and, owing particularly to poverty, they are characterized by a high drop-out rate. Many of the surveyed madrasas have poor infrastructural facilities. Most have at least a small library, but few have any books on any non-religious subjects. Teachers, in general, are very poorly paid. Only 23% of the teachers have an annual salary of Rs.40,000 and above. Most teachers have received no teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training whatsoever. Interestingly, many younger teachers and most students are in favour of modernization of the curriculum, including the introduction of vocational training. Some of them want modern subjects to be introduced in such a way in the syllabus that after a few years of study children in madrasas can choose to join a regular school or else carry on in the madrasa to acquire higher religious knowledge.
As far as the governmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s madrasa modernization scheme is concerned, the author argues that the burden on the government-paid teacher teaching modern subjects (mathematics, science, English and Hindi)under the scheme is simply too much to handle, resulting in poor teaching standards. The teacherÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s salary (Rs. 600 per month for part-time teachers and Rs. 2200 per month for full-time teachers) is woefully inadequate. The one-time grant of Rs. 4000 per madrasa for buying books and science and mathematics kits is also insufficient. Although the examinations for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects taught by these government-paid teachers are held internally by the madrasas themselves, the author feels that the progress that the students made has been reasonably good. Hence, he calls for the expansion of the scheme to include more madrasas as well as to increase the funds allotted to each madrasa participating in the scheme, including for teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ salaries. He also suggests that all government schemes being implemented in government schools, including the mid-day meal scheme, various scholarship schemes and infrastructural development projects, be extended to madrasas as well. For this purpose he suggests the possibility of the UP Dini Talimi Council, which presently runs hundreds of maktabs in Uttar Pradesh, to be appointed by the state as a nodal agency to channelise state grants to madrasas.
This suggestion, however, ignores the Constitutional ban on state financing of religious educational institutions, a prohibition that Fahimuddin appears unaware of. Similarly, some of his other suggestions are equally utopian and impractical. Thus, for instance, he appeals for madrasa education ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“to be rejuvenated in such a form that it should not remain reserved for Muslims alone but Hindu, Sikh and Christian children may also study in madrasas. The perception that madrasas are religious institutions is to be given a back-stageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. This proposal is unlikely to enthuse the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama, as, indeed, non-Muslim parents as well, both of whom see madrasas as essentially an Islamic seminaries intended for producing Muslim clerics. Similarly, FahimuddinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s proposal that state governments ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“bring a legislation to take over all the madrasas offering education to the intermediate level and prescribe the curriculum of the [sic.] mainstream educationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is equally disastrous. It would effectively deny Muslims their Constitutional right to administer educational institutions of their choice and is bound to be vehemently opposed not just by the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama but by the vast majority of the Muslim community as well for threatening to turn madrasas into an appendage of the state and to secularise them completely.
FahimuddinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s suggestion that the state play a more pro-active role in modernizing the madrasa curriculum appears somewhat more sensible, although even this is unrealistic and even Constitutionally void. He insists that the state should institute a committee of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“enlightenedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“liberalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Muslim intellectuals and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ulama who should suggest a revised curriculum for higher madrasas and make it binding on them to register with state government-approved madrasa boards and to adopt the new curriculum. In his enthusiasm for madrasa modernization, the fact that the state cannot force any educational institution to accept a particular syllabus or be affiliated with a particular board or body completely escapes the author.
Yet, FahimuddinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s earnest appeal to madrasas to modernize is well taken and so is his trenchant critique of what he calls ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“vocal Muslim ideologistsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ who are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“burdened with the legacy of Islamic fundamentalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Their efforts to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“confront social realitiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, he says, are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“generally short-sightedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lack long-term perspectiveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“refuse to see the compelling needÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ for Muslims to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“moderniseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Because of this, he says the tens of thousands of students studying in the madrasas are faced with a bleak future, to which the opponents of madrasa modernization appear indifferent. Hence, Fahimuddin rightly concludes, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“their ideology is as dangerous as Hindu communalism and only contributes to further Muslim marginalisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Mushirul Hasan, "Muslims in Secular India: Problems and Prospects in Education", New Delhi: Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, 2003.
This slim booklet provides a general overview of Muslim education in contemporary India. The author notes the paucity of research on the actual living conditions, including state of education, among the Indian Muslims. State authorities, he says, do not publish data on Muslims, on ostensible ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“politicalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ grounds, while Muslim institutions, for their part, have hardly done any field-based surveys. In this regard, the author points to both ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“intellectual lethargyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of sections of the Indian bureaucracy and political class as well as their resistance to accepting ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“religious minoritiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ as a distinct category, stemming from the fear that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“acquiescence in legitimizing the Muslim minority as a separate entityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ would somehow contravene the notion of an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“exclusive Indian nationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. This fear the author dismisses as untenable since constitutional guarantees already exist for religious minorities as well as for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the Other Backward Classes.
Muslim educational backwardness, Hasan says, is largely a product of Muslim poverty and neglect by the state. The vast majority of the Indian Muslims work as landless labourers, small or marginal peasants, artisans, petty shopkeepers and the like. More than half the urban Muslim population lives below the poverty line, and, as compared to Hindus, proportionately a considerably higher number of Muslims are self-employed. Given their structural location in the economy and the perception of discrimination, relatively few Muslims can afford or aspire to higher education. To add to this is the widespread opposition among many Muslims to higher education among Muslim girls, who are among the least educated sections of Indian society. It is widely believed that higher education would diminish girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ chances of getting good husbands, given the relative paucity of Muslim men with higher education, and the fact that less educated men are generally reluctant to marry women who are better educated than them. Another major cause for Muslim educational backwardness, particularly in north India, where most Muslims live, are the systematic discriminatory policies of the state concerning Urdu. Since Urdu is no longer taught in most state schools and since the language has lost its earlier organic connection with the economy, it remains largely confined to madrasas, which is one reason why many Muslim families prefer to send their children to madrasas than to state schools.
Given the pathetic state of Muslim education in India, the author stresses the need for affirmative action policies on the part of the state aimed at promoting education in the community. Short of reservations for all Muslims, which might prove to be too politically volatile at this particular juncture, the author calls for the state to extend the various development projects and schemes that it has launched for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes to economically deprived sections among the Muslims as well. Hasan notes that the state has, from time to time, announced various schemes for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“minority developmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ but laments that there has been no effective monitoring of their actual implementation. No one seems to know who the beneficiaries of the schemes are. Much of the funds released for these projects have remained unutilized; there is little co-ordination between the Union and state government bodies responsible for implementing them; the schemes are not properly advertised; and there is an absence of interaction with community leaders about them.
The author also calls for new and more contextually relevant understandings of Islam and Islamic education for Muslims to take the question of education more seriously. He approvingly quotes Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Aligarh movement, who appealed for Muslims to modernize their understanding of Islam, believing that the confirmed facts of science could not be opposed to Islam as he understood it. This urgent task, Hasan believes, is fraught with numerous hurdles, not least being the opposition that it is bound to face from sections of the ulama. In this regard he quotes Muhammad Ibrahim, Chairman of the MinoritiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Commission of Madhya Pradesh, who argues that many ulama have a vested interest in preserving the madrasas as their strongholds. Many ulama, he says, have little or no familiarity with the world around them, excel in sectarian controversies and see ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“everyone else as ignorant, irreligious and atheisticÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In this regard, Hasan sees the suspicion with which many ulama have greeted state proposals for madrasa ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ as stemming, in part, from the fear that this might effectively challenge their monopoly and provide the state with an excuse to interfere in their functioning, in particular in monitoring the funds that they garner from the public.
While this might well be true, it reflects a rather naÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¯ve approach to the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s overall policy towards the madrasas, which reflects an understanding that the madrasas need to be brought in line with the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, which is defined in essentiallyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ upperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Hindu terms. Hasan also ignores the Hindutva propaganda against the madrasas, which is also reflected in official pronouncements emanating from top bureaucrats and government officials with an undisguised sympathy for Hindutva-brand ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“nationalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Yet, Hasan also notes with appreciation that a few ulama do support modern education and, in several states, have affiliated themselves with state-approved madrasa education boards and, accordingly, have introduced some basic modern subjects in their curricula. He is appreciative of the efforts of some ulama to bridge the gap between the traditional and modern systems of education, and insists on the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“desperate need of a constructive and bold humanism that can restate and reinterpret Islamic educational ideas in the contemporary social and cultural environmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. He pleads for what he calls ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“a fundamental reconstruction of Muslim educational thoughtÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Although Hasan appears critical of the refusal on the part of many ulama to brook any reforms in the madrasa system, he insists that the rhetoric about madrasas as training grounds for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“terroristsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is misplaced and erroneous. Despite being ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“conservativeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, they are, Hasan says, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“opposed to fundamentalismÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. What they offer their students, he says, may be the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“fulfillment of desires for individual empowerment, transcendent meaning and social morality that do not engage directly with national or global politics at allÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. The growth in the numbers of madrasas in recent years, he says, is not because of any conspiracy, as their detractors allege, but, rather, because the state has not done enough to promote modern education as well as economic mobility among Muslims. Consequently, poor Muslims, who cannot afford to send their children to school, choose to send them to madrasas instead, where they receive free education, boarding and lodging. Given the role that madrasas are playing in providing education to large numbers of Muslims, particularly from poor families, Hasan appeals for the state to treat the madrasas with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“sympathy and understanding, rather than with suspicion and disdainÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In this way, the state could work along with the madrasas to promote mutually agreed reforms in their curriculum and teaching methods.
Hasan concludes this essay by reiterating his appeal for the state to take a more pro-active role in promoting modern education and economic development among Muslims. He also appeals for Muslim community leaders to take the question of education with the seriousness that it deserves. He calls for the setting up of a Muslim Educational Board to help promote both reforms in modern schools and madrasas, and suggests that Sufi shrines and Waqf Boards, with the vast money at their disposal, also set up modern educational institutions catering to the poor among the community.
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"Re-Starting Dropout Muslim Girls in Education",
Author: Ishtiaque Danish,
report on project sponsored by UNICEF, Lucknow, 2004, pp.94).
Reviewed by Yoginder Sikand
Madrasas play an important role in providing literacy and basic education to millions of Muslim children in India. Yet, Ishtiaq Danish of the Hamdard University, New Delhi, argues in this report, there is much scope for improvement in this regard.
This report is based on a survey conducted in three districts of Uttar Pradesh that have a fairly high Muslim population, characterized by high rates of illiteracy and widespread poverty: Siddharthnagar, Barabanki and Moradabad. A total of 48 madrasas and 6 government schools were surveyed and 216 madrasa teachers, 15 government primary school teachers, and several students in schools and madrasas and their parents were interviewed for this study.
In the Moradabad district it was found that 42.35% of parents of students in madrasas and government schools were illiterate, 12.94% had acquired secondary education and only 1.76% were madrasa graduates. Their average annual income was Rs. 24,535. Of the 170 parents, only 4 were government employees. 10.58% were unemployed, 15.85% were daily wage earners, 42.35% were engaged in small income generation activities and 27.64% were artisans. In other words, the vast majority of students studying in madrasas and government come from economically deprived backgrounds.
Of the 1049 children of these parents, only 721were studying in madrasas or schools. Of these 721, 55% were boys and 45% girls. 66.71% were studying in maktabs and madrasas and 33.28% in government schools. Of the madrasa/maktab students, 55% were boys and 45% girls.
The survey found that most parents (78.23%) were not averse to having their daughters study in co-educational schools till the fifth grade. The overwhelming majority of the parents (94.1%) are in favour of regular revision of the madrasa syllabus, 97.64% want madrasas to also provide some technical or professional education, 95.30% favour inclusion of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects in the syllabus, 95.8% favour state assistance to madrasas, and 91.76% believed that financial incentives would help prevent high drop-out rates among girl students.
59.74% of the madrasa teachers believe that the teaching of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects in the madrasas is inadequate and 35% complain that the curriculum is not revised regularly. The overwhelming majority of the teachers are in favour of the inclusion of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects, and 79% advocate the setting up of an All-India Madrasa Board. 88% support a common syllabus for all madrasas in order to improve their performance, and all teachers are in favour of teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training in and use of modern teaching methods.
The bulk of the income of the madrasas was found to be spent on staff salaries, and only a few madrasas spent money on infrastructural development and studentsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ welfare. Only 16.67% claimed to provide scholarships to some students, although they declined to reveal the amount given to the researcher. It appears, the report says, that there is no fixed amount of scholarship, and that these are perhaps given to cover the tuition fee or mess charges of some students.
The madrasas were found to have a high drop-out rate, but it proved to be difficult to get records about this. Madrasas that receive full or partial state-funding do maintain such records but the others do not. It is estimated that only 16.92% of the boys and 18.51% of the girls enrolled in the madrasa completed their education till the fifth grade.
In Barabanki district the survey covered 16 madrasas, both state-aided as well as private. The profile of the parents of the children appears similar to that of the case of Moradabad. Of the 1168 children, 802 are studying in madrasas or government schools. Of these 77.30% study in madrasas and 22.70% in government schools. 53% of the madrasa students are boys and 22.7% girls.
All the madrasa teachers desire regular revision of curriculum, the introduction of professional education in madrasas and the use of new teaching methods. 87% want the inclusion of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subjects in the syllabus and 86% are not opposed to co-education till the fifth grade.
41% of the madrasas claimed to provide scholarships to students, but they did not divulge how many students received such assistance. It is estimated, however, that the amount given to selected students is a meagre Rs.300 per year. The madrasas are characterized by a
high drop-out rate. Only 20.68% boys and 20% girls enrolled in the madrasas carry on with their education till the fifth grade. The high rate of enrolment in the primary classes suggests that parents are enthusiastic about educating their children, but the high drop-out rate shows that poverty and lack of good schooling facilities compel them to withdraw their children from madrasas/schools by the fifth grade. In other words, the report suggests, financial assistance by the state as well as Muslim community organizations can help reduce the drop-out rate.
The family background of students studying in madrasas surveyed in Siddharthnagar district is similar to that in the case of the two other districts. The suggestions they and the madrasa teachers made for improving and modernizing the madrasas are also roughly the same. Only one of the 15 madrasas surveyed provides free books to its students but it did not have details as to the number of students who actually benefit from this. No madrasa was found to provide student scholarships, and none received any state assistance.
The report suggests that, despite their obvious limitations, madrasas are playing a key role in promoting education among Muslims, especially those from poor families, and in areas where state educational provision is either non-existent or in a very bad shape. Several madrasas teach basic Hindi, English and mathematics, in addition to religious studies, and, hence, are obviously not averse to modern subjects. While most teachers desired better teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training facilities, it was found that the managers of the madrasas were not very keen about this. Most teachers were found to be in favour of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernizationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of the madrasas without diluting their religious character. Many of them also wished to acquire a degree from a university, possibly through the open university system, and also supported the idea of madrasa students acquiring such degrees. The report argues that the dedication of the teachers, their commitment to the welfare of the community and their openness to modernization have, however, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“not been capitalized uponÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. It was also found that while the majority of the madrasa teachers claimed that their curriculum has been revised, little has actually been done in this regard.
The survey discovered that although most parents are eager to provide a basic education to their girl children, religious as well as secular, they are unable to educate them further for various reasons: poverty, opposition to co-education and reluctance to send their girls outside the locality for education. In other words, economic conditions, rather than religion per se, are mainly responsible for the low educational status of Muslim girls. Many of them argued that if girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools, staffed by women teachers, were set up in their localities and if they
were provided with scholarships or other such incentives the high drop-out rates of female students would greatly reduce.
The study concludes with a list of suggestions, including recognition of madrasa certificates by the state to enable their students to join regular schools; making the Sarva Shiksha Scheme more pro-active in its involvement with madrasas; including provision of mid-day meals, scholarships, uniforms, para-teachers and schemes for physically challenged students; arranging for vocational training schemes in madrasas; facilitating local literate Muslim women to join anganwadis or infant-care centres and encouraging them to teach at least part-time in girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ madrasas; encouraging madrasas to appoint more lady teachers; improving infrastructural facilities in madrasas, especially to meet specific needs of girl students, particularly separate toilets; encouraging local community, including religious, leaders to promote girlsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education; and upgrading madrasa teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ skills and encouraging them as well as students in higher-level classes to enrol in courses offered by the National Open School and various open universities.
Name of the Book: AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Sanjhi Sanskriti, Sanjhi Virasat [Hindi]
(ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Ayodhya: Shared Culture and TraditionsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢)
Author: Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Publisher: Books for Change, New Delhi
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Ayodhya, which literally means ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“a place free of warÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, is today a veritable battle-field. Hindu supremacist forces have used the Ayodhya issue to unleash a trail of terror and bloodshed, resulting in the tragic loss of life of thousands of people, mainly Muslims, and causing a sharp deterioration of inter-communal relations in India. According to Hindutva ideologues, Ayodhya is a Hindu town and must be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“cleansedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of all Muslim presence. Yet, as Vidya Bhushan Rawat shows in this remarkable book, Ayodhya is not a holy place only of the Hindus. Rather, for centuries it has been home to a variety of non-Hindu traditions, some of which predate the presence of Brahminical Hinduism in the region.
According to available evidence, Rawat says, Ayodhya was for long a Buddhist centre. The seventh century Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang noted the presence of several Buddhist temples in the town, but by this time Buddhism, the religion mainly of the oppressed castes, was rapidly declining in the face of Brahminical revivalism. Rawat tells us of how numerous Buddhist temples in Ayodhya were forcibly taken over by the Brahmins and turned into Hindu shrines, some of which, such as the Dant Dhawan Mandir, still stand today. In addition to its Buddhist link, Ayodhya also has a Sikh and Jain connection. A gurudwara in the town commemorates the visit to the town of Guru Nanak, and five Jain tirthankaras are also said to have been born in the town. Likewise, the region of Awadh, of which Ayodhya was a part, was also a great centre of the Kabirpanthis, followers of Muslim weaver-saint Kabir, who was bitterly critical of the Brahminical religion as well as of the legalist approach of the Muslim ulama. In short, Rawat argues, the notion that Ayodhya has always been a principal center of Brahminical Hinduism, so central to contemporary Hindutva discourse, is grossly erroneous. Buddhism, Jaininsm, Sikhism and the Kabirpanth have all been fiercely opposed to Brahminical hegemony and their association with Ayodhya points to the significant presence of anti-Brahminical movements in the region.
Ayodhya has also been a leading centre of Muslim Sufis, Rawat writes. He tells us of the popular belief of Ayodhya being the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Khurd MeccaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“little MeccaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, owing to the number of Sufis who are buried in the town, many of whom arrived there much before the Mughal Emperor Babur, who Hindutva ideologues claim was responsible for constructing a mosque in the town, allegedly on the ruins of a temple. Local lore has it that the prophets Noah and Sheth are buried in the town. In addition are the literally dozens of Sufi saints whose names Rawat provides. Many of their shrines or dargahs were destroyed in 1992 by Hindutva terrorists along with the Babri Masjid and numerous other ancient mosques in Ayodhya. Yet, Rawat says, even today large numbers of Hindus visit these shrines, revering the buried Sufi saints as men of God and as powerful beings capable of providing succour and help. Rawat mentions one such shrine as being looked after by a Hindu, and he quotes a Hindu woman who regularly visits a dargah as saying that the Sufi buried there ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“is no less than any RamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
For numerous Dalits, the dargahs provide a sharp contrast to the Brahminical temples, where they face routine discrimination. A Dalit respondent tells Rawat that the current Hindutva wave is the latest phase of Brahminism, a conspiracy to strengthen the caste system and further strengthen Brahminical hegemony. Understandably, then, Rawat says, the free access that the dargahs provide to people of all castes, Dalits included, and the egalitarian message of the Sufis, exercise, as they have historically, a special appeal for the oppressed castes, many of whom continue to visit AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s dargahs in large numbers.
Rawat provides other such instances of cross-community interaction to press his point that the Hindutva claim of Ayodhya being a purely Hindu town is erroneous and to counter the Hindutva agenda of pitting Hindus against Muslims. Thus, he says, in Ayodhya Muslim artisans sell flowers to people visiting temples and manufacture wooden sandals that are used by some pilgrims and sadhus. In 1992, when the Babri Masjid was torn down by Hindutva terrorists, and more than 250 houses and shops belonging to local Muslims were burnt down and 13 local Muslims were done to death, some Hindus and Dalits saved Muslim lives. In AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s twin town of Faizabad, the Lal Begis, a sweeper community, continue to maintain a liminal identity, not quite Muslim but not quite Hindu either, but somewhat in between. And, as in Ayodhya, large numbers of Hindus flock to the Sufi shrines in Faizabad despite the relentless anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Hindutva brigade.
Rawat links this to AyodhyaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rich cultural past, which witnessed a remarkable cultural synthesis under the Muslim Nawabs of Awadh. Several temples in the town, he writes, are built on land granted by the Nawabs, under whose reign there is no record of any major Hindu-Muslim conflict. Rawat refers to Tulsidas, author of the Hindi Ramcharitramanas, who wrote his work while living in a mosque in Ayodhya, probably because he was not allowed by the Brahmins to live in a temple because he dared to defy the strict rule of not sharing their religious scriptures with the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ castes. Closer to our times, Rawat says, other charismatic figures in and around Ayodhya played a key role in the struggle against British imperialism and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“upperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste hegemony, bringing together people of diverse faiths. These included Baba Ramdas, Acharya Narendradev, Ram Manohar Lohia and Ashfaqullah Khan.
In the struggle for social justice and against Hindutva fascism, the little-known aspects of history and the invisibilised voices such as those that Rawat has recorded urgently need to be highlighted. HindutvaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mythical history must be countered with the histories of these dissenting voices and traditions that defy power and authority and articulate a humanitarian tradition that goes beyond narrowly inscribed boundaries of caste and religion.
Book Name: Hazrat Ameer-e-Shariat
Author: Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi (Ed.)
Year : 2004
Publisher: Farid Book Depot, New Delhi
Reviewer : Mohammed Ayub Khan
Maulana Minnatullah Rehmani was arguably the tallest leader of the Muslim Personal Law movement in India. He was instrumental in forging a coalition of diverse Muslim groups and sects in combating the planned imposition of Uniform Civil Code and other encroachments on personal laws. Hazrat Ameer-e-ShariatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Naqoosh wa Tasrat is a compilation of seventy four articles on the Maulana Rehmani written by those who knew him well and edited by the prolific author and historian Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi of Delhi Ki Tareekhi Masajid fame.
Maulana Minatullah inherited his scholarship, piety, patriotism and sincerity from his illustrious father Maulana Muhammad Ali Mungeri. He completed his education at Hyderabad (the book doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t mention the name of the institution), Nadwatul Ulema and Darul Uloom Deoband. While still a student he took part in protests against the British and for a time was jailed in Saharanpur. Matching his activism with literary and historical research he penned two books on the ill effects of British colonialism on Indian economy and the educational sector. He took part in active politics and was elected to the Bihar Assembly on the ticket of Maulana Abul Mohasin SajjadÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Muslim Independent Party. As a member of the legislature he spearheaded the movement for the implementation of Urdu in government offices and campaigned for the abolishment of the agricultural tax on Islamic endowments.
He became the Sajjada of Khankha-e-Rehmani in Munger in 1942 and set about reconstructing its facilities which have been damaged in an earthquake. Under his leadership the Khankha-Rehmani became an institution providing all round services to the community including health care, education and vocational training apart from its primary objective of offering spiritual cleansing of the seekers of the path of tassawwuf.
A true nationalist he opposed the two nation theory and dubbed those Indian Muslims who migrated to Pakistan as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmafroreen (runaways). This did not deter him from criticizing the excesses of the Congress party and he took them to task whenever he saw an injustice being committed. In the post-partition era he sought consolidation of the Indian Muslims in protecting their faith and identity through institutions and organizations like Imarat-e-Shariat, Mushawarat and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. In the changed circumstances he counseled self-reliance and advised them to shun the fear of death . Expounding on the mission of the Imarat-e-Shariat he wrote that it is an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ institution of Muslims belonging to all schools of thought and tendencies whose aim is to unite Muslims on the basis of Kalima.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? Despite his strong views the Maulana always accommodated diverse sects within Islam and was widely respected among all groups. It is no wonder that the first edition of this book was released at the hands of renowned Shiah Alim Maulana Kalbe-Jawwad. The Imarat-e-ShariahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s alternative dispute resolution on Shariah laws has been widely praised for its exemplary services in the timely settling of disputes within the Muslim community.
He fought tooth and nail the forced sterilization policy of Sanjay Gandhi and other intrusions on Shariah laws like the Shah Bano case and the imposition of tax on awqaf.
Maulana Rehmani is most remembered for his fearless articulation on issues of Muslim interest like the Bangladesh war, minority character of Aligarh Muslim University and the Babri Masjid. Shahid Ram Nagri, editor of Naqib, writes that in 1990 Maulana Rehmani met the then Prime Minister Chandrashekhar to present a memorandum on the Babri Masjid dispute. When told about the attempts of extremist forces to fan the flames of communalism, the Prime Minister replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt seems that everyone has drunk water from a well contaminated with Bhang. Everyone seems to have turned insane.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? At this outburst the Maulana replied that the government is not drunk and that it should carry out its responsibilities . Receiving this curt reply Chandrasekhar calmed down and assured the delegation that Babri Masjid structure will be preserved at all costs.
Another interesting incident relating to the Babri Masjid is narrated by Maulana Abdul Karim Parikh. He writes that Maulana Rehmani had several Jinns in his circle of bayt. Maulana Parikh once wrote him a letter asking him to settle the Babri Masjid dispute once and for all by ordering one of his disciple Jinns to climb over the masjid and give the azan so that the illegal occupiers flee and vacate the place. Instead of giving a direct reply Maulana Rehmani narrated an incident from the life of Maulana Madani who also reportedly had a large following among the Jinns. Maulana Madani served as a teacher in Sylhet for a period of time. There one Bengali alim was also a teacher who had two Jinns as his disciples. When the Alim died the two taught his sons from behind a curtain. When Maulana Madani learned of this he sought a meeting in which he urged them to join the freedom struggle to overthrow the British. The Jinns expressed surprised at this quaint proposition from the Maulana and replied, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ There will be total chaos if we Jinns begin actively participating in the affairs of the humans. Human beings should themselves continue the struggle without relying on any help from the Jinn.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â?
A man of action Maulana Rehmani was known for his superior organizational skills which were evident in the extensive relief he undertook whenever there were natural and man made disasters. Conscious of the importance of modern education he built regular schools, hospitals and vocational training centers as part of the vast network of the Imarat-e-Shariah. (Recently the United Nations had praised the Imarat for its active participation in the mission to eradicate polio. ) A primary school also operates in the buildings of Imarat-e-Shariat. Once when the school was closed for holidays the Maulana received a notification for a small scholarship for meritorious students who pass an exam. He immediately sent for a bright student who had gone for vacations to his native village which was at a considerable distance. The amount to fetch the student was much more than the total scholarship. When questioned about this the Maulana replied that the amount of the scholarship is meager but it is priceless when it comes to boosting the morale of the young student who may well go on to be an engineer, doctor, professional as a result if it.
The article on the MaulanaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s stand against family planning by Prof.Altaf Ahmed Azmi discusses his views in considerable detail. He considered family planning to be a sign of thanklessness and lack of trust in GodÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s will. Noted critic Shamsur Rahman FaruquiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHazrat Ameer-e-Shariat Ka Safar NamaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? discussess the literary merits of his 1964 travelogue of Egypt where he was invited by the government. Other noteworthy articles in this collection include those of Dr.A.R.Kidwai, Prof.Nisar Ahmed Farooqui, Prof.Khalique Ahmed Nizami, Khwaja Hasan Sani Nizami, Maulana Akhlaque Hussain Qasmi, and Shahid Siddiqui.
Hazrat Ameer-e-ShariatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Naqoosh wa Tasrat offers an insight, through the prism of his contemporaries, into the life of a selfless mass leader who was also an intellectual, a scholar, a jurist and a freedom fighter. It is regrettable that one does not find a leader of the stature of Maulana Rehmani among Indian Muslims today.
Name of the Book: Temple Destruction and Muslim States in Medieval India
Author: Richard M. Eaton,
Publisher: Hope India, Gurgaon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Central to the diverse memories of Hindus and Muslims in India about the history of Hindu-Muslim relations are incidents or claims of the destruction of Hindu temples by Muslim rulers. These memories are a defining element in the construction of contemporary communal identities. Some Muslims see medieval Muslims Sultans who are said to have destroyed temples as valiant heroes who struggled against Brahminism, idolatry and polytheism. For many Hindus, these very kings are the epitome of evil and godlessness.
The theme of the iconoclast Muslim Sultan is routinely put to use for political mobilization by communal forces, as so tragically illustrated in the case of the Babri Masjid controversy, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. Not content with that, Hindutva forces are on record as declaring that they aim at destroying or capturing some 30,000 mosques and Muslim shrines, which, they claim, were built on the sites of Hindu temples allegedly destroyed by Muslim rulers. Hindutva literature is replete with exhortations to Hindus to avenge the misdeeds, both real and imaginary, of medieval Muslim kings, including destruction of temples. This propaganda and the communal mobilization that it has provoked have resulted in a sharp deterioration of inter-communal relations in recent years.
That some Muslim kings did indeed destroy certain Hindu temples is an undeniable fact, which even most Muslims familiar with medieval history would readily concede. However, as this remarkable book by the noted historian Richard Eaton points out, extreme caution needs to be exercised in accepting the claims of medieval historians as well as in interpreting past events in terms of todayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s categories. Failure to do this, he says, has resulted in the construction of the image of all Muslims as allegedly fired by an irrepressible hatred of Hindus, a gross distortion of actual history.
The notion of the Muslim Sultan as temple-breaker, Eaton says, derives essentially from history texts written by British colonial administrators, who, in turn, drew upon Persian chronicles by Muslim historians attached to the courts of various Indian Muslim rulers. Eaton argues that British colonial historians were at pains to project the image of Muslim rulers as wholly oppressive and anti-Hindu, in order to present British rule as enlightened and civilized and thereby enlist Hindu support. For this they carefully selected from the earlier Persian chronicles those reports that glorified various Muslim Sultans as destroyers of temples and presented these as proof that Hindus and Muslims could not possibly live peacefully with each other without the presence of the British to rule over them to prevent them from massacring each other. Although some of these reports quoted in British texts were true, many others were simply the figment of the imagination of court chroniclers anxious to present their royal patrons as great champions of Islamic orthodoxy even if in actual fact these rulers were lax Muslims.
Dealing with actual instances of temple-breaking by Muslim rulers, Eaton appeals for a more nuanced approach, arguing that in most cases these occurred not simply or mainly because of religious zeal. Thus, the raids on temples by the eleventh century Mahmud Ghaznavi must be seen as motivated, at least in part, by the desire for loot, since the temples he destroyed were richly endowed with gold and jewels, which he used to finance his plundering activities against other Muslim rulers in Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere. Beginning in the early thirteenth century, the Delhi SultansÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ policy of selective temple desecration aimed, not as in the earlier Ghaznavid period, to finance distant military operations on the Iranian plateau but to de-legitimise and extirpate defeated Indian ruling houses. The process of Indo-Muslim state building, Eaton says, entailed the sweeping away of all prior political authority in newly conquered territories. When such authority was vested in a ruler whose own legitimacy was associated with a royal temple, typically one that housed idol of ruling dynastyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s state-deity, that temple was normally looted or destroyed or converted into a mosque, which succeeded in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“detaching the defeated raja from the most prominent manifestation of his former legitimacyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Temples that were not so identified were normally left untouched. Hence, Eaton writes, it is wrong to explain this phenomenon by appealing to what he calls as an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“essentialized theology of iconoclasm felt to be intrinsic to IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Royal temple complexes were pre-eminently political institutions, Eaton says. The central icon, housed in a royal templeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s garba griha or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“womb-chamberÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and inhabited by the state-deity of the templeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s royal patron, expressed the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“shared sovereignty of king and deityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Therefore, Eaton stresses, temple-breaking, especially of temples associated with ruling houses, was essentially a political, rather than simply religious, act. As proof of this thesis he cites instances of the sacking of royal temples of Hindu rulers by rival Hindu kings as early as the sixth century C.E.. In AD 642 CE the Pallava king Narashimhavarman I looted the image of Ganesha from the Chalukyan capital of Vatapi.. In the eighth century, Bengali troops sought revenge on king Lalitaditya by destroying what they thought was the image of Vishnu Vaikuntha, the state deity of Lalitaditya's kingdom in Kashmir. In the early ninth century the Pandyan king Srimara Srivallabha also invaded Sri Lanka and took back to his capital a golden Buddha image that had been installed in the kingdom's Jewel Palace. In the early eleventh century the Chola king Rajendra I furnished his capital with images he had seized from several neighbouring Chalukya, Kalinga and Pala rulers. In the mid-eleventh century the Chola king Rajadhiraja defeated the Chalukyas and plundered Kalyani, taking a large black stone door guardian to his capital in Thanjavur, where it was displayed to his subjects as a trophy of war.
In addition to looting royal temples and carrying off images of state deities, some Hindu kings, like some of their later Muslim counterparts, engaged in the destruction of the royal temples of their political adversaries. In the early tenth century, the Rashtrakuta monarch Indra III not only destroyed the temple of Kalapriya (at Kalpa near the Jamuna River), patronized by the Pratiharas, but, Eaton writes, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“took special delight in recording the factÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
This and other such evidence clearly suggests, Eaton argues, that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“temples had been the natural sites for the contestation of kingly authority well before the coming of Muslim Turks to IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Hence, the Turkish invaders, in seeking to establish themselves as rulers, followed a pattern that had already been established before their arrival in India. Yet, the iconoclastic zeal of the Muslim rulers of India must not be exaggerated, Eaton says. He claims that based on evidence from epigraphic and literary evidence spanning a period of more than five centuries (1192-1729), ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“one may identify eighty instances of temple desecration whose historicity appears reasonably certainÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, a figure much less than what Hindutva ideologues today claim.
In judging these incidents, extreme caution is necessary, Eaton suggests. These temples were destroyed not by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ordinaryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Muslims, but, rather, by officials of the state. Further, the timing and location of these incidents is also significant. Most of them occurred, Eaton says, on ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the cutting edge of a moving military frontierÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, in the course of military raids or invasions of neighbouring territories ruled by Hindu kings. Once Muslim rulers had conquered a particular territory and incorporated it into their kingdom typically such incidents were few, if at all. When Muslim rulers grew mainly at the expense of other Muslim ruling houses, temple desecration was rare, which explains, for instance, why there is no firm evidence of the early Mughal rulers Babar and Humayun, whose principal adversaries were Afghans, in engaging in temple desecration, including, strikingly, in Ayodhya. Certain later Mughal and other rulers are said to have engaged in the destruction of royal temples and building mosques on their sites in territories ruled by rebel chieftains. These acts were intended to be punishments for rebellion, and once rebellions were quelled few such incidents took place.
Whatever form they took, Eaton says, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“acts of temple desecration were never directed at the people, but at the enemy king and the image that incarnated and displayed his state-deityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Eaton cites in this regard a contemporary description of a 1661 Mughal campaign in Kuch Bihar, northern Bengal, which resulted in the annexation of the region, makes it clear that Mughal authorities were guided by two principal concerns: to destroy the image of the state-deity of the defeated Raja, Bhim Narayana and to prevent Mughal troops from looting or in any way harming the general population of Kuch Bihar. Accordingly, the chief judge of Mughal Bengal, Saiyid Muhammad Sadiq, was directed to issue prohibitory orders that nobody was to touch the property of the people. Sayyid Sadiq, Eaton tells us, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“issued strict prohibitory orders so that nobody had the courage to break the laws or to plunder the property of the inhabitants. The punishment for disobeying the order was that the hands, ears or noses of the plunderers were cutÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In newly annexed areas formerly ruled by non-Muslims, as in the case of Kuch Bihar, Eaton goes on, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Mughal officers took appropriate measures to secure the support of the common people, who after all created the material wealth upon which the entire imperial edifice restedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
The theory that politics, rather than simple religious zeal, lay behind most instances of temple-breaking by Muslim rulers is strengthened by the fact that, as Eaton points out, once Hindu Rajas were defeated by Muslim kings and their territories annexed, pragmatism dictated that temples within the EmperorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s realm remained unharmed. This was the case even with the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, generally projected as the epitome of Muslim iconoclasm. Eaton quotes an order issued by Aurangzeb to local officials in Benares in 1659 to provide protection to the Brahman temple functionaries there, together with the temples at which they officiated. The order reads:
In these days information has reached our court that several people have, out of spite and rancour, harassed the Hindu residents of Benares and nearby places, including a group of Brahmans who are in charge of ancient temples there. These people want to remove those Brahmans from their charge of temple-keeping, which has caused them considerable distress. Therefore, upon receiving this order, you must see that nobody unlawfully disturbs the Brahmans or other Hindus of that region, so that they might remain in their traditional place and pray for the
continuance of the Empire.
Justifying this order, Auragnzeb asserted, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“According to the Holy Law (shari'at) and the exalted creed, it has been established that ancient temples should not be torn downÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. At the same time, he added that no new temples should be built, a marked departure from the policy of Akbar. However, Eaton says that this order appears to have applied only to Benares because many new temples were built elesewhere in India during Aurangzeb's reign.
Eaton thus seeks to dismiss the notion that various Muslim rulers in India wantonly engaged in destroying Hindu temples, allegedly driven by a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Such a picture, he insists, cannot, sustained by evidence from original sources from the early thirteenth century onwards. Had instances of temple desecration been driven by a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, he argues, this would have ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“committed Muslims in India to destroying all temples everywhere, including ordinary village temples, as opposed to the highly selective operation that seems actually to have taken placeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In contrast, EatonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s meticulous research leads him to believe that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the original data associate instances of temple desecration with the annexation of newly conquered territories held by enemy kings whose domains lay on the path of moving military frontiers. Temple desecration also occurred when Hindu patrons of prominent temples committed acts of treason or disloyalty to the Indo-Muslim states they servedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Otherwise, he notes, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“temples lying within Indo-Muslim sovereign domains, viewed normally as protected state property, were left unmolestedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
This slim volume is a path-breaking book, a passionate protest against the horrendous uses to which the notion of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“theology of iconoclasmÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ has been put by contemporary Hindutva ideologues to justify murder in the name of avenging ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“historical wrongsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. It urgently deserves to be translated into various Indian languages and made readily available at a more affordable price.
Book: The Aligarh Movement and the Making of the Indian Muslim Mind 1857-2002
Author: Tariq Hasan
Publisher: Rupa & Co, 7/16, Ansari Road, Dariyaganj, New Delhi
Price: Rs 500
Introduction: the genesis 1800-1857.
1. Sayyid Ahmad Khan -- The Early Years.
2. The debacle of 1857: quest for a Muslim identity.
3. The Aligarh movement and the birth of the M.A.O. College 1864-1875.
4. The religious views of Sayyid Ahmad Khan.
5. Aligarh, the British Raj and the Forces of Separatism 1877-1887.
6. The parting of ways 1887-1898.
7. The last days of Sir Sayyid and the aftermath 1898-1907.
8. The demand for a Muslim University.
9. Aligarh and Jamia - the Golden Years 1920-1937.
10. The rise of the Muslim league: Sir Ziauddin and his role at the A.M.U.
11. Aligarh and the road to freedom, and partition of the country 1937-1947.
12. Aligarh after independence.
13. Crisis at the campus 1955-2002.
THIS IS a long-awaited book on one of the most enigmatic personalities who helped to shape the idea of India. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College now known as the Aligarh Muslim University, was what one may call a complete individual ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? educationist, philanthropist, administrator, leader, and most importantly a self-made man who was, even by today's standards, staunchly secular. It is perhaps ironical that the challenges Sir Syed faced in his lifetime were also in subsequent years, and indeed to this day, faced by the institution he founded.
The university has gone through several twists and turns. There were events that threatened its very existence, sometimes for the lack of funds and at other times because there were people who wanted to see the venerable institution go. Sir Sayyid too faced several challenges. He had to take several tough decisions in life. Some were personal, like his decision to leave his mother behind when he was evacuating the family during the mutiny. At other times, he was simultaneously fighting the British and opponents to his cause. If there was one part of his personality that Sir Sayyid passed on to AMU it was his resilience. The university might have over the years become the happy hunting ground for politicians and vested interests, but it survives and holds its own despite the odds.
The book provides a historically relevant perspective to the story of Sir Sayyid and the AMU, and brings it up to date. The author uses rare archival matter, and but for this book, those documents would have been lost forever. The author's insights into the life and times of Sir Sayyid are perhaps helped by the fact that he is a descendant of Maulvi Samiullah Khan, one of the co-founders of the institution. This is, in every sense, a frank, lucid book about a genius.
Tariq Hasan, is an Aligarh based journalist. He joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1965. After a brief stint in industry, he entered the field of journalism in 1975. He has worked with The Pioneer (Lucknow), The Patriot (New Delhi), The Times of India (New Delhi) and the Press Trust of India (PT1).
His main sphere of interest lies in Muslim affairs and environment and wildlife issues. He has covered the affairs of AMU for more than two decades. He was president of India's nominee at the AMU court for three years. His family was closely associated with the establishment of the Aligarh Muslim University and the freedom movement. The late Maulvi Samiullah Khan, a co-founder of the AMU and the founder of the Muslim Boarding House of the Allahabad University was the author's mother's great grandfather.
Abdul Majeed Khwaja, the author's grandfather was among the founding fathers of the Jamia Millia Islamia.
Professor David Lelyveld, author of AligarhÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first generation writes ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMr. Tariq Hasan is an experienced journalist, who writes well and thoughtfully on matters of urgent importance. His book offers an insiderÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s perspective on how Indian Muslim responded to the pressure of colonialism, nationalism and modernity. I think this book will be an important contribution to enhancing understanding in the general indian community, and beyond, of the debates that have centered around Aligarh and the Aligarh movement, and how Muslims have come to terms with colonialism, nationalism and modernity.
Noted Political scientist Professor Shan Muhammad, former chairman, department of political science, Aligarh Muslim University noted that Mr. Tariq HasanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s analytical work on the Aligarh Movement has, to a large extent, revealed the trend of Muslim political mind from 19th century to the present time. His research has unearthed some unusual material. He has been quite objective in dealing with some of the most crucial and controversial periods of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s political history. Such studies will assist the Indian nation to shun narrow doubts about a movement which has contributed equally to the freedom movement of the country.
THE BABRI MASJID QUESTION, 1528-2003 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? A Matter of National Honour (2 Volumes)
Editor: A.G. Noorani
Publisher: Tulika Books, 35A/1(Third Floor), Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049.
Price: Rs. 750 (Vol. 1), Rs. 550 (Vol.2).
Reviwed by Parvathi Menon
"WHAT IS the significance of December, 6, 1992?" was one of a set of questions that a leading national daily recently posed to a constellation of film stars and ex-beauty queens who joined politics this election season. Amongst the younger set, there was not one who knew the answer, despite the fact that a majority of them had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Their ignorance of a date and event that marked the ascent to political power of the very party they had joined is not just a measure of their ignorance of politics. It also signifies the slow erasure from public memory in general of the demolition of the Babri Masjid almost 12 years ago by the Sangh Parivar leaders and activists, and the political import of that event.
It would appear that the public outrage that followed this illegal and reprehensible act has dissipated over the years ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? and not just within the population subset of film stars. Amongst most sections of people whose views constitute public opinion, the rights and wrongs of the Ayodhya issue no longer appear to be as clear as they were. After all, the principal accused in the Babri Masjid demolition cases are in power, with the criminal cases against them stuck in the courts and seemingly going nowhere.
In a situation of systematic obfuscation by the Sangh Parivar of the historical background and goals of the Ayodhya movement, the task of placing the Babri Masjid question on record was one that urgently needed to be done. To A.G. Noorani, the well-known lawyer, historian and political commentator must go the credit for doing this. Noorani has marshalled the most important primary source material on the Babri Masjid question in this edited two-volume publication.
The book comprises an impressive archive of the relevant historical, archaeological, political and legal documents from the 19th Century to the present day on the Ayodhya controversy, an invaluable guide and reference book to the facts of what is arguably one of the foremost political issues of the day. The compilation will in time become an important contribution to Indian historiography as it lays a solid foundation of historical truth and objectivity for future historians to work with.
In his Introduction, Noorani draws the main contours of the two-decade long Ram temple movement. Building from the historical lie on which the Ram temple movement was built, namely that the Mughal Emperor Babar destroyed a temple at the exact birthplace of Lord Rama to build a mosque, he describes the process by which the Masjid was first forcibly converted into a Mandir and subsequently demolished.
He argues that "official support and judicial apathy" through this period allowed the tide of the Ram temple movement to swell, and the BJP to prosper politically. "There has not been a vestige of truth or morality in the entire movement from the very inception to this day" he writes. A charge sheet framed in September 1997 by the Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya case) against those accused of conspiracy to demolish the mosque included the names of Mr. L.K. Advani, Mr. Bal Thackeray, Mr. M.M. Joshi and Ms. Uma Bharati. However, the accused have successfully avoided facing the court for the last seven years.
The documents have been arranged chronologically and thematically. The first volume starts, most fittingly, with an excerpt from the will of Babar which he left for his son Humayun. Here lies the thoughtful articulation by a medieval ruler of the kernal of the modern concept of secularism. Bestowing upon his son a country "full of different religions", Babar urges Humayun to "wipe all religious prejudices off the tablet of your heart", "let the subjects of different beliefs harmonise... ", and "not ruin the temples and shrines of any community which is obeying the laws of government."
A major part of the first volume comprises documents that deal with the historicity of the Ramjanmabhoomi legend. Reprinted here are scholarly tracts on the history and archaeology of the Ayodhya region, excerpts from the writings of Hindutva historians on the issue and the rejoinders to them, and the report of the Archaeological Survey of India on the excavations conducted at the disputed site in 2003. It also contains documents ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? a large number of them drawn from sources that reflect the Sangh Parivar point of view ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? that provide a compelling picture of the run-up to the mosque's demolition.
The second volume presents documentation ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? primarily from journalistic writing and other eye-witness accounts ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â? on the destruction itself, its pre-planned course, the foreknowledge that the police had of the event, and the implication of top leaders of the BJP and the RSS in its destruction.
There are many damning quotes by senior BJP leaders which they would perhaps not like to be reminded of today. Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi told a newspaper after the demolition that he was not repentant over what happened.
Mr. L.K. Advani reportedly said he was surprised at the criticism from the then Prime Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao and the then President, Shankar Dayal Sharma on the demolition. After all it was an old structure built by Babar. Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a press interview soon after the demolition in which he called the Babri Masjid a "symbol of shame" that "has been erased".
While the documents speak for themselves, Noorani's studied conclusion is that the Ayodhya movement's aim is the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra in which the constitutional structure will remain a formality, denuded of the principles of secularism, democracy and the rule of law. It is a compelling argument, fully supported by his meticulously compiled documentary evidence.
Reviewed by Yoginder Sikand
The Tuhfat al-Mujahidin or ‘The Tribute to the Strugglers’ is one of the earliest extant historical treatises about the southern Indian state of Kerala. Its author, the sixteenth century's Shaikh Zainuddin Makhdum, hailed from the renowned Makhdum family from the town of Ponnani in Malabar, in northern Kerala. This family traced its descent to migrants from Yemen, who played a leading role in the spread of Islam in southern India.
Following in the footsteps of many of his forefathers, Shaikh Zainduddin rose to become a leading Islamic scholar. He spent ten years studying in Mecca, where he also joined the Qadri order of Sufism. On his return to his native Malabar, he spent almost four decades teaching at the central mosque in Ponnani, then a major centre for Islamic studies in southern India. He also served as the envoy of the Zamorins, the Hindu rulers of Calicut, to Egypt and Turkey.
Name of the Book: Tuhfat al-Mujahidin (translated from Arabic by S. Muhammad Husayn Nainar)
Author: Shaykh Zainuddin Makhdum
Publisher: Islamic book Trust, Kuala Lumpur (www.ibtbooks.com) & Other Books, Calicut (email@example.com)
I Floor, New Way Building,
Railway Link Road,
Ph: +91 495 2306808
Price not mentioned
The Tuhfat is one of Shaikh Zainuddin’s several works, and is the best known among them. A chronicle of the stiff resistance put up by the Muslims of Malabar against the Portuguese colonialists from 1498, when Vasco Da Gama arrived in Calicut, to 1583, it describes in considerable detail events, many of which that the author had himself witnessed and lived through. It was intended, as Shaikh Zainduddin says, as a means to exhort the Malabar Muslims to launch a struggle or jihad against the Portuguese invaders. The book thus extols the virtues of jihad against oppressors, and, at the same time, also provides fascinating details about the history of Islam in Malabar, the relations between Muslims and Hindus in the region and the customs and practices of both.
Islam’s first contact with India is said to have taken place in Malabar, and Shaikh Zainuddin offers a popularly-held account of this. He writes of how the Hindu ruler of Malabar, impressed with a group of Muslim pilgrims on their way to Ceylon, converted to Islam and accompanied them back to Arabia. There, shortly before he died, he instructed them to return to Malabar. They did as they were told, and the king’s governors welcomed them, allowing them to settle along the coast and establish mosques. Gradually, he writes, the Muslim community began expanding through the missionary efforts of Sufis and traders.
Relations between Muslims and the Hindus of Malabar, Shaikh Zainudin observes, were traditionally cordial. The rulers of Malabar, all Hindus, treated the Muslims with respect, one reason being that the Muslims played a vital role in the region’s economy because of their control of the trading routes linking Malabar to other lands by sea. Hindu rulers even paid salaries of the muezzins and qazis and allowed the Muslims to be governed in personal matters by their own laws. Hindus who converted to Islam were not harassed, and, even if they were of ‘low’ caste origin, were warmly welcomed into the Muslim community. This was probably one reason for the rapid spread of Islam in the region.
Shaikh Zainuddin’s observations about the Hindus of Malabar are remarkable for their sense of balance and sympathy. Of the Hindu rulers, he says, ‘There are some who are powerful and some comparatively weak. But the strong, as a matter of fact, will not attack or occupy the territory of the weak’. (This, Shaikh Zainuddin suggests, might be a result of the conversion of one of their kings, referred to earlier, to Islam ‘and of his supplications to this effect to God’). He also adds, ‘[The] people of Malabar are never treacherous in their wars’. At the same time, he notes with disapproval the deeply-rooted caste prejudices among the Malabari Hindus. So strict is the law of caste, he writes, that any violation of it results in excommunication, forcing the violator to convert to Islam or Christianity or become a yogi or mendicant or to be enslaved by the king. Even such a minor matter as a ‘high’ caste Hindu woman being hit by a stone thrown by a ‘low’ caste man causes her to lose caste. ‘How many such detestable customs!”, Shaikh Zainuddin remarks after recounting some of them. ‘Due to their ignorance and stupidity, they strictly follow these customs, believing that it is their moral responsibility to uphold them’, he adds. ‘It was while they were living in these social conditions that the religion of Islam reached them by the grace of Allah’, he goes on, ‘[a]nd this was the main reason for their being easily attracted to Islam’.
Of all the Hindu rulers of Malabar, the most powerful, and also the most friendly towards the Muslims, were the Zamorins of Calicut, who claimed descent from the king who is said to have converted to Islam and died in Arabia. The Tuhfat describes how the Zamorins turned down bribes offered by the Portuguese to expel the Muslims, and of how they, along with Nair Hindu and Muslim forces, engaged in numerous battles with the Portuguese, who are said to have singled out the Muslims for attack and persecution. Shaikh Zainuddin is at pains to note the contrast between the response of the Hindu Zamorins to the plight of the Malabar Muslims with that of several Muslim Sultans in other parts of India, who were approached for help in expelling the Portuguese. ‘The Muslim-friendly Zamorin’, he writes, ‘has been spending his wealth from the beginning’ for the protection of the Malabari Muslims from the depredations of the Portuguese. On the other hand, he rues, ‘The Muslim Sultans and Amirs—may Allah heighten the glory of the helpful among them—did not take any interest in the Muslims of Malabar’.
The Portuguese conquests, resulting in their wresting the monopoly over the Malabar spice trade from the Muslims, caused a rapid decline in Muslim fortunes, reducing the community to abject poverty. Shaikh Zainduddin describes the reign of terror unleashed on the Malabari Muslims, by the Portuguese, who were fired with a hatred of Islam and Muslims—indiscriminate killings of Muslims, rapes of Muslim women, forcible conversions of Muslims to Christianity, enslaving of hundreds of Muslims, destroying mosques and building churches in their place and setting alight Muslim shops and homes.
In appealing to the Malabari Muslims to launch jihad against the Portuguese, Shaikh Zainuddin makes clear that this struggle is purely a defensive one, directed at only the Portuguese interlopers and not the local Hindus or the Hindu Zamorins, for whom he expresses considerable respect. Nor is it, he suggests, a call to establish Muslim political supremacy and control. Jihad, then, for Shaikh Zaiuddin, was a morally just struggle to restore peace in Malabar and expel foreign occupiers, to return to a period when Muslims and Hindus in the region lived together in harmony.
This treatise is an indispensable source of Malabari history and would be invaluable to those interested in the history of Islam in South Asia. Much that Shaikh Zainuddin says with regard to the legitimacy of struggle against foreign occupation and oppression finds powerful echoes today.
Contemporary Islamic law
N.R. Madhava Menon
Fyzee's contribution by way of consolidation and restatement of the law through cases is a major step forward in an otherwise dicey situation of orthodoxy, prejudice, inequality and fear
Cases in the Muhammadan Law of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh: Asaf A.A. Fyzee; edited and revised by Tahir Mahmood, Oxford University Press, YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Rd., New Delhi-110001. Rs. 595.
Fyzee's Outlines of Muhammadan Law (1949), of which several editions are now available, is an authoritative book on the subject widely used by the academic world even today. The author intended this book under review as its `companion volume'. First published in 1964 it has undergone a thorough revision in this second edition by Tahir Mahmood, who is an Islamic law scholar of international repute and long-term colleague of the reviewer at Aligarh and Delhi Universities.
Muslim law, like `personal laws' of other religious groups, is today facing several challenges from within the community as well as from outside. This is but natural in an era of unprecedented changes in societies everywhere. As Fyzee himself conceded in his preface to the first edition of Cases in the Muhammadan Law of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the influence of English Common Law and Equity had forced changes in the rules applicable in order to "satisfy modern concepts of social justice." Another reason according to him for unique changes in Islamic law in India is the articulation of rules by the legislatures in specific areas and their interpretation by courts mainly through the English language and jurisprudential traditions. Finally, social history shaped by interaction of different religions as well as developments in international (treaty) law also had the effect of modifying Islamic law as practised in the sub-continent. Fyzee himself being a product of Cambridge naturally had a reformist approach in his analysis of Muslim Personal Law.
Study of law through cases has profound significance in a precedent bound legal system and the present volume is perhaps the first of its kind in analysing personal law through analysis of judicial decisions.
Law through cases
In about 19 chapters the author has discussed as many topics entirely through cases decided by superior courts in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They cover a range of subjects including marriage, dower, divorce, guardianship, gifts, wakfs, inheritance and legitimacy. Along with them the author has looked at the role of custom and customary law, the approach to interpretation of the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet (the scope for logical inferences) and identified the trends in judicial evolution of Islamic law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. No doubt the book is an excellent tool for teaching the subject in law schools and for research.
However, there are differences of opinion among Islamic scholars themselves about the degree of authority they give to interpretations given by modern secular courts. According to the author though courts in India often made elaborate references to Quranic verses in support of its viewpoint (Anwara Begum (1981 GLR 358); Shah Bano (AIR 1985 SC 985), "no Court has specifically claimed an authority to re-interpret the Quranic verses or the Prophets' Traditions on law."
While Fyzee found Indian courts having given "utmost sanctity to the Holy Quran as the only revealed book of Islam" and dismissed petitions attacking the Quran (Chopra, AIR 1986 Cal.104), he has stated that the trends in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been different despite their officially owing allegiance to Islam. In Pakistan (Rashida Begum, Din PLD 1960 Lah.1142) the Lahore High Court observed, "If the interpretation of the Holy Quran by the commentators who lived thirteen or twelve hundred years ago is considered as the last word on the subject then the whole Islamic society will be shut up in an iron cage and not allowed to develop along with the time."
One wonders whether the caution and restraint which Fyzee found on the part of Indian courts are being misunderstood by a section of the Islamic clergy in recent times to assume jurisdiction for running a parallel system of adjudication. The case of Imrana (The Hindu dt. June 29, 2005), allegedly raped by her father-in-law being adjudged by the Muslim Personal Law Board resulting in a Fatwa of termination of marriage is illustrative of this trend. The editor of the volume under review, Tahir Mahmood, reportedly came to the defence of the Muslim Personal Law Board by saying that "in a country like India where Islamic law was only selectively applicable under the authority of its own law, the fatwa or the rule of Islamic law underlying the decision need not be strictly imposed on an innocent and unwilling couple desirous of continuing in marriage." He found the principle of Islamic law on which the fatwa was given pro-women as it enabled "the wives outraged by sexual misbehaviour of their male in-laws to walk out of their marital bond and seek a new life elsewhere!"
There is an interesting chapter in the book titled `Who is a Muslim?'. With the help of two old cases (Abraham v. Abraham (1863) 9MIA 195; Narantakath v. Parakkal (1922) 45 Mad.986) the author attempts to answer this question giving his own interpretations and inferences. The law applicable to converts is now settled through judicial intervention (Sarla Mudgal, AIR 1995 SC 1531).
Conversion to Islam will not attract instant application of Muslim law. The `update' in each chapter is indeed a valuable addition to give the latest position of decisional law on the subject.
The book under review is essential reading for both academics and practitioners on Islamic law and comparative law. The index of cases at the end of the book is drawn from a number of countries and is in addition to those referred in the running text.
Need for reform
Islamic law like any other law is in need of reform. The urgency lies in application of contemporary standards of equality, dignity and individual rights in matters relating to marriage, divorce, inheritance, guardianship and maintenance. The need is clearly for a uniform civil code as mandated by the Constitution.
Today, more than anything else, women's rights are in jeopardy because of attitudes and practices developed over the years through religion-based personal laws.
Unfortunately, the issue got involved in communal politics to such an extent that even public discourse on the subject is suspect and inhibited. In such a context, incremental reform through the judicial process, though slow and uncertain, is still welcome.
In this perspective, Fyzee's contribution by way of consolidation and restatement of the law through cases is a major step forward in an otherwise dicey situation of orthodoxy, prejudice, inequality and fear.
A new book written by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer
This is a collection of essay on various issues concerning communalism and challenges to secular India. The problems have been viewed here from a minority perspective, especially of the Muslims.
It is hoped that these essays will create proper consciousness among the readers and help us realize our constitutional ideas. Our politicians are obsessed with power, not with the peopleâ€™s problems. In democracy only the peoples can force them to give attention to their burning problems and this can happen when the people become conscious of the games the political leaders play. We have been engaged in this struggle for the last several decades and it is an ongoing battle which will have to be carried out by both spoken and written words.
1. Our Independence and After: A Critical review
2. Future of Inter-Religious And Inter-Cultural Relations
3. On Theories of Peace and Conflict Resolution
4. Sufism: Its Origin and Impact on Indian Islam
5. Fatwas, their Acceptability and their Relevance
6. Danish Cartoons And Muslims
7. Premchand and Composite Culture
8. They Too Fought for Freedom: Role of Minorities in Freedom Struggle
SECTION TWO: RELIGION, IDENTITY, OTHER ISSUES
9. Other World is Possible: What Role Religion Can Play?
10. Identity in A Multi-religious Society
11. Identity and Development in Democracy
12. Indian Muslims: Problems and Paradoxes
13. Womenâ€™s Plight in Muslim Society
14. Communal Violence and Minority-Majority Relations
15. Indian Muslims: Reservation or No Reservation?
SECTION THREE: SECULARISM, COMMUNALISM
16. Secularism in India
17. Communal Politics: Climax and Down Fall
18. Future of Communal Relations in India
19. Psychology of Communalism and Communal Violence
20. Kashmiri Youth and Prospects of Peace
21. Jinnah: How much Secular, How much Communal
22. Aligarh Muslim University and The Court Judgment
23. National Integration Council: Is it a Useful Institution?
24. NCERTâ€™s New History Syllabus
25. BJPâ€™s Silver Jubilee: An Assessment
26. On the Cause of Terror Bombing
27. Muslims and Terrorism
28. London Bombings: Violence and Islam
29. Bomb Blasts in Mumbai: Crossing the Limits
30. Malegaon Blasts: Partisan Approach and Biased Police
31. And Now Terrorist Attack in Malegoan: What is the Way Out?
32. Shiv Senaâ€™s Rioting on Black Sunday
33. Vajpayee and the Gujarat carnage
34. They Hate Us, We fear Them: The Situation in Gujarat
35. Gujarat on Fire Again
36. Communal Riots, 2005
37. Communal Riots, 2006
38. Police and Minorities: Will new Policies Help?
39. Representation of Muslims in Police Force And Communal Riots
For Copies Contact
Hope India Publications
85, Sector 23, Gurgaon â€“ 122017,
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Communalism: Illustrated Primer
Author: Ram Puniyani
This book deals with the phenomenon of sectarian violence and politics in a very lucid manner. The phenomenon of communalism has come as a major threat to our democracy in current times. This phenomenon is also breaking our plural values and inter - community amity.
Babri Demolition, Post babri Violence, Godhra, Gujarat Carnage, Citizens Tribunal report, India's syncretic traditions, mixed heritage, Rise and growth of Communalism, Values of India's Freedom movement, Gandhi, Muslim and Hindu communalism, Doctoring mass consciousness, Hindutva, RSS and exploited sections of society, Tasks for Secular Movement, Vande Matram controvery, Ram Setu or Adams bridge, Terrorism, Civilizations, clash or alliance.
The book is in the form of brief answers to the prevalent myths in a very simple style. It is richly illustrated with pictures, cartoons and tables. It gives a comprehensive view of the problem of communalism as being faced by the nation. A must read for all concerned with defense of democratic and secular
Publisher: Mumbai Sarvodaya Friendship Center, Mulund, Mumbai
(Also available in Hindi & Marathi)
Pages 128, Contribution Rs. 60/-
Ram Puniyani, 1102/5 MHADA Deluxe, Rambaug Powai, Mumbai 400076
Title: Fighting Fascism in Gujarat: Social Activists Speak Out
By Yoginder Sikand
Publisher: Global Media Publications (www.gmpublications.com)
Price Rs 300 (India), Elsewhere US$ 20/-
buy this book
About the Book
Much has been written about the state-sponsored carnage directed against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 that took a toll of several thousand lives and resulted in the destruction of property worth hundreds of crores of rupees. The victims of the carnage have not got justice as yet, inter-communal relations remain tense and the party that sponsored the violence still remains in power in the state. This speaks volumes about our pompous claims of being the world's `largest democracy'.
This book is a collection of interviews with activists from Gujarat who are presently working in their own ways to struggle for justice, democracy and communal harmony in the state. Their work is informed by their diverse ideological persuasions and they come from different backgrounds and communities. Yet, they are unanimous in their insistence that communalism, particularly Hindutva fascism, has to be seriously resisted and the struggle for social justice has to be sharpened, and they offer a range of different perspectives on the question of precisely how this must be done.
This book aims at exploring diverse perspectives on the struggle for social justice in Gujarat today in the context of the deeply entrenched Hindutva lobby.
These interviews provide valuable insights into the efforts that scattered groups and individuals in Gujarat today are making to promote inter-communal harmony and to struggle against communalism and fascism that are playing such havoc with peoples' lives, not just in Gujarat but in other parts of India as well.
People whose interviews are included in this list include
Meera and Rafi Shaikh , Mukul Sinha , Prasad Chacko, Zakia Jowher, Gagan Sethi , Sophia Khan, Hanif Lakdawala, Ahmad Shaikh, Afzal Memon, Shakeel Ahmad, Vithalbhai Pandya, Rajesh Solanki, Valjibhai Patel, Vinay Mahajan, Cedric Prakash
About the Author
Prof. Yoginder Sikand is a renowned author on Indian Muslims. His previous books include, Struggling to be Heard: South Asian Muslim Voice, Islam, Caste and Dalit-Muslim Relations in India, Bastions of the Believers: Madrasa and Islamic Education in India
To order the book
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Global Media Publications
J-51-A, Ist Floor, AFE,
Jamia Nagar, Okhla
Tel: 91-11-55666830, 9818327757
Or shop online
Title : Political Representation of Muslims in India (1952ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“2004)
Author : Iqbal A. Ansari
Publisher : Manak Publications Pvt. Ltd.
YOP : 2006
Pages : xxii + 418
ISBN : 81-7827-130-3
Price : Rs. 900
About The Book/Author :
Iqbal A. Ansari (b. 1935), former professor of English at the Aligarh Muslim University 1995, has been visiting professor at Jamia Hamdard (2001-2003) and Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (2003-2004). Prof. Ansari has written extensively on issues related to human rights, minorities & prevention and resolution of inter-community conflicts. His publications include Readings on Minorities: Perspectives and Documents, Vol. I & II (1196), Vol. III (2002); Communal Riots: The State and Law in India (1997); Human Rights in India: Some Issue (1998); Muslim Situation in India (1989) and Uses of English (1978).
There is a worldwide concern today for democracies to become inclusive, for reasons of political justice, as well as for their better national integration, especially for religious and ethnic minorities.
The Indian freedom movement since 1920s showed awareness of the need of special measures to ensure due representation to religious minorities and Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC & ST) in legislatures. In keeping with this consociational-affirmative model, the framers of the Constitution provided for population based quota of seats for minorities and SC& ST under joint electorate, in August 1947. However, lingering apprehensions about such provisions for religious minorities, caused by the Partition led to their scrapping in May 1949. While dispensing with the special provision for minorities, Nehru and Patel, among others, gave firm assurance to them, especially to Muslims, that even without Constitutional safeguard the majority community would not only be fair but generous of them, ensuring their due representation in legislatures.
Name of the Book: Redefining Urdu Politics in India
Edited by: Ather Farooqui
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Price: Rs. 595
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
That Urdu is in a sorry state of decline in the land of its birth is a well-known and often-lamented fact. What should be done to rescue it from eventual extinction is what this immensely useful book is all about. Bringing together essays by Urdu scholars, Indian and foreign, as well as activists working for the cause of Urdu, it book provides an in-depth insight into the myriad causes of UrduÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rapid decline in post-Partition India while also arguing for various measures to revive the language.
In his preface, Salman Khurshid speaks about how the decline of Urdu owes, in large measure, to the politics of competitive communalism. Once the rich repository of a widely shared culture that brought together Hindu, Muslim and Sikh elites, Urdu became a victim of the Partition, being branded by Hindu communal forces as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ language. They saw it as somehow ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“foreignÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ because it drew heavily on Arabic and Persian and also because it was declared the official language of Pakistan. North Indian Muslim elites who remained behind in India Urdu continued to insist on Urdu as an integral component of Indian Muslim identity. This owed largely to the fact of Urdu being the repository of much of the north Indian Islamic literary heritage.
This forced association between Urdu and Muslims was further strengthened by efforts of north Indian Urdu-speaking elites to project Urdu as the language of all Indian Muslims, which was, and still is, not the case at all. And since in post-Partition India efforts by Muslims to assert even their legitimate rights are often quickly branded by Hindu communal forces as a manifestation of alleged ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“pro-PakistanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ proclivities, it has proved difficult for Muslim Urdu-speakers to mobilise and lobby for the protection and preservation of Urdu and to protest the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s discriminatory policies towards the language. In the process, Urdu has become increasingly marginalised, the issue being ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“communalisedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ by the state and the languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s opponents and defenders.
Successive governments, following the Hindu communal line, have also worked to erase Urdu from schools in large parts of the country where it was once taught as the principal language, replacing it by a heavily Sanskritised and generally incomprehensible Hindi. This has not been a spontaneous effort. Rather, it is part of the agenda of the state and dominant and communalised Hindu elites and reflects a fierce opposition to the syncretistic or composite north Indian culture, of which Urdu has been an integral part. Careful efforts have been made to excise all words of Persian and Arabic origin from official Hindi, this reflecting a form of Indian nationalism that draws heavily from Brahminical Hinduism, denies the Muslim contribution and presence and seeks to impose a single homogenous culture on all Indians. The separate identities of local languages spoken in the so-called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hindi beltÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, such as Awadhi, Maithili, Magadhi and Rajasthani, each of which has its own rich literary heritage, have all been denied by the state and proponents of Hindi, being absorbed into ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“HindiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ in order to artificially inflate the number and political clout of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hindi speakersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
At the same time, Khurshid says, in order to present themselves as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and to garner Muslim votes politicians have offered sops to Urdu-speakers in the form of Urdu academies, awards for Urdu literary works and sponsorship of literary functions. These populist measures are, of course, wholly inadequate as a means to sustain any language, whose survival and advancement depends on its links with public education and employment. But this indifference, indeed hostility, of the state towards Urdu is something that Urdu shares with various other minority languages, being deliberately effaced as the state and ruling elites project English-medium education as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“symbol of excellenceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Owing to the hostility of the state as well as Hindu communal forces to Urdu, Muslim elites have sought to preserve the language by setting up madrasas, where the language is taught. This, Khurshid says, has only further strengthened the forced association of Urdu with Muslims and an over-identification with Islam, which it did not earlier possess. Because the state has effectively denied large numbers of Urdu-speakers the right to have their children learn Urdu, many Muslim families prefer to send their children to madrasas to study in order that they can learn their mother tongue. Not all of these want their children to be maulvis, their choice of madrasa education being forced on them for want of secular schools where their children could learn Urdu. Khurshid sees this as one factor for the rapid expansion of madrasas in the years after Partition. He argues that this is leading to the further marginalisation of Muslims because madrasas are largely exclusivist and hardly provide their students with any access to secular education, insulating them from the wider, plural society. Had state schools made provision for teaching Urdu, he says, many Muslim families would have preferred to send their children therein to study instead of madrasas. In order that Muslims might progress, and not be forced, for want of Urdu education in state schools, to send their children to madrasas to study Urdu as well as to prevent the further ghettoisation of Urdu as a result of it now being taught mainly in madrasas, Khurshid argues that the state must set up Urdu-medium schools or schools where Urdu is taught as a subject in areas with a sufficient Urdu-speaking population.
Khurshid recognises the need for the Urdu-speaking community to salvage its language by setting up Urdu-medium schools but argues that such voluntary effort cannot replace state initiative. No language can survive, he says, only on the basis of the voluntary sector. Private Muslim-run Urdu-medium schools do not attract non-Muslims and their students often grow up without interacting with children from other communities. Further, because they charge more than nominal fees, they are not affordable for the majority of the Urdu-speaking population, who are poor. Hence, he stresses, the state has the responsibility of establishing Urdu-medium schools as well as enabling the teaching of Urdu as a subject in state schools in localities where the population of Urdu-speakers warrants this. To deny this is to deny Urdu-speakers their Constitutional right to educate their children, at least till the primary level, in the medium of their mother tongue in state schools, and, beyond that, to learn their language at least as a subject in such schools. The stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s continued discrimination towards Urdu is a violation of the Constitution, which demands that the state treat all languages equally and provide facilities for children of different linguistic backgrounds to receive education in state schools in the medium of their mother tongue, at least till the primary level.
In most states, including Uttar Pradesh, considered to be the cradle of Urdu, the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s official three-language formula effectively prohibits Urdu-speakers from enabling their children to learn Urdu, Khurshid writes. Thus, in most north Indian states, children have to learn English and Hindi, and Sanskrit, a language spoken by hardly anyone in India, is forced on them as the third language. Ironically, this archaic language is taught as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modern Indian languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢! Consequently, there are only a few state schools in north India where Urdu is the medium or is even taught as a third language, although the vast majority of Urdu-speakers live in this part of the country. Almost all these schools are of a very poor standard. The problem is exacerbated with lack of sufficient and good quality textbooks, almost all the available textbooks being translations from other languages. As a result, many Urdu-speaking parents prefer to send their children to Hindi-medium schools instead. As a remedy, Khurshid suggests that in localities with sufficient numbers of Urdu-speakers the state should establish schools Urdu-medium schools till the fifth grade, Hindi being taught therein from class three and English from class six. This would enable students to easily switch to Hindi-medium schools after passing out from primary school. In addition, Khurshid argues, Urdu should be offered as an optional subject in schools that use English, Hindi or a regional language as a medium of instruction.
In his chapter, Ather Farooqui raises several issues that Khurshid dwells on. He speaks of how Urdu, once the cradle of a rich composite elite culture, was consciously abandoned by north Indian Sikhs and Hindus after 1947, thus making it effectively a language associated with Muslims. Because of the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s anti-Urdu policies, Urdu is not taught in the most state schools, even those located in areas with a high concentration of Urdu speakers, and now is restricted mainly to madrasas, where most students are from poor Muslim families. In effect, therefore, Urdu survives among the Muslim poor. Making the problem of preserving and promoting Urdu even more difficult is the fact that Urdu-speakers are a minority in every state in the country. In the only state where Urdu is the state languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?Jammu and KashmirÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?only a few people have as their mother-tongue. Despite the noises that they occasionally make on behalf of Urdu, Muslim elites and the middle classes prefer to provide their children an English-medium education because that is seen as the path to worldly ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“successÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Since Urdu has effectively lost its links with the economy and employment in the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ economy, Urdu-medium education is now not a preferred option for children of most Urdu-speaking families, Farooqui observes.
Urdu cannot be saved, let alone promoted, if it continues to be denied a space in the school curriculum, from the primary to the high school level, Farooqui argues. For this, and to also encourage Muslims to send their children to regular schools instead of madrasas, which, he says, only further exacerbate Muslim marginalisation, Farooqui suggests that the state arrange for Urdu to be integrated with the public education system. This will, he contends, help attract Muslim students who might otherwise have studied in madrasas, enabling them to broaden their outlook. However, as things stand today, Farooqui laments, in most states in India government policies effectively deny children from Urdu-speaking families the right to study Urdu even as a third language. This conscious policy of destroying Urdu is, he says, not just a question of the possible extinction of a rich language in the near future but also one of gross violation of the rights of Urdu-speaking people. Farooqui proceeds to examine the fate of Urdu in India today by offering his findings from field observations in five states across the country. He reveals that in these states there is not a single non-Muslim student studying Urdu even as an optional subject at the primary or secondary level, so deeply ingrained has the notion of Urdu as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ subject become. Financial assistance provided by state governments ostensibly for promoting Urdu has done little or nothing for the language as such. Instead, it has only produced a small class of pro-establishment sycophants who do not dare to critique the state for its anti-Urdu policies. In some states Urdu is taught as an optional subject in a small number of schools, much less than the number warranted by the numerical strength of Urdu-speakers residing therein. In most Urdu-medium schools subjects like science and mathematics are taught not in Urdu but in English, Hindi or a regional language, because the anti-Urdu policies of the state and neglect by Urdu elites who appear to champion UrduÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s cause have put an effective halt to the development of adequate scientific vocabulary in Urdu. In some south Indian states, however, mercantile Muslim communities have set up good quality Urdu-medium institutions, in marked contrast to the north.
Pratap Bhanu MehtaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s long and incisive essay looks at other dimensions of the issue of the decline of Urdu in post-Partition India. He, too, locates this primarily as a consequence of the anti-Urdu policies of successive governments, which stems from the Hindi-Urdu and the related Hindu-Muslim controversy. Because facilities for teaching Urdu are now almost non-existent in most state schools across the country, Urdu-speakers are fast being cut off from their linguistic and cultural heritage. Since, barring Jammu and Kashmir, no state has Urdu has its official language, Urdu lacks sufficient political patronage and clout. Consequently, even the reports of government-appointed commissions that have berated the state for its anti-Urdu policies and have made numerous suggestions to remedy the situation have gone ignored. Echoing a point made by Khurshid, Mehta argues that the state and the dominant elitesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ hostility towards Urdu reflects a certain form of nationalism which seeks to deny all alternate identities that challenge their homogenising agenda. The identity of the highly Sanskritised Hindi that they seek to impose is dependent on a conscious distancing of itself from Urdu, with Urdu being somehow seen as associated with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“national disloyaltyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Hence, Mehta argues, the denial of the rights of Urdu-speakers is a violation of their self-respect, an attack on their sense of citizenship, leading to their loss of faith in the system.
Mehta goes on to discuss the role of madrasas, which, in the absence of state provision of Urdu education, are an attractive option for large numbers of Muslims, particularly the poor. Many Muslim families, he says prefer to educate their children in madrasas not simply because they want them to become religious specialists but also because they represent the cheapest form of education available. Further, often other schools, including, sometimes, state schools, are socially unreceptive to Muslims. Were the state to provide Urdu-medium schools and/or the option of studying Urdu as a subject in schools in areas with a significant number of Urdu-speakers, Mehta opines, many Muslims would prefer to send their children there to study instead of to madrasas.
Because Urdu has been pushed out of the state education system, madrasas are now the major institutions where Urdu is studied. Yet, Mehta argues, madrasas are not the best means to promote Urdu. Madrasas may use Urdu as a medium of instruction for certain subjects, but they do not teach it as a language and generally do not make available to their students anything but religious literature in Urdu. Hence, madrasa students are often left unaware of the nuances and richness of the Urdu literary heritage, much of what is routinely condemned as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“un-IslamicÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ by the ulama.
What the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s attitude towards madrasas should be is a vexed question. Mehta writes that the state should provide the freedom for communities to set up religious schools in the absence of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“compelling evidenceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ that they preach hatred of others. However, the matter is not so simple if such institutions seek financial assistance from the state or state recognition of its degrees. In such cases the state must ensure that the education imparted in these institutions equips their students with the ability to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“navigate the modern world and understand the basic requirements of democratic citizenshipÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. However, Mehta says, given that religious schools are a reality in India, denying them state aid will not ensure that their students have other affordable and effective choices but, in fact, would mean that their fate might be worse than if these institutions received no government assistance. This does not mean that the state should not try to provide these institutions with incentives to move towards what Mehta leaves vaguely defined as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modern educationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, but if the parents of the students want only a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“traditionalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education for the students they should bear the costs. But, since Muslim parents often send their children to madrasas simply because of poverty, for the state not to subsidise madrasas is tantamount to discrimination against the poor. This fact, Mehta suggests, points to the need for state provision of cheap and good quality schools for poor Muslims so that they have a genuine choice to send their children to these schools or to madrasas. Mehta argues that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“It is possible to justify minimal interference in the affairs of religious schools; it is impossible to justify giving them state support, or accrediting them, if they do not fulfil some minimal requirementsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Both Muslim elites as well as the state have a responsibility to seek to promote reforms in the madrasas, Mehta contends. The latter, he notes, have done little at all to promote ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of the madrasas, at the same time as they insist that madrasas are integral to Muslim identity. Few Muslim elites send their own children to madrasas to study, preferring to educate them, if they can afford it, in English-medium schools. Hence, the burden of representing Islam through the training of ulama in madrasas has now been firmly placed of the shoulders of the Muslim poor. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ModernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢-educated Muslims have, therefore a major role in consigning Urdu to the role of the language of the madrasas that cannot be detached from its religious moorings. It is no longer a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“market languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ linked to employment outside a narrow Islamic religious or Muslim communitarian sector.
Talk of state intervention in or assistance to madrasas has gained particular currency in the wake of the emergence of militant groups, as in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are linked to certain radical madrasas. However, Mehta is quick to remark that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Despite the existence of madrasas, India has not produced any dominant strains of jihadi IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. He notes, too, that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secular schools can often produce militant Hinduism as wellÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. For its part, he says, the state has provided only a pittance for its much-touted ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Madrasa Modernisation ProgrammeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Hence, the relevant issue here is, Mehta argues, not ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“militancyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ but ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“justiceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. The state should offer students who, out of poverty, are forced to study in madrasas the affordable choice to study in good quality schools instead. It is also the duty of the state to ensure that madrasa students are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“minimally equipped to navigate the demands of the modern worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. However, state assistance to any institution, Mehta says, must be conditional on it conforming to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the basic requirement of a modern educationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, although what precisely he means by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is left unclear. This, he says, is not an argument for a hostile or confrontationist posture vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis madrasas but, rather, a plea to leave them alone and to strengthen the system of secular Urdu public education so that over time, and without coercion, madrasas appear as a less attractive option. In turn, this will help the cause of Urdu, bringing it out of the ghettoised existence that it now leads, being largely confined to the madrasas.
Mehta notes that the Urdu intelligentsia continue to demand that Urdu be allowed as an optional subject in government schools, a demand that he, too, appears to support. Yet, he also observes that a similar demand is rarely made in the case of schools where many Urdu-speaking elites send their own children to study. If Muslim elites (along with poorer Muslims) can help generously fund literally thousands of madrasas across the country, Mehta asks, why cannot they fund the setting up of regular, secular schools that teach Urdu as well? Although they have the right to demand this from the state, they, too, should take an active interest in doing so, Mehta rightly argues. It is not sufficient to have Urdu taught as a subject, whether optional or compulsory, in schools. Rather, good quality Urdu-medium state schools are needed and there is no reason why, Mehta says, to suppose that such schools would be incapable of equipping their students with other important skills, such as fluency in English. Mehta also suggests the possibility of dual-medium schools, with certain subjects taught in Urdu and others in Hindi, English or the regional language of the state.
Mehta argues, against those who see Urdu as somehow ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, that IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s unity critically depends on the different religious, cultural and linguistic groups inhabiting the country feeling genuinely at home. For the state to act on its Constitutional obligations vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis Urdu would, contrary to what some assert, not lead to the balkanisation of the country. On the contrary, it would promote true inclusivism so that Urdu-speakers, marginalised and denied their rights and cultural identity, would feel truly accepted. The struggle for Urdu should, therefore, not be based on ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“cultural nostalgiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“misplaced sense of the sanctity of languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, but, rather, be seen as part of a broader struggle for genuine democracy.
Yogendra SinghÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s article looks at the issue of Urdu from the perspective of identity politics. He looks at the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“communalisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of Urdu, the reduction of the language in the eyes of many of its defenders and detractors to the status of a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ language, which it never was. He locates this in the backdrop of the competitive politics of north Indian Hindu and Muslim elites and the machinations of the British colonial authorities, and, after 1947, of various Indian political parties and the state. In pre-Partition India, Urdu survived and thrived because it was the language of communication of most north Indian elites, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, and because it received official patronage and was a language of administration and commerce. This, however, is not the case today because of which the class base of the support for the language has shifted, with Urdu being associated with Muslim ghettos and taught mainly in madrasas, where mostly poor Muslims study. With their narrow ideological perspectives, madrasas may have helped preserve Urdu but can do little, if anything at all, to link it to the process of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, which alone, Singh argues, can ensure the revival of the language beyond its presently limited role.
The hostile policies of the state vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis Urdu, the official patronage of Hindi in its place and the dominance of English have all made Urdu lose its public value. To add to this is what Singh sees as the absence of strong, well-networked alternate systems among Muslims for the promotion of Urdu on a voluntary basis. In turn, this is related to the indifference of many Muslim elites to the educational and other problems of the Muslim masses, widespread poverty and illiteracy among Muslims and the lack of political empowerment of the community as a whole.
Singh critiques what he sees as the Urdu-elites over-dependence on the state for hopes to promote Urdu at the same time as they do not display the same sort of enthusiasm to educate their own children in that language, preferring to send them to English-medium schools instead, in the hope of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“betterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ worldly prospects. Hopes for promoting Urdu today are further diminished because of its enforced ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“over-identificationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ with Islam as a result of the language being taught mainly in the madrasas, as a consequence of which most Urdu literature being produced today, penned by madrasa graduates and maulvis, is on Islamic religious subjects. The Urdu-eliteÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s myopic approach to Urdu, that of preserving it as part of the MuslimsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ religious and cultural heritage rather than as an instrument of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, has, Singh believes, only further exacerbated the communally exclusivist character that UrduÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s supporters and opponents have sought to bestow it with. Hence, moves to promote Urdu must also take note of the possibility of re-linking the language to the market and the economy, a task doubly difficult today in the age of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“globalisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
The Urdu media, Singh opines, has a critical role in promoting the language. He notes that the Urdu media is in a state of decline in large pats of India, owing partly to competition from English, Hindi and regional language media. Because of declining rates of literacy in Urdu, many Muslims themselves do not read Urdu newspapers. Furthermore, right-wing Hindu groups do not miss any opportunity to protest even against the most symbolic assistance provided by the state, often a vote-garnering gimmick, to the Urdu media, as exemplified, for instance, in the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“riotsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ in Karnataka some years ago following the governmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s announcement of news programmes in Urdu on state television.
Another means for promoting Urdu is to expand the range of Urdu publishing, Singh says. Today, most Urdu publishing houses remain limited to bringing out literary, historical (often hagiographical) and religious works. If they were also to publish social science texts, he says, they would increase the market for Urdu graduates and provide the community with much-needed information and insights on social, political, cultural and political issues, which are crucial for the empowerment of the community as a whole.
In her paper, Barbara Metcalf raises some of the same issues as Singh does, seeing the fate of Urdu in the context of the history of Hindu-Muslim communal strife from the late nineteenth century and colonial machinations, leading to the development of what their protagonists saw as two separate languages out of a single language, Hindustani. Metcalf laments the pitiable state of Urdu in India. She talks of numerous libraries in the country with rich Urdu collections but without a librarian who can read or even catalogue them. She notes the desperate shortage of Urdu teachers, owing to lack of state-funded Urdu-teachersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ training facilities. She mentions, too, the fact that that few Urdu publishing houses produce anything but Islamic literature. She suggests that the cause of Urdu could be popularised by publishing Urdu works in the Devanagari or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“HindiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ script so that those who cannot read the Urdu script may have access to some of the gems of Urdu literature. She also raises the possibility of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“biscriptÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ publications, texts using both the Urdu and Devanagari scripts, in order to reach a wider readership.
Voluntary action, Theodore Wright insists in his paper, is crucial for the preservation and promotion of Urdu in the absence of serious state initiatives. In order to stave off possible attacks from Hindutva forces who might see efforts for promoting Urdu as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“anti-nationalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, Wright suggests that advocates of Urdu highlight the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Indian nationalist rootsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of the language and the benefits that reviving Urdu could have for India, including promoting knowledge of the Arabic script that could help Indians doing business with the Middle East.
The greatest threat to Urdu and the cultural heritage that it represents, Wright opines, comes not from Hindi, as its protagonists sometimes argue, but from English. In challenging the growing hegemony of English, he says, Urdu-speaking Muslims and Hindi-speaking Hindus have a common interest. There is, he argues, no need to exclude English, for that would isolate India from the rest of the world. Instead, what he pleads for is the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“protection of Indian culture [ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦] from the invasion of pornographic and violent American popular culture via satellite television, cinema and radioÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and in this, he says, advocates of the various Indian languages, including Urdu, can have a common cause to join hands for.
Madrasas are today the main institutions for the teaching of Urdu. In her paper, Arjumand Ara looks at the role of madrasas in the shaping of contemporary Muslim identity and what this means for the fate of Urdu. Several of the points she raises are indeed valid, although on the whole her essay is distinctly polemical, makes too broad generalizations, lacks sufficient depth and sensitivity that comes from sustained fieldwork and is uncritically laudatory of the project of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and of the Indian stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s claims to secularism and democracy. It also reflects a certain intellectual and elitist arrogance in its diatribes against the madrasas, seeing things, as indeed the ulama it argues against themselves often do, in black and white, without taking cognizance of the fine shades of grey in between.
Ara rightly argues against the claim that Indian madrasas are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“dens of terrorÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. She opines that Hindutva propaganda against madrasas is linked to the right-wing Hindu forcesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ quest for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“creation of a ghettoised majorityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ (Hindus), which, in turn, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“requires the creation of a ghettoised minorityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ (Muslims). The Hindutva agenda of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hinduising the HindusÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is, she points out, crucially dependent on the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“minoritising the minoritiesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, and the Hindutva discourse on madrasas reflects this. To equate the Indian madrasas with a few radical madrasas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as many Indian and Western observers do, is quite misleading, she correctly says.
Yet, at the same time, Ara is critical of several aspects of the madrasa system. She opines that madrasas are the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“greatest obstruction in the path of progress of the Muslim communityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. She claims that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the general view that madrasas have a narrow outlook and oppose everything modern is not far [sic.] wrongÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Educated MuslimsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ (a term she leaves undefined, but which probably reflects the elitist notion that an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“educatedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ person is one who has received a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“secularÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education, preferably in English), she says, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“feel uneasy when they see swarms of young madrasa pupils in kurta-pyjama and sporting small beards and skull-caps emerging from a mosque or heading toward the home of a Muslim brother for a charity mealÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Ara opines that Muslim elites have done little or nothing for the education of the Muslim masses, the vast majority of whom continue to wallow in poverty and illiteracy. In fact, she says, they have been ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“indifferent, almost hostileÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ to the education of poor Muslims, most of who come from the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ castes. She refers in this regard to Sayyed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Aligarh movement, who saw his educational initiatives as aimed only at the so-called ashraf, Muslim elites who claimed foreign descent. He argued, she points out, that if ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education were provided to Muslims of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste it would cause ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“resentmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ among the ashraf. Since ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Muslims were generally denied ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education (both by the state as well as Muslim elites), they took recourse to madrasas. For their part, the madrasas, so Ara says, have only ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“further strengthenedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ the caste system among the Muslims, with many ulama, following the lead of the Hindu Brahmins, seeking to legitimise caste through various means.
While in medieval and even early modern times, madrasas catered essentially to the ashraf, in recent years they have become the bastion of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Muslims, Ara says. This is because of the free education that they provide as well as the channel of upward social mobility through ashrafisation, emulation of the mores of associated with the ashraf, that they open up to upwardly aspiring ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Muslims. As Muslim elites went in for ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ education, they continued to support madrasas, although few of them chose to educate their children therein. Muslim elites, in colonial times and today, used madrasas, or so Ara claims, in an instrumental fashion, as a means to assert and strengthen a separate Muslim community identity based on religion, a task that they left to poor Muslims to bear. This further reinforced the association between madrasas and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“lowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste and poor Muslims. This changing class composition of madrasa students, added to the fact that madrasas later emerged as what Ara terms a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“symbol of resistance to imperial ruleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, meant that they became ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“more specific in [their] objectives and rigid in [their] worldviewÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, because of which they ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“gradually lost their relevance to contemporary societyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Children from poor families were made to study abstruse books in Arabic, which few of them could properly understand, leading to a rapid decline in madrasa scholarship.
And so, Ara goes on, a system was born that was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“a by-product of a feudal societyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and one that, in her opinion, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“should have died out with the introduction of a democratic and liberal social orderÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. The fact that such an order hardly exists in India and is still a far from finished project appears of no consequence to Ara, whose hostility to the madrasas is amply evident, and is reflected in her uncritical and simplistic approach to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“democracyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. But she is on firmer ground when she argues, without, however, explaining why, that in post-Partition India, Muslim religious organisations, many associated with the ulama of madrasas, sought to arrogate to themselves the status of leaders of all Indian Muslims. In effect, however they represented and protected what Ara terms ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the interests of the feudal lordsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“blatantly protected the autocratic system in the garb of religionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. The point about the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“feudal lordsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is certainly arguable. Are there indeed many Muslim ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“feudal lordsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ left after zamindari abolition, one wonders, but AraÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s argument about the narrow interpretations of religion emanating from most madrasas is certainly less contestable. But then, the same could be said of most Hindu religious schools, particularly those run by Hindutva organisations, for that matter. Surely, the problem of reactionary interpretations of religion is a more general one, which needs to be looked at in a broader context.
Ara does not conceal her antipathy for the madrasas, and here, as elsewhere in her essay, she refuses to recognise the positive contributions that many madrasas are indeed making. Although several of her observations seem valid enough, some of these are somewhat exaggerated. In post-Partition India, she says, madrasas and various Islamic religio-political organisations helped shaped Muslim identity as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“traditional, fundamentalist, exclusivist and escapist'. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Madrasas, in factÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, she claims, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“became the most effective tool in the hands of people with vested interestsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, preaching those tenets of Islam ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“that suited them mostÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. They insisted that Muslims must never question the authority of the ulama and must not apply reason in religious matters. They focussed on rituals and duties, for which they promised rewards (sawab) in the life after death. They argued that if only the Muslims were to blindly follow the ulama they would receive a place in heaven. They were taught to cheerfully bear their poverty as a test from God and as a matter of fate. Poor Muslims studying in madrasas gained some sort of respectability and self-satisfaction in the belief that God loved them more because of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“righteousness in povertyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. In this way, she says, religion was deployed as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“powerful tool to keep people ignorant and exploited by the privilegedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. Rather than empowering Muslims to improve their lot by adapting to the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ world, madrasas, in effect, helped ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“push them to the marginsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
Madrasas and the way in which they interpret Islam admirably suit the interests of the Muslim ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“feudalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ elites, Ara contends, because it helps keep the Muslim masses under their sway, even as they send their own children to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools and not to madrasas. The ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mass baseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ that madrasas create among the Muslim poor serves, she says, as a means for elite Muslims to exploit for their own quest for power and domination in the name of protecting Islam. Madrasas are projected as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“forts of IslamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and the slogan of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Islam in dangerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is routinely raised by Muslim elites and the ulama in order to keep the Muslim masses under their subjugation, she adds. At the same time, many ulama who insist that Muslims must send their children to study in madrasas send their own children to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ schools and even abroad for education, so Ara contends. Such ulama are said to lead ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“modernÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ lives while preaching obscurantism to their flock. Consequently, Ara alleges, madrasa students are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“prone to becoming tools for vested interestsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, further marginalizing and ghettoizing Muslims. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Youth with madrasa background are especially prone to brainwashing in the name of religious revivalism, Muslim nationhood and pan-Islamism and organized [sic.)] in jihadi campsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, she goes on, appearing to misleadingly equate the vast majority of the Indian madrasas with radical madrasas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet, she says, Muslim elites and political parties are reluctant to intervene, as they are not genuinely interested in improving the living conditions of the Muslim masses. Ara opines that the state and Muslim organizations must help set up Urdu-medium schools catering to the Muslim poor to replace the madrasas, empower Muslims and counter the appeal of Hindu and Islamist communal and fascist forces.
Communalisation of Urdu
Amina YaqinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s paper, like several others included in this volume, examines what the author terms as the progressive ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“communalisationÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ of Urdu. Trapped in its ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“aristocratic lineageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, Urdu is now considered as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ language by many Hindus and Muslims as well as the state. While Congress politicians, including Gandhi and Nehru, had declared that neither Hindi nor Urdu but Hindustani would be IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s national language, they did not live up to their promise. Instead, heavily Sanskritised Hindi was foisted upon the country, leading to Hindi and Urdu becoming more distant from each other. Speakers of various dialects and languages in the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hindi beltÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ have been officially declared as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Hindi-speakersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ in order to back the ruling elitesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ agenda of forcing Sanskritised Hindi on the rest of the country.
This point is further elaborated upon by Daniela Bredi, who argues that the notion of spoken Hindi and Urdu as two separate languages is misleading. Rather, she says, they ought to be seen as shades of what she calls a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“unitary languageÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, drawing upon Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic vocabularies to different extents. She then proceeds to examine the role of an emerging Hindi middle-class in late nineteenth century colonial north India that sought to counter Muslim and Kayasth domination in government services in the United Provinces by championing the cause of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“HindiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, which they consciously developed as a language that was shorn of its Persian and Arabic heritage. In reaction, Muslim elites began stressing what they saw as the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“IslamicÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ identity of Urdu. Today, she says, Urdu is seen as integral to north Indian Muslim identity, with Muslim elites defending it, fearing the complete erasure of Muslim identity or what Bredi terms ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“cultural genocideÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ in the face of a homogenizing Indian nationalism that is heavily influenced by Brahminical Hinduism. Since Urdu as a taught language is now largely limited to madrasas and since the standard of the few Urdu-medium schools leaves much to be desired, madrasa Urdu, heavily Arabised, has now become to official standard of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“correctÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Urdu, threatening to wipe out UrduÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rich secular and composite cultural heritage.
The Urdu press can play an important role in preserving and promoting the language, Bredi argues, but she adds that Urdu schools lack the standards needed to produce a readership that demands high standards of the press. Consequently, the low overall standard of the Urdu press has meant that it has largely failed to play a constructive role in shaping Muslim sensibilities to adjust to contemporary challenges facing the Indian Muslims. Instead, Urdu journalism has, so Bredi argues, a tendency to reinforce a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“sectarianÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“emotionalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ outlook. Since in north India few middle-class Muslims can read Urdu, the Urdu press there caters mainly to the lower-middle classes and the poor. Often, she writes, Urdu papers are linked to Muslim politicians who have a vested interest in reinforcing a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ghetto mentalityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ among Muslims. This problem is further compounded by the fact that many Urdu journalists are madrasa graduates and are not exposed to other forms of education and ways of thinking.
Urdu intellectuals and Muslim politicians who seek to protect and promote Urdu must prove, Bredi says, that Urdu does indeed have a vital role to play in India today. They should desist from ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“self-pityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ and blaming others for UrduÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s plight. She suggests that the thousands of maktabs in the country could incorporate the teaching of Urdu, in addition to the QurÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢an, and that in their efforts to secure the rights of Urdu, its champions should not project it as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ issue, but, rather, as one to do with a language that is an integral part of IndiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rich and diverse cultural heritage.
Syed ShahabuddinÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s well-argued article offers constructive suggestions for the promotion of Urdu through voluntary efforts and state initiatives. Shahabuddin insists that voluntary efforts to protect Urdu are not enough in themselves. Rather, the state must play a key role in this regard since it is obliged to do so. He notes that while Urdu-speakers in large parts of the country are effectively denied the right to study their mother-tongue in schools, scores of colleges and universities teach the language, making Urdu-education ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“top-heavyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. He argues that it is the Constitutional obligation of the state to enable Urdu-speakers have their children educated in Urdu till at least the primary level and to learn the language as an optional subject at higher levels, and he notes the various means through which the state has consciously sought to relieve itself of this duty. For their part, he adds, many Muslim educational institutions do not give particular support to Urdu, since their primary objective is either commercial or else the promotion of education in general, and not of Urdu as such.
Shahabuddin believes that it is not now possible to make Urdu the medium of instruction at the secondary level, except in what he says are ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“exceptional conditionsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢. However, he argues for the state or the Urdu-speaking community to establish one or more Urdu-medium high school in each district to feed the few Urdu-medium higher secondary and degree-level institutions that remain, which, in turn, can produce better teachers for Urdu-medium schools. It is only when the state is forced to act on its Constitutional obligation of enabling Urdu-speakers to learn their language in schools that Urdu can survive, and Muslim elites should raise this demand rather than remaining restricted to demands for more Urdu universities, Shahabuddin stresses. The latter demand, he says, is actually welcomed by the state as it enables it to proceed with undermining and marginalizing Urdu while at the same time providing sops to Urdu-speakers and paying verbal tributes to the language by setting up Urdu academies and sponsoring Urdu mushairas and seminars, thus diverting attention from the fundamental question of teaching Urdu as a subject or employing it as a medium of instruction in schools.
Several other essays included in this volume make roughly the same points as those mentioned above. This remarkable book is a must for anyone concerned with the unenviable fate that Urdu faces in India today. Someone ought to undertake the laborious task of summarizing its contents and translating and publishing it in Urdu for the benefit of Urdu-speakers. The fact that this book is in English and that there is, as far as this reviewer is aware, nothing comparable on this subject available in Urdu, itself shows the depths to which Urdu has sunk, or, rather, forced to sink, in post-Partition India.
Book: Terrorism: Facts versus Myths
Author: Ram Puniyani
Pages 96 p/b
Price: Rs 40 / Euro 4
ISBN 81-7221-033-7; ISBN-13: 978-81-7221-033-5
Publishers: Pharos Media Publishing Pvt Ltd p/b
The phenomenon of terrorism has many dimensions to it and it has been the major bane of current times. The propaganda by the dominant power and section of media has succeeded in associating this menace to a particular religion and religious community. This booklet takes up these popular notions and myths and tries to unravel the truth of this phenomenon through facts, photographs and cartoons. Hindi, Marathi and Urdu editions of this book are expected shortly.
Table of Contents
1. Terrorism and Muslims.
2. Islamic Tag
3. Terrorist violence and Religion
4. Clash of Civilizations
5. War on terror
6. Islam and Violence
7. Democracy and Islam
8. Islam and Fundamentalism
9. RSS and Terrorism
10. RSS fights against Terror!
US military Intervention
A. A Moment of silence
B. War Crimes Tribunal in Afghanistan
C. International Tribunal on War Crimes in Iraq
D. Civilizations Clash or Alliance
E. Al Qaeda or Al Fayda
F. ABC of Jihad in Afghanistan Roots of Global Terror
The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future
by Martha C. Nussbaum
Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 403 pp., $29.95
Impasse in India
By Pankaj Mishra
Last summer Foreign Affairs, Time, Newsweek, and The Economist highlighted a major shift in American perceptions of India when, in cover stories that appeared almost simultaneously, they described the country as a rising economic power and a likely "strategic ally" of the United States. In 1991, India partly opened its protectionist economy to foreign trade and investment. Since then agriculture, which employs more than 60 percent of the country's population, has stagnated, but the services sector has grown as corporate demand has increased in Europe and America for India's software engineers and English-speaking back-office workers. In 2006, India's economy grew at a remarkable 9.2 percent.
Dominated by modern office buildings, cafés, and gyms, and swarming with Blackberry-wielding executives of financial and software companies, parts of Indian cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Gurgaon resemble European and American downtowns. Regular elections and increasingly free markets make India appear to be a more convincing exemplar of economic globalization than China, which has adopted capitalism without embracing liberal democracy.
However, many other aspects of India today make Foreign Affairs' description of the country—"a roaring capitalist success-story"—appear a bit optimistic. More than half of the children under the age of five in India are malnourished; failed crops and debt drove more than a hundred thousand farmers to suicide in the past decade. Uneven economic growth and resulting inequalities have thrown up formidable new challenges to India's democracy and political stability. A recent report in the International Herald Tribune warned:
Crime rates are rising in the major cities, a band of Maoist-inspired rebels is bombing and pillaging its way across a wide swath of central India, and violent protests against industrialization projects are popping up from coast to coast.
Militant Communist movements are only the most recent instance of the political extremism that has been on the rise since the early Nineties when India began to integrate into the global economy. Until 2004 the central government as well as many state governments in India were, as the philosopher Martha Nussbaum puts it in her new book,
increasingly controlled by right-wing Hindu extremists who condone and in some cases actively support violence against minorities, especially the Muslim minority. Many seek fundamental changes in India's pluralistic democracy.
In 1992, the Hindu nationalist BJP (Indian People's Party) gave early warning of its intentions when its members demolished the sixteenth-century Babri Mosque in North India, leading to the deaths of thousands in Hindu–Muslim riots across the country. In May 1998, just two months after it came to power, the BJP broke India's self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing by exploding five atomic bombs in the desert of Rajasthan. Pakistan responded with five nuclear tests of its own.
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The starkest evidence of Hindu extremism came in late February and March 2002 in the prosperous western Indian state of Gujarat. In a region internationally famous for its business communities, Hindu mobs lynched over two thousand Muslims and left more than two hundred thousand homeless. The violence was ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged Muslim attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims in which a car was set on fire, killing fifty-eight people. Nussbaum, who is engaged in a passionate attempt to end "American ignorance of India's history and current situation," makes the "genocidal violence" against Muslims in Gujarat the "focal point" of her troubled reflections on democracy in India. She points to forensic evidence which indicates that the fire in the train was most likely caused by a kerosene cooking stove carried by one of the Hindu pilgrims. In any case, as Nussbaum points out, there is "copious evidence that the violent retaliation was planned by Hindu extremist organizations before the precipitating event."
Low-caste Dalits joined affluent upper-caste Hindus in killing Muslims, who in Gujarat as well as in the rest of India tend to be poor. "Approximately half of the victims," Nussbaum writes, "were women, many of whom were raped and tortured before being killed and burned. Children were killed with their parents; fetuses were ripped from the bellies of pregnant women to be tossed into the fire."
Gujarat's pro-business chief minister, Narendra Modi, an important leader of the BJP, rationalized and even encouraged the murders. The police were explicitly ordered not to stop the violence. The prime minister of India at the time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, seemed to condone the killings when he declared that "wherever Muslims are, they don't want to live in peace." In public statements Hindu nationalists tried to make their campaign against Muslims seem part of the US-led war on terror, and, as Nussbaum writes, "the current world atmosphere, and especially the indiscriminate use of the terrorism card by the United States, have made it easier for them to use this ploy."
A widespread fear and distrust of Muslims among Gujarat's middle-class Hindus helped the BJP win the state elections held in December 2002 by a landslide. Tens of thousands of Muslims displaced by the riots still live in conditions of extreme squalor in refugee camps. Meanwhile, the Hindu extremists involved in the killings of Muslims move freely. Though denied a visa to the US by the State Department, Narendra Modi continues to be courted by India's biggest businessmen, who are attracted by the low taxes, high profits, and flexible labor laws offered by Gujarat.
Describing the BJP's quest for a culturally homogeneous Hindu nation-state, Nussbaum wishes to introduce her Western readers to "a complex and chilling case of religious violence that does not fit some common stereotypes about the sources of religious violence in today's world." Nussbaum claims that "most Americans are still inclined to believe that religious extremism in the developing world is entirely a Muslim matter." She hints that at least part of this myopia must be blamed on Samuel Huntington's hugely influential "clash of civilizations" argument, which led many to believe that the world is "currently polarized between a Muslim monolith, bent on violence, and the democratic cultures of Europe and North America."
Nussbaum points out that India, a democracy with the third-largest Muslim population in the world, doesn't fit Huntington's theory of a clash between civilizations. The real clash exists
within virtually all modern nations —between people who are prepared to live with others who are different, on terms of equal respect, and those who seek the... domination of a single religious and ethnic tradition.
She describes how Indian voters angered by the BJP's pro-rich economic policies and anti-Muslim violence voted it out of power in general elections in 2004. Detailing the general Indian revulsion against the violence in Gujarat and the search for justice by its victims, she highlights the "ability of well-informed citizens to turn against religious nationalism and to rally behind the values of pluralism and equality." Insisting on the practical utility of philosophy, Nussbaum has often attacked the theory-driven feminism of American academia. "India's women's movement," she claims, "has a great deal to teach America's rather academicized women's movement." She is convinced that from India "we Americans can learn a good deal about democracy and its future as we try to act responsibly in a dangerous world."
Nussbaum thus casts India's experience of democracy in an unfamiliar role: as a source of important lessons for Americans. Such brisk overturning of conventional perspective has distinguished Nussbaum's varied writings, which move easily from the ideas of Stoic philosophers to international development. Few contemporary philosophers in the West have reckoned with India's complex experience of democracy; and even fewer have engaged with it as vigorously as she does in The Clash Within.
Nussbaum, who has frequently visited India to research how gender relations shape social justice, is particularly concerned about the situation of women in contemporary India. She sensitively explores the colonial-era laws that, upheld by the Indian constitution, discriminate against Muslim women. She describes how Gujarat, which has had economic growth but has made little progress in education and health care, became a hospitable home to Hindu nationalists. She details, too, tensions within the Indian diaspora, many of whom are Gujarati, whose richest members support the BJP. She reveals how the BJP initiated India's own culture wars by revising history textbooks, inserting in them, among other things, praise for the "achievements" of Nazism.
Her interviews with prominent right-wing Hindus yield some shrewd psychological insights, particularly into Arun Shourie, an economist and investigative journalist who, famous initially for his intrepid exposés of corruption, became a cabinet minister and close adviser to BJP prime minister Vajpayee. She suggests that the anti-Muslim views of Shourie, who is otherwise capable of intelligent commentary, may owe to "something volatile and emotionally violent in his character...something that lashes out at a perceived threat and refuses to take seriously the evidence that it might not be a threat."
In a chapter that forms the core of the book, she examines the ideas and legacies of Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Rabindranath Tagore, founding fathers of India's democracy. Her admiration for Tagore and Gandhi is deep. However, she offers only qualified praise for Nehru, India's resolutely rationalist first prime minister. Nussbaum laments that Nehru neglected "the cultivation of liberal religion and the emotional bases of a respectful pluralistic society"—a failure that she thinks left the opportunity wide open for the BJP's "public culture of exclusion and hate."
According to Nussbaum, Nehru may have been good at building formal institutions, but it was Gandhi who gave a spiritual and philosophical basis to democracy in India by calling "all Indians to a higher vision of themselves, getting people to perceive the dignity of each human being." She approves of Gandhi's view that only individuals who are critically conscious of their own conflicts and passions can build a real democracy. In fact, much of Nussbaum's own rather unconventional view of democracy in this book derives from the Gandhian idea of Swaraj (self-rule), in which control of one's inner life and respect for other people create self-aware and engaged rather than passive citizens. The "thesis of this book," she writes in her preface, is
the Gandhian claim that the real struggle that democracy must wage is a struggle within the individual self, between the urge to dominate and defile the other and a willingness to live respectfully on terms of compassion and equality.
However, Nussbaum's strongly felt and stimulating book deepens rather than answers the question: How did India's democracy, commonly described as the biggest in the world, become so vulnerable to religious extremism?
Ideological fanaticism stemming from personal inadequacies, such as the one Nussbaum identifies in Arun Shourie, is certainly to blame. But as Nussbaum herself outlines in her chapter on Gujarat, religious violence in India today cannot be separated from the recent dramatic changes in the country's economy and politics. The individual defects of Indian politicians only partly explain the great and probably insuperable social and economic conflicts that give India's democracy its particular momentum and anarchic vitality.
Richard Nixon once said that those who think that India is governed badly should marvel at the fact that it is governed at all. In a similar vein, the Indian historian Ramachandra Guha asks in his forthcoming book India After Gandhi, "Why is there an India at all?" For centuries India was not a nation in any conventional sense of the word. Not only did it not possess the shared language, culture, and national identity that have defined many nations; it had more social and cultural variety than even the continent of Europe. At the time of independence in 1950, much of its population was very poor and largely illiterate. India's multiple languages—the Indian constitution recognizes twenty-two—and religions, together with great inequalities of caste and class, ensured a wide potential for conflict.
Given this intractable complexity, democracy in India was an extraordinarily ambitious political experiment. By declaring India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, the makers of the Indian constitution seemed to take the idea of liberty, equality, and fraternity more seriously than even their European and American counterparts. African-Americans got voting rights only in 1870, almost a century after the framing of the American Constitution, and American women only in 1920. But all Indian adults, irrespective of their class, sex, and caste, enjoyed the right to vote from 1950, when India formally became a republic.
What was also remarkable about the Indian Republic was that it came about with a minimum of political agitation. The Indian political philosopher Pratap Bhanu Mehta points out that democracy in India came as a gift to the Indian masses from the largely middle-class and upper-caste leaders of the anti-colonial movement led by the Congress Party. It was a byproduct rather than the natural consequence of the anti-colonial movement.
Modern India's founding fathers, who preferred a secular democratic system, appear to have been great political idealists and visionaries. However, they were also pragmatists, and they couldn't have failed to see how democracy, which was viewed in India as inseparable from the promise of social and economic justice, and the official ideology of secular nationalism were necessary means to contain the country's many sectarian divisions. A former prime minister of India once defined his job as "managing contradictions"; this onerous task, as much moral as political, has remained the responsibility of ruling elites in democratic India.
From the very beginning, India's leaders faced the problem of instituting a secular and democratic state before the conditions for it—an adequately large secular and egalitarian-minded citizenry, and impartial legal institutions—had been met. A secular political culture couldn't be created overnight, and in the meantime citizens with political demands could only organize themselves in overtly religious, linguistic, and ethnic communities. As the experience of Iraq most recently shows, when citizens have few opportunities of participation in political life, a concept of democracy based on elections and the rule of the majority can deepen preexisting ethnic and religious divisions.
Sectarian tensions had opened up even in the anti-colonial movement led by the Congress Party. Muslims suspicious that the secular nationalism of the Congress was a disguise for Hindu majoritarian rule demanded and eventually received a separate state, Pakistan. The promise of democracy also didn't prove sufficient in Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority and where one of Nehru's closest friends, Sheikh Abdullah, grew disillusioned with what he perceived as Hindu dominance over the province. On the whole, however, the Congress, helped greatly by the moral prestige of Gandhi and Nehru, succeeded in becoming a truly pan-Indian party in the first two decades after independence, able to appease the potentially conflicting interests of Muslims and low-caste Dalits as well as upper-caste Brahmins.
Nehru's suspicion of businessmen— shaped as much by the European distrust of capitalism between the wars as by India's forced deindustrialization by the British East India Company— committed him to state control of prices, wages, and production, and to strict limits on foreign investment and trade. These measures, which were aimed at both protecting the Indian poor from exploitation and creating India's industrial infrastructure, checked economic inequality, even if, as Nehru's critics allege, they distributed poverty more than they shared wealth.
As democratic ideals and beliefs took root among the Indian masses, the extraordinary consensus Nehru had created around his own charismatic figure and the Congress Party was always likely to fracture. Nehru's successor, Indira Gandhi, veered between populist and authoritarian measures, such as the "Emergency" she declared in 1975; but she failed to stem the decline of the Congress as a pan-Indian party. Powerful regional and caste-based politicians were no longer content to broker votes for an upper-class elite within the Congress, and wanted their own share of state power; during the Eighties many hitherto imperceptible political assertions became louder, turning into what V.S. Naipaul in a book published in 1990 termed "a million mutinies now."
The decade saw the rise of new caste- and region-based political coalitions. Fundamentally unstable, they emerged and collapsed just as quickly. In 1989, the attempt by one of these coalition governments to placate low-caste discontent through affirmative action—for example, reserving a portion of government jobs for members of these castes—angered and alienated many upper-caste and middle-class Hindus. Already disillusioned by the Congress, they turned to supporting the upper-caste-dominated BJP, which until the late Eighties had been a negligible force in Indian politics.
Hoping to replace the discredited Congress as India's ruling elite, the BJP realized that it would have to create another kind of moral and ideological authority. And so, claiming that secular nationalism was a failure, it offered Hindu nationalism, arguing that just as Europe and America, though officially secular, were rooted in Christian culture, so India should revive its traditional Hindu ethos that Muslim invaders had allegedly defiled.
Remarkably, the BJP, while doing away with one plank of Indian democracy, couldn't abandon the rhetoric of political equality. Aware that the party couldn't achieve a parliamentary majority without low-caste votes, its leaders were at pains throughout their anti-Muslim campaigns to present Hindu nationalism to low-caste Hindus as an egalitarian ideology. (The presence of Dalits in Gujarat's lynch mobs attests to their success.)
The liberalization of the economy under Congress's leadership in 1991— through such measures as eliminating tariffs and restrictions on private business—created a new constituency for the traditionally pro-business BJP: the rising middle class in urban centers. Declaring that it would restore India to its long-lost international eminence, the BJP also acquired what Nussbaum calls "a powerful and wealthy US arm": a generation of rich Indians who while living abroad seek to affirm their identities through the achievements of their ancestral land. It was largely owing to the support of the Hindu middle class—the BJP has rarely done well in rural areas—that Hindu nationalists managed, after a string of successes throughout the Nineties in provincial elections, to gain power within a coalition government in New Delhi in 1998.
Six years of the BJP's rule brought about deep shifts in Indian politics and the economy. There was accelerated economic growth, especially in information technology and business-processing services such as call centers. It was also around this time that the faith—first popularized in America and Britain during the Reagan and Thatcher years—that free markets can take over the functions of the state spread among many Indian journalists and intellectuals.
Ideology-driven globalization of the kind the BJP supported, which reduced even the government's basic responsibility for health care and education, further complicated the promise of political equality in India. The world economy had its own particular demands—for example for software engineers and back-office workers—that India could fulfill. And while the country's comparative advantage in technically adept manpower has benefited a small minority, it has excluded hundreds of millions of Indians who neither have nor can easily acquire the special skills needed to enter the country's booming services sector. Many of these Indians live in India's poorest and most populous states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh in the north, Orissa in the East, and Andhra Pradesh in the south. Their poor infrastructure—bad roads and erratic power supply—as well as high crime levels make them a daunting investment prospect.
Thus, even as the economy grew in urban areas, preexisting inequalities of resources, access to information, skills, and status came to be further entrenched within India. The country's prestigious engineering and management colleges now seek to set up branches outside India, but, according to a survey in 2004, only half of the paid teachers in Indian primary schools were actually teaching during official hours. Europeans and Americans head to India for high-quality and inexpensive medical care while the Indian poor struggle with the most privatized health system in the world.
Nevertheless, the BJP campaigned in the 2004 elections on the slogan "India Shining." Its success was predicted by almost all of the English-language press and television. As expected, urban middle-class Hindus, who had been best-placed to embrace new opportunities in business and trade, preferred the BJP. However, the majority of Indians, who had been left behind by recent economic growth, voted against incumbent governments, unseating, among others, many strongly pro-business ruling politicians in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (of which Bangalore is the capital city).
In the elections of 2004, Indian Communist parties performed better than ever before. The Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, had built its election campaign around the travails of the ordinary Indian in the age of globalization. Much to its own surprise, the party found itself in power, with Manmohan Singh, an Oxford-educated economist, as prime minister.
Singh and his Harvard-educated finance minister P. Chidambaram were among the technocrats who initiated India's economic reforms in 1991. Their second stint in power has disappointed international business periodicals such as The Economist and the Financial Times as well as much of the English-language press in India, which complains periodically that economic reform in India has more or less stalled since 2004. But given the mandate it received from the electorate, Singh's government has little choice but to appear cautious. The rise in inflation that accompanies high economic growth proved fatal for many governments in India in the previous decade, most recently in the state of Punjab where the ruling Congress lost to a coalition, prompting Sonia Gandhi to publicly ask the central government to show greater sensitivity to the plight of poor Indians.
The government's hands are already tied by rules of free trade inspired by such international institutions as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Thousands of cotton farmers in central India have killed themselves, escaping a plight that Oxfam in a report last year claimed had been worsened by their "indiscriminate and forced integration" into an "unfair global system" in which the agricultural products of heavily subsidized farmers in the US and Europe depress prices globally. Unable to persuade the United States to cut its subsidies to American farmers, the Indian commerce minister spent much of his time at the WTO's Doha Round of talks in July 2006 watching the soccer World Cup.
Unlike China, India can only go so far in creating a "business-friendly climate"—the very limited ambition of many politicians today. In China, lack of democratic accountability has helped the nominally Communist regime to give generous subsidies and tax breaks to exporters and foreign investors. The swift and largely unpublicized suppression of protesting peasants has also made it easier for real estate speculators acting in tandem with corrupt Party bosses to seize agricultural land.
In India, however, the government's efforts to court businessmen are provoking a highly visible backlash from poorer Indians who feel themselves excluded from the benefits of globalization. Plans to relax India's labor laws —in other words, to import the hire-and-fire practices of American companies—have provoked strong protests from trade unions. In recent weeks, the government has been forced to reconsider its plan to set up Chinese-style Special Economic Zones for foreign companies after the project ran into violent opposition from farmers facing eviction from their lands.
Such intense mass agitations in India have helped magnify the growing contradictions of economic globalization: how by fostering rapid growth in some sectors of the economy it raises expectations everywhere, but by distributing its benefits narrowly, it expands the population of the disenchanted and the frustrated, often making them vulnerable to populist politicians. At the same time the biggest beneficiaries of globalization find shelter in such aggressive ideologies as Hindu nationalism.
The feeling of hopelessness and despair, especially among landless peasants, is what has led to militant Communist movements of unprecedented vigor and scale—Prime Minister Singh recently described them as the greatest internal security threat faced by India since independence in 1947. These Mao-inspired Communists, who have their own systems of tax collection and justice, now dominate large parts of central and northern India, particularly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa.
Their informal secessionism has its counterpart among the Indian rich. Gated communities grow in Indian cities and suburbs. The elite itself seems to have mutinied, its members retreating into exclusive enclaves where they can withdraw from the social and political complications of the country they live in. Affluent Indians are helped in this relocation—as much psychological as geographical—by the English-language press and television, which, as a report in the International Herald Tribune put it, "has concocted a world —all statistical evidence to the contrary—in which you are a minority if not fabulously rich."
Nussbaum is right to say that the "level of debate and reporting in the major newspapers and at least some of the television networks is impressively high." In fact, India is one of the few countries where print newspapers and magazines, especially in regional languages, continue to flourish. But the most influential part of the Indian press not only makes little use of its freedom; it helps diminish the space for public discussion, which partly accounts for what the philosopher Pratap Mehta calls the "extraordinary non-deliberative nature of Indian politics."
On any given day, the front pages of such mainstream Indian newspapers as The Hindustan Times and the Times of India veer between celebrity-mongering—Britney Spears's new hair-style—and what appears to be "consumer nationalism"—reports on Indian tycoons, beauty queens, fashion designers, filmmakers, and other achievers in the West. Excited accounts of Tata, India's biggest private-sector company, buying the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus make it seem that something like what The Economic Times, India's leading business paper, calls "The Global Indian Take-over" is underway. Largely reduced to an echo chamber, where an elite minority seems increasingly to hear mainly its own voice, the urban press is partly responsible for a new privileged generation of Indians lacking, as Nussbaum points out, any "identification with the poor."
The stultification of large parts of the Indian mass media is accompanied by the growing presence of a new kind of special interest in Indian politics: that of large corporations. Close links between businessmen and politicians have existed for a long time. But unlike in the United States, the electoral process in India was not primarily shaped by the candidates' ability to raise corporate money. Compared to the US Congress, the Indian parliament was relatively free of lobbyists for large companies. This began to change during the rule of the Hindu nationalists, who proved themselves as adept in working with big businessmen as in holding on to its older constituency of small merchants and traders. A recent opinion poll in the newsmagazine Outlook reveals that growing public distaste for politics feeds on the intimacy between politicians and businessmen.
Nussbaum terms "surreal" the "mixture of probusiness politics and violence that characterizes the BJP." But this doesn't seem so surreal if, briefly reversing Nussbaum's gaze, we look at "democracy and its future" in the United States. Many of Nussbaum's American readers would be familiar with the alliance between right-wing politics and religion, or with how powerful business elites advance their interests under the cover of ultranationalism and religious faith.
Unlike the situation in India, democracy in America has not been largely perceived as a means to social and economic egalitarianism. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party's victory in midterm elections in November 2006 suggests widespread disquiet over inequality in America, which has grown rapidly against a backdrop of corporate scandals, such as Enron and WorldCom, extravagant executive pay, dwindling pensions and health insurance, and increased outsourcing of jobs—including to India—by American companies looking for cheap labor and high profits.
Examining the state of American democracy in his new book, Is Democracy Possible Here?, Ronald Dworkin asserts that "the level of indifference the nation now shows to the fate of its poor calls into question not only the justice of its fiscal policies but also their legitimacy." The challenge before India's political system is not much different: how to ensure a minimum of equality in an age of globalization as international business and financial institutions deprive governments of some of their old sovereignty, empower elites with transnational loyalties, and cause ordinary citizens to grow indifferent to politics.
In a recent book, the distinguished American political scientist Robert A. Dahl offers an optimistic vision in which "an increasing awareness that the dominant culture of competitive consumerism does not lead to greater happiness gives way to a culture of citizenship that strongly encourages movement toward greater political equality among American citizens." Dahl points out that "once people have achieved a rather modest level of consumption, further increases in income and consumption no longer produce an increase in their sense of well-being or happiness."
This awareness is not easily achieved in a culture of capitalism that thrives on ceaselessly promoting and multiplying desire. But it may be imperative for Indians, who, arriving late in the modern world, are confronted with the possibility that economic growth on the model of Western consumer capitalism is no longer environmentally sustainable. One billion Indians, not to mention another billion Chinese, embracing Western modes of work and consumption will cause irrevocable damage to the global environment, which is strained enough at having to provide resources for the lifestyles of a few hundred million Americans and Europeans.
Fortunately, a large majority of poor and religious Indians do not live within the modern culture of materialism; they are invulnerable to the glamour of the CEO, the investment banker, the PR executive, the copywriter, and other gurus of the West's fully organized consumer societies. Traditional attitudes toward the natural environment make Indians, like the Japanese, more disposed than Americans to pursue happiness modestly. And almost six decades after his assassination, Gandhi's traditionalist emphasis on austerity and self-abnegation remains a powerful part of Indian identity.
Gandhi saw clearly how organizing human societies around endless economic growth would promote inequality and conflict within as well as between nations. He knew that for democracy to flourish, it "must learn," as Martha Nussbaum puts it, "to cultivate the inner world of human beings, equipping each citizen to contend against the passion for domination and to accept the reality, and the equality, of others."
Gandhi's ethical vision of democracy seems more persuasive as the social costs of the obsession with economic growth become intolerable. Responding to another wave of mass suicides of farmers in July 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear that only a small minority in India can and will enjoy "Western standards of living and high consumption." Singh exhorted his countrymen to abandon the "wasteful" Western model of consumerism and learn from the frugal ways of Gandhi, which he claimed were a "necessity" in India. The invocation of Gandhi by a Western-style technocrat sounds rhetorical. But it may also be an acknowledgment that there are no easy ways out of the impasse—the danger of intensified violence and environmental destruction —to which globalization has brought the biggest democracy in the world.
 Though the service sector employs only 23 percent of the population, it accounts for 54 percent of India's GDP.
 Somini Sengupta, "On India's Despairing Farms, a Plague of Suicide," The New York Times, September 19, 2006.
 Anand Giridharadas, "Rising Prosperity Brings New Fears to India," International Herald Tribune, January 26, 2007.
 See Saba Naqvi Bhaumik, "Gujarat's Guru," Outlook, January 29, 2007.
 Ramachandra Guha, India After Gan-dhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy (to be published by Ecco in August 2007), p. 15.
 Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The Burden of Democracy (Delhi: Penguin, 2003), p. 5.
 Jo Johnson, "Poor Turn to Private Schools," Financial Times, January 13, 2007.
 Dramatically increasing investment in education and health care and withdrawing tax breaks to foreign businessmen in their latest budget proposals, China's new leaders seem to be trying to check growing inequalities and social unrest in their country. See "Getting Rich," London Review of Books, November 30, 2006.
 Somini Sengupta, "Indian Police Kill 11 at Protest Over Economic Zone" The New York Times, March 15, 2007.
 Jo Johnson, "Leftist Insurgents Kill 50 Indian Policemen," Financial Times, March 15, 2007.
 See also Siddhartha Deb, "The 'Feel-Good': Letter from Delhi," Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2005.
 For a vigorous assertion of growing economic populism in America, see James Webb, "Class Struggle: American Workers Have a Chance to Be Heard," The Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006.
 Ronald Dworkin, Is Democracy Possible Here? (Princeton University Press, 2006), p. 118.
 Robert A. Dahl, On Political Equality (Yale University Press, 2006), pp. x, 106.
 Renée Loth, "Japan's Energy Wisdom," International Herald Tribune, March 26, 2007.
 "Refarmer Manmohan," The Economic Times, July 3, 2006.
Name of the Book: The State in Islam: Nature & Scope
Author: Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer
Total pages: 287
Publisher: Hope India Publications, India.
Islam basically is religion of peace, compassion and justice. There are enough verses in the Qura'n to prove this. Violence is allowed only for defence, never for aggression. Moreover, it is incidental, not ideological. In principle, it is peace and it is duty of all Muslims to promote and establish peace.
This book, it is hoped, would help generate a fresh debate on this sensitive subject in a much more informed manner. Also those Muslims who desire to establish Islamic state should know that the Qur'an does not refer to any such concept. It only desires to establish a just society free of injustices, exploitation and oppression whatever form the state takes. What is called khilafat-e-rashidah was also based on historical context. The form today Islamic state takes will depend on today's context. There is no standard from available to emulate. This is precisely what this book says.
2. Islamic State: Its Origin and Evolution
3. The Theory and Practice of Islamic State after the Prophet
4. Islamic State through Medieval Ages
5. Islamic State in the Modern Era
6. Jama'at-e-Islami and Islamic State
7. The Resurgence of Islamic and Islamic State
8. The Post-1980 Development
9. On the Causes of Violence in Early Islamic Society-I
10. On the Causes of Violence in Early Islamic Society-II
For copies contact:
Hope India Publications, 85, Sector 23, Gurgaon - 122017, Haryana, India.
Tel: - (0124) 2367308
Books dealing with social issues.
Name of the Book: Empowerment of Muslims in India Through Information and Communication
Publisher: Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi
Price: Rs. 180
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
The role of the mass media in empowering communities is a recognized fact. Given that Muslims in India are, on the whole, a marginalized community, the mass media can play a crucial role in promoting internal reform and facilitating the communityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s social, economic, educational and political empowerment. The importance of the mass media is further enhanced in the current context of growing anti-Muslim sentiments which large sections of the media, national as well as international, are engaged in actively cultivating. This is the underlying message of this timely book.
The book begins with a chapter surveying the Muslim presence in the mass media, both print as well as electronic, in India today. The author points to the negligible presence of Muslim employees in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ media organizations and to the remarkably low number of Muslim-owned newspapers and magazines in languages other than Urdu. Of the approximately 750 daily English newspapers in the country, only oneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?the Mumbai-based Mid-DayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â?is owned by Muslims. Yet even this single paper, an evening tabloid, cannot be said to represent Muslim views. Barely half a dozen of the roughly 3500 daily Hindi newspapers in the country are run by Muslims. Only two of the 225 daily newspapers published from Kerala in Malayalam are Muslim-owned. Gujarat has a single Muslim-run Gujarati newspaper. The situation is similar in the case of other regional languages. Likewise, in the case of periodicals in languages other than Urdu. Most of these, Asif says, are poorly and rather unprofessionally managed.
The remaining section of the book consists of interviews with media persons, Muslims as well as others, eliciting their views about Muslim representation in the Indian media. Understandably, there is considerable repetition in what they have to say, and this the author could conveniently have left out. The interviews itself lack depth, are somewhat superficial and the language is rather shoddy. An issue that many interviewees deal with is the negligible number of Muslims in the non-Urdu media. Various explanations are offered for this, including discrimination and lack of sufficiently qualified applicants. While many Muslim respondents working in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ media houses stress that they do not face any discrimination in the workplace and in covering Muslim issues, some say that they have to be extra-cautious in dealing with issues related to Muslims and Hindu-Muslim conflict so as not to appear to be ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“biasedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“pro-MuslimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢, a burden that Hindu journalists do not have to carry. It is almost as if Muslims, in contrast to Hindus, cannot be expected to be objective and fair in discussing issues related to Hindu-Muslim controversies. A related issue that should have been raised in this regard but is curiously absent in all the interviews is that of the caste-class character of the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“mainstreamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Indian media, being dominated almost entirely by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“upperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ caste Hindus.
Another issue, which is barely touched upon in the interviews but which deserves to be discussed in considerable detail, is the tendency of large sections of the non-Muslim media to present Muslims and Islam in a negative light. The issue of Hindutva-leaning journalists and the impact of Western media discourses demonizing Islam and Muslims is hardly discussed. However, some interviewees do point to the fact that the non-Muslim media displays little or no interest in highlighting positive stories or images of Muslims and in discussing their manifold social, economic, educational and political problems and concerns. Instead, Muslims are talked about almost only in the context of some controversy or the other, particularly in the context of violence, thus reinforcing negative stereotypical images of Muslims.
A third issue that some interviewees refer to is the condition of the Urdu media. Some of them argue that the future of Urdu and Urdu journalism is bleak in India, both because of the discriminatory policies of the state vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â -vis the Urdu language as well as because north Indian Muslim elites, who appear to champion the cause of Urdu, have done little to promote it. Poor working conditions in Urdu media houses, lack of freedom, professionalism and objectivity, and tendency to engage in ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“desk-workÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ rather than ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“field-workÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ are a characteristic feature of many Urdu publications, they argue. Other features of large sections of the Urdu press, such as an overwhelming focus on urban Muslim issues and lack of stories and reports on rural Muslims, who constitute the majority of the Muslim population, the inter-sectarian debates that some Urdu publications excel in fanning and the narrow focus of many of these on Muslim communitarian issues while ignoring broader issues facing the country as a whole are, however, not dealt with, although they should have.
The book concludes with an ambitious list of suggestions for Muslim organizations to adopt in order to increase the Muslim presence in media houses and to counter anti-Muslim prejudice being spread through the media. These include setting up news and feature agencies specializing in Muslim-related issues, establishing media institutes in every state, providing scholarships for Muslim students pursuing courses in mass media, organizing workshops for media persons to sensitize them on Islamic and Muslim issues, co-ordination between Muslim and other like-minded journalists, launching daily newspapers in English, Hindi and regional languages and starting more Muslim community radio stations and Urdu television channels that would focus on Muslim social issues. If any of this actually comes about remains to be seen, however.
Book: Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India
Publisher: Yale University Press
Reviewed by :
This is a remarkably good book. The empirical research is impeccable; the analysis is careful; and the argument is persuasive. The issue is simple: Why is it that certain towns in India erupt into communal violence and others do not?
To answer this question, Vashney combined a careful analysis of the Times of India
covering the period 1950Ã¢â‚¬â€œ1995 with interviews within carefully selected cities. These interviews operated on two levels Ã¢â‚¬â€? the elite (i.e., the leadership of the city) and a cross-section of the city taken from every strata. The cities chosen all had similar percentages of Hindu-Muslim populations. The first pair was Aligarh and Calicut; the second pair was Hyderabad and Lucknow; and the third pair Ã¢â‚¬â€? Ahmedabad and Surat Ã¢â‚¬â€? was the most interesting. This latter pair come from GandhiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s state Ã¢â‚¬â€? Gujarat. The book weaves together a riveting description of the history and culture of these cities with a fascinating analysis. The argument that emerges is that there is a direct link between the structure of civil society and ethnic violence. By Ã¢â‚¬Å“civil society,Ã¢â‚¬Â? Vashney means the social gap between the family and the State: so all forms of social activity are part of civil society, including political parties insofar as they operate as a vehicle for association in a city or a town.
Now in a small village, everyday and informal Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcivic communicationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ might be sufficient to keep the peace when tension occurs, however, Vashney shows, in a city this is not enough. For peace in the city, there is a need for what he calls Ã¢â‚¬Å“associational civic engagement.Ã¢â‚¬Â? In other words, there is a need for structures and organizations, in which Hindus and Muslims are members, to become a bulwark against potential communal violence. So, for example, in the 1920s and 30s in both Ahmedabad and Surat the following organizations were strong: the Congress Party, the Gandhian voluntary associations, and the Business associations. (In Ahmedabad, the labor unions were also strong.) The net result in both cities was peace. In the 1980s and 90s, the Congress party was in decline; the Hindu BJP was on the increase. Correspondingly, the Gandhian voluntary associations were in decline and the Hindu nationalist organizations were on the rise. The net result was two cities that became unstable. As a result, Ahmedabad had violence throughout the 1980s and into the 90s. Meanwhile, December 1992 in Surat saw 197 people killed. It was only the strength of the business associations in Surat that saved Old Surat; all the killing took place in the shantytowns.
This book deserves a wide readership. It is a milestone on the road towards a better understanding of coping with diversity in the city. It is, in many respects, a vindication of the work of the political theorist Edmund Burke, who stressed the importance of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“little platoonsÃ¢â‚¬Â? (the organizations between the State and the individuals). Human life everywhere needs the community that these organizations provide. However, in addition, Varshney argues, these Ã¢â‚¬Å“little platoons,Ã¢â‚¬Â? provided they are properly constructed, can save many lives.
Published in the Muslim World.
Halaat Badal Saktey Hain (Urdu)
Author: Prof. Mohsin Usmani Nadwi
B-35, Basement, Opp. Mogra Guest House
Nizamuddin West, New Delhi ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 110013
Price : Not Mentioned
Reviewed by Mohammed Ayub Khan
Most books promising an elixir for all the ills of the Ummah turn out to be absolute duds with the usual fare of supremacist rhetoric, glorification of the past and the hate for the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“other.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ The book under review is different in several aspects. Its arguments are passionate yet reasoned. Its style is elegant and flowing without the empty rhetoric. The balanced personality of the author reflects throughout the book. Prof.Mohsin Usmani Nadwi, Head of the Arabic Department at Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, offers a realistic analysis of the current state of affairs of Indian Muslims and how it can be changed for the better in Halaat Badal Saktey Hain. He does so in the light of the Quran, Seerah and history.
Charting a different course from the prevalent habit of reducing the science of Tafseer to mere story-telling, Prof. Usmani adopts a novel approach to the study of the QurÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢an. He finds many lessons to be learned by Indian Muslims from the life of Yusuf (AS). The Indian Muslim community in India finds itself in a situation similar to the one faced by Yusuf (AS) in Egypt. They can overcome their present state of despair by inculcating the legendary faith, patience, perseverance and fortitude of Yusuf (AS). He compares the attitude of the dominant community in India towards its Muslims with that of the brothers of Yusuf (AS) towards him. Despite their jealousy and hatred which caused so many problems for him, costing him his freedom, he did not retaliate and was instead generous towards them. Muslims should replicate such prophetic behavior and work towards winning the hearts through generosity, forgiveness and kindness. He makes it clear that the character of Indian Muslims is not as innocent as that of Yusuf (AS) and that they too have a share in contributing to the animosity between the two communities. Prof.Usmani uncovers other gems that are of relevance today. Referring to the organizational capabilities of Yusuf (AS) in the times of famine in Egypt, he urges todayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Muslims to develop skill and professionalism to serve the humanity.
He says Muslims must plan for their development but they wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be successful if they are based on disobedience of God. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhen a person cannot wake up for the morning prayers fighting the joys of sleep, it should be understood that such a person has failed in the test of God-consciousness and patience.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? (p.50)
Urging Muslims to break out of their shells the author says that they must develop better relations with other communities and prove their worth as exemplary citizens. At the same time they shouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be lax when it comes to security. They should neither inflict nor suffer any injustice. They should stop labeling themselves as a minority as it generates an inferiority complex that is not at all healthy for progress.
The author urges the Muslim community to not to fall for the propaganda of population control theorists who call high birthrates as a risk to development. He says there is strength in numbers. This view might seem as retarding in development. But there have been several leading Western and other economists who challenged the neo-Malthusian fears. A striking similarity can be found in UsmaniÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s views with those of the Cornucopian school of thought like Julian Simon who argued that there are little or no limits to growth. A new book ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFrom population control to reproductive healthÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â? by Mohan Rao further solidifies this argument. Whatever the merit of this argument the author should have cautioned his readers that his views should not lead to irresponsibility by men who father huge families without taking into account the health of the mother and are indifferent towards the health, educational, economic and other needs of the children. Large families with illiterate and underfed children living in cramped and unhygienic localities do not add to the strength of the community but instead get trapped into a cycle of poverty, marginalization and virtual slavery of other communities.
The author overlooks the role of what believing but not all that practicing Muslims can play in the development of the Indian Muslim community. After all there are many Muslims who cherish and value Islamic beliefs but are lax in observing their prayers and other required practices. Recent events have shown that they too have a significant role to play. In Mumbai for example, an Ahle Hadith Maulana , a conservative businessman and a progressive cine-writer do not feel any hesitation in come together to form an organization working for the education of children in the slum areas of Bandra.
Halaat Badal Saktey Hain is truly an extra-ordinary book. One can disagree with some aspects of the book but its over all message is worth considering. Its message of hope holds relevance not only for Indian Muslims but also elsewhere where they live as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“minorities.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ If Prof.UsmaniÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ideas are developed further and translated into action they can herald the dawn of a new beginning.
Tremors of Violence; Muslim Survivors of Ethnic Strife in Western India
Author(s): Robinson, Rowena
Witnesses don't trust enquiry commissions: Book
New Delhi, Apr 02: Unease and discomfort with the enquiry commissions are the reasons why witnesses turn hostile and lie, says a new book.
Also, there is an element of mistrust in these enquiry commissions because of which people tend to lie while submitting before them, says the book 'Tremors of Violence-Muslim Survivors of Ethnic Strife in Western India' recounting the experiences of people tormented by violence.
"There seems to be, further, among the victims of the violence, a certain mistrust of the capacity of the commissions to deliver the truth," says book by Rowena Robinson, an associate professor in sociology at IIT, Mumbai.
"The state government of Gujarat had to admit to the Supreme Court that the high court trial in the case of the Best Bakery violence may have been flawed and that the prosecution's 'hostile' witnesses may have been won over or coerced," says Robinson and goes on to establish a link between backwardness and communal violence.
"The interconnecting trajectories of riots and the economic and social marginalisation... is not a simple story...Studies on communalism have rarely been shy of showing that many riots implicate naked economic rivalries. Indeed, violence against minorities over the last several decades has involved enormous destruction of property and livelihood, apart from life" it says.
The book compiles the narratives and interviews of many survivors of post-1947 communal riots in Mumbai, Baroda and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) that turn to the role played by riots in "depressing their fortunes, changing around priorities, fracturing aspirations, fostering vulnerability and infusing stability".
The book highlights how communal violence and its repercussions had "considerably deteriorated" the social and economic position of Muslims in the society.
"In so many instances, children were taken out of school for sons had to contribute to the household, while sending daughters outside the house was fringed with an extra layer of insecurity, especially where a father had been killed and a mother struggled alone," says one such survivor of Dharavi riots in Mumbai.
Similarly, another survivor in Ahmedabad spoke of her bitter experiences on how her family business was destroyed during one riot and how every ethnic strife doomed them further.
"My husband used to sell leatherwork items. It was good business. Our house was burnt in 1985. We returned to rebuild it. It was looted and burnt again in the next two riots. Every four years or so we find our house destroyed. My husband is reduced to selling bangles now. After each riot, we have to learn to spend less and less," she says as quoted in the book.
Robinson who calls her book "an ethnographic study" of Muslim survivors of communal violence, has attempted to capture a cross-section of Muslims here - men, women, priests, religious leaders, social activists.