Azamgarh mosques act as schools

Next to convent schools, mosques are popular centres of academic learning for primary school students in UP’s Azamgarh district.

The trend of mosques taking academic classes is common in areas where Islamic primary schools are less in number.

There are over 100 mosques in Azamgarh and 40 per cent of them offer primary education. Though most students are Muslims, students of other faiths can also enrol.

These mosques teach Quran, Urdu, elementary mathematics, Hindi and basic English free of cost. Special classes are held for students who want to learn Quran and religious morality.

“Though our doors are open for everybody, many of our students are Muslims,” said Maulana Intekhab Alam Qasimi, imam of Jama Masjid in Azamgarh. “Some Hindu students who come to study in mosques are more interested in learning Urdu than basic primary subjects,” said Qasimi.

“The students belong to poor families and we provide free education,” he added.
Another cleric in the district, Maulana Javed Ahmad Qasimi, has introduced a trend in the mosque educational system. He started a special class to teach the Quran to kids studying in mainstream schools.

Abu Bakar Islamic Nursery School, housed in the basement of the mosque, was started in March last year. It prepares kids for higher classes’ curriculum based on the Central Board of Secondary Education syllabus.

“Mosques are centres of spirituality and learning,” said Qasimi, who studied at Darul Uloom, Deoband, in 1975. He has been serving as the imam of Islampura Jama Masjid at Dalal Ghat in Azamgarh for the last two decades.

He has also started a campaign to spread awareness among backward Muslims. “We gave them reading material and clothes as well,” he said. “But we charge Rs 30 per student because people don’t give importance to anything that is free. But if somebody is unable to pay, we don’t ask for money,” he said.

“When there was no fee earlier, students did not attend school regularly,” he added.
Nausheen Rizwan, a homemaker in Azamgarh, sends her two children to a mosque school.

 “They learn both modern and traditional subjects,” she said. Laraib, a kindergarten student of St Xavier’s High School in Azamgarh, comes to the mosque every afternoon to learn the Quran.

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