A day in the life of a Madrasa

A day in the life of a Madrasa

They are the “chosen ones.” Innocence pervading their young visages, these children of eight years and above, are collectively engrossed in the memorisation of the “Quran.” Squatting on a carpet, clad in traditional kurta salwars and skull caps, they appear to be on a mission to internalise the Holy Book. 

It is a typical day at the local madrasa in Bangalore’s Kaval Byrasandra. But the calm here is deceptive. For, the centuries-old madrasa system of education is today in the eye of a storm with the Central Government drafting a bill for a Central Madrasa Board. Union Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal has begun discussions with Muslim religious leaders to work out the possibilities of setting up the Board.


But first, a look at how the current system works: A typical Madrasa offers two courses of study. The ‘Hifz’ course - relates to the complete memorisation of the Quran and the person who commits the entire Quran to memory is called a ‘Hafiz’.

The ‘Aalimiyat’ course leads a student to become an accepted scholar on Islam in the community. A typical curriculum includes courses in Arabic, Tafsir which is the Quranic interpretation; Shariah - the Islamic law; Hadith - the recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad; Mantiq - the logic, and Muslim History.

The memorisation of Quran is the first step for students in the Madrasa. Mufti Syed Abdur Rasheed Miftahi Hussami, Vice Principal, Darlul Uloom Sayeediya explains, “At the tender age, children have high grasping power and are hence encouraged to memorise the portions of the Holy Book.”

The children at the Madrasa aim to become teachers and Imams leading prayers at mosques. Azharuddin, who has completed two years of Hifz, says, “There is a time constraint. Although we wish to learn new subjects, completion of Hifz is the first priority.”

Once the Quran is memorised, the study to become a competent scholar begins in the Madrasa, where students undergo rigorous training for a span of eight years.

School upto SSLC

Along with the theological studies, the Madrasa also provides school education upto SSLC, where everyday three subjects are taught.

Vice-Principal Syed Abdur Rasheed admitted that students had expressed the desire for proper sports activities in the Madrasa. But, due to space constraint at the premises, the management was unable to provide them with the facilities.

On rote learning, Syed Abdur Rahim Sayeed Rashadi, Principal and Founder, Darul Uloom Sayeediya Trust, says, “It is important to first memorise the entire Quran. It has to be learnt by heart in a rigorous manner and then students will be able to comprehend all that they have learnt.” The principal, however, asserted that changes in the curriculum proposed by the Board would be “unacceptable” to them.

Minister for Minority Welfare Dr Mumtaz Ali Khan opined that the establishment of the Board was neccessary.


“On completion of education at Madrasas, not all children get the opportunity to become moulvis. Students should be allowed to have the knowledge of the regular subjects based on requirement of the modern society without interference in theological subjects. The Board is in the larger interest of the community,” he emphasised.

Inclusion of non-theological and modern subjects in the madrasa curriclusion as proposed by the Board has not gone down well with community leaders.  As a result, the HRD Ministry has stated that no decision would be taken unless a consensus was reached between all the stakeholders including the madrasa authorities.

Policy Matters

Reforming Madrasas

The Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry has been contemplating the idea of a Central Madrasa Board to promote education in non-theological subjects without interfering in the theological content of the Madrasa system.

Kapil Sibal, Union HRD Minister, in consultation with the Central Advisory Board for Education(CABE) had decided to set up an autonomous Central Madrasa Board and a meeting was held in October regarding the same with the religious leaders.

The area of work consists of standardisation of the non-theological aspects of the Madrasa system of education with a comprehensive, systematic and integrated development. Evaluation of the curriculum framework once in five years so as to make the Madrasa system a fit and effective tool for the empowerment of Muslims is another proposal. To promote and popularise the education of Muslim girls so as to eradicate gender-based educational disparity is one more objective. To give scholarships to Madrasa students and to maintain a register of madrasas is also on the agenda.

The Board will also be able to recommend introduction of modern text books on any subject, other than religious texts, to complement students’ knowledge of such subjects.
The preparation, publication and sale of text-books and books, other than books on theology or religious texts, for use in affiliated Madarsas, has also been recommended. 
Based on the recommendations of the Syllabus Committee, the curriculum, the syllabus, the courses of studies to be followed and books to be studied in affiliated Madrasas for examinations instituted by the Board, are to be implemented.

The Central Madrasa Board

The Central Madrasa Board will consist of a chairperson and 15 members. One religious scholar from each school of thought: Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahl-i-Hadith, Shafai, Shia, Dawoodi Bohra will be part of the Board. The Central Government will appoint these religious scholars from a panel of three names. One religious scholar who is an expert in the traditional Madrasa system will have a seat.

The Board will also have an equal number of representations from the ‘secular’ section of the Muslim community. Six Muslims who have made outstanding contributions in social sciences, humanities, sciences, vocational training, and education will be nominated. At least two of the six members will be women. One Muslim philanthropist who has contributed for the education of Muslims will have a seat.

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