A ‘madrasa’ with a difference in UP

The students here study both Sanskrit and Urdu along with other subjects including Mathematics, Science and Hindi.

For a casual visitor, this ‘madrasa’ (Islamic seminary) in Uttar Pradesh’s Jyotiba Phule Nagar district, about 400 kilometres from Lucknow, looks like a normal Islamic school, where Muslim children, clad in short trousers and sporting skull caps, are taught about Islam and ‘Shariat’ (Islamic law).

A closer look, however, reveals that this ‘madrasa’ at Jabbarpur village in the district, is a lot different from the others.

The students, among whom are around one-fourth are Hindus, read poems of Tulsidas, the famous 16th-century reformer and poet, who was known for his devotion to Lord Rama and had authored ‘Ramcharit Manas’, the Hindu epic containing the deeds of Rama.

The students here study both Sanskrit and Urdu along with other subjects including Mathematics, Science and Hindi.

‘’We have 250 students of whom around 50 are Hindus.....we also have Hindu teachers,’’ says Mohammed Rahil while speaking to DH.

He said that the ‘madrasa’, which attained recognition from the Uttar Pradesh Madarsa Board, which regulates madrasa education in the state, in 2009, had since undergone a total transformation.

‘’The objective is to teach the students about the composite culture of our country...the students must know about our rich heritage,’’ Rahil says.

He said that education could not be governed and dictated by any particular religion. ‘’In a country like ours, where there is so much cultural diversity, it is all the more important for the students to know about every religion,’’ he added.

Rahil stressed the need for inculcating secular principles in the students. ‘’We can achieve social harmony only by imbibing these principles,’’ he remarked.

At a time, when the ‘madrasas’ in the state have been under the scanner for resisting modernisation and focusing more on the religious education, this one stands apart.

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A ‘madrasa’ with a difference in UP

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