Madrasa or not, good education is a must for Muslims.
The Assam government recently passed a bill to convert all state-run Madarsas into regular schools. This has not gone too well with the majority of Muslims who feel the intentions behind this move doesn’t seem right, given the highly communal and controversial statements generally given by BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Politics aside, I feel it is a move which can actually benefit Muslims if we want it to. We are well aware of the fact that Muslims are one of the most educationally backward communities amongst all minority communities in India. We have been crying hoarse that no government has done enough for the education of the Muslim community. So, let us now use this step of the Assam government to our benefit and educate our children properly. This is provided, however, that the government of Assam lives up to its promise of converting them into good government schools.
Muslims in India have to realise that they have to be their own Messiah. For years, we have looked up to various political parties like the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and their leaders to save us and protect us. Even Muslim politics in the last few years have seen a major shift, and we see new names cropping up every other day. But, I feel that no one has really been able to deliver or act on the behalf or benefit of the Muslim community. They just kept pushing the community deeper into the abyss of illiteracy and poverty. We should stop looking for some other Messiah to save us.
All of them have only disappointed us, have build mansions over the miseries of Muslims and did nothing substantial. This has to STOP. Stop looking for alms and benefits that these political parties throw into our bowl, and become self-reliant. We have to become self-reliant and strong, and the only way forward to achieve this is through good education.
I strongly believe that we have to shun our ‘victimhood mentality’ and emerge stronger. Our own religious and political leaders have used and misused our victimisation to their personal benefits. Sowing the seeds of fear and insecurity, they thrive on our vulnerability. This has to stop. And we can only do so when we have a good education to back us up.
Good education is the only weapon we have in our hands to break all the barriers and labels that are thrown at us. It is a highly competitive world out there and for children to succeed, the best we can give them is quality education which is not available in Madarsas. Many people argue that Madrasas also impart good education along with the religious text. Must be. But religious teachings can be done in the home too or you can opt for Sunday school like in the United States of America. Let the child focus on school education, on maths, science, and the humanities.
I personally know many people who have studied in Madrasas and went on to do their higher education in the top universities of the country. When asked, all of them, and I repeat, most of them, refuse to send their children to madarsa citing one reason or the other. “Our kids have to be at par with other kids and this can only happen if we give them normal schooling,” said a mother when I asked if she would be willing to send her child to a Madrasa as her husband attended. I can teach the Quran to my child at home or hire a Hafiz, but what my child needs is a good education. Well, a mother knows what is best for her child.
There are many families from underprivileged backgrounds who survive on daily wages and are unable to send their children to proper schools, hence they might opt for Madrasas. Every parent wants to give their children the best that they can. For them, these Madrasas might be the best option, and if we convert these very Madrasas to good government-run schools, I feel that is the right step in the right direction. Islam as a religion is going through one of its toughest phases. It is the time for the entire Muslim world to find a common ground to unite and let the right to the good education of every single Muslim child be our common ground here.
Prophet Mohammed said, “To seek knowledge is a sacred duty, it is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female. And, the first word revealed of the Quran was “Iqra” READ! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated.”
So get up, get moving, and get counted. We need to educate, evolve, and empower ourselves and contribute towards nation-building. Let us turn every adversity into opportunity and become an asset to the country so that people look up to us and not shun or label us. Nation has to come first, for each one of us, the true path of peace and progress through education, has to be followed.