Why action against only madrasas, why not gurukuls: AIMPLB

Why action against only madrasas, why not gurukuls: AIMPLB

“Madrasas are being targeted… whether it is in Uttar Pradesh or Assam. This despite the fact that minority institutions are protected under the law. In Assam, the government has gone as far as to bulldoze some of the smaller madrasas while converting others to schools. If the issue is that of restricting religious education and promoting secular education instead, then why isn’t the government taking the same action against gurukuls? They are allowed to run freely,’’said executive member of the AIMPLB Qasim Rasool Ilyas.

The Yogi Adityanath government in UP has announced a survey of the madrasas saying it wants to gather information on the number of teachers, their curriculum, and the basic facilities available.

Ilyas said that there is no clear estimate of the total number of madrasas in UP, but given that the Sachar Committee report said around 4% Muslim children studied in them, there are likely to be thousands. As per the AIMPLB, the Sachar Committee estimate was itself a “gross underestimation”. With the panel submitting its report back in 2006, the numbers are set to have gone up multiple times.

Laying out the structure of Islamic teaching, Ilyas said it was disseminated through essentially three types of institutions — maktabs, which are religious classes held inside masjids for several hours every day; smaller madrasas or hifz, where younger students up to the age of 8-10 years are taught to memorise the Quran; and aalimiyats or bigger madrasas where students are taught Islamic ideology, the interpretation of the Quran as well as the word of Prophet Mohammad and other theological matters. It is primarily at the level of aalimiyats that many madrasas are affiliated with the Madrasa Board and receive partial funds and grants from state governments, Ilyas said.

Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and Bihar have Madrasa Boards, he added.

“For madrasas that are not funded by the government, funds are raised by the community for running these institutes. The tuition fee, boarding and food are free. This ensures that poor students can study — much in the manner in which the mid-day meal scheme, when started, led to increased enrolment. In that sense, the government action against madrasas is counter-productive because it simply increases their burden of ensuring that children are enrolled in school, as they must be according to the Right to Education Act,’’contended Ilyas.

The AIMPLB also fears that state government action against madrasas will not remain confined to the small bodies, he added. “It will gradually extend to the bigger madrasas where children are taught ‘secular’ subjects as well, including Maths, English, Hindi, and social sciences. While they are not affiliated to boards like the CBSE, students from these madrasas are usually absorbed in colleges in universities like Jamia, Jamia Hamdard and Aligarh. Within these madrasas, very often skill development is also imparted to students… For instance, a polytechnic functions under Deoband. So to say that these students are disadvantaged simply because they study in madrasas is not an acceptable argument,” he said.

Ilyas also connected the action to “divisive policies”, with elections in mind. “Not just madrasas, in states like Karnataka, which will see elections next year, issues related to the Muslim minority have been repeatedly raised and will continue to be till the elections. There was a demand to install a Ganesh idol at an Idgah, as well as demands for permission to perform Ganesh Puja… The fact is that whether it is Idgahs, or the wearing of the hijab, these issues will continue to be created by the government as it knows that it cannot win elections on development plank… This is the BJP’s modus operandus.”