ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Madrasas Misunderstood

Saral Jhingran’s article ‘Madrasa Modernisation Programme: An Assessment’ (December 31, 2005) is disappointing. Apart from failing to shed any new light, the article simplifies the problem of modernisation of madrasas and ends up stereotyping Muslims as a community resistant to change.

Jhingran first argues that he is not against the “idea of modernisation” of madrasas per se but against the “erroneous assumptions” of the government towards Muslim education. However, in the very next sentence he contradicts himself by stating that there are problems in the idea of modernisation itself! His main contention seems to be that introduction of modern subjects will create confusion in the minds of the students, since the two knowledge systems are very different. The point is certainly important, but not novel, as he acknowledges. However, his article suggests that it is Muslims themselves who do not want to modernise their madrasas. Now in a category as diverse as Indian Muslims, there is bound to be a plurality of voices over issues like modernisation of madrasas. It is unfortunate that Jhingran listens to only those voices who oppose any such modernisation. He is completely oblivious to those voices from within the madrasas themselves who are seeking a consensus in favour of introducing modern subjects. It is within such a context that the modernisation of madrasas becomes important as it gives these reformist voices within the madrasas a lever to talk about and inform others about the need to modernise.

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