Recently Gen. Bipin Rawat spoke of revamping the education system of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. He expressed concerns saying misguided youth come from schools where they are being radicalized. He further said “What is being incorrectly informed to the youth of Kashmir is through the madrasas and the masjids. Some control has to be exercised on them and more “CBSE schools” should be opened.
Leaving no opportunity to slam and gain political mileage, the Liberation Front Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik termed Gen Rawat’s statements as naked fascism. He further did what he does best, tweaked the context, calling it another trick of suppressing Kashmiri’s.
I want to draw a fair parallel to this incident which would help Kashmiri’s understand how these power hungry self declared saviors’s of Kashmir play dirty politics for their own vested interests. Development or the suffering youth of Kashmir is remotely not their concern; politics in the name of religion is what keeps them in news.
If we recollect in December last year, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had similar concerns. In a youth conference in Quetta, capital of the Baluchistan province he had said, “that madrasas are increasingly being used as a recruiting ground for terrorist groups in Pakistan”. He had said that madrasas had lost their function as a school for teaching religious principles, adding that We need to look (at) and revisit the concept of madrasas, and give them a worldly education.I am not against madrasas, but we have lost the essence of madrassas, the Nation newspaper quoted the general stressing the need to revisit the religious schools concept.
External terrorism and home grown militancy is what the armies of both nations fighting on an every day basis. We can’t argue that army is a state institution meant to serve the nation and national security and development remain a national obligation for all state institutions. Therefore any army chief (Gen Rawat or Gen Bajwa) expressing concern that the students of a militancy affected area should not be left behind in the race of development because they are only tutored religious fanaticism in government schools seems totally appropriate.
Why is it that when Gen Bajwa spoke, the separatists in J&K did not even murmur, but immediately sprung upon targeting Gen Rawat trying to once again make a religious propaganda out of a genuine concern which has been repeatedly brought out by many highly learned Muslim scholars also.
It is important to know that even the greatest modern Muslim reformist thinker, Fazlur Rahman, believed that cultural isolation of madrasa students would lead to stagnation. Indeed, the puritan madrasas are already bellowing signs of a deeper dissatisfaction and fatigue with a redundant learning system. Rahman contextualized and described madrasa learning as follows:
“With the decline in intellectual creativity and the onset of ever deepening conservatism, the curricula of education shrank and the intellectual and scientific disciplines were expurgated, yielding the entire space to purely religious disciplines in the narrowest sense of the word.”
The great Indian intellectual Maulana Azad also comments upon the education system and syllabi in the context of his own education in late 19th century India, particularly the Islamic madrasas. He writes: “It was an outdated system of education which had become barren from every point of view teaching methods defective, worthless subjects of study, deficient in the selection of books, defective way of reading and calligraphy.” If this is what Azad felt about the Islamic madrasas more than hundred years ago, we can well imagine the urgency and necessity of radical reform in the contemporary system of education.
Education being a tool of social transformation needs to keep pace with new ideas and technology. What needs to be asked is if these madrasas are contributing to new thought that could lead Muslims on the trajectory of progress and prosperity, enable the community to embrace pluralism of India, imbibe ideals of democracy and secularism and allow them to build bridges of understanding with other communities.
In one of the interviews with Mufti Nazeer Ahmed, of the Dar ul-Uloom Raheemiyyah, located in the town of Bandipora (one of the largest madrasas in Kashmir), when asked if madrasa’s acceptance of modern education, is despised by the Kashmiri ulema community? ‘Not at all’, he replied. Many of our ulema believe that we need to have both modern as well as Islamic education, including even for girls. ‘Students with knowledge of both, he adds, ‘can effectively communicate Islam, by their words and deeds, in a whole range of spheres, and not simply as religious specialists.
There is a pressing need to change the political narrative in Kashmir to fight radicalization. For this, the 3 M’s of Kashmir Mosques, Madrasas and Media need control and revamp to serve the future generation of Kashmiri’s for a brighter future.
15 Jan 18/Monday firstname.lastname@example.org