President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) Syed Jalaluddin Umari, who attended the Conference of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan at Lahore, gave a detailed interview to Pakistani weekly Friday Special (Urdu).
The interview was later republished in the JIH’s mouthpiece Dawat.
The septuagenarian Indian cleric gives some good advice to his Pakistani counterparts. The interview is amazingly frank and touches on many important aspects of life in both Pakistan and India.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind president criticized the Pakistani government, lack of development and the political impasse in the South Asian nation.
In response to a question, Maulana Umari says “The biggest issue confronting Pakistan today is political instability.
Democracy doesn’t last here and there is no development taking place in this nation. The only thing that we continue to hear about Pakistan is killings, bombings and this is very disheartening indeed”.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) is an important organization of Muslims in India. The Maulana asked Pakistani people and the government to forget about Kashmir. “In this conference, the Kashmir issue continued to eclipse all other issues.
In my view, despite all your eagerness to get Kashmir, this issue cannot be resolved through war. If anyone in Pakistan believes that they can win the Indian Kashmir through war or proxy insurgency, it is not going to be possible” the JIH President said.
The cleric continued, “You have tried everything, but failed. Now the international environment is completely against you. No nation supports your stand on Kashmir. Even those powers that are your biggest supporters and who actually run your country have made it amply clear that they are not supporting Pakistan. Despite all your efforts you have failed comprehensively on Kashmir. Your claim that you will win it through war is just day-dreaming and nothing more. It is just impossible”.
Maulana Umri warned Pakistan that it shouldn’t think of any war with India. “In case of war you may be able to destroy some parts of India. But Pakistan will be completely decimated in such a reckless war. If there is any atomic war, forget about Kashmir, the whole Pakistan will be completely destroyed.”
The chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also talked in detail about the condition of Indian Muslims in the interview with Pakistani newspaper. “The Sachar Committee report says that Muslims are lagging behind other communities in both education and economy."
"As far as educational backwardness is concerned, it is more to do with poverty among Muslims. Partition too was responsible to a certain extent for backwardness among them….But things are changing now.'
"The government is providing some facilities, like giving scholarship to Muslim students across the country besides giving them more opportunities in government jobs. A very important aspect is the fact that Muslims have established their own educational institutions in large numbers throughout the country."
"Though these educational institutions have been established in north India too, in South India such institutions are in very large number. Muslims have medical and engineer colleges besides other professional institutions."
This has a profound impact on the overall literacy and development of Muslims in India. Muslims are coming into mainstream and now their condition is improving substantially”.
"While describing the condition of madrasas in India, the Maulana said: “Madrasas are found across India. The ones that were already there are much more developed than the past, and many new madrasas have opened in large number. Darul Uloom Deoband and Nadwa in Lucknow can put to shame many universities.”
But the cleric didn’t say anything about the dated syllabus that they have been teaching in madrasas for more than a century.
Madrasas haven’t incorporated anything new in their syllabus for decades and some half hearted efforts have been made to ‘modernize’ madrasa education system, but this whole ‘modernization’ exercise is centered on teaching a few English books.
The overall environment in Indian madrasas too is not conducive for education. Students are prompted not to ask questions. They cannot read anything other than course books, all of them written hundreds of years ago.
Access to modern literature is completely denied in madrasas. And there is no system to inculcate modern teaching methods among madrasa teachers and organizers.
It must be accepted that madrasas are churning out half educated people who spend as much as fifteen years in these seminaries. Complete overhaul of madrasa syllabus across the country is a must.
Though many madrasa organizers talk about following Cairo’s Al-Azhar University as their role model, they don’t seem to have taken even a single leaf out of Azhar.
Many teachers in Al-Azhar are products of top American and European Universities and are well versed in developments taking place in theology, jurisprudence, literature and other subjects that they teach.
Another disappointing aspect of madrasa education is the fact that an overwhelming number of madrasa students are unable to even speak a few sentences of Arabic despite spending more than a decade there reading Arabic books.
Even a good grasp of Arabic and some rudimentary English can get them good job in private sector, including the demand in calling centers and in hospitals where a large number of patients come from the Middle East. But due to very poor standard of education, the kids get no grasp of the language.
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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.