At a review meeting on J&K, chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, ways to “revitalise” madrasa education in the state was discussed. Suggestions were also made to introduce a “nationalist curriculum” in J&K schools to counter the “false narrative” that is impacting youth in the state. Rashidi, who studied at the Darul Uloom in Deoband, runs the Jamiat-us-Salihaat madrasa in Handwara, north Kashmir.
1. When did you set up your madrasa and how many students do you have?
My madrasa, Jamiat-us-Salihaat, is a seminary exclusively for girls. The institute was set up in 2000, and is affiliated to the Darul Uloom Deoband. We have nearly 200 students of different age groups, spread across six sections, and each section has a different curriculum. We have eight teachers on our rolls.
2. What subjects do you teach as part of the curriculum at your madrasa?
The younger girls are taught Urdu, English and science, besides religious texts. The older students are only given religious education. Since most of them have already passed their Class 10 and 12, there is no point in teaching them English or science.
Most of these students also go to formal schools or have completed their education from these institutions.
3. What religious texts do the students learn?
We have three major components to religious education — the Quran, Hadith and Fiqh (jurisprudence). We also teach them Arabic grammar.
4. Do you think madrasa education needs to be ‘revitalised’?
We teach Quran and Hadith and there can be no change in that. But having said that, there is scope for improvement in everything. Of course, madrasas need to improve, especially when it comes to introducing computer education.
5. What about the suggestion to introduce ‘nationalist curriculum’ in J&K schools?
Let education — whether in schools or madrasas — be apolitical. Politics should not be brought into this field. The Quran and Hadith cannot be changed or reinterpreted.