When Home Minister Shivraj Patil certified (sic.) that Madrasas are centres of social service rather than terrorist indoctrination there was a news from our western neighbour that ?Jehad to remain in school books of Pakistan? (The Indian Express, July 26). Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, no Mullah but a suave banker with 30 years experience in the West, had declined a suggestion from moderate Islamic scholars, to keep the primary classes out of bound religious curriculum. Javed Asharaf Qazi, the Education Minister of Pakistan, has said full knowledge of Jehad will be imparted to students. Qazi'sintegrity is beyond doubt. As the head of the infamous ISI, between 1993 and 1995, he had supervised the recruitment of students from Pakistan'smadrasas for raising the Taliban militia which overran Afghanistan in 1996.
The ?topology? of Islamic studies in public schools of Pakistan would be something like this?the lower classes would be taught about several aspects of Islam in their curriculum; Classes XI and XII would be taught 39 selected chapters that contained an introduction to Jehad, its importance and forms in the light of the scriptures. Qazi informs that Nazara Quran (glimpses of the Koran) would start in Class III, leading to completion the Koran by class VIII. The students of Classes IX and X would be taught 20 selected chapters with translation and interpretation.
But the whole thing proves that while Pakistan doesn'tfumble about its Islamic identity India is unsure of its secular, let alone Hindu, identity. Our Islamic neighbour is sure that Jehad is the corner stone of its formation, survival and envisioned expansion at the cost of ?infidel? India. Haath mein khanjar, gale mein Quran, ladke lenge Pakistan (dagger in the hand, and in our voice Koran/through war we shall wrest Pakistan) went one of the popular though forgotten slogans of Muslim League in 1940. But the establishment in India is patently unsure of the imperatives of ?secularism? that is vaunts of following.
By saying that Madrasas are the places where lessons of humanism are imparted, and graduates of Madrasas can only be termed as ?servants of humanity?, the Home Minister is doing double disservice. First, he is encouraging a warped system of education, which even if sanitised turns out unemployable theological robots. It is a tremendous wastage of human capital which is responsible for low per capita income amongst Muslim community. When Muslims of India bemoan their poverty and backwardness, much could be ascribed to Madrasa education. Moreover a person coming out with Madrasa has complete knowledge about life, extended family and battles of Prophet Mohammed, but little knowledge about India'sstates, rivers, politics, and culture. He is a theological automation incompatible with modern world and civil society. With Home Minister of India paying glowing tributes to such institutions tantamount to pushing a sizeable, and rapidly growing, section of Indians into dark ages. It would have been more practical that instead of ?lessons of humanity?, lessons of engineering, medicine, vocational training were provided to them.
There was little need for Madrasas for common Muslims in India during the Muslim rule. The Muslims already had the political power to seek which is the prime objective of Jehad. Hadith, the sayings and acts of the Prophet, was not a popular study and was not translated from Arabic. As Mughal power began to wane across India, a need was felt to build more Madrasas where spirit of Islam might take shelter to reassert itself at an opportune moment. Shah Waliullah (1703-1762), the ideologue of Wahabi movement, emphasized on Hadith for masses because he viewed Muslim in India in ?midst of war? as the Prophet in his own times. No wonder Dar-ul-Uloom was established in out-of-the-way Deoband (U.P.) where Islam could flourish away from prying British eyes in the aftermath of cataclysmic 1857.
?Jehad? as M.J. Akbar says in the prologue of his book, The Shade of Swords is the signature tune of Islam. Islam'squest for re-domination of India found a milestone with attainment of Pakistan in West and East of India on August 15, 1947. So it is hardly surprising that Pakistan would give up transmission the raison d?etre to its future generation. The future of Islam, Muslim clerics realised long ago, is intrinsically connected with future generation of Muslims. Islam is the only religion priding on its burgeoning demography, while a dedicated cadre of clerics is active in making every Muslim-majority states more and more Islamic.
In India ?secularists? want to ?de-toxify? history text books to take out anything remotely critical of Islamic iconoclasm, separatism, and fundamentalism. History writing, in India was hijacked by communists, where rhetoric became a substitute for objectivity. Long before Arjun Singh started his ?de-toxification? drive in 2004, the NCERT, in 1982 had issued a directive. It prohibited depicting the medieval ages as period of conflict between Muslims and Hindus.
The school curriculum in Pakistan, on the other hand, has been increasingly radicalised. A reliable glimpse was provided by Pakistani-scholar Amir Mir in his article ?Primers of Hate? in The Outlook (October 10, 2005). Amir Mir'sarticle relates how a class XI student of Lahore Government Central Model School, while speaking at a declamation contest to celebrate Pakistan'sIndependence Day on the topic ?Why Islam and Pakistan are integral to each other?, lashed out at Hindus, who form an infinitesimal part of Pakistan, with great rage and fury. When asked to explain this unnatural outpouring he said, ?We hate Hindus because they are Hindustanis and the number one enemies of both Islam and Pakistan. We know it all through our history and Pakistan Studies books. We learn what happened years ago all the time at school?. Amir Mir informs that Jehad verses could be located in as unlikely place as biology text books in public schools of Pakistan. The curriculum and instruction methodology is venomously anti-Hindu, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.
This was the finding of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), which in its meticulous report ?The Subtle Subversion?. The 140-page report jointly authored by H. Nayyar and Ahmed Salim showed how the education system was contributing to the culture of sectarianism, religious intolerance and violence.
While Qazi is handing over the sword of Islam to future Jehadis in classroom, our Shivraj Patil and Arjun Singh are taking our protective shield off. This is an unequal battle!