Madrasah Nooraniyyah: Leading the Way
Since 2004, the IQRA Welfare Trust, Bnagalore, has been running a vocational institution for girls in the city of Hassan (200 km from Bangalore), in the south Indian state of Karnataka. Among the stated objectives of this institution is the education and training of Muslim women in all fields of life. The institute, thus, equips them with a certain level of intellectual and practical training that liberates them from the shackles of low self-esteem and encourages them on to new heights in the development of their personality. Anyone who deliberates upon the plight of the Muslims in India today, upon the losses inflicted on them, and upon their resulting listlessness after their fall from Power will, doubtless, find an urgent need to remind them – indeed, to re-educate them – about the reality of Islam and its glorious heritage. Perhaps, the best way to do this would be by providing Muslim women with a sound Islamic education. This may ensure that they, in turn, would properly educate their children in Islam. Thus, a whole new Muslim generation may be raised – a generation which while aware of the possibilities and pitfalls of the modern world, would hold on steadfastly to the moral framework of Islam. Such have been the considerations behind the IQRA Welfare Trust’s plans for launching this Madrasah Nooraniyyah Lil Banaat. ZAINAB ALIYAH recently caught up with UMM UMAR one of the founding members of the institute who shared her inputs on the mission, programme and development of the Institution. She holds a Master’s degree in Tafsir. Presented below is the text of that conversation.
Q.1: Can you please elaborate on the main objectives of the Madrasah Nooraniyyah Lil Banaat, Hassan? Why was the institute set up at Hassan, instead of a city like Bangalore, where there could be more opportunities?
A:The main objective behind setting up this institute was to revive the Arabic language as it is a necessary tool in inculcating a better understanding of Islam. The town, Hassan was selected for this project by Syed Iqbal Zaheer [Editor-in-Chief, Young Muslim Digest], as he was of the opinion that, usually the populations of small towns are more adaptable to new changes and less vulnerable to distraction, as they are, to some extent, safe from the excessively materialistic existence of today’s metropolitan cities.
Q.2:Your focus has been on education for Muslim women. Has this been because you have seen this as a long-neglected area, or were there other reasons also?
A: One reason definitely is that it has beena long-neglected area. Moreimportantly, women are a pivotal part of society and through educating and empowering them, a genuine change can be brought about as they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the upbringing of the future generations of this Ummah.
Q.3:In your opinion, how important is the Arabic language in Islamic Education and to what extent should itsstudy be insisted upon?
A: In my humble opinion, it is as good as impossible to be able to grasp the knowledge of Islam and to experience the true spirit of Islam without a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language. All translations of the Arabic texts available to us for Islamic Studiesare, indeed,an extremely helpful resource, but however, they can only enable us to access a very trivial part of a whole expanse of knowledge.
Q.4: What was the initial response when you started this institute? Are student enrollments mostly from Karnataka or are there students or enquiries from other states as well?
A: Initially, the only enrollments we had were students hailing from Karnataka. Nevertheless, it was still a good response as we saw a lot of dedicated and qualified enrollments. As yearspassed, our student body also has developed and has become more diverse in nature, to include students from various different states.
Q.5: What are the prerequisites for enrollment at the institute? What is the normal duration of a typical course at the institute? Or are the courses flexible to match specific student standards of perseverance and study?
A:Originally, the prerequisite for enrolment was a basic under-graduation, but later, catering to the need of the people, we managed tointroduce another supporting course in which we take students studying for the10th standard and above.The original course lasts for four years, but now we even offer a single year course for those who decide ondoing a condensedprogram.
The supporting course is like a preparatory course, which lasts for two years, after which the students will be eligible for the original course.
Q.6:Is the Madrasah Nooraniyyah – and its curriculum – affiliated to any Islamic institution? Does the institution have visiting scholars of repute who come to deliver classes on a periodic basis?
A:It is not affiliated to any Islamic institution, but we do get Islamic scholars every year toupgrade the courses we provide. For instance, Sheikh Akkas, Sister Umm Asim and Umm AbdulAzeez, from the faculty of Islamic studies, Dammam;Umm Ziyad, who has a Master’s degree in Comparative Religion and is also a WAMY activist and Sr. Jameela, a Post-Graduate in Islamic studies, have been some of the reputed visiting scholars at GVTI.
Q.7: Are there any scholarship programmes that the institute offers for further Arabic education? Apart from Arabic and Islamic Studies, what are the different types of vocational courses offered at the institute?
A:Wedo offer scholarships for those who excel in their academic courses.Apart from Arabic, we also offer other programs in Tafseer, Hadith, Islamic History, and Fiqh. We even providesupplementaryclasses like Advanced Computer Applicationsand Home Sciences which include stitching, tailoring, cooking and knitting,
Q.8: Do the girls take part in any competitions on behalf of the institution? What are some of the significant achievements of the students?
A: No they do not take part in any external competitions on behalf of the institution, but they have shown noteworthy excellence in translating and printing some modern Arabic literature into Urdu. Some of our alumni have also been able to initiate basic Islamic programsand small education centers in their own hometowns, which has resulted in being a considerable source of delight for us.
Q.9: What has been your biggest challenge while running the institution?
A:The managing of finance can be viewed as a big challenge for our institution, as is for institutions as well. Also, it is extremely difficult to find competentand dedicated teachers who can stay with MadrasahNooraniyyah for a longer and more permanent duration.
Q.10: Are there any plans to set up branches for the Madrasah Nooraniyyah in another city or state?
A: No, as of yet, there are no plans on setting up a new branch of Madrasah Nooraniyyah in Hassan or otherwise.
Q.11: What would be your general message to the Muslim youth of our times, particularly in the Indian context?
A:My message to the Muslim youth in India is to devote as much time as possible to learn the Arabic language which is a gift unlike any other that will,in turn, transform their personalities by giving them access to the bottomless knowledge and treasures of Islam.