Wasimur Rehman from Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharth Nagar could have ended up being an imam, leading prayers in a mosque.
The 31-year-old certified cleric, however, chose the road less travelled. And in doing so, he has become the first cleric from the influential Islamic seminary Darul Uloom of Deoband to clear the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam, which selects officers for the country’s elite administrative cadre.
Rehman secured the 404th position this year in his fourth and final shot at the UPSC.
“I always wanted to become a high-ranking government officer and serve my country. I am happy to become the first Darul cleric to clear the UPSC,” Rehman said on Wednesday.
Rehman has three brothers one is a taxi driver, another works at a shop while the third is a student.
When he graduated from Darul a few years ago, Rehman realised that an unrecognised Islamic degree rendered him ineligible for his dream career the civil services. So, he went back to his native Latia village and gave religious discourses for a while.
Then somebody told him a bachelor’s degree in Unani medicine from Jamia Hamdard University in New Delhi could make him eligible for civil services. Five years later, the degree cleared his way for the UPSC examination.
Rehman, who manages only a smattering of English, wrote the entire exam in Urdu, with History and Persian as his main subjects. Far away from Darul in Gujarat’s Bharuch district, news of Rehman’s feat has triggered celebrations in Jameah Qasimiya Arabia, one of India’s most modern madrasas that has introduced compulsory English and computer classes.
“This is great news. Rehman has made all madaris (students) proud,” said Maulana Hamzad, a student.
“Madrasas need not produce only clerics. Students invariably become clerics because most of them do not get career counselling.”
Rehman himself feels the modernisation of madrasas, a prickly issue, is a crying need.
The Sachar Committee, which assessed the socio-economic status of India’s 150 million Muslims, has called for “recurrent grants and a mechanism for madrasas to be linked with a higher secondary board so that students wanting to shift to regular/mainstream education can do so even after having graduated from a madrasa.”