At a time when the Muslim community is debating whether it is right to consider children studying only in madrassas as ‘out-of-school’, a senior cleric in Mumbai has appealed to the Muslims to offer their customary ‘zakat’ towards secular education. Maulana Syed Moinuddin Ashraf, popularly known as Moin Mian, who heads the Jamia Qadriya Ashrafia madrassa in Grant Road, is spreading his message through social media this Ramzan.
“While we support theology training, modern education is the need of the hour, and by educating one, the community is alleviating a family out of poverty,” he said.
While noting the appeal as nothing short of revolutionary, coming as it is from a well-known cleric, educationists said that it simply reflects how the idea of supporting secular education is fast gaining ground – a drift from the usual practice of funding madrasa education through zakat.
Former civil servant Syed Zafar Mahmood, who established the Zakat Foundation of India in 1997, said, “When people donate to us in the form of Zakat, they also state in a form how they intend the money to be used. Over the last few years, the ticks for modern education have seen a significant rise. This trend had first emerged after the 2006 Rajinder Sachar Committee report [the report had placed the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims below that of the Scheduled Castes].”
Observing that Mumbai, considered home to some of the wealthier Muslims in India, makes up for a significant 20-25% of the total zakat offerings to the Foundation, Mahmood said the appeal by Miyan would go a long way in empowering Muslims. There are only rough estimates on the amount of Zakat that is collected in the country during Ramzan. Aamir Idrisi, president of the NGO Association of Muslim Professionals, roughly estimated the annual zakat collected from Mumbai to be about tens of crores, while pegging the national figure at more than Rs 40,000 crore.