Uttarakhand madrasas plan to take up Sanskrit as a subject for Muslim students

The Madrasa Welfare Society that governs 207 madrasas proposes to begin Sanskrit language as one of the subjects under a centrally funded scheme.
Nearly 25,000 students are enrolled in madrasas governed by Madrasa Welfare Society.(AFP/REPRESENTATIVE PICTURE)
Nearly 25,000 students are enrolled in madrasas governed by Madrasa Welfare Society.(AFP/REPRESENTATIVE PICTURE)
Updated on Dec 29, 2017 06:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Rudrapur | ByMohan Rajput, Rudrapur

At a time when communal divide seems to be rising, Muslims in Uttarakhand are planning to teach Sanskrit in madrasas, the Islamic schools, from the next academic session, in a bid to acquire skills related to ayurveda and yoga.

The Madrasa Welfare Society that governs 207 madrasas across Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar districts proposes to begin Sanskrit language as one of the subjects under centrally funded Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQM).

Nearly 25,000 students are enrolled in these madrasas.

The society has written a letter to chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat seeking his nod to appoint Sanskrit teachers.

Sibte Nabi, chairman of the society, says the madrasas are already imparting modern education in Hindi, English, Science and Maths besides Dini Talim, the religious subject, to students.

“When we can teach English, a foreign language, why can’t we teach an ancient Indian language?” Nabi told HT.

He said with the thrust on yoga and ayurveda, there has been spurt in the demand for qualified experts.

“The base of ayurveda lies in Sanskrit. By learning Sanskrit, Muslim students will be able to compete for medical education,” he said.

Maulana Akhtar Raza, manager of a madrasa at Kichha in Udham Singh Nagar district, said Sanskrit is not alien to Muslims. “Several Muslim scholars know the language well.”

Sanskrit is the second official language in Uttarakhand, which has 82.97% Hindu population, as per 2011 census figures, and are followed by Muslims with 13.95%.

Madrasas in the state are managed under by Uttarakhand Madrasa Education Board which issue various equivalent to formal education, such as Maulvi equivalent to high school, Alim equivalent to intermediate, Kamil equivalent to graduation and Fazil equivalent to post-graduation level.

Parents and students are upbeat about the idea of Sanskrit in Islamic schools. Mahboob Ali, a medical store owner whose daughter is a student of Maulvi (1st year) in Garib Nawaz Madrasa, said, “By learning Sanskrit, our children will be able to compete for mainstream jobs.”

Mohammad Mehfooz (18), a student of Madrasa Ishatulhaq, Haldwani, dreams of becoming a civil servant and wants to opt for Sanskrit as one of his subjects. “Sanskrit could help me score good marks,” he says.

Ayurveda is believed to be a 5,000-year-old ancient medicinal system. Over the decades, books containing knowledge about the Ayurveda system have been translated in English, Hindi and other Indian languages. “However it is always handy if one is having ready knowledge of Sanskrit,” said Vaidya Balendu,a renowned Ayurveda practitioner.

According to a study by the Confederation of Indian Industries, the size of the industry of Ayurveda medicines and herbal products in India is estimated at R 4200 crores annually.

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