«ESTHER WAPSTRA Thesis submitted for MA degree Supervisors: Dr. Laurens G. H. Bakker Prof. Paul J. C. L. van der Velde 30 August 2013 COMMUNAL HARMONY ...»
Yet, only a small percentage of Muslim children is in madrasas and their parents often send them to the madrasa out of poverty; they do not have the resources to send them to public schools and hence lack alternatives for their children’s schooling (Sikand, 2005). Besides free education and protecting Muslim identity madrasas also try to educate children ideologically (Alam, 2008). Kumar (2003) estimates that around 10% of the madrasas are secular and nationalist, educating children according to state standards. However, Sikand (2005) warns that much information and materials in schools is outdated. This partially confirms the prejudice that education in madrasas is qualitatively much worse than in public schools. Another prejudice is that the fall-out rates in madrasas are much higher and children leave school at an earlier age, which Hafiz Taz Banarasi denied for his school. To elaborate shortly on this point, it needs to be kept in mind that the fall-out rates for SC and ST children (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, children from more backward families) are much higher than the fall-out rate for non-backward children, leaving school before completing the compulsory eight years schooling.224 184.108.40.206 Religious education When asking Mr.
Harshita Agrawal, who had been in a Catholic school, says about this:
We were told secular outlook. Our textbook never contained any provocative or instigating matter.... We did, [learn about] how Islam started and the basic principles, how it came to India. We [learnt] about the religion as a whole and then in Indian context.... That is the way I studied Christianity, that is the way I studied Islam, that is the way I studied Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
Six main religion that we did... We just learnt the fact and interpret it the way you want.227 Still, her school was a Christian school and might have or might not have been affiliated to the CBSE or CISCE, but in any case it is very obvious that a Christian school provides at least some religious education. However, religious education is conspicuously missing in the list of mandatory and optional courses in both CBSE and CISCE, although schools affiliated to ISCE do teach the compulsory internal (i.e., examined by the school and not by ISCE) course ‘Education in moral and spiritual values’ up to level 10 (2012a; CBSE, 2012b; 2012a; CISCE, 2012b). Besides the curriculum determined by CBSE or CISCE schools are bound to further curricular requirements the state educational board sets. Additionally, school boards have limited freedom to offer subjects. However, the question is to what extent states or individual school decide to offer religious education. The lack of knowing about other religions is apparent in the stereotypes and prejudices people have about each http://www.unicef.org/india/education.html Interview with Mr. Kamal Rao, Khalispura, 14 January 2012 Religious education could for example teach students on the historical development, founder, festivals and rituals, and view/philosophy on aspects of life of various religions, as well as differences/similarities between branches of one religion and between different religions Interview with Ms. Harshita Agrawal, BHU, 6 February 2012 other’s religion (see sections 6.1.2 and 6.5). (Sikand, 2005) has noticed the same: “It struck me how completely ignorant people were of the religions and practices of others, and how instrumental this was in bolstering deeply ingrained prejudices and hatred and in fuelling bloody conflicts...” (Sikand, 2005, Preface, p. xix). Besides, he mentions “... textbooks prescribed by the state that... are now filled with patently unscientific assertions, such as the claim that the Vedas are the fount of all wisdom, and assertions about the ‘scientific’ nature of Hindu astrology, and the supposed ‘merits’ of the caste system.” (Sikand, 2005, Preface, p. xxv).
Mr. Faisal Banarasi told me that they do not specifically teach other religions but before commencing to teach the basics of Islam they emphasize humanness and love for human beings; after all everyone is human at birth and only later becomes Hindu or Muslim. “[T]he foremost thing is the mutual love, brotherhood, harmony! We tell afterwards only how to offer namāz [ritual prayer], how to read Qurān, what things are there in Qurān, how to do wuzū [ritual ablution]? Otherwise the very first thing is to teach humanity!”.228 According to him, Qurān teaches people that human beings come first. Metcalf mentions that an educational organization in Mumbai actually supports teaching comparative religion, although in order to argue Islamic superiority (Metcalf, 2007, p. 100). It is interesting to note that for the degree of mufti, comparative religion is one of the sciences that have to be mastered.
220.127.116.11 Education to improve (inter-community) interactions Muslims are often depicted as being a backward community (see section 6.5). Mr.
Ravindra Kumar, recounts the historical reasons of this backwardness: after the mutiny the British wanted to divide Hindus and Muslims to strengthen their position.229 To this end, they wanted to create an educated middle class. They started to establish universities to educate using ‘modern Western knowledge’.230 The introduction of Western education caused a gap between Hindus and Muslims “Because of their [Muslims] denial. Their refusal to go to the new Western education.
They were deeply [mourning] the loss of Mughal power.”.231 This is the reason, the professor concludes, why Muslims are backward. They could not read and write and were left in the looms whereas Hindus became sellers.
Interview with Mr. Faisal Banarasi, Peelee Kothee, 19 January 2012 Hindus and Muslims participated side-by-side in the Sepoy Mutiny (or Great Indian Rebellion) in
1857. The mutiny was the result of various piled up grievances, but the turning point was the fact that soldiers had to bite off the paper cartridges for their rifles which were greased with animal fat, notably beef and pork fat, violating the religious restrictions of Hindus and Muslims, respectively In fact, whereas India's first university, the University of Calcutta, was established on 24 January 1857, the mutiny started at 10 May 1857 (almost four months later) Interview with Mr. Ravindra Kumar, BHU, 1 February 2012 Ashraf partially agrees with him, but primarily holds the Muslims responsible. Ashraf explains that Muslims used to be highly educated; even children from poor families learnt some Qurān, Persian and basic religious knowledge. However, the British replaced Persian for English as language of government and governmental institutions and devaluated education taught in madrasas (Islamic schools), as it was more focused on religious than worldly knowledge. Ashraf agrees that Muslims continued to suffer from vain pride, in memory of their more than 800 years ruling the country. At the same time, he argues that there was lack of political and secular leadership among Muslims and the Ulama (Islamic scholars specialized in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh)) was suspicious towards the British and modern education.
Hence, in comparison with Hindus Muslims lagged behind in western education and were labelled ‘backward’. Eventually Muslims were ousted from high positions (Ashraf, 1998, pp. 112-113; Bhatt, 2001, p. 8; Seth, 2006, in: Raman, 2010, p. 83;
Seth, 2007, p. 11).
Many interviewees are convinced that education results in smoother interactions. Let us have a look at what reasons they give.
Mr. Kamal Rao:
They come to my shop, na! Those who are educated, I have observed so, they talk in a disciplined manner, those who are not educated…... he would talk with people with respect only.... If I use āp [you formally] for somebody and he uses tum [you informally] for me then only there will be a fight! He is educated, his children are educated, family is good, parents are good, they provide good education to them then they would not do like that! They will not talk nonsense!... I mean I get so much respect from them. It is not like that I run a tea shop then they would use poor language to me or they would call me by my name. They call me respect, like, please Sir, please give us tea.232
Insurance agent Mr. Mukesh Gupta:
When a person will be educated then he/she would be able to identify what is wrong and what is right, he/she would not be influenced illogically by someone’s emotions.233 Interview with Mr. Kamal Rao, Khalispura, 14 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Mukesh Gupta, Vishwanath gali, 23 January 2012
Mr. Irfan Malik, the retired mason:
Earlier there was a kind of bluntness that did not allowed them to use their mind and logic in case some rumour was there. They were unable to think in a logical way and to apply their wisdom in critical situations.... Now people use to think carefully about everything. Now people think a lot and calculate carefully before they take any step!234 Mr. Narendra Iyengar When they went to school, when, when, not in Muslim schools, general schools, when they read this history and their mind will become sharper.... I’m very sure that the, the, the education brings more wisdom in Muslim communities.235
Mr. Kamal Rao again:
When there will be education they would be able to understand what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. The language too is changed through education. The thinking capacity becomes sophisticated, the entire thinking is changed.236 Some people held that people who are educated are more respectful to others and are less blunt in their behaviour and speech. Educated people do not let their emotions influence their behaviour so much and think before they act. In general, they have acquired the skill to think, which makes them persons of better morale. In the statement of the astrologer, clearly mentioning that Muslims should be educated in general schools and not in Muslim schools, we find the aversion of madrasas previously discussed. It is interesting that to him the skill to think more critical is partially connected to ‘realizing their mistakes’: “When they went to school... Then they will understand.... And if they realize that my grand-grandparents are done something wrong, it’s a time comes to realize and to walk together with Hindu.”.237 He adds that if they then decide to rectify what their grand-grandparents did wrong, that would be fantastic.
Interview with Mr. Irfan Malik, Kashpura, 20 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Narendra Iyengar, Dashashvamedh, 11 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Kamal Rao, Khalispura, 14 January 2012 Interview with Mr. Narendra Iyengar, Dashashvamedh, 11 January 2012 When I asked Mr. Kamal Rao about the role of the government in educating Muslims, he answered that in the name of humanity and to guard the peace of the city people should indeed receive basic education but, according to him, the government has done enough. In India, there is a reservation system with special arrangements for disadvantaged groups and minorities, intending to level socio-economic opportunities and eliminate social discrimination. Reservations are made in government jobs and higher education for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC); some Muslim groups (amongst whom the Momin Ansārīs or Julāhās, weavers) are also indexed as OBC.238 The priest of a major temple in Varanasi disagrees that the government has done enough. According to him education is the basis of a society and currently it is weak in India so it should be the main priority of politics. When I asked him about stereotypes and prejudices about others’ religion, he argued that people should mix freely. But, “please don’t teach them religion. Definitely you should teach things that make them good citizens as it were.”.239 However, he could not tell whether it should be ethics, philosophy, something else, or a mixture. I totally agree with the priest that it is important to children to mix. Mixing with others might make them a bit more flexible in their thoughts, having met others who do not fit into stereotypes that prevail, perhaps running into each other’s houses during play and naively asking why someone is prostrating in the middle of the room or something else they come across, and perhaps even talking with one another about why one does this and the other does that. In my viewpoint, the fact that poor children go to madrasas is exactly a weak point in this: almost all of the children are Muslims, so they do not get to mix with children from other religious communities.
In India there are general (governmental) schools as well schools based on a religious affiliation. Because in madrasas education is often free, especially poorer families send their children to madrasas. The children are educated in an environment which is religiously very heterogeneous as most students are Muslims.
The Islamic schools and especially madrasas are looked upon with much suspicion.
In general schools, there is hardly any religious education and in Islamic schools and madrasas there is hardly any education about other religions than Islam.
Unfortunately, this does not offer students the opportunity to learn about and adjust their false presumptions and stereotypes about (people from) other religions.
Nevertheless, many interviewees hold that Hindu-Muslim relationships have become better because the general level of education has gone up. Education enables people to better judge right from wrong and makes people behave in a more civilized way.
See footnote 34 Interview with Mr. Govind Sharma, Tulsi ghat, 16 February 2012