The Ray of Hope

Greater Kashmir

Jamia Zia ul Uloom, in border region of Pirpanchal, is what an Islamic madrasa need to do

When the entire Mdarassa system (Islamic Education Institutions) in India are under criticism for providing radical education away from the present challenges of the world, there is an institution with multiple projects and targets in hand. Situated in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir state Jamia Zia ul Uloom Poonch is no more a Madarasa alone, this is an institution of multiple projects. From Islamic education to modern education, and boys’ education to girls’ education, this institution is also working on various welfare fronts to change the economic condition of the people . Not only this, Jamia has also taken a shape of an institution from where the people get advice and directions during the challenging times.
Established in 1974, in border town Poonch, this Madarassa was founded by Moulana Ghulam Qadir with just a routine aim of providing Islamic education to the Muslim students of this far flung area. But with the passage of time and transformation of the world, this Madrassa realized the challenges ahead and transformed itself accordingly. Moulana Ghulam Qadir is a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board and considered to be one of the top Islamic scholars of the country. In fact, this Islamic institution founded by him imparting only religious education realized the gravity of the situation and challenges ahead when a Christian missionary school opened its branch in this far flung poor and downtrodden region some three decades ago. Thus taking the Christian missionary school as a challenge, Jamia Zia ul Uloom also started modern education as well. Not only for boys, Zia ul Uloom also created a special space for the girls in the institution.
As of now, Jammia Zia ul Uloom, is not only producing Haafiz-e-Quraan and other Islamic scholars but has more than 1000 students enrolled up to Hr Secondary level for modern education. A Haafiz-e Quraan pass out of Jammia is also equipped with all types of modern and required education. Thus the pass out of this Jammia has no job challenge as the pass outs of other madrassa boys. The most important and significant achievement of this madrassa is that it has special focus on the girls education and it has created all facilities for girls including residential facilities.
Apart from its educational activities, Jamia Zia-ul-Uloom has taken a shape of an institution with multiple projects in hand. On social service front, in the recent September 2014 floods in Jammu Kashmir this institution has played an important role in providing relief to the flood effected people in the state.  As per the records maintained by Jamia, its welfare department has conducted 48 relief camps in the whole of Jammu Kashmir during recent floods, majority of which were conducted in Poonch and Rajouri districts of the state. In district Poonch which was the worst flood hit, Jamia was the first hope of the flood effected people.  The most beautiful thing about this institution is that it has respect and credibility across the religious sections of the society.
Moulana Sayed Habib, the present head of Jammia Poonch has a different vision on confronting issues. He says, when there was an apprehensions about the missionaries converting people to their faith under the garb of quality education, “Instead of confronting them and raising hue and cry about the intentions of missionaries we decided to raise the quality of our education. If we can not provide the quality education to our people we can not stop them from going elsewhere. And that is no justice. We have to equip our people with all the modern requirements along with Islamic education, then only we can save our people from getting trapped”, says Sayed, adding that the people running madrassas across the country will have to understand that the generations we are producing from our institutions should not face job problems. For this, we have to equip them with scientific and technical education as well.”
Expressing serious concern about the economic conditions of Muslim community in country, Moualana Sayed cites the example of recent Agra “conversion” incident, he says apparently the statements of the victims of conversion drama they had done all this only for the sake of a ration card and BPL card. “ It means the economic conditions of these people was so worst even they got lured only for a BPL card to convert”, he says adding that it is a matter of serious concern . “Instead of looking in to the basic problems being faced by our people we are just making hue and cry”, he adds.
However, Moulana Sayed expressed his displeasure and anguish over the elements targeting Madrassas in India in the name of terrorism and radicalism, he says it is a communal attitude of certain forces, and they will never bow before any such pressure. But he says that Madrassa organisations also need to relook into their institutions and make it sure that the pass out of Madrassa does not face any sort of job challenge. For this, he says, “we have to focus on the technical and scientific education in our madrassas.”

 The author is a senior journalist and a columnist