Islamia High School: A historic institution clamours for attention

Where Sheikh, Sadiq, Mufti, Mirwaiz, Ashai Got Educated

FAHEEM ASLAM
Publish Date: Jun 14 2011 12:00PM

Srinagar, June 13: Apart from its historicity, there is something peculiar that distinguishes the famed Islamia High School in Srinagar from rest of the educational institutions that have come up in Kashmir over the years. And that is the number of political leaders, scholars, academics and engineers it has produced since its establishment in 1866 AD.
Situated at Rajouri Kadal in the heart of Shahr-e-Khaas (Old City), the school has produced luminaries including the former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir like Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and GM Sadiq besides religious scholars like Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir Shaheed Mirwaiz Moulana Muhammad Farooq. This is apart from scores of religious preachers, engineers and academics like Late Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, the first Registrar of then Jammu and Kashmir University, Dr Ali Jan, Muhammad Amin Chisti (former Registrar Kashmir University), Abdul Aziz Fazili (former Accountant General) and Noor-ul-Hasan (former Conservator Forests) who have taken lessons from this prestigious institution.
The foundation of the institution was laid by the renowned religious scholar and preacher, Mirwaiz Moulvi Ghulam Rasool Shah, alongside the establishment of similar other institutions like the Darul-Uloom Deoband and Aligarh Muslim University.
“It is believed that the great Islamic scholar, Jamal-ud-Din Afghani once visited Kashmir and met Moulvi Ghulam Rasool Shah. Since there was ignorance and poverty in Kashmir, Afghani had desired establishment of a religious institution like Islamia School on the grounds that education was the cure for all the ills. Since Moulvi Ghulam Rasool Shah was a man of great vision and intellect, he translated the idea into reality,” says Shams-ur-Rehman, Editor at the Anjuman-e-Nusratul Islam, whose founder president was Mirwaiz Moulvi Ghulam Rasool Shah, also known as “Sir Syed-e-Kashmir.”
“The 100 years of its existence, barring a few years of turmoil, has been an extremely rich period wherein the different branches of Islamia High School gave rise to scores of scholars, academics and leaders,” says Rehman.
The branches were established at places like Dalgate, Nowshehra, Rainawari, Bijbehara and Islamabad (Anantnag).
According to a booklet, produced by the Anjuman, the Islamia Middle School was established in 1988 AD. “Alongside, a Darsgah was established to keep the people abreast with Quranic teachings and Shari’ah. The educational system became popular and attracted students from all corners of the state. The Islamia Middle School was upgraded to High School and 20 more schools were opened up in different parts of the Valley,” reads the booklet, edited by Er Muhammad Ibrahim Shah, present general secretary of the Anjuman. “The basic Darsgah bloomed into a full-fledged Islamia Oriental College by 1923 wherein besides Quranic education, studies in Moulvi Aalim, Moulvi Fazil, Munshi Alim and Munshi Fazil are being offered under the affiliation of Kashmir University and degrees awarded.”
Taking to Greater Kashmir, Er Muhammad Ibrahim Shah said: “I retired as a chief engineer. The Islamia High School was a big institution those days where only boys would study. After 1947, the position of the school started deteriorating due to unfavourable and unfriendly treatment of the local governments.”
Shah said efforts were made to get the name of the school changed. “But the Anjuman resisted it tooth and nail,” he said and added that late Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq made significant attempts to revive the institution. “Later when the school gutted in a devastating blaze in 2004, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had taken reigns of the Anjuman, started revitalising the institution,” he said.
According to observers, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah visited the school after 1975, asserting that he wanted to make a road connecting Jamia Masjid with the Islamia School. “It didn’t happen,” says Shah. “Then after the 2004 fire, Mufti Muhammad Syed also desired to have the same road and acquired some houses in the vicinity of the school for its expansion. But the proposal didn’t take-off.”
In 2009, Anjuman applied for registration for degree courses before the state government. The issue, according to its officials, is not getting the nod allegedly for political reasons.
Anwar Ashai, son of Khawaja Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, says the institution has produced stalwarts and should be revived. “My father did his Matric from Islamia School in 1910. He  retired as Principal SP College in 1947 and then assumed the charge of then Registrar of Jammu and Kashmir University,” Anwar told Greater Kashmir, asserting that the institution was a “great place which educated many stalwarts.”
The school intends to expand its Higher Secondary wing and also put in place a research library with printing and publishing facilities. But the Anjuman authorities believe it would be possible only with the active involvement of the civil society in general and the Old Boys of the institution in particular.
“Islamia High School is a precious heritage. The new generation needs to be made aware of this. We have 20 to 25 percent of students in the school who are studying as a first generation. So therein lies the real contribution. We have to uplift the downtrodden,” says Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads the Anjuman. “Old students have to come forward and help the Anjuman to restore its glory. Finances we can raise, but the question is of manpower. Here our own people have to cooperate and come forward. The civil society has to contribute to the Anjuman.”
Some of the Anjuman officials clearly plead that the state government should shun “neglecting the Islamia High School and cooperate in its expansion and progress.”
“The government apathy towards the institution has to end. There is no point playing politics over education. The school imparts education to the downtrodden. And it is the responsibility of the government to cooperate in this endeavour,” says an official. “At the same time, people should send their wards to this institution which has been a torchbearer in spreading quality education to children.”


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