Lucknow: The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is facing stiff opposition by autonomous madrasas in Uttar Pradesh for its decision to make the teaching of Hindu epics like Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana mandatory in 100 autonomous madrasas.
NIOS has mandated the rule for madrasas as part of the new curriculum on ancient Indian knowledge and heritage in the New Education Policy (NEP).
Muslim clerics have so far refused to accept the new curriculum of NIOS, an autonomous institute under the education ministry. They believe that NIOS has no power to take decisions on the madrasa curriculum. Nazim (chairman) of 350-year-old Lucknow-based Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Farangi Mahal, Maulana Khalid Rasheed, who is also a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the purpose of establishing madrasas is to strictly impart Islamic education.
“There are two types of madrasas in India; ones governed by the Madrasa Board and others run by the community on its own. The madrasas governed by the Board are bound to implement its decisions but others are independent to take their own decisions,” Rasheed said.
“NIOS, which comes under the education ministry, has no right to issue any direction to independent madrasas,” he asserted.
Another Muslim cleric Maulana Yasoob Abbas also denounced the NIOS for introducing the epics in the curriculum of Islamic seminaries. He asked if NIOS wants to teach Gita and Ramayana in madrasas, why is it not introducing the Quran in the curriculum of RSS-funded Saraswati Sishu Mandir.
Maulana Yasoob Abbas, who is also an executive member of Madrasa Sultan Al Madaris, said if anyone tries to impose something on madrasas, the community will protest against it.
“Hindus and Muslims fought together for the freedom of this country, but some people are trying to divide the country in the name of language and religion,” he added.
Prominent academician Nadeem Hasnain said although there is no harm if madrasa students learn ancient epics, it would be problematic if the government makes it compulsory.
Hasnain, who is the former head of Lucknow University’s Anthropology department, opined that NIOS should also teach Islamic books like Quran and Nahjul Balagha in schools.
Some veterans of the community have also questioned the intentions of the NIOS. Col. Fasih Uddin Ahmed (Retired) says this could be a good decision if NIOS implement the same rule in schools run by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. If the Madarsa students would learn epics Geeta and Ramayana, so why not students of Saraswati Shishu Mandir could learn Quran and Hadees.
The founding editor of the Urdu weekly Jadeed Markaz Hisam Siddiqui said some top “babus” take such decisions to earn brownie points from their political masters. Madrasas accepted the previous diktat of the government to teach English and Mathematics, but the decision to introduce Gita and Ramayana is “illegal” and can be challenged in court, he added.
Former Vice-President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee Abid Hussain said it is impossible for madrasa students to learn two religions at one time. Hussain, who is also a lawyer, said that madrasas are not legally bound to abide by such rules.
Earlier in 2018, junior minister in the Yogi Adityanath’s government, Mohsin Raza, had triggered a similar controversy by announcing a dress code for madrasa students. During a function at the Haj House, the minority affairs minister had asserted that the new dress code would be applicable to madrasas.
The NIOS has prepared 15 courses which are equivalent to classes 3, 5 and 8 of elementary education. As per media reports, the courses include ‘Bharatiya Jnana Parampara’ (Ancient Indian knowledge) under which the teachings of Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, vedas, yoga, science, vocational skills, Sanskrit and Panini-propounded Maheshwara Sutras etc are covered.
The NIOS has planned to introduce a new curriculum in 100 madrasas initially and would extend it to 500 madrasas in future, reports said.