Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jinnah, Father of the Nation

Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was Born on December 25, 1876, in a prominent mercantile family in Karachi. He received his early education at the Sindh Madrassat-ul-Islam, a renowned Islamic School and the Christian Mission School at his birth place. Jinnah went to London to join the Lincoln's Inn in 1893 to become the youngest Indian Barrister.

Jinnah being a good Muslim had the habit of reading history of Islamic rulers. Moreover he used to take guidance by Quran Recitation about setting up a pure Islamic society based on Islamic rules. Young Jinnah rose to prominence and became Bombay's most successful lawyer within a few years. Jinnah formally entered politics in 1905 from the platform of the Indian National Congress and at the Calcutta Congress session in December 1906, he also made his first political speech in support of the resolution on self-government. Mr. Montagu who was Secretary of State for India, once said "Jinnah is a very clever man, and such a man should have no chance of running the affairs of his own country”

For about three decades since his entry into politics in 1906, Jinnah passionately believed in Hindu-Muslim unity and he was responsible for the Congress-League Pact of 1916, known popularly as Lucknow Pact- the only pact ever signed between the two political organisations, the Congress and the All-India Muslim League, representing the two major communities in the subcontinent

Nehru Report in 1928 which represented the Congress-sponsored proposals for the future constitution of India, negated the minimum Muslim demands disappointed Jinnah and prompted him to migrate and settle down in London in the early thirties

He however returned to India in 1934, at the pleadings of few muslim leaders to organize muslim league and devoted himself for the purpose of organizing the Muslims on one platform. Under Jinnah's dynamic leadership, Muslim League was transformed into a mass organization, and made the spokesman of Indian Muslims as never before.

As a result of Jinnah's ceaseless efforts, the Muslims awakened from unreflective silence. The formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan in 1940 had a tremendous impact on the nature and course of Indian politics that lead to the the establishment of Pakistan in 14th of August 1947

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was nominated by the Muslim League as the Governor-General of Pakistan. Jinnah told the nation in his last message on 14 August, 1948: "The foundations of your State have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can"

In accomplishing the task he had taken upon himself on the morrow of Pakistan's birth, Jinnah had worked himself to death, but he had, to quote richard Symons, "contributed more than any other man to Pakistan's survivial". He died on 11 September, 1948. How true was Lord Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India, when he said, "Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan"

Jinnah, fought for the inherent rights of his people all through his life which is a true guiding path for all Pakistanis.

Handmade Beginnings

This is a nice site, MashaALLAH! She's crafty like I think I am inside my head. :) Read More...

Tree of Prophets

Check it out.

Rules for Qur'an Recitation

Go Here.

Looking Forward to Getting Mail

Remember when the mail was full of letters from the people that you cared about instead of just bills and junk? These days, we send emails and talk on the phone and chat but we don't write real letters.

When I lived in Germany,(between 7 and 10), a friend of mine had a penpal from ALLAH knows where, and she used to show me her postcards and letters and I thought it was such a neat idea!

When I came back to the States, (Virginia), my cousin and I wrote to each other for years and it was nice to keep in touch that way because phone calls to Texas were expensive.

My daughter is six and I would like for her to continue developing her writing skills. She is very social and I think that she would enjoy meeting Muslim children who live outside of her community. She has already handwritten about six letters to her cousin and is using all of my envelopes so why not? LOL.

If you are interested, Email me at themuslimhomeschooler@gmail.com and we can exchange addresses. If your children can write to her in Arabic, that would be fine also. I think this would be great for our social studies and geography adventures, (we can put them on the map!) and a way to forge a lifetime of friendships, InshaALLAH.

Wherever in the world, (or GTA for that matter),you may be, we look forward to hearing from you, InshaALLAH. Read More...

English-Arabic Country Names

This is a list of country names in Arabic and English.

By the way, I have a lot of stuff in my drafts that I am just now posting, that's why there are so many posts today. Read More...

Dhikr Rewards Chart

Blog at AbdurRahman has a Rewards for Dhikr Chart. InshaALLAH it is beneficial to you and they are rewarded by ALLAH every time we use it, so check it out if you don't have it. Read More...

Online Tajweed Courses

I just found these today and I can't give an opinion on them. It looks like some of them are free and the others have free trials. Take a look, InshaALLAH.

About Tajweed

Tajweed in English there's a tajweed podcast here.

Bayyinah - my husband recommends this one, he's met one of the brothers behind it.

Al Quran wa Sunnah

Bayyinah Sessions

E-Aalim: has Qur'an and Arabic courses. The Qur'an course runs from March 20-June 5 and it'll cost you about $300 (149 British Pounds).

Al Quran Academy offers courses that are broken down into 30 minute lessons:
5 days/30 mins $80 a month
3 days/ $50
2 days - weekdays $35
2 days - weekends $30

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Common Mistakes in Tajweed That Non Arabs Make

Go to About Tajweed.

JazakILLAH Khairin For The Question

A sister recently sent me an email and May ALLAH make things easy for her (AMEEN) and may she be rewarded for her question (AMEEN).

She asks: "I was just wondering after reading your blog how you are able to teach your kids all those surahs as you are a convert like me. Do you know all those surahs? Have you studied arabic? Or do they learn from someone else? Or are you learning together? I don't feel confident to teach my kids too many surahs as I can barely even read arabic and I only know 5 surahs myself. I have no one to teach me quran."

To her and those who are wondering:

Wa 'alaikum as salaam wa RahmatULLAHI wa Barakatuhu,

I have taken three Arabic classes so I can read Arabic and I've memorized some of the surahs and I learned Ayatul Kursi on my own by listening to audio online. I don't know Suratul Balad yet so my husband is working with my daughter on that one until I catch up. I taught her the beginning surahs and he taught her the longer surahs. I am a revert but my husband isn't - he knows quite a bit more Arabic and Qur'an than I do.

Go to the link for Hussary that I put on the blog and listen to the shorter surahs for five minutes each day and do half an hour of Arabic study every day. You must be consistent.

Also, get a book with the transliteration and use it to follow along if you need to - but don't make it a crutch.

The one I received when I took shahada has Juz Amma,
ISBN 1-881963-56-X

It takes a great amount of patience but don't be discouraged. When I took my first Arabic course, I didn't even know the Arabic alphabet and I sat nervously and quietly (it was online through shariahprogram.ca) until I could keep up.

Under that pressure, AlhamduLILLAH, I learned the alphabet quickly, even though my husband tried to teach me before I started. You can do it! InshaALLAH, do like my daughter is doing, write the letters down over and over and they will sink in.

You can buy the dvd Alif is for Asad - that is excellent. My son learned the alphabet just by listening to that a few times (there's a catchy little song and the brother sings it fast but you catch on quickly). Even when you learn to read Arabic or learn the grammar rules like I did, there's still all of the vocabulary to learn.

Take your time and don't be discouraged, Ukhti. Also, go to Talibiddeen Jr. and look around. She has things on her site that I haven't even thought of yet. She's been homeschooling since 1998!

If your children see you doing it, it encourages them to jump in and get involved. My daughter teaches me what she knows and I memorize it that way because she's competitive and it gets me going, lol. Then, we perfect the tajweed and away we go!

Another thing I wish to point out, is that learning and memorization of Qur-an is THE foundational science for Islam. You cannot pursue any other field in the Islamic Sciences, if you do not have Qur-an under your belt. It's that simple.

In the past, classical scholars would not even allow you to sit in their study circles if you had not memorized the Qur-an. Think of this as your ABC's for this religion.

Also, scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah regretted delving into fields of study like debating the greek philosophers, and felt that they should have spent more time instead on tafsir.

From Aisha (May ALLAH be pleased with her) who said, "The Messenger of ALLAH SAW said: 'The one who recites the Qur-an and is proficient in it, will be with the noble scribes (the angels). And the one who stutters when reciting the Qur-an due to difficulty, then he will have two rewards.' " Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i in Al-Sughra, Ibn Hibban, and Saheeh At-Targheeb.

The Messenger of ALLAH SAW said, "Whoever recites a letter from the Book of ALLAH - The Most High - then it will be considered as a good deed he did. And a good deed is qual to ten good deeds like it. I do not mean that Alif Laam Meem is a letter; rather Alif is considered a letter, Laam is considered a letter, and Meem is considered a letter." Related by Tirmidhi, Al-Bayhaqq in Shu'b al-Eeman, authenticated by Imaam Al-Albaanee.

Take care and don't give up - I'm almost 35 and it's not too late.
Wa salaam,
Nakia

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Click to See the Whole Thing

every minute
Created by Online Education

Is It Just Me Or Is Velcro Kind of Expensive?

So now that I'm feeling better, we can get back to setting up the workboxes, right?

I have been all over the net gathering schedule strips, tags and grids so that we can get started.

I found a lot on Christian homeschool blogs that I tweaked in Photoshop. For example, if the cards say, "Bible", I just replace it with "Qur'an". I am also pretty excited because I finally learned how to remove the faces on photos - I am on the bottom of the Photoshop learning curve, lol.

FYI, Ummi Homeschools Me has a weekly workbox planning sheet if you need it. Read More...

Tackling Homework for the First Time

Since the kids started going to Islamic School for three hours in the morning, we've been super busy at home too.

It's funny how I thought this would give me more time to worry about the other two - the baby is usually sleeping and the toddler doesn't want anything to do with school until the others are around, lol. Oh well.

When they get home, it's time for lunch but the good new is that I usually have plenty of time to get the house cleaned (that wasn't happening before, lol) and then it's time for school.

The first day that they started going out for school, my son came home with a fever (it was not swine flu - we got our shots for that). He immediately gave it to the oldest and they were out of commission for a few days. So, they went to school one day that week and so we tried again the next week. Then, the rest of us got sick about two weeks later and we are just now recovering, AlhamduLILLAH.

Once they got into a rhythm, they started bringing home all of this homework! We were NOT used to that, lol. We pick up where we leave off around here so there's no homework. Gone are the leisurely evenings for those two, lol.

Arabic Writing I & II

My daughter is using book II and my son is using book I.

They are required to work on their Arabic penmanship which is fine, but it's a little tough on my daughter to write all 28 of the Arabic letters like this for the next day:

Practice Makes Perfect

Still, she persevered and finished it all, mashaALLAH. She's also memorizing Surah Balad and listening to Sheikh Hussary mp3s at our listening station. She's doing well, MashaALLAH. I personally like Sheikh Mishary Rashed Alafasy's recitation but for tajweed, we use Hussary. Read More...

Technology Advice for Teachers

You can find it here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Ten Forms of Halal Entertainment

At Muslim Matters.

Star Size Comparison HD

AlhamduLILLAH, This Looks So Amazing!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Islam and the Concept of Poetry

According to William Wordsworth “poetry is intermittent inspiration and overflow of powerful emotions expressed in tranquility”. A poet is the man of consciousness and wisdom. In past whenever disbelievers listen Quran Recitation, they claimed that it is as poetic book but actually Quranic verses and poetry are two different things. Here the question arises that is poetry allowed in Islam or not?

There are two main verses dealing with the subject of poets. In Sura Yasin in verse 69 the Qur’an says: “We have not instructed the (Prophet) in poetry, not is it meet for him; this is no less than a message and a Quran making things clear.” Why this verse was revealed to the Prophet? Simply because the Quranic idiom, language and style are so unique that none can excel it.

In few Islamic Schools poetry is being taught to praise the creator and his Prophet (PBUH) which is called Hamd and Naat. Similarly during the period of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) the poets used to paste or hang their writings on the walls of Kaaba and prove their excellence. “Saba Moalleqat” were very much popular writings hung on the walls of Kaaba.

Poets in to two classes; The evil ones and the righteous ones. The poets who spread evil are condemned. The poets who preach nobility are praised. Here one question arises. Is it only for poets? Is it not for prose writers? Or is it not for all humans? If somebody preaches profanity in prose will he be appreciated? Sacrilegious ideas or deeds have to be condemned.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Dental Care For Kids in Toronto

The program provides FREE dental services to low income teens (under 18 years), kids and babies who urgently need care and includes:

* fillings and extractions
* preventive dental care, including cleaning and fluoride
* dental health support and information

Click here for the number.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers

If you are interested in attending organized field trips and other social events with Muslim homeschooling families in the Greater Toronto Area, feel free to contact the Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers at torontomuslimhomeschoolers@yahoo.com.

This group is run by three sisters, mashaALLAH and they've been around for a while now.

The meetings are on the first Saturday of each month and they shift across the East and West ends of the GTA. The membership is $25 per family and only mothers and nursing babies are permitted to attend the monthly meetings at 9AM.

The next meeting is in January, InshaALLAH and I am going to do my best to make it there because I have wanted to meet everyone there Read More...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Have You Been to Yamli?

It's a search engine that retypes your words in Arabic if you prefer. Read More...

Influence of Islam on Science

Muslims had made immense leaps forward in the area of Science ever since Islam was born. Cities having modern and scientific Islamic Schools like Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Cordoba were the centers of civilization and were flourishing and Muslim scientists made tremendous progress in applied as well as theoretical Science and Technology.

The idea of the college was a concept which was borrowed from Muslims. The first colleges appeared in the Muslim world in the late 600’s and early 700’s. Where, Muslims were taught Quran Recitation as well as the relation of science with the religion and the concepts of creation of this world. In Europe, some of the earliest colleges are those under the University of Paris and Oxford they were founded around the thirteenth century.

Islamic contributions to Science were now rapidly being translated and transferred from Spain to the rest of Europe. Ibnul Hairham’s works on Optics, (in which he deals with 50 Optical questions put to Muslim Scholars by the Franks), was translated widely. The Muslims discovered the Principle of Pendulum, which was used to measure time. Many of the principles of Isaac Newton were derived from former Islamic scientific contributions. In the field of Chemistry numerous Islamic works were translated into Latin.

All of this knowledge transferred from the Muslims to the Europeans was the vital raw material for the Scientific Revolution. Muslims not only passed on Greek classical works but also introduced new scientific theories, without which the European Renaissance could not have occurred.


The Totally Free Kids Learning Network

Go to Kids Know It and check it out for yourself. :) Read More...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mosque, As a Center of Education

The Mosque is a center of almost all activities of an Islamic Society. It is used as a place of worship, as an Islamic School for education, a judicial court with Islamic laws, and a government center for making political and administrative decisions.

It is not only a symbol of their identity but also a refuge to protect them from evil. The Muslim community has always been attached to the mosque throughout history in some way or another. Mosques gained a special place due to a distinctive character of the Islamic faith, that is, Islam requires that its followers shape their lives on the principle of obedience to Allah.

As a center of education, Mosque is a place where all forms of educational activities take place. Muslims are taught Quran Recitation and Qur'anic verses are explained by the Islamic scholars. In past, Islamic education was delivered by informal method of teaching, but later on it was organized into a systemized method. Grand mosques in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Nishapur, remained famous as centers of learning.

The Companions used to memorize and record the sayings of the Prophet within the mosque. In one of the corners of the Prophet's mosque, there was a raised platform that served as a central place of student activity for those interested to know about faith, worship, and other matters.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Going to Qur'an Studies

Our family received a real blessing recently, in the form of some very patient and giving sisters at a local mosque, AlhamduLILLAH. They have volunteered to teach Qur'an to the older children in the mornings for three hours for free while I give my little ones some extra mommy time.

Don't Let Go

This means that I can focus on the preschooler for once without feeling like I am just giving her some busy work. With her, I'm looking more towards creative play and gentle learning since she's only two but she can certainly learn a surah or two and du'a as well. I'm in the process of developing some sort of plan, InshaALLAH, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm sort of reacquainting myself with the IQRA Preschool Curriculum

Preschool Curriculum

There are also many sisters out there that are doing a phenomenal job of developing ideas for implementing Islam into the lives of the younger kids - just take a look at any of the links on the left side of the blog for an exhaustive list. Read More...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Relation of Muslim Parents and Children

In a pure Islamic family, parents are responsible for the best possible growth of their children and offer an unconditional love that compensates for the weaknesses of their children. The character of parents is a role model for children through which they learn the basic values and principles which they will carry with them throughout life.

Allah says in Qur’an "We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the child to his weaning is thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to You and truly do I bow to You in Islam."

The Muslim father is also responsible for his child's training and education. Before traditional education, parents are responsible to teach their children Quran Recitation with translation. Concerning this, the Prophet (S) said: A father gives his child nothing better than a good education. (Mishkat, 4977, transmitted by Tirmidhi and Baihaqi)

It the responsibility of parents to choose right Islamic School for their Children for better education. The children, in turn, respect their parents as the source of their very being, as their teachers, and as the ones who have labored and sacrificed for their sakes. When they are grown, they should be responsible to care for their parents in their old age. These relative responsibilities should not be undertaken as a matter of duty, but rather emerge from the spontaneous promptings of parental love and the children's gratitude and respect.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: Reformist Voices of Islam—Mediating Islam and Modernity

Name of the Book: Reformist Voices of Islam—Mediating Islam and Modernity

Edited by: Shireen Hunter

Publisher: Pentagon Press, New Delhi (www.pentagon-press.com)

Year: 2009

Pages: 322

Price: Rs. 995

ISBN: 978-81-8274-3

Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand

‘Reformist Islam’, today an oft-heard slogan, is notoriously difficult to define, for it can mean different things to different people. Recent years have witnessed the sudden burgeoning of volumes on the subject, but this book is not just a repetition of what has already been written before. Ambitiously global in its scope, it brings together writings by well-known Islamic scholars and activists, each of who provides a broad survey of ‘reformist’ Muslim voices in the part of the world that they are most familiar with—Shireen Hunter, editor of this book, on Iran, the noted Egyptian scholar Hasan Hanafi on North Africa, Riffat Hasan on South Asia, Martin van Bruinessen on Indonesia, Farish Noor on Malaysia, Recep Senturk on Turkey, Farhad Khosrokhavar on Europe, and Tamara Sonn on the United States.

These writers deal with a number of other contemporary Muslim scholars and scholar-activists, outlining their own and varied approaches to the question of reform in Islamic thought. These are simply too numerous to name, leave alone discuss, here, but they all share certain common methodologies and, to an extent, goals.

Firstly, these scholars all insist that what they are engaged in reforming is not Islam itself, but, rather, certain aspects of commonly-held human understandings of Islam. They see their task as seeking to revive what they regard as more authentic understandings on these issues. Secondly, they are profoundly dissatisfied with the approach of the traditionalist ulema, wedded to the doctrine of taqlid or imitation of jurisprudential precedent, of the ulema allied with state authorities (who generally do their bidding) and of radical Islamists. Thirdly, they all advocate ijtihad or creative reflection on the primary sources of the Islamic faith—the Quran and Hadith or Prophetic traditions, although they differ as to the extent they believe ijtihad is permissible and on the qualifications needed to engage in this exercise. Fourthly, they stress the crucial distinction—often ignored by many traditionalist ulema as well as doctrinaire Islamists—between the shariah, as the divine path, which they regard as God-given and, therefore, perfect, and fiqh, human efforts to understand the shariah and express it in the form of rules, which, being a human effort, is fallible. Unlike the shariah, which is eternal, fiqh can, and indeed, should, change in response to new conditions as well as the expanding body of human knowledge, they unanimously insist. Fifthly, many of them claim (an argument many other Muslims would differ with) that certain aspects of the Quran and the Hadith, mainly dealing with legal matters, are context-specific, and hence may not be applicable, at least in the same way, in today’s vastly different context. These include, for instance, certain injunctions related to women and non-Muslims or to criminals. Sixthly, several of them argue for what could be called a ‘values-based’ reading of the Islamic scriptural tradition, stressing the relative importance of the spirit over the letter of these texts.

Using these methodological tools, these ‘reformist’ Muslim scholars revisit traditional Islamic as well as modern Islamist thought, dealing with a wide range of issues: women’s rights and status, relations between Muslims and people of other faiths, madrasa education, international relations, economic and political institutions, secularism, democracy, citizenship in a modern state, war and peace, and so on. In the process, they articulate alternate Islamic understandings on these subjects that depart considerably from traditionalist as well as Islamist positions, and that appear much more socially-engaged and contextually-relevant.

For those eager to hear ‘progressive’ Muslim voices on a whole host of issues of contemporary import (and strategic interest), this thoroughly engaging and immaculately-researched book simply cannot afford to be missed. Read More...

Film Review: On Tamil Muslim Women's Struggle

Name of the Film: Shifting Prophecy
Director: Merajur Rahman Baruah
Produced by: Public Service Broadcasting Trust
Duration: 30 minutes
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand

Countering the stereotypical image of Muslim women as silent victims of patriarchy, the award-winning film ‘Shifting Prophecy’ highlights the struggle launched by a group of Tamil Muslim women, led by the charismatic Daud Shareefa Khanum, to have their muffled voices heard and to fight misogyny in the name of Islam.

The film traces the origins of STEPS, a women’s group based in the town of Puddukotai in Tamil Nadu, and goes on to detail its remarkable efforts in mobilizing Muslim women for their rights. It focuses in particular on Khanum and her own story—the daughter of a Tamil Muslim couple who got separated soon after her birth, who, defying all odds, went on to study at the Aligarh Muslim University and then, on her return to Tamil Nadu, immersed herself wholeheartedly in seeking to redress and protest against the grievances of her fellow Muslim women.

Footage of public rallies bringing together large numbers of these women, burkha-clad or demurely dressed in dupattas wound round their heads, depict the traumas that many of them have undergone. Breaking the veil of silence that has been sought to be imposed on them and defying deeply-rooted patriarchal customs, these women boldly relate their heart-rending tales—of being married off to drunkards, drug-addicts, womanizers and even, in one case, a murderer, against their will, of suffering beatings, demands for exorbitant dowries and brutal torture, and off being cast away by the mere pronouncement of the word talaq—now, thanks to new technology, even through email and SMS. A common theme runs through their tragic stories—the total indifference to their plight, simply on account of them being women, of jamaat committees, consisting entirely of males and based in local mosques, that generally arbitrate in cases of marital dispute.

The film then shifts to outlining the story of the origins of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Women’s Jamaat, led by the redoubtable Khanum, who has received numerous awards for her work. Khanum describes how the failure of the mosque-based jamaat committees to sensitively respond to women’s issues forced her and her colleagues to set up their own all-women’s jamaat some years ago. Their jamaat meets once a month, where women collectively study the Quran themselves (free from patriarchal misinterpretations), and deal with cases of marital disputes and other such problems that women face. So far, Khanum and her colleagues have taken up some 10,000 petitions, trying to solve them through mutual consultation or, if that fails, through the police and the courts.

To galvanise their work, Khanum and her team are now in the process of setting up their own women’s mosque, where they can pray (in contrast to other mosques, where, contrary to the practice at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, women are generally debarred from worshipping), and discuss their own issues and problems. At the same time, the group carries on with its demand that existing mosque jamaat committees should also have women’s representatives, something that is totally absent today.

Accused by traditionalist clerics (some of who appear in the film) of being ‘anti-Islamic’, Khanum repeatedly clarifies that she and her colleagues are all acting within the Islamic framework, demanding the rights that Islam has given women but which Muslim men, impelled by a distorted interpretation of the faith, have snatched from them. ‘Many Muslim women are even denied the right to their own identity, the freedom to express themselves, their self-respect, all this based on wrong interpretations of Islam,’ she stresses. Dowry, forced marriage, arbitrary divorce, wife-beating and denying women the right to worship in mosques—all of these, she points out, have no sanction in Islam. The film reinforces this claim with a short interview with the noted Mumbai-based Islamic scholar, Asghar Ali Engineer, who expresses his solidarity with Khanum and her group.

Since her group’s demands are all perfectly Islamically-legitimate, Khanum insists, the issue is not a religious one, unlike what her detractors argue, Khanum insists. ‘Its simply about power’, she claims—some men, who have for long misused Islam for their own power, just don’t fancy the idea of power slipping out of their hands. That, in short, is the crux of this extremely inspiring film. Read More...

Desk Solution

So, it has been super busy around here lately and I don't know where to begin.

First off, we found a solution to our desk situation. I was having a hard time finding suitable seating in our classroom and almost spent a little money to solve the problem. Instead, my brother-in-law called us to say that a local school was throwing out old tables. Don't you know, we snatched up two of them and now we have this table and another one for our listening station. ALLAH provides! Now, we have some tables for seating and we have a table for a listening station, AlhamduLILLAH. We have some books on CD and some audio tapes and headphones for everyone, so that will help me to space out the activities of the kids, InshaALLAH.

Desk Problem Solved

Listening Station

At the Eid bazaar, I picked up two new components for the homeschool. There were puzzles for sale ($5 for the whole lot), so I jumped at those right away. They are all unique and I hope that they are a challenge for my daughter because she's really good with puzzles, mashaALLAH.


There was also a set of Arabic blocks that fit together to form words - with the first, initial and final positions of the letters on either side of the blocks.

Arabic Word Blocks

Arabic Word Blocks

Arabic Word Blocks

May we derive benefit from these (AMEEN).

My oldest is also a bookworm so we have started tracking her progress. I saw this on a blog some time ago and thought it was cute, so I printed a picture of an airplane (can't remember where) and now when she reads a chapter book, we add a cloud behind the plane. It encourages her to read more and I'm hoping that we make it to at least 50, InshaALLAH before our school year concludes. We started in August and so far, she's read 11 chapter books. She reads books written for 8-12 year old children, mashaALLAH.

Books in the Clouds

Finally, we are implementing Sue Patrick's Workbox System into our homeschool agenda.

We're Using Workboxes

For me, it just makes things easier and my daughter doesn't have to constantly wait for me to get things together and she can go on with her assignments while I work with the others, InshaALLAH. Read More...

Let's Pretend I Posted This On Time

Eid Mubarak everyone! LOL, what a busy time it was for us. We had the usual decorations and ice cream cake for the kids and I think Eid gets better and better for them, AlhamduLILLAH.

Belated Eid Mubarak

Eid al Adha

Eid al Adha

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Scientific Miracles of Quran

Qur’an miraculously predicted many inventions of modern science 1429 years ago and all those Qur’anic predictions are flawless. What scientists are proving in modern world is exactly what was told in Qur’an. The miraculous aspects of the Holy Book reflect its credibility and uniqueness.
God has said in the Quran:

“And He has set firm mountains in the earth so that it would not shake with you” (Quran, 16:15)
The modern theory of plate tectonics holds that mountains work as stabilizers for the earth. This knowledge about the role of mountains as stabilizers for the earth has just begun to be understood in the framework of plate tectonics since the late 1960’s.

Science has proved that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity. Then out of this homogeneous ‘smoke,’ they formed and separated from each other. Through Quran Recitation we come to know that Allah said “Have not those who disbelieved known that the heavens and the earth were one connected entity, then We separated them?”

Modern science has proved that all stars have a life cycle. They first lose their shine and then become totally dim. When all stars die or become dim, it means the end of the world, Who taught the Holy Prophet these recently discovered, fascinating and scientific facts? He is the One, God Almighty.

There are many other scientific proofs revealed by Quran which explain Islamic Schools of thought about the mysteries of universe which are still to be found.


Monday, November 30, 2009

What Parents Need to Help Children Learn to Read

Moms and Dads want the very best for their children. They want them to be happy, healthy
and well educated. Did you know that education
starts in the home? Have you ever really sat down to think about What Parents Need to Help Children Learn to Read?

You may have a myriad of questions going through your head about how you can help your child with reading. Thinking about the educational future of your children is one thing; taking action is another. Why not put pen to paper and write out your concerns as a parent about teaching your children to read.

Ask specific questions that you would like answers to. For instance you may want to know:

• At what age should I start helping my child learn to read?
• Are there products for reading readiness available that will get me started?
• Is there a parental guideline to follow that will assist me when teaching my child to read?

This is just a brief sampling of questions that you may be asking yourself. Each family and each child for that matter is different. Approaches you used with an older sibling may not seem to be working with a younger child.

Adjustments may need to be made to accommodate the needs of each individual learner. We all have our own learning styles so when helping a child learn to read there is not a “one method fits all” manner of assisting in the process.

Take your time to discover which reading tactics seem to work best for each child. Your children will appreciate the individual attention they are receiving and in return you will learn a good deal about your child. The key is finding out What You as a Parent Need to Help Each of Your Children Learn to Read.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Educational toys best for kids

For the 5 years old children, this is the right age when the decisions about their formal education should take place. Although some children start going to schools or start taking pre-school classes at this age, yet this can be quite scary for the others, because until this age majority of the children have been spending their time with their parents or with close relatives and could not have a chance to spend the time with the complete strangers. This, no doubt is a major and important step in the life of a child that provide the foundation for learning levels that are still to come.
Whether your child is in school or at home, there are a number of toys, or rather, educational toys that can help it have fun and that educate it as well. Making your young ones play with such educational toys can make wonders in their learning process. When it is about learning process, no doubt reading plays the most significant role, and in order to make your child learn the grammar, pronunciation, or spellings in an accurate way, these toys can play an amazing role. In order to make your child acquainted with the words and phrases, some magnetic poetry word kit is the best toy to purchase. This would help the children to learn new words and phrases while having fun. By playing with these toys the children learn
about right orders of the alphabet, recognition of the letters and about the logical thinking.
An age of 5 years is also best for learning the foreign language. This is so because as we become older, it becomes rather difficult to absorb new words or adopt new patterns of languages, but at age five we have greater ability to absorb and adopt more and information. Taking benefit of this greater learning ability, you can help your child to learn any of other language as it is learning the English language. The magnetic poetry can also help your child in learning any other language in the same way as it does in learning the English language.
No matter whether you choose the magnetic poetry, building blocks or any educational toys of this kind for your children, the fact is that they truly help creating and polishing the analytical and creative skills in your children. You may find the best deals on educational toys here

Methods To Discipline A 7 Year Old Kid Without Punishment

Is your 7 year old kid out of control and you are simply struggling to control his/her behavior at home, school or anywhere out in public ? Well, you are not alone, 7 year old kids are hard to control and many parents simply struggle. Maybe some of you simply don't have the time to discipline your 7 year old the way you would like to simply because you are working flat out, or maybe you are just not sure what to do to discipline and control your 7 year old kid.

Disciplining your 7 year old can be a battle, 7 year old kids actually seems to be another trouble age that comes before teens and i beleive that the 7 year olds are the toughest to discipline and control. But, there are ways to control 7 year old kids and there is an excellent system developed and aimed at disciplining and controlling children aged between 7 year old and 14 year olds and it's called Get Control Of Bad Child Behaviour

I tell you what, i have a 7 year old boy myself and he was quite a hand full! Whenever we went out shopping there would always be tantrums after tantrums that we had to deal with, he wanted everything in the store just like any 7 year old kids do! And the winding and tantrums never stopped no matter what we tried so eventually we used to give in. Now, since we tried this child control system we slowly worked trough it and without even realizing it our 7 year old now obeys everything he is told and there are no more tantrums and no more whinging and embarrasment in public and getting told to control your kid! It's such a relief having all this stop. This child control system has taught us methods of controlling young 7 year old kids that we would never have even thought of before we used this system!

If you are a parent of a child between 7 year old and 14 years old we highly recommend you try this system, you will appreciate the relief of having your child finally under full control and dealing with bad behaviour and tantrums will no longer be needed as your child will obey everything you say! Thank god for this system!

You Can Visit Control Of Bad Child Behaviour System Here

Interview: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan on Islam and Women

Director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Peace and Spirituality, editor of the monthly Al-Risala journal and author of almost two hundred books, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is one of India’s best known Islamic scholars. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about issues related to Islam and women.

Q: You have written extensively on the issue of Islam and women. Contrary to many traditional ulema, you argue the case for gender equality in Islam. How does your approach differ from that of most traditionalist scholars?

A: The approach of the traditionalists is based largely on the corpus of medieval fiqh, while my understanding is based on a direct reading of the principal or original sources of Islam—the Quran and the authentic Hadith. The former, by and large, uphold what can be called the Muslim cultural tradition that developed in the medieval period of Muslim history. So, I would call mine a scriptural approach and theirs a cultural approach.

Take, for instance, the institution of the burqa, which many traditionalists stress as essential for Muslim women. The burqa is part of Muslim culture, but is not mentioned or advocated in the Quran. Another example is the traditionalist ulema’s insistence that women and un-related men cannot, or should not, talk to each other, on the grounds that, so they say, a woman’s voice is aurah, or something to be kept concealed from such men. This notion is absent in the original sources of Islam. In fact, there are many hadith reports that tell us that there was considerable intellectual exchange between men and women at the time of the Prophet. For instance, Ayesha, one of the wives of the Prophet, regularly spoke to or addressed many of the Prophet’s Companions, on a vast range of issues. They used to come to her for guidance and discussion. According to one report, whenever the Companions faced a problem to which they could find no answer they would approach Ayesha. So, how, then, can it be said that a woman’s voice is aurah?

I am not aware of any authentic hadith that describes a woman’s voice as aurah. If the traditionalists have any such proof of their claim, they must offer it. But even supposing, hypothetically, they are able to come up with such proof, we need to redefine or reinterpret it in the present context, and also by taking account the accepted principle, recognised by Islamic scholars, that sometimes ‘necessity makes the unlawful lawful’. We are living in a vastly different age today, where there is simply no escape from hearing the voice of women!

Q: Many traditionalist scholars often cite a Quranic verse that describes men as the qawwam of their wives to argue that this means that men are their superiors and that women must be subordinate to them. How do you interpret the term qawwam?

A: It is a universal principle that everywhere—in government, in a business, in a school or whatever—there has to be a manager to handle practical affairs or else there will be chaos. This applies to the family also. This role of manager of affairs is what is actually meant by qawwam. It does not at all imply subordination or degradation, or any sort of hierarchy. Rather, it is simply a formula for overall management and administration of the family. In my own home my daughter is the qawwam. She runs the affairs of the house. She is the manager of the house. So, it does not mean that a woman cannot be the qawwam of her house.

Unfortunately, many scholars translate the term qawwam to mean that the man is the hakim or ruler of the house, as if he can be some sort of dictator. Many Quranic commentaries give a completely wrong interpretation of the term. Some go to the extent of describing husbands as the majazi khuda or ‘symbolic god’ of their wives. This is really a sign of deep-rooted patriarchy and deviation from Islamic teachings. It is a biddat or wrongful innovation

We have the model of the Prophet Muhammad to explain the correct meaning of the term qawwam. His first wife Khadjiah looked after him when he was in distress. He worked for her, in the business that she ran. He took the advice of another of his wives, Umm Salamah, on many issues, contrary to some Muslim scholars, who argue, without any convincing proof, that a Muslim man may take the advice of his wife but must do precisely the opposite of what she recommends. The Quran also approvingly mentions the case of the Queen of Sheeba, who was the ruler of Yemen.

One can cite several other examples to suggest that the Quran does not call for women’s subordination to men, unlike what some traditionalist Muslim scholars as well as critics of Islam claim, and contrary to what their rendering of the term qawwam suggests. Thus, for instance, although the Caliph Umar issued a fatwa calling upon women not to pray in mosques, his wife refused to listen to him and he could not stop her because that was her Islamic right. Barirah, the wife of Mughis, a Companion of the Prophet, once came to the Prophet in order to seek a divorce from her husband. The Prophet advised her against this, to which she responded by asking him if that was his personal opinion or the command of God. When the Prophet replied that it was his own view, she told him that she did not agree, and so the Prophet arranged for her to be separated from her husband.

Q: Traditionalist scholars (as well as critics of Islam) contend that the Quran allows husbands to beat (dharaba) their wives if they are disobedient. How do you respond to this argument?

A: The dharaba that the Quran refers to is simply a token pat, not wild hitting. One hadith report suggests that this should be done with a tooth-stick (miswak), which implies that it is not meant to be any sort of serious beating. According to another hadith report, contained in the Masnad of Imam Ahmad, no prophet ever beat his wives. Sometimes, the Prophet Muhammad had problems with some of his wives but yet he never beat them.

Q: The Deobandi-dominated All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) projects itself as the sole authority as regards Muslim Personal Law matters (most of which impinge on Muslim women) in India. What do you feel about this organization, particularly its stance on Muslim women’s issues?

A: The claim that the AIMPLB is the spokesman of all the Muslims of India is completely false. In fact, it does not have any mass base. It is, to my mind, just a bunch of maulvis who have put a stamp on themselves, projecting themselves as leaders while they have little contact with the masses. They might represent just themselves, but certainly not all or most of the Indian Muslims.

Permit me to say this, but I regard the traditionalist maulvi class as, to a very large extent, responsible for the backwardness of the Muslims of this country—and not just as far as women’s issues are concerned. They have little knowledge of the complexities of the contemporary world and so cannot address modern problems or interpret Islam in a manner that would appeal to modern minds. But, I see signs of change all around now. Increasingly, Muslims are refusing to listen to those fatwas of theirs which they find outlandish, and are marching ahead in the race for modern education. Even the sons of leading maulvis are choosing not to become traditional maulvis but, instead, are entering universities. I hope that augurs well for the future and that modern-educated Muslim scholars would be in a better position to interpret Islamic teachings, including about women, in a proper manner.

Several English writings of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan are available on the Internet. See http://www.alrisala.org and http://www.cpsglobal.org Read More...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Educational Revolution in Mewat

By Yoginder Sikand

Lying to the immediate south of Delhi, straddling the rocky outcrops of the Aravalli range, is the region known as Mewat, named after the Meo Muslims, the principal community living in the area. Mewat covers large parts of the Gurgaon and Faridabad districts in Haryana and Alwar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Recently, a separate district was carved out of the Meo-dominated parts of Haryana and also given the name of ‘Mewat’.
Two decades ago I used to regularly visit Mewat—for my Ph.D dissertation, which was about the history of the global Islamic revivalist Tablighi Jamaat, now the world’s largest such movement, which had its roots in the humble hamlets of Mewat in the 1920s. It was the Tablighi Jamaat that put Mewat on the map of the world. Some months ago, I returned to Mewat, after a gap of fifteen years, curious to learn how much, if at all, the region had changed in this period.
Despite its proximity to Delhi, Gurgaon and Jaipur, Mewat is one of the most impoverished regions in northern India. When I did fieldwork in the region in the 1990s, the literacy rate among the Meos, more than a million-strong community, was estimated at less than 10 per cent, and that of Meo females at lower than 5 per cent. This was attributed to extreme poverty (most Meos being small peasants) as well as the influence of the ultra-conservative Tablighi Jamaat, which was seen as being opposed to education imparted in regular schools, particularly for girls, believing that this would lead the Meos astray from Islam.
Two decades later, the Mewat is still characterized by endemic poverty. The villages and towns I visited this time seem to have hardly changed in terms of looks since I saw them last. But for a couple of recently-constructed large, brightly-painted mansions and a few new shops (only a few of which were Meo-owned), Nuh and Ferozepur-Jhirka, the two largest towns in Mewat, seemed to be no different from what I remembered of them from my earlier visits. In fact, they only seemed to have become even more filthy and chaotic. The villages I travelled to seemed to have remained frozen in time—the same squalid mud huts, the same visible signs of neglect by the state, the same scene of Meo women labouring in the fields while their menfolk squatted on cots sunning themselves or sucking away at their hukkahs at roadside eateries. But one change struck me forcefully throughout my trip: a distinct thirst on the part of many younger Meos for ‘modern’ education—nothing short of a revolution in terms of demands, hopes, and expectations.
This was quite in contrast to what I had witnessed on my first visit to Mewat, in the late 1980s, when there was not a single Meo-run school, when there were hardly a dozen or so Meo girls in government-run schools throughout the region, and when many local ulema or Muslim clerics, mostly affiliated to the Tablighi Jamaat, openly condemned ‘modern’ schools as dens of irreligiousness and licentiousness, insisting that the Meos should send their children only to madrasas instead. Today, however, literally dozens of ‘modern’ schools run by Meos have mushroomed all over Mewat; girls are enrolling in these and in government-run schools in rapidly increasing numbers; many ulema are in the forefront of promoting ‘modern’, in addition to religious, education among the Meos; and scores of madrasas have begun teaching English and Hindi, with some of them having actually transformed themselves into regular schools.
Located on the outskirts of Ferozepur Jhirka town is the sprawling 15-acre campus of the recently-established English-medium Aravalli Public School, the largest Meo-run school in Mewat. Founded by a retired Meo engineer, this residential school has some 600 students on its rolls, 60% of whom are Meos, and roughly 10% Muslims from other parts of India, the rest being from other religious communities. 60 of the school’s 70 girl students are Meos. The costs of studying here are exorbitant by average Meo standards, but tuition fees are waved for girls in order to encourage more Meo girls, whose overall literacy rate is less than 15%, to enroll. The schools’ principal is a Hindu. Most teachers are non-Meos, including Muslims from other parts of India as well as non-Muslims from Mewat.
It is late in the afternoon, and the students pour out of their hostels and onto the playing field, forming teams to play football and cricket. They are dressed in jeans or shorts, and brightly-coloured T-shirts or jackets and sneakers. None of them sports the almost mandatory Tablighi-style beard that almost every Meo male in their fathers’ generation does. These students are nearly all Meos—I can hardly believe that at first, for hardly any Meo boys dressed like this when I last visited the area. A dozen girls, Meos all, take a sprint around the playing field, brandishing their badminton rackets. Needless to say, that would have been considered sheer anathema two decades ago.
I stare, dumbstruck, at the students, stunned at what I see before me. When I first visited Mewat, the parents of most of these students would almost all have been un-educated peasants—their fathers dressed in long kurtas, tahmats and ponderous turbans, their mothers, wholly illiterate, kept carefully cloistered in their homes when they were not compelled to work in the fields.
That a major section of Meo youths are today defying deep-rooted traditions by clamoring for ‘modern’ education is undeniable, and signs of this are today visible all over. I am not sure if this is an entirely positive development, though. Need ‘modernisation’ necessarily be equated with ‘Westernisation’? Does it have to also necessarily imply ‘secularisation’, in the sense of focusing wholly on worldly knowledge and ‘success’, consequently trivializing religion and moral values? These crucial questions are being raised by many Meos themselves, who fear that the irrepressible desire on the part of Meo youths for ‘modern’ education might seriously erode traditional, religious values and promote crass consumerism. This is summed up in a complaint of a maulvi attached to a Deobandi madrasa located adjacent to the Aravalli Public School—‘The school has no facility for teaching Islamic Studies. All that they are taught is about this world (duniya)—how to gather more information and degrees so that they can get highly-paid jobs and lead a life of ease and comfort.’

Devising an educational system that balances the needs of the duniya and the deen or religion has been a longstanding concern for Muslim educationists. When I first visited Mewat, I came across almost ulema who were supportive of, leave alone actively engaged in, promoting ‘modern’ or ‘secular’, in addition to religious, education. In contrast, on this trip, I met with numerous maulvis, all graduates of what are commonly considered to be ‘orthodox’ madrasas, who have set up their own schools that impart a healthy mix of both sorts of learning.
One of these ulema is an old friend of mine, 33 year-old Qari Sirajuddin of Bhadas village near the town of Nuh. The last time I met him was when he was 18 years old. He had just completed his religious education at the Jamia Sanabil, a madrasa in Delhi, and had returned to his village, where he had started a small maktab in a two-room tenement to provide basic Islamic education to girls. Today, what started off as the Madrasat ul-Banat Ayesha Siddiqa is now the Al-Falah Model Senior Secondary School. Affiliated to the Haryana Educational Board, it provides education till the twelfth standard. It has almost 700 students on its rolls, of whom almost a hundred are non-Muslims. Girl students number some 125, of whom 25 are Hindus, and the rest Meo Muslims. The school supplements the government-approved syllabus for modern subjects with compulsory Islamic Studies, Urdu and Arabic for Muslim students and Sanskrit, for Hindu students.

What, I ask Qari Sirajuddin, made him transform what began as a girls’ madrasa into a co-educational secondary school? ‘There are scores of madrasas in Mewat’, he answers, ‘but what we lack are sufficient general schools, for which there is now increasing demand’. Further, he adds, ‘I did not want to keep depending on people for donations, which I would have had to had I continued to run it as a madrasa. As a school it can generate funds for itself through the fees that it charges’.
Several other small madrasas across Mewat might, too, like to make the shift and become regular schools, albeit with provision for Islamic education for their Muslim students, Qari Sirajuddin tells me. However, a major hurdle in this regard are the government’s stringent norms for providing recognition to private schools that most such madrasas fail to meet. As per the existing rules, to qualify for official recognition an institution must possess a basic minimum plot of land (half acre for primary schools, one and a half acres for middle schools and two acres for high schools)—which effectively rules out most madrasas. Likewise, an institution must possess a certain number of rooms of a particular size, a library with a basic specified number of books and so on, which many smaller madrasas, that run small budgets based on donations, simply cannot afford. Were the government to lower these requirements in the case of madrasas, Qari Sirajuddin suggests, several small madrasas in Mewat might well transform themselves into regular schools. ‘That’, he says, ‘would be a much less expensive and controversy-free way to modernize madrasas.’
Qari Sirajuddin’s own family, whom he introduces me to over a hearty meal at his home, exemplifies the rapid transformation that the Meos are today undergoing in terms of their approach to education. Although himself a madrasa graduate, none of his children is training to become a traditional alim or Islamic scholar. The first two of his six children, including one girl, study in modern, privately-run ‘public’ schools, and the rest in his own school. His brother, also a graduate of a traditional madrasa has just finished a degree in Social Work from the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and hopes to join the civil services.
His support for ‘modern’, in addition to religious, education, Qari Sirajuddin assures me, is something that he shares with increasing numbers of ulema today—not just in Mewat, but across other parts of India, too. ‘Even some very conservative Deobandi Meo ulema, who traditionally frowned on modern schools, have opened such institutions, fearful that otherwise Muslim children would study in non-Muslim schools, because of which they might, as they see it, go astray’, he tells me. Madrasas throughout Mewat, he says, have now introduced basic English, Hindi and Mathematics in their curriculum, mainly because they realize that this is what parents of most Meo children now also want. At the same time, he laments, few of these madrasas take the teaching of these subjects seriously. ‘Some of them claim to be teaching English and other such subjects simply to keep the mouths of their critics shut and to stave off criticism that they are not giving their students a well-rounded education’, he says. ‘The managers of most madrasas do not know English or other modern subjects themselves, and so are not in a position to prescribe a proper syllabus for these subjects and to supervise the teachers they appoint for teaching them.’ Many of them also feel, Qari Sirajuddin goes on, that if they were to deviate from the traditional Deobandi-style curriculum by giving more than just a basic attention to modern subjects they would be criticized by their religious ‘elders’. Typically, he says, the staff they employ for teaching these subjects are simple high school graduates, with no training at all, and with a very poor command of these subjects.
Be that as it may, the very fact that Mewat’s madrasas, once known for their visceral opposition to what they saw as the baneful influence of ‘Western-style’ education imparted in schools, are increasingly willing to incorporate these ‘Western’ subjects into their curriculum is ample proof, Qari Sirajuddin assures me, of the veritable revolution in the demands and expectations of vast numbers of Meo parents as regards the education of their children.
The last time I visited the Madrasa Arabiya Dar ul-Ulum Subhaniya, on the outskirts of Ferozepur Jhirka town—in 1992—it was housed in an ancient, crumbling mausoleum—said to have once hosted the grave of a Shia nobleman who died some 400 years ago. Today, the madrasa has undergone considerable expansion. The sprawling tomb-structure is cemented and neatly whitewashed, a number of low-lying buildings have come up around it, and the madrasa is now surrounded by a well-trimmed lawn with plenty of trees and flowering plants.
The founder of the madrasa, the amiable, 60 year-old Maulana Ilyas Qasmi, a graduate of the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband, India’s largest madrasa, has aged considerably since I last saw him. Yet, he still recognizes me as I step inside, and rushes up to envelop me in a warm embrace. He seats me down on a mattress on the floor and tells me excitedly about the progress his madrasa has made in the years since I last visited it. It now has some 150 students—almost all Meos. In addition to regular Islamic subjects, it now also teaches English, Hindi and Mathematics, till the fifth grade level. Those who teach these subjects are themselves maulvis, though, the Maulana admits, they are not well-qualified for the task. ‘We wish we could appoint better qualified teachers for these subjects, but such teachers demand high salaries, which we cannot afford’, he says.
Maulana Ilyas is a passionate advocate of ‘modern’ education, as well as education for girls. ‘When Islam has forbidden neither of these’, he says, ‘who are some so-called maulvis to forbid them?’ No reliable maulvi has ever issued a fatwa against modern education, he hastens to tell me. All that they are opposed to is blind Westernisation and loss of religious faith, commitment and identity that often characterizes students who study in regular school. Islam and modern education, he says, must go together. The Meos need both, he insists. That is why, he says, madrasas, too, need to reform. ‘Often, madrasa students cannot read English or Hindi, which not only causes many practical problems for them but also causes them to feel inferior, forcing them to depend on others in situations that require knowledge of such languages’, he rues.
Lamenting what he describes as the rapid ‘Westernisation’ of the Meo youth, particularly, he points out, under the influence of television, the Maulana admits that the process appears unstoppable. ‘When people begin to regard something bad as good, it become very difficult to stop it’, he explains. This is another reason, he says, why madrasas must teach their students—would-be ulema—the basics of ‘modern’ subjects. ‘By familiairising themselves with these subjects, they can understand and speak in the language and idiom of the educated classes and explain Islam to them in an appropriate manner’, he points out.
In order to ‘modernise’ Mewat’s madrasas, the Government has instituted a special scheme, Maulana Ilyas tells me. But, he laments, this have made little progress. He cites reports of endemic corruption as one basic cause for its failure. ‘A number of people set up fake madrasas simply to siphon off funds from the scheme’, he says. And, he adds, government servants administering the scheme were said to demand a hefty ‘cut’ before sanctioning money to madrasas that applied to avail of it. To make matters worse, he says, those administering the scheme were not too serious about them—perhaps they were loathe to see the Meo Muslims progress.
Yet another reason why the government-funded scheme for madrasa ‘modernisation’ found few takers in Mewat was because some larger madrasas, in Mewat and elsewhere, vociferously denounced the scheme as an alleged conspiracy against Islam and the madrasas. Maulana Ilyas dismisses this charge as unfair. ‘Some such larger madrasas simply want to maintain their supposed superior position and keep the smaller madrasas below them. Hence their opposition to the scheme. Some of them even went to the extent of announcing a social boycott of the smaller madrasas that wanted to avail of government funds under the scheme’, he relates.
Like a few other madrasas in Mewat, the Madrasa Arabiya Dar ul-Ulum Subhaniya brushed aside the opposition of some maulvis and decided to avail of the Government’s madrasa ‘modernization’ scheme for a period of two years. Under the scheme, the madrasa received a sum of three thousand rupees per month as salary for one teacher appointed for ‘modern’ subjects for every forty students, plus an annual grant of eight thousand rupees to buy equipment. ‘Contrary to what many maulvis had claimed’, Maulana Ilyas stresses, ‘there was no effort on the part of the Government to interfere in the madrasa’s curriculum and system of functioning through the scheme.’
Maulana Muhammad Husain, Maulana Ilyas’ eldest son who helps him run the madrasa, exemplifies a new sort of ulema that is today fast emerging in Mewat—socially-engaged and supportive of ‘modern’, in addition to religious, education for Meo children, both boys and girls. Two of his four sons study at the English-medium Aravalli Public School near Ferozepur Jhirka, and they also attend religious classes in the madrasa after class hours. ‘They are babus during the day and maulvis at night’, Maulana Husain’s friend Qari Sirajuddin jokes. Maulana Husain has high ambitions for his sons. Strikingly, he does not want them to become maulvis like himself and his father. ‘I hope they will become doctors, engineers, lawyers or government officials. But, at the same time, they must have a good grounding in religious education’, he tells me.
Another institution that I visit on this trip is the Muhammadiya High School, in the village of Sakras, not far from Ferozepur Jhirka. When I saw it last—in 1992—it was a small madrasa. Now transformed into a regular co-educational school, it caters to almost 400 children, a fourth of who are girls. A little more than a tenth of the students of this Meo-run school are Hindus, the rest being Meos. The school follows the syllabus prescribed by the Haryana Board, to which it is affiliated, but it also has facilities for Urdu, Arabic, and Islamic Studies. Although its medium of instruction is Hindi, it arranges for its senior students to take the examinations conducted by the Jamia Urdu, Aligarh.
At the school I met a maulvi—whose name I forgot to ask—who teaches Islamic Studies to students in the primary and middle classes. He opines that it is imperative that the madrasas modernize by introducing at least a basic modicum of modern subjects in their curriculum. This, he says, is crucial especially since in Mewat the ulema continue have a very strong influence, and if they are seen as supporting modern (in addition to religious) education, it can have a very powerful and positive impact on the wider Meo society, inspiring Meo parents to seek modern, in addition to Islamic, education for their children.
At the same time, the maulvi is critical of some maulvis, associated with the larger madrasas, who are vehemently opposed to any sort of modernization, including the government’s madrasa modernization scheme. ‘They are financially strong, so they feel no need to take advantage of this scheme. They fear that through the scheme the government might interfere in their finances’, he surmises. ‘They continue to spread rumours that the government is engaged in a conspiracy to interfere in the madrasas and, thereby, to destroy them in the name of reforms. In this way, they want to keep modern education out of the madrasas’, he continues. He is clear, though, that madrasas must not balk at teaching their students the basics of ‘modern’ subjects—with or without the financial assistance of the government—because, otherwise, he warns ‘madrasas will find themselves anachronistic, being unable to keep up with the times.’ ‘Madrasa students who don’t know a word of Hindi or English feel terribly ashamed when they have to seek the help of others for even such small matters as filing in railway reservation forms or for writing an address on a letter. Being forced to be helpless in such matters is quite contrary to the stature that one expects of the ulema’, he bemoans.
Another man I meet at the school is 68-year old Maulana Kamaluddin Nadwi, a Meo graduate of the renowned Nadwat ul-Ulema madrasa in Lucknow. Uncle of the director of the school, Abdul Ghaffar, he is, in some sense, the main inspiration behind it. ‘Over time’, he tells me, ‘many Meo ulema have changed their position on modern education. Only a few of them—maybe just a fifth—remain somewhat opposed to it in its present form. They fear that the sort of education that is imparted in general schools will impact negatively on the religious identity and commitment of Meo children. At the same time, they realize that the demand for modern education is immense. That is why they have been forced to modify their views.’
Maulana Nadwi comes across as a passionate advocate of what he calls ‘a balanced and holistic Islamic concept of education’, combining both modern as well as Islamic subjects. He does not conceal his differences with those maulvis, such as some very staunch activists of the Tablighi Jamaat, which still remains strong in Mewat, who argue that modern education is opposed to Islam, a claim, he argues, that they assert simply to promote their own vested interests that depend on keeping people ignorant. He recites an Urdu couplet to stress his point:
Mudda tera agar duniya mai hai talim-e deen
Tark-e duniya qaum ko na sikhlana kabhee
(‘If you want to promote religious education in the world, do not teach the community to renounce the world’)
It is not simply out of practical considerations that Maulana Nadwi argues for a healthy mix of both ‘modern’ and Islamic subjects in the madrasas. Rather, he says, his appeal is based on his understanding of Islam, which, he says, countenances no division between religion and the ‘this-worldly’, unlike Christianity. ‘Muslims pray to God for success in both this world and in the life after death’, he reminds me, ‘so how can we, especially our ulema, ignore knowledge of this world?’ ‘The Quran refers to those who have truly submitted to God as the best community, which has been created for the welfare of people’, he poignantly asks, ‘but what welfare can we present-day Muslims provide others when we ourselves have no knowledge of the present world?’
Maulana Nadwi passionately argues the case for Meo girls’ education, lamenting that the Meos have one of the lowest rates of literacy among all the various communities that inhabit India. ‘Islam insists that education is a duty binding on all Muslims, men as well as women’, he says, ‘and hence those who oppose girls’ education, ironically in the name of Islam, adopt a completely anti-Islamic stance.’ In sharp contrast to most other Mewati maulvis, Maulana Nadwi argues that Islam does not prohibit Muslim women from seeking suitable employment outside their homes, if the need so arises, or from playing roles in the public sphere. ‘While abiding by the rules of Islamic decorum, Muslim women must participate in public activities and take up suitable careers. In this way, they can have a salutary impact on people of other faiths who have negative views about Islam, based on serious misunderstandings and on wrong interpretations of the faith on the part of many Muslims themselves’, he stresses.
The winds of change blowing across Mewat have not left even traditional madrasas unaffected. Many of these have now included a basic course in ‘modern’ subjects while continuing to focus mainly on traditional Islamic learning. One such madrasa is the all-girls’ Madrasat ul-Banat Khadjiat ul-Kubra at Patparbas, near the town of Nagina. Established in 1994 by Maulana Syed Muhammad Sulaiman, it is one of Mewat’s only two girls’ residential madrasas. Associated with the Deobandi school, the syllabus it follows is ‘traditional’. Texts penned by numerous Deobandi elders specifically for women, most notably Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s Bahishti Zevar and Bahishti Sumar, form the core of the madrasa’s five-year maulviyat course, after which students are encouraged to shift to the Jamiat us-Salehat, a large girls’ madrasa in Malegaon, Maharashtra, to train for an additional three years in order to become full-fledged religious scholars or alimas. Presently, some sixty Meo girls, aged between six and fourteen, study and stay at the madrasa. Education is free, but a monthly fee of three hundred rupees is charged for boarding and lodging, but only from those girls whose parents can afford it.
In addition to the core religious or traditional subjects, students at the madrasa now also learn basic English, Hindi and Mathematics, besides practical skills such as tailoring, embroidery, cooking and first-aid. Says Maulana Sulaiman, ‘The Prophet made education a duty for all Muslims, including women. It is as important as food is. The real ulema have never opposed girls’ education or modern education, unlike what is often alleged. Instead, what they are against is immorality, un-necessary intermingling of the sexes, and licentiousness. Otherwise, they have no problem with them.’
That statement I am to hear from almost every Meo maulvi I meet on this trip—a clear indicator of the veritable educational revolution underway quite unnoticed in Mewat today Read More...

Jamiat’s Call for Muslim Girls’ Education: Is There More Than What Meets the Eye?

By Yoginder Sikand

At its recently-held 30th convention held at Deoband, the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind passed a significant resolution on girls’ education which, surprisingly, received little attention in the media. The original Urdu version of the resolution calls upon Muslims to establish ‘non-residential institutions for providing religious and modern education to girls, for which an appropriate syllabus should be prepared.’ ‘Their education’, it goes on, ‘must be fully in accordance with the limits set by the shariah and the rules of pardah. Co-education must be fully avoided, or else it is feared that more harm than good would result.’ The English version of the resolution reads somewhat differently. It appeals to Muslims to ‘establish non-residential modern educational institutions for girls’ education’ that would be based on a ‘special syllabus for them, which should be completed within six years.’ ‘On completion of 10 years of age,’ it adds, ‘complete shariah norms should be observed while continuing their education.’

The Jamiat’s encouraging, though belated, appeal for modern education for Muslim girls is indeed laudable. However, on critical examination, it might not actually amount to much, and there may be more to it than what actually meets the eye. The actual import of the Jamiat’s endorsement of modern education for Muslim girls appeal hinges crucially on two issues. Firstly, the contents of the ‘special’ syllabus that it recommends for girls, which, it lays down, they should complete within six years, by which they would reach the age of ten (regarded by many as the age of puberty or balaghat). And, secondly, the practical implications, in terms of rules, regulations and restrictions, of the Jamiat’s own understanding of ‘complete shariah norms’ (or, as the Urdu version of the translation puts it, the ‘limits set by the shariah and the rules of pardah’) that it insists Muslim girls must observe if they wish to continue their education after the age of ten.

It is significant to note in this regard that the resolution—probably deliberately—remains silent on what exactly the Jamiat understands as ‘complete shariah norms’ or ‘the limits set by the shariah and the rules of pardah’. These terms are, in fact, vague and deeply contested among Muslims themselves. Some Muslims regard the shariah as sanctioning a whole range of rights for women, and, indeed, as being fundamentally opposed to women’s subordination and patriarchy. In contrast, other Muslims understand the shariah in a contrary, indeed sternly patriarchal, manner. Being a body of leading Deobandi ulema, it is but to be expected that the Jamiat’s understanding of what it calls ‘shariah norms and limits’ and ‘the rules of pardah’ corresponds to the general Deobandi interpretation of these concepts. In practical terms, this might well mean restricting women to domestic roles and spaces (allowing them to step out of their homes only in cases of extreme necessity, provided they cover up entirely); considering not just women’s bodies but even their voices to be ‘awrah’ or to be concealed from ‘strange’ (ghayr) men; prohibiting any sort of interaction between women and ‘strange’ men, even in workplaces and educational institutions; and so on. These rules and restrictions reflect the particular Deobandi understanding of the shariah—one, it is crucial to recognize, that is fiercely contested by other Muslims, who interpret the concept and content of the shariah in a strikingly different manner. It is thus to be expected that when the Jamiat calls for shariah norms to be fully observed while providing education for girls above the age of ten it would want these rules, upheld by the Deobandis as normative and binding, to be strictly imposed on them. Needless to say, this would greatly constrain and limit what, and how, Muslim girls can actually learn. Precisely what the Jamiat would want Muslim girls to learn would be reflected in the ‘special’ syllabus for them that it calls for. Yet, the resolution does not go into the details of what this ‘special’ syllabus should be.

A good illustration of the Deobandi position on girls’ education is provided in a recently-published book by a Deobandi scholar from Bihar, Maulvi Abdul Basit Hamidi Qasmi, a graduate of the Dar ul-Ulum at Deoband. The book, a collection of the author’s speeches delivered at various religious gatherings, boasts the pompous title of Nayab Taqreeren: Asr-e Hazir Ke Taqazon Se Hamahang Sulagte Masail Par Mubni Chand Inami Taqriron Ka Majmua , which translates roughly as ‘Rare Speeches: A Collection of Some Prized Lectures on Burning Contemporary Issues’. The book contains short forewords and notes of appreciation by numerous leading Deobandi ulema, including teachers of the Deoband madrasa and the Jamia Rahmani, Munger, one of the premier Deobandi madrasas in Bihar. Presumably, therefore, the contents of the book reflect a widely-shared shade of opinion among numerous Deobandi ulema.

One speech included in the book, titled Talim ul-Niswan Ka Nizam (‘The System of Girls’ Education’), deals specifically with the issue of what Qasmi believes to be the ‘Islamically’-appropriate form of education for Muslim girls. The author argues that Islam stresses the acquisition of ‘knowledge’ (ilm) for all Muslims, males as well as females. However, in contrast to many other Muslim scholars, who take this to mean sanction for both religious and secular knowledge, Qasmi claims that here ‘knowledge’ refers only to ‘religious knowledge’ (ilm-i din), or, as he puts it, ‘that knowledge through which one’s religious beliefs and prayer are perfected’. He argues, contending with critics who assert the contrary, that when the Prophet insisted that all Muslims should acquire knowledge as a religious duty, what he meant was specifically ‘religious knowledge’. He critiques other Muslims who include ‘worldly’ subjects under the rubric of Islamically-appropriate knowledge, arguing that subjects like ‘English, History and Geography are not ilm, but, rather, skills (hunar)’.

Restricting compulsory knowledge simply to ‘religious knowledge’ as narrowly defined, Qasmi opposes the teaching of ‘non-religious’ education for Muslim girls. He regards those who advocate this sort of education for girls as ‘blindly imitating Europeans’. He sees ‘non-religious’ knowledge as good only for enabling people to work outside the home, and argues that this is un-necessary for Muslim girls because Islam, as he understands it, is against this practice. Earning a livelihood, he insists, is the duty of men, not women, and it is binding on women to observe pardah or seclusion. ‘Worldly knowledge cannot be had while observing pardah’, he claims, thus ruling out such education for Muslim girls. However, he adds, under conditions of ‘severe necessity’ there is no absolute prohibition on a woman learning modern subjects, but this must be done in pardah and only after completing her religious studies. For this purpose, he lays down, she must study only from another woman, or, if this is not possible, then from a mahram male, that is a male relative whom she is forbidden by Islamic law from marrying. In case a woman has no male relative to support her financially, he grudgingly says, it is permissible for her to learn some ‘worldly crafts’ so that she can earn her livelihood, but still, he warns ‘she should be an expert in religious, not worldly, knowledge’.

Qasmi insists that ‘worldly knowledge is not good for women, and, in fact, can be destructive for them’, adding that ‘all the problems of women can only be solved through ‘Islamic education’, by which, presumably, he means such education as is narrowly interpreted by most Deobandi ulema. He appears to equate modern education with Westernisation, and condemns the latter outright. ‘Western culture is blind’, he says, and so, he asks, ‘how can it provide light to others?’ To bolster this claim he quotes some obscure Western writers, who, he claims, are ‘great intellectuals’, who argue that the right place of women is the home and that women must not be allowed to gain higher education. Interestingly, he does not provide any references for these quotes. Thus, for instance, he refers to a certain ‘Samuel Samails’, whom he describes as ‘the greatest writer in England, and possessor of lofty morals’, who says that ‘a respectable woman is one who stays at home and spins thread’, lamenting that women today refuse to do so. ‘Samails’ is also approvingly quoted as saying that women should learn ‘only that modicum of chemistry that will help them remove the froth from food cooking in vessels, and that amount of geography that will enable them to learn the usefulness of windows and ventilators’. As if this were not enough, Qasmi quotes another Western scholar, a certain ‘Lord Brain’, whom he describes as a ‘Jew’, who reportedly insists that woman’s library should possess no book other than the Torah and the Bible, and who bemoans the fact that today ‘besides their biological differences, all other differences between males and females have been erased’. To further reinforce his argument, Qasmi refers to yet another Western writer, described as an ‘American scholar’, a certain ‘Losan’, who argues that ‘women have no capacity for higher education’, because such education is ‘against their nature’.

Qasmi’s opposition to ‘modern’ education for girls stems essentially from the argument that such education must necessarily be defined as ‘Western’, and, therefore, as immoral and irreligious. Seeing traditional Deobandi-style education as normative, he cannot conceive the possibility of a harmonious combination of Islamic and ‘modern’ ‘worldly’ knowledge. ‘Modern’ education, as Qasmi sees it, is bound to lead Muslim women away from the path of Islam. All ‘modern’ educated Muslim women are painted with the same brush. Thus, Qasmi claims, making no room for any exceptions, that all such women ‘care nothing about religion; do not distinguish between the permissible and the forbidden; know nothing about the angels; and do not know which angels used to deliver the Divine revelations or how many famous angels there are and what their names are, or the details of the life after death, or the number of heavenly books, and which prophet received which book and who the first prophet was, or the reality of faith and disbelief’. ‘Modern’ educated women, he goes on, ‘have no love for Islam’. ‘They use magic and spells to subjugate their husbands; very few of them know the Prophet’s mothers’ name; they are not observant of prayers; and are ignorant of the rules of religious purity’. ‘Women today’, he claims, ‘are interested only in fighting, abusing, lying, backbiting, going to the cinema, watching television, and cooking’. ‘They move around without caring for pardah, and engage in adultery’. He describes Muslim women who study in colleges and universities as doing so simply in order to ‘become European and English’, and accuses their male relatives who arrange for them to take admission in such institutions as ‘sellers of their conscience’. In short, he says, these women have begun to ‘follow Satan’. ‘All this’, he argues, ‘is because they lack religious education’. Due to this, he claims, ‘their actions are not good’.

To remedy this situation, Qasmi says, Muslim girls must be educated only in religious madrasas. This is also crucial, he contends, because if women lack religious education their children and the future generations of Muslims might be tempted to stray in the direction of disbelief and immorality. Ideally, he lays down, Muslim girls should study in their own homes, from older female relatives or, if this is not possible, then from mahram males who have some knowledge of Islam. Brighter girls can be given higher religious education, and for the others it is enough to teach them ‘basic religious rules’ and encourage them to observe these. This, Qasmi argues, approvingly quoting the Deobandi scholar Ashraf Ali Thanvi, is the ‘best method’ of girls’ education. If this is not possible, then girls can be allowed to study in all-girls’ religious madrasas in their own locality. They should not be sent to co-educational madrasas under any cost ‘because these are bereft of shame and modesty’. In the madrasas girls should observe strict pardah. They should not study with non-mahram male teachers and must not have any contact with male employees. In addition to religious subjects, Qasmi says, they should also be taught various domestic skills. Significantly, he makes no reference at all to the teaching of non-religious disciplines, thus suggesting that he is opposed to girls learning anything other religious subjects.

Mercifully, Qasmi does not speak for all Muslims or even for all ulema, although his views find a powerful echo among many traditionalist Deobandis. As numerous studies have shown, many Muslim families in India today are increasingly seeking to educate their daughters, providing them with both religious as well as secular education. It remains to be seen if, in the face of this, the conservative Deobandi ulema, including those associated with the Jamiat, are willing to relent or, as seems equally likely, will continue in their obdurate opposition to anything but a very traditional education for Muslim girls, thereby further reinforcing Muslim marginalisation. Read More...