This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
a Secondary School Certificate has also completed Tahfeez Memorization of the Holy Quran, read the Quran in translation, been introduced to fundamental concepts of Tafseer,Hadith, and Fiqh. * Intake is only at the pre-class one stage: Ages 03 to0 5: Ages 05 to 06: Ages 06 to 10 Ages 11 to 16: Iqrah Raudatul Atfal Qaidah Tahfeez (Memorization of Holy Quran) Regular "matriculation" system studies
* Simultaneous development of English and Arabic language fluency. All modern school equipment, teaching aids and methodology employed in instruction. * Totally not-for profit organization operating on self-help basis (without appealing for charitable contributions). * Established in April 1984 with 12 students. 1985 1988 1990 1993 1994 1995 * * 134 pupils 1304 pupils 1550 pupils 3567 pupils 6000 pupils 8196 pupils
14 campuses in Karachi and one at Lahore. Private Tuition is not encouraged
* Moral training included as a special subject; parents requested to train children in Islamic values at home * Two months annual vacations: one month during Ramadan and one month during July every year. * Both parents must attend initial admission interview
A Mystic on Education
TRUE KNOWLEDGE HELPS THE SOUL TO MAKE ITSELF FREE FROM ITS ATTACHMENT TO PEOPLE FROM ITS DEVOTION TO THE LUST AND VANITY OF THIS WORLD FROM ITS CRAVING FOR POWER AND GLORY AND EXPOSEDNESS TO THE TEMPTATION OF ENVY AND ENMITY FROM ITS UNSCRUPULOUSNESS IN THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE AND RELIANCE ON SKILLS OR WEALTH RATHER THAN THE LORD."
Hatim al-Assamm (cited in Mansoor A. Qureshi, Some Aspects of Muslim Education)
VERSES OF THE HOLY QURAN IN PRAISE OF KNOWLEDGE
God will raise in rank those of you who believe and are given knowledge. (Al Quran: ) Can those who know and those who do not know ever be equal? (Az-Zumar: 39:9)
3. Read in the name of thy Lord who created man out of a mere clot. Read and your Lord is Most Bountiful. He Who taught (the use) of the pen. (Al-Alaq: 96: 1-5) 4. Those (who) truly fear Allah among His servants (are those)who have knowledge. (Fatir: 35:28
SAYINGS OF THE HOLY PROPHET IN PRAISE OF KNOWLEDGE 1. Seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim (man and woman) (Mishkat al-Masabih)
2. Whosoever goes out in search of knowledge, trods the path of Allah till he returns. (Tirmidhi) 3. sins. Whosoever searches knowledge will have this serve as expiation for his past (Tirmidhi) 4. He who meets with death while in search of knowledge for bringing Islam back to life, will have only one degree in paradise between him and the prophets. (Darimi) 5. Superiority in education is better than superiority in divine service. (Baihiqi)
AN ISLAMIC SYSTEM OF EDUCATION SHOULD PROVIDE
* CONFIRMATION AND CONSOLIDATION OF FAITH IN THE SUPREME CREATOR * INTEGRATION OF FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE, IN TERMS OF IMPLICATIONS & APPLICATIONS * IMPROVEMENT TOWARDS MAKING OF A USEFUL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY, SOCIETY AND THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY (UMMAH) * PREPARATION FOR PRODUCTIVE WORK, LAWFUL EARNING (KASB-E-HALAL) AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE WELL-BEING OF THE FAMILY COMMUNITY AND COUNTRY * SOCIETY IDENTIFICATION OF THE NEEDS AND PROBLEMS OF
* PARTICIPATION IN CONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAMMES OF ACTION (AL-AMAL AL-SAHIH) FOR CONTRIBUTING ONE'S BEST TO THE IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIETY * DEVELOPMENT AND APPROPRIATE UTILIZATION OF THE UMMAH'S RESOURCES - BOTH HUMAN AND MATERIAL - FOR THE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIETY * DEVELOPMENT OF SPECIFIC ABILITIES, SKILLS AND UNDERSTAND NECESSARY FOR HANDLING THE MOST PRESSING PROBLEMS OF SOCIETY, SUCH AS EDUCATIONAL EXPANSION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS, COOPERATIVE ACTION, COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT, ISALMIZATION AND PROTECTION OF INDEPENDENCE. * STUDYING THE UNIVERSE IN ALL ITS ASPECTS
* CONTINUATION OF THE PROCESS OF SEARCH AND RESEARCH SO AS TO DISCOVER THE ULTIMATE TRUTH AND REALITY OF THE LAWS OF GOD * SOCIETY PREPARATION OF MUSLIMS FOR MULTIPLE ROLES IN
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful Most Gracious
THE NEW ISLAMIC EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVE IN PAKISTAN
GENERAL INTRODUCTION The future of every nation depends upon the quality of its individuals. Human resource development has moved well beyond from being mere jargon to a very definite and active field of academic endeavour and practical development. Indeed, every individual is a microcosmic symbol of the nation's potentials and future ambitions. The importance of the truism about enhancing quality of individuals can hardly be over-emphasized. No individual serving in any role model or leadership capacity can afford to lose sight of this fact. Individuals who are aware of both their personal as well as national potentials and prepared to do their best for achieving their goals are an essential commodity without which no nation can hope to truly progress in the future. Similarly leaders of nations who have a vision of the future for their people and are desirous of implementing their vision in physical reality need such individuals to carry out their plans. Leaders put into effect policies which in their view (or the view of their groupings and associates) are likely to achieve certain strategic targets. For instance if a country wishes to improve its technological state in a shorter span of time than the one taken by other similarly developed nations, it would undertake actions which are likely to yield that result. Japanese leaders at the turn of this century envisaged an industrially and militarily strong country that could stand rival developed Western nations. Accordingly they adopted a rigorous, highly centralized and homogeneous system of ethno-centric education designed to produce individuals who could meet the nationalist objectives. Similarly in the past few decades the Saudi government has endeavoured to implement an Islamic bias in their national educational system
whereby a strong emphasis is laid on both religious subjects together with the more secular ones required for success of a more temporal nature. Any strategy aimed at transforming the collective ethos of a nation must begin from the field of education which moulds impressionable minds to think and act in accordance with the greater societal goals. The scope of this paper does not enable any deliberation on the aims of education. However in its most basic and simple terms all education aims to make `better' human beings. While the term `better' may at times be subjective, it can be said of educated persons that they are not merely well-informed and full of `inert ideas' but receptive to need for possessing the "active intellectual ingredients": `beauty', humane feeling, `understanding', passion for discovery, and intellectual vision being but a few. According to one educationist it is the organized development of human faculties. Most dictionary entries on education contain references to both teaching and training, instructing as well as rearing. The Latin roots being "to rear" and "to lead". The aims and objectives of rearing and leading individuals can be and are countless. Broadly speaking, however, the aims of education can be divided into two categories of the temporal and the spiritual. These can also be called secular and religious or also as value-neutral and value-added. To simplify, it may be said that the one basic aim of education is to acquire knowledge with a view to develop inherent abilities leading to achievement of "success" as defined by the individual or group concerned - either of this world or the hereafter or both in good measure.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF SCHOOL EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN Leaving our general introduction here we go back to an event which may be taken to be the starting point for the present-day school education system prevailing in Pakistan: the presentation of the historic "Minute on Education" by T.B. Macaulay in 1835. Although still technically ruled by the Mughals, India was had been under British sovereignty for almost 70 years. The golden age of imperialism had begun and the British were busy in plans to establish the `raj' that would last centuries - in an area which was to become the Crown Jewel of the colonial empire. Economic ambitions of the quasi-commercial bodies like the Dutch and British trading companies had led to political control for "king and country". As would appear natural, this `desire to dominate' soon developed into a policy aiming at total supremacy through social and cultural ascendancy. Although it was to be much later that Kipling coined the expression of "White Man's Burden", the desire civilize the uncultured natives by planting Western ideas and institutions on local
soils and thus put into motion far-reaching and more subtle changes had existed in the minds of colonial policy makers for some time. Governor General Lord William Bentinck, a great "reformer" in all fields of colonial affairs - economic, political and social - declared, "The great objects of the British government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science." Bentinck's Law Member and educationist Lord Macaulay chalked out a future to transform the Indian educational scene. In his Minute to he pointed out that in order to ensure a peaceful future for British rule in India, the local population should be brought up on new lines which inculcated in them a dislike of their traditional education, culture and values and a desire to adopt the more "progressive" Western - needless to say colonial - model. Until the natives could be weaned away fully from their languages and customs they could not be forced into a situation where an all inclusive respect for the alien civilization and commitment to follow it in letter and spirit be made the supreme requirement for success in the new milieu. Only then a master-slave relationship could be instituted in earnest and the colonial empire's future ensured. The first step in this direction was a disconnection of the Indians from their traditional sources of learning: Arabic/Persian for the Muslims and Sanskrit for the Hindus. As the language of administrative process and court record was changed from Persian to English economic reward in the shape of government employment was restricted to those who knew the new rulers' language. Macaulay was of the considered view that the British must attempt to produce a class which while being Indian in flesh and blood be indistinguishable from the British in their outlook, tastes, morals, and ambitions. Apart from the open intent to produce clerks and menial workers for the raj, Macaulay also sported a secret personal desire which he expressed in a letter to his mother: the hope that the new education would win Christian converts amongst the Indians. The transformation set into motion by the colonial rulers more than a century and half ago remains with us to this day. Anybody who figures in any vital decision making position in any walk of modern Pakistan has been brought up and bred on lines envisaged by Macaulay: educated Pakistanis, as a class, are not representatives of their country's masses and instead resemble Westerners in their appearance and mental outlook. In more recent years it may be said that the Pakistani system has become part of the increasing globalization of Western education. The system of education vernacularly called `English Medium' (based on Bentinck's observation that the "British language was the key to all improvements") still reigns almost unchallenged - even in lower-class urban settings and underdeveloped rural areas - where the label serves as sure marketing gimmick. But only almost: A new Islamic education initiative bringing together Western and Islamic
education in a workable whole is now taking root in Pakistan. Before we look at this initiative in detail let us take a look at its background. BACKGROUND OF ISLAMIC EDUCATION MOVEMENTS IN PAKISTAN This initiative is not new: It has its roots in the very fundamental notion of "a complete code or way of life" by which Muslims have always described their creed (deen). Unlike Christianity and the modern Western civilization which divided the realm into spheres belonging to Christ and Caesar, classical Islam has never believed in cut and dry compartments of the spiritual and the temporal. Instead it always laid stress on the fact that lives of all Muslims be harmonious wholes comprising of the best of this world and the hereafter. Perhaps the best known of Quranic prayers is the one which believers call on their Creator to give them the "Good of this world and the good of the hereafter." (Al-Quran: II:201) The Islamic doctrine of "comprehensive education" came into being soon after the religion had given birth to the civilization. As Muslims began filling the political void created by the crumbling Roman and Persian empires, the new rulers also found themselves face to face with the intellectual vacuum left by the decline of the classical arts and sciences that had grown immensely under state patronage of former rulers. And so from the 2nd century hijrah (8th century C.E.) onward flourished a great and golden period of Islamic history when Muslims were unquestioned masters of the realm of all knowledge. A basic theme of this system was that men of the arts and the sciences were also men of religion and vice versa. Knowledge had to be all-encompassing for individuals to be treated with intellectual respect. While it may be argued that prior to the modern information revolution a high degree of specialization in knowledge did not exist, the fact remains that Islam with its emphasis on a harmonious combination of the temporal and the spiritual made possible a milieu in which worldly and religious fields of academic endeavour did not become mutually exclusive. This era of Muslim intellectual ascendancy began to falter towards the end of the 6th century Hijrah (12th century C.E.) when cracks started appearing in the formidable Muslim polity. The cyclic process of history led to the shifting of both the political and the intellectual centres towards the West where Europe was beginning to rise after the Dark Ages into the Renaissance and Age of Discovery. Although Muslims saw periods of political glory in the form of the Ottomans and Mughals, this time around they did not have an intellectual prowess to match. A new renaissance has come about only during the past 100 years or so after a series of concerted efforts led to the initial imbibing and later adaptation of the Western education and scientific traditions. Of course, one must acknowledge that during this long intervening period there were innumerable individuals, institutions
and regional movements which aimed and worked towards the strengthening of the religious sciences (Ahya-i-Uloom-i-Deen). In India, Muslim political power had begun to decline steadily towards the end of the 17th century C.E. As British tightened their hold on the administration, it were the Muslims who lost the most not only in prestige but more importantly in terms of economic sustenance and the decimation of their national institutions. Virtually all seats of learning, religious training and culture had survived owing to the direct or indirect patronage of the rulers and aristocracy. The new foreign rulers resumed lands and endowments of these institution and economic hardship of the formerly rich dried up remaining sources of sustenance. It was in this period of political and economic decline that the great reformer Shah Waliullah appeared and launched a movement of Islamic intellectual renaissance and political resistance. However, efforts in earnest towards a combination of classical learning with modern Western education brought in by the British only began after the failed Indian Mutiny (also called the War of Independence) in 1857. Its earliest proponent was that luminary Sir Syed Ahmad Khan whose many institutions at Aligarh became the torch bearers for the Indian Muslims' educational and political renaissance. While many credit the Aligarh Movement as being a corner stone of the Pakistan Movement, Sir Syed became a very controversial figure in his own time. Befriending the British to createg a soft corner in the administration for the Muslims, Sir Syed aimed at bringing them at par with the Hindus who had taken a head-start in adopting the new education to their economic and political advantages. But the arch-conservative Muslim leaders and religious scholars called these acts as a sell-out and compromise of basic principles. In her introduction to the classical work on Sir Syed by one of his greatest English admirers. Maj. Gen. Graham, Zaituna Umer captures the many views of this great man: "Sir Syed stands out as an important landmark in the development of Muslim thought in South Asia.... regarded as an educational reformer by the small class of English educated Muslims and as a religious heretic by the orthodox Ulema while Victorian England saw him as a Messiah who could end the age-old Muslim resistance and lead (them to) rationalism .... Indian historians tend to see him as a communalist and separatist who first propounded the `two-nation' idea.... He has been all things to all men, for he is one of the truly great 19th century figures. He is like a mountain, with many facets and angles ..." More than anything else, the new initiative of bringing together the best of Western and Islamic education reflects the philosophy of Sir Syed, even though critics may point out that Sir Syed's legacy at Aligarh began to loose its Muslim hue very early on - even before independence - becoming more liberal and pro-Western rather than a synthesis. But what they forget is that it was Sir Syed's genius that opened up a vision of the future: the revival of Muslim education in India and elsewhere - both in its pure form or as a combination comprising the modern 9
prowess of the Western education and traditional values of the Islam. Indeed it is a tribute to Sir Syed that even in opposition he inspired as great an institution as the seminary at Deoband which was established by one of his class fellows and chief opponents, Maulana Qasim Nanotvi. Broadly based on a synthesis of the traditional and new educational models, Sir Syed and fellow proponents of this experiment wanted to bring together the best of both worlds: To re-establishing and vitalizing an Islamic institution which made the Islamic science and academia an international force strong enough not only to support the dominant civilization, of which it was an essential ingredient, but also to stand tall and glorious till this day. They wanted to reap benefits of Western education and thus re-enliven hopes of a second Islamic renaissance on the lines of the first which continued to be held in great respect by even by adversaries of the faith in an age of Muslim decline. The movement that had begun at Aligarh soon began to inspire Muslim reformers and educationists throughout the length and breadth of India leading them to establish schools patterned on Sir Syed's model. As Muslims felt an increasing need to educate their children under the British system, Aligarh alumni returning to their native towns served as moving forces. As a result of this inspiration - as well as to counter the growing Hindu and Sikh efforts visible in the form of the Benaras Hindu College, DAV and Khalsa schools - institutions bearing the generic `Islamia' or `Muslim' label began coming up in all major cities. (like Islamic College Peshawar and Sind Madrassah at Karachi.) Yet many felt that the gap between Aligarh with its visible British patronage (and increasing Western colour) and the classical Islamic "madrassah" symbolized by Deoband needed to be bridged by a new class of educational institution: the "Modern Islamic Madrassah." The result was the establishment in 1894 of Nadwatul Ulama at Luckhnow. Unlike Aligarh the emphasis at Nadwah was on more "pure" Islamic studies and thus the central figures were known Ulama. All the same this institutional addressed itself to inculcating an awareness of "current affairs" and "new requirements" amongst its learning community. The climate at Nadwah was strictly intellectual and academic unlike that of Aligarh's socio-political activism. The movement had its roots in a desire to reform the centuries old Dars-i-Nizami and develop a "modern" Islamic curriculum. Promotion of a dialogue between religious scholars and their academic contemporaries as well as amongst the various highly agitated splinter groups amongst the Ulama was also a chief goal. Another landmark in the Muslim education movement in India was the establishment of Jamia Millia Islamia in the wake of the nationalist (anti-British) Sudeshi movement after the First World War. Thus on the eve of partition, India had many Muslim educational institutions with varying degrees of attachment to the core belief system: Some like Aligarh were only institutions with a strong Muslim flavour. Diagonally opposite were 10
traditional madrassahs producing religious scholars, qaris, nd imams. In between were institutions of many descriptions symbolized by Nadva, Jamia Millia and Islamia School at Etawah. In the years after partition Islamic political parties like the Jamaat Islami with its strong urban intelligentsia roots and social reform programme began their own schools like Mansoorah. But for the most part no significant developments in Islamic education took place until the late 70's when plans for an International Islamic University at Islamabad began taking shape. Increasing availability of financial support from oilrich Arab countries also gave an impetus to growth of Islamic education in Pakistan. Two institutions in Karachi, the Jamia Abu Bakr and Darasaat, became the only facilities in South Asia imparting Islamic scholarship fully in Arabic and gained international accredition at Azhar, Islamic University Madinah and elsewhere. For a number of years there has been extensive soul-searching among the Pakistani middle class for quick-solutions to the nation's many ills. Much that simple and superficial cures cannot be had without more fundamental changes in the socio-political structures and economicdevelopment indicators, the people have tended to narrow down their list to political and administrative accountability, greater economic balance, removal or sociocultural discriminations, free national participation and finally a dedicated system of education. Narrowing our sight on education, we find that there is also an ongoing debate about the role of education and moral training and its relationship with the all-pervasive social deterioration. Corruption and lawlessness continue to soar to ever new heights as enlightened parents and concerned citizens attempt to find a solution in innumerable forums like the present one to stem this rot which social scientists call "value confusion". Unfortunately government policy makers (politicians, bureaucrats and conventional education "experts") have neither had the mental pre-conditioning nor the vision or desire to give a Islamic direction to national education. National resource constraints have meant that international donor agencies and their consultants have a major say in the policy direction and implementation of what should otherwise be domestic issues. Additionally, there have been other social and political problems: Given the international political situation, successive governments have tried to appear Westfriendly and distance themselves from what the West calls "fundamentalist" regimes. Social paradoxes in the national fabric have also limited the possibilities of a change being instituted through the government. The ruling elite, particularly the landed aristocracy and Westernized politicians consider revival of Islam in any true sense of the word to be detrimental to their vested interests. Indeed, education or social reform of any kind has little place in the feudal system of Pakistan. 11
While the force of government regulations and widespread conservatism dictate that common educational institutions cannot be secular like public schools of some Western countries, they continue to operate fully on the wisdom of the British colonial legacy. Governed on the basis of existing government policy guidelines and operating under the aegis of the government controlled boards of education this system leads to the Secondary School (matriculation) and Higher Secondary certificates. Increasing deterioration in standards has reduced the real worth of these qualifications to the bare minimum for seeking any public sector job. As for the Islamic madrassahs, they also enjoy a degree of government recognition through the accredition of a set of umbrella organizations like the Wifaq-ul-Madaris (Confederation of Religious Schools). These "strictly Islamic" institutions produce Dars-i-Nizami graduates aiming for general service as mosque attendants (muezzins, mohtamims), imams, khateebs, huffaz (for travih prayers), Quranic or Islamiat instructors at "normal schools" and teachers in the madrassah system from which they have passed out. Dangerous as generalizations are in the social field, the scientific method is nonetheless based on grouping together observations and theorizing on that basis. With regard to our present study of the divide between the two prevalent education systems - which we call the "school" and the "madrassah" systems - the following generalizations can be made: (i) The school system enjoys over-whelming government support and patronage and is indeed the only system on offer in the public sector (federal, provincial, municipal governments, defence forces detachments, district and cantonment authorities, etc.) Being so prevalent, more often than not it is the only `viable' option available to most parents. Madrassahs are the only remaining choice for students whose parents cannot afford `normal' schooling or who are not considered bright enough (amongst numerous siblings) to have any resources `wasted' upon. Far from being sympathetic to these institutions the government bodies are generally suspicious of their activities and keep a strict watch on their funding. There is, generally speaking, an understanding-gap between government educational authorities and the madrassahs which may be likened to the uneasy relationship between the health authorities and the traditional medical practitioners, the hakeems. Given social pressures and preferences they are by far the unenviable and unlikely destination for "normal" middle class children. (ii) There is great diversity in the quality of instruction offered in government and privately operated schools. While the rural areas have very few private institutions, there is a mushroom growth of private schools in the cities that have sprung up to meet the extreme imbalance in the supply-demand equation. The quality of private school instruction is generally commensurate with the tuition fees 12
charged (ranging from about 200 to 2000 rupees p.m.) and related pay/career incentives package for workers. Similarly the curriculum used in this system also varies greatly from expensive but fashionable imported texts to the less jazzy government subsidized textbooks. While community based/ NGO operated private schools are many, a large number of institutions in this category operate on a commercial rather than educational-service basis and operate from premises built for residential rather than school-specific purposes. There is also some degree of diversity in the quality of madrassah education but this is certainly nowhere near the one which is found in the school system. The better madrassahs are funded by Muslim charities abroad; those with links to Pakistani political parties operate on more viable economic lines and offer better quality training. Generally speaking, however, madrassah education is subsidized and charity-based. (iii) The facilities available under the government generally suffer from lack of motivation in teachers (low pays and incentives) and deteriorating standards in both quality of education and physical infrastructure (due to absence of change in societal parameters). Still the economic reward is much better in this system. Criticism of the school system is wide-spread yet it is often spared the misunderstanding and ignorance about the madrassahs in the middle and educated classes. Most madrassahs are not managed on modern lines but instead are operated as a means of sustenance for the administrators. Very often the pupils (left in the institutions by destitute parents) are used for forced labour or sent out to seek funds from the community at large. Stories of financial irregularities, inhumane treatment and even immoral activities of pupils abound.
THE NEW ISLAMIC SCHOOLING INITIATIVE
A new Islamic school education initiative which took root in Karachi in 1984 - the Iqra school system - is increasingly becoming stronger, visible and popular. This is essential theme of this presentation. The guiding principle of this movement is the desire to amalgamate Islamic education with its strong emphasis on inculcating moral values of the faith and Western methodology with its roots in the scientific method. This marriage of the tradition with technology has come to satisfy a long standing need of parents and
groups who had wanted their children not only to be successful citizens but also good Muslims. The conceptual framework of this system is very simple: To produce high school graduates who have not only completed the required studies and examinations for award of the basic qualification of S.S.C. (matriculation) but have also completed their tahfeez (memorization of the Holy Quran), read the Holy Quran in translation, and learnt the essential features of tafseer (Quranic interpretation), hadith (Sayings of the Holy Prophet), fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and absorbed other useful knowledge required by Muslims for living their lives according to Islamic tenets. This system is the mid-way station between the more widely prevalent system of school education and the "strictly Islamic" school system. This "third force" (as all new entrants in our highly polarized milieu are popularly called) aims to serve as a meeting ground for the two systems and thus as an agent for narrowing the temporal-spiritual gap. To coin a new term they may be termed as "theophilic" rather than thoelogic. To a great part this new "Islamic Education Initiative" has come about as a result of an already existing demand - like many a new product that caters to an already existing market. In this case the product has come about as a result of a desire on part ofthe most conservative of classes, the urban middle class to provide their young with a "balanced" Islamically oreinted education: An education which deals with the one element that Western education has generally regarded as a personal issue of individual sets of parents: religious and moral training. As explained by one of the system's three co-founders, " Like so many other Islamically inclined Pakistanis we felt that the educated middle class was getting increasingly distant and disappointed from religious education institutions even though they had a desire to put their children through Islamic schooling. Among the many reasons for this were, (a) In the traditional madrassahs there was no intake before 6 or 7 years of age by which time the children were "lost" to the other system. Many parents wanted their children to become huffaz as well as be schooled under the prevalent system could not find an institution which could cater to their requirement of allowing both desires to proceed together. (b) The Madrassahs not only had undesirable reputations for corporal punishment and even other immoral activities but also lacked in some common features of a school: discipline, uniforms, regular performance reviews, reports, extra-curricular activities, etc. Of course, the Madrassahs education did not lead to the desired careers open to "normally" schooled children. And so we thought of incorporating the two systems. Under the guidance of Mufti Wali Hasan we began our journey - a revolutionary step - on April 4, 1984. 14
What began with 12 children in two rooms has now, by the Grace of Allah, become nearly 9000 pupils at 13 campuses in Karachi and one at Lahore. In the beginning we sent our children to other schools after completion of tahfeez but later started our own school system in 1991. Our first batch is appearing for the Board examination this year. We are still in the process of learning as well as expanding. For instance in the first phase we tried to have pupils carry out their Quranic memorization simultaneously with a condensed school course. Experience showed that it was not possible to successfully accomplish this as it put undue load on the children. The modified system is now as under: (i) Rauzatul Itfal (literally 'Children's Garden' or kindergarten); entry between ages 3-5. The syllabus introduces Arabic, English and Urdu alphabet and basics, Islamiat and moral studies with some written work. (ii) Qaidah: Age 5-6; preparation for tahfeez with practical Islamic training and calligraphy. (iii) Tahfeez: The memorization of the Holy Quran normally takes 4 years with timings being 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the first year and later an increase of two hours till 4 p.m. There is training for jamaat prayers. (ix) Iqra School After successful completion of tahfeez, the essential syllabus of the five primary classes is covered in one year; earlier we though only 3 years work was possible but now condensed period of 2 months each are satisfactory for each school year. We use the normal government school curriculum. The following are some points about which people normally inquire from us: * We had no model before us and built the system as we went along on the basis of our own ideas, suggestions, and experience. We did borrow from the system and curriculum of special Muslim schools in South Africa. Earlier we used general textbooks for our early years but have now started producing our own. * Of recent many other persons have started capitalizing on the demand for our system and have both used and misued the "Iqra" name. We do not mind anyone with a sincere purpose competing with us. In fact we have trained people and cooperated with many in terms of sharing our experience and textbooks. Yet most parents who initially go to our competitors ultimately come to us. There are still long waiting lists for admission to our system and pressing demands from many cities to open branches.
* Our education costs are very economical as we are a totally not for profit organization catering to middle and lower-middle classes: 200 to 300 rupees per month with 250 to 750 rupees as admission charges. * We maintain strict fiqh-neutrality and teachers are under instructions not to raise any controversial issue. CONCLUSION The popularity of the Iqra School System can be gauged from the fact that the education system-design introduced by it is now being increasingly adopted by several institutions: some of these are genuine and sincere efforts while others are spurious efforts designed to cash on the commercial viability of the idea. In the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of karachi itself at least 6 other schools of similar names are operating. Other efforts have also been undertaken under different names, some of which are: 1. Iqra Madinatul Atfal, Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal 2. Iqra, Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. 3. Iqra School (commercial/non-genuine effort), Bl 4-A GI. 4. Al-Suffa Islamic School, Abul Hasan Isphani Road. 5. Madrassah Al-Khair, Block 17, Gulshan-i-Iqbal. 6. Madrassah Aisha Siddiqa, Gulistan-e-Jauhar 7. Madrassah Rashidatul Islam, Block 7, Clifton. 8. Jamia Mohsanat, North Nazimabad Like many societal systems which gain popularity this new Islamic educational system has gained popularity purely on the basis of dedicated efforts of a committed group and community participation without any government support. While the system has integrated itself with the already existing governmentimplemented examination and accredition system, it would auger well for its future success if a separate section is opened in the Boards or Education or that it is implemented through a national confederation of participating regional bodies. This would enable free movement of students from one area of Pakistan to another or even abroad as well as standardization of new syllabi. It is also important to produce a new curriculum that encompasses the needs of this new system. Unfortunately the present ruling classes in Pakistan - political, bureaucratic, military, and aristocratic - are too Westernized in their outlook to be sympathetic to this new initiative. For the most part the educational's bureaucracy in Islamabad Secretariat's D Block is limited to a lot of lip service and the rather spiritless efforts at revising a limited number of textbooks. Indeed the government's policy is being challenged not only by the parallel systems of accredition in operation but by refusal of certain schools to impart any kind of religious instruction - a fact which should be taken note of in an ideological country. Therefore, in the near future, it appears that 16
the new Islamic school initiative will have to draw on internal strength and popular support for some quite time.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.