Times of India
RAMPUR - Four-year-olds Som Sharma and Rachna Sharma line up at 8 am each morning for the assembly prayers. Their school is the co-educational Madarsa Jamiatul Ansar, established by Hafiz Kalby Hasan Ansari in 1932 at Astabal Road, Ganj, Rampur. For over 15 years, Hindu students too have joined the madrassa, which serves as a bridge between the two communities in the locality.
Hindu students here learn Sanskrit as Muslim children take to Quranic studies. There are also some Muslims learning Sanskrit, and some Hindu students learning Urdu. Other subjects that are taught at regular schools, like computer science, are also taught.
Hindu parents, noting the quality of education here, are keen on their children joining the madrassa. Many Hindu students have also brought accolades to the institution, winning competitions. Some of the Hindu children also receive a scholarship.
At the morning assembly, the children sing the national anthem and recite patriotic poetry by Allama Iqbal. Kushal Bhatia, a student of Class 8, leads the 600 students during the assembly. “I am proud to be a student here. I have been here for 10 years, started school here. The teachers and Muslim classmates are all very respectful,” says Bhatia.
The madrassa is affiliated to the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrassa Education, Lucknow. Besides Islamic studies, the curriculum includes English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. Although there are some Muslim teachers teaching Sanskrit, there are Hindu teachers too at the institution.
Supervisor Indu Srivastav of the madrassa said, “The students are free to choose some subjects that interest them. The Hindu students mostly learn Sanskrit, while the Muslims learn Islamic studies. There are a few Muslims studying Sanskrit, and some Hindu students attending Urdu classes.”
The madrassa has also produced students who are ‘Quran Hafiz’ – who have learnt the whole Quran by heart. Khalid Ansari, director of the institute said, “We have 13 students who are ‘Quran Hafiz’ in this session. Our modern curriculum has made it increasingly popular among Hindus. The general belief is that madrassas are meant solely for religious studies, with little modern education. Yet, after being at our madrassa, a student is equipped to plan a career in any field. We have our students, who pass out after Class 8, pursuing higher education at the Satandharm Inter College, the Jain Inter College and the Sundar Lal Inter College.”
Manisha Sharma, a student of Class 6 at the madrassa said, “It is called a madrassa, but it is like a good school. That is why my parents chose it for me.”
Daniya Irshad, who teaches Sanskrit, said, “I have Muslim students learning Sanskrit. Their parents are quite encouraging.”
Principal Mohammad Ahsan said, “We are not confined to Arabic and Islamic studies. We have seen Hindu students move here from other schools. We offer a good education in science, mathematics and the languages, including English.”
Khalid Ansari, the director of the institute, speaking with TOI, said, “We welcome schemes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced for the upliftment and modernization of madrassas. We have quite a few Hindu students who have passed out of this madrassa now, and they have spread the word about us. People now know that madrassas are not anti-national, as some people claim.”