(Compiled and abridged from the writings of Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai)
The curriculum of all the Deeni Madaaris in the Indian subcontinent comprising of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, is known as Dars-e-Nizaami. The period of the Dars-e-Nizaami course of study varies from five years to ten years. A student pursuing the Knowledge of the Deen, who completes this course obtains the Alim Faadhil qualification. The title of this Aalim is Molvi. The Molvi who pursues an extra year or two of higher studies is known as a Mufti.
The one who has accomplished the Dars-e-Nizaami course of study is a Sanadi Aalim. His Isnaad (Chain of Ilm) through numerous Links extends directly to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In his Isnaad there is not a single missing link. All the Asaatizah (Teachers) in this glorious Chain of Knowledge are known and the Chain links up with Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
By means of self-study or studying under teachers who are not Sanadi Ulama, one will not be a qualified Aalim regardless of natural talent, or having studied and even memorized many kitaabs. A person may be a genius who has mastered the Arabic language, all the Hadith and Fiqh books, but if he has not acquired his knowledge under the supervision and guidance of expert Sanadi Ulama, he will not be a qualified Aalim. He remains a layman, and in some cases more ignorant than a layman since he wallows in self-deception created by his ego. A man who studies Deeni Knowledge at the higher/academic level without the supervision of qualified Asaatizah becomes a danger to himself and to Muslim society. Shaitaan becomes his ustaadh (teacher).
The initiator of the Dars-e-Nizaami syllabus was Hadhrat Mullah Nizaamuddeen Muhammad Sahaalwi (rahmatullah alay), born in 1088 Hijri, and died in 1161 Hijri. The glorious syllabus which he had formulated has become so Maqbool (Accepted) that, despite the Ulama having effected changes in the curriculum over the past couple of centuries, Dars-e-Nizaami remains the syllabus of all the Madaaris of the Indo-Pak subcontinent and of the Madaaris in other countries established by the Dars-e-Nizaami Ulama – those who had acquired their Ilm at Dars-e-Nizaami Madaaris.
Indeed, Allah Ta’ala has bestowed a lofty status to this wonderful syllabus of Mullah Nizaamuddeen Muhammad (rahmatullah alayh). It is unsurpassable. Whilst changes have been effected, the fundamental framework remains Dars-e-Nizaami, and, Insha’Allah, so shall it remain. The Ulama-e-Haqq will resist with might every attempt to secularize and kufrize this wonderful and glorious Dars-e-Nizaami syllabus.
THE MAQSOOD (OBJECTIVE) OF DARS-E-NIZAAMI
Allah Ta’ala has assumed on Himself the responsibility of protecting and guarding the Deen of Islam. The Shariat of Islam which Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) delivered to mankind will not suffer the same fate of interpolation, mutilation and destruction which has overtaken the Shariats of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam), Nabi Isa (alayhis salaam) and of all the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) of bygone times. Declaring His Responsibility of guarding Islam, Allah Ta’ala states in the Qur’aan-e-Hakeem:
“Verily, We have revealed the Thikr (the Qur’aan), and verily, We are its Guards.”
(Al-Hijr, aayat 9)
The Qur’aan which is the fundamental basis of the Shariat has two inter-related dimensions. One is its Text and the other is its Meaning. For guarding the Text of the Qur’aan, Allah Ta’ala has created the Institution of Huffaaz. For guarding the Meaning of the Qur’aan, He has created the Institution of the Ulama. The evidence for this abounds in the Qur’aan and the Hadith. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Verily, only the Ulama are the Warathaa (Heirs) of the Ambiya.”
The Estate of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is this Deen of Islam, and the Ulama have inherited its Knowledge from Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Thus they are Ulama with a sacred Isnaad. They are not rudderless cranks who have picked up knowledge from here and there – from the refuse bins of secular universities, books and the like.
Dars-e-Nizaami, having been designed to give practical expression to the aforementioned Qur’aanic aayat, caters for both dimensions of the sacred Objective of guarding and protecting the Shariat of Islam – the Thikr – which Allah Ta’ala mentions and whose protection He has undertaken. The zaahiri sabab (the material and ostensible means) which Allah Ta’ala has created for guarding the Deen are the Institutions of the Huffaaz and Ulama. This then is the Objective of Dars-e-Nizaami.
This sacred curriculum has no objective other than guarding and protecting the Deen. The Deeni Madaaris have been established, not to impart the secular know-how of constructing oxen wagons, donkey carts, ships, laying drain pipes, building bridges, establishing banks, and the rest of the needs of the mundane world. Dars-e-Nizaami does not cater for the means and ways of earning a livelihood. Its Objective demands focus on the Aakhirah, diversion from the dunya, Zuhd (renunciation of the world) and Tawakkul on AllahAzza Wa Jal.
The ultimate goal of secular education which the western secular universities impart is the acquisition of dunya, whilst the primary and ultimate objectives and goals of Dars-e-Nizaami and the Madaaris are guarding the Deen and Allah’s Pleasure.
Since the objectives and goals of the two different kinds of education are divergent, their attributes and the ethos permeating them will necessarily be as different as are heaven and earth or Jannat and Jahannum. The determining and controlling attributes of worldly/secular education are greed, avarice, lust, selfishness, pride, arrogance and ostentation which all breed fisq, fujoor and kufr, hence we find the western educational institutions, especially universities being academic brothels.
On the contrary, the attributes of the sacred Dars-e-Nizaami education are sacrifice, munificence, abstinence, philantrophy and altruism. The ethos of the Madaaris stems from the Qur’aanic Ta’leem:
“And, the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement whilst the abode of the Aakhirah is best for him who adopts Taqwa. What! Have you no intelligence (to understand this transcendental truth of life’s purpose on earth)?”
(Al-An’aam, aayat 32)
“The life of this dunya is (nothing) but provisions of deception.”
(Aal-e-Imraan, aayat 185)
“The life of this world has been adorned for the kuffaar; and they mock the People of Imaan (of the Camel Age. But they should know that) the People of Taqwa will be elevated above them on the Day of Qiyaamah. And, Allah provides (Rizq) for whomever He wishes without limit.”
(Al-Baqarah, aayat 212)
“Never drag your eyes (i.e. do not focus) towards the glitter of this worldly life which We have bestowed (temporarily) to the different groups among them (the kuffaar) in order to cast them into fitnah. And, the provision (Rizq) of your Rabb is better and more enduring.”
(Taahaa, aayat 131)
Regarding this ephemeral worldly life, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“This world is jeefah (carrion).”
“This world is a prison for the Mu’min and a paradise for the kaafir.”
“If you knew what I know (of the futility of this life and the reality of the Aakhirah and of the torments of the grave and the terrors of Qiyaamah, and of the punishment of Jahannum and the wonderful life of Jannat), then you would laugh less and cry much, and you would not derive pleasure from your wives on your beds, and you would (leave this world) and flee into the wilderness.”
The Qur’aan and the Ahaadith are absolutely replete with such verses and narrations which create the ethos of Dars-e-Nizaami and the Deeni Madaaris. Thus, the thought of secularizing Dars-e-Nizaami and diluting the holy ethos and atmosphere which should permeate the Madaaris is obscene, unthinkable and a capital crime. It is the Waajib obligation of the Ulama to zealously and jealously guard the sacred Dars-e-Nizaami curriculum, and never incline a listening ear to the ghutha which the modernist molvis disgorge about the system of Ta’leem of the Madaaris.
COMMON OBJECTIONS FROM MINDS COLONIZED BY THE WEST
There are some modernist molvis who entered the Madaaris with corrupt motives, who wasted their time at Madrasah and who emerged failures and enemies of not only the Madaaris, but of the Deen itself. Added to their failure at the Madaaris is their acquired disease of mental inferiority which has created in their hearts an awe for western secular institutions. They compare the Madaaris with the external glitter of western universities. They view the effects and fruits of the Madaaris in the light of the technological progress and the acquisition of well-paid jobs which stem from secular education, and when seeing no such consequences emanating from the Madaaris, they label the Madrasah curriculum out-dated and antiquated.
This opinion simply mirrors the jahaalat (Ignorance) of these proponents of change. They call for the Madrasah syllabus to be changed and brought in line with their secularised thinking shaped by the inferiority complex that they suffer from.
The following contentions of modernist molvis are dealt with in this article:
(1) “The Dars-e-Nizaami should be revised every thirty to forty years in accordance with changing conditions if it is to retain its relevance.”
(2) “How can you be considered to be a real scholar, an alim, if you study books written eight hundred or five hundred years ago, which is the case with the dars-e-nizami, and totally leave out modern books?”
(3) “Good and desirable changes need to be effected in the curricula because the products of these Madrasas are causing much moral corruption and fitnah nowadays.”
(4) “Without modern secular knowledge how can Ulama provide appropriate leadership to the community, as ‘heirs of the Prophets’?”
(5) “How will the Ulama be able to properly deal with new jurisprudential issues (fiqhi masail) if all they learn are issues that the medieval ulema discussed in the books?”
(6) “It is not possible for Ulama to keep abreast with contemporary developments, if the dars-e-nizami should remain unchanged.”
(7) “The dars-e-nizami is overloaded with books on antiquated Greek logic and philosophy – rational sciences, much of which is quite irrelevant now.”
(8) “Some of these books in the Darse-e-Nizami syllabus are never completed….”
(9) “The system of teaching Hadith is rooted in Taqlid of the Hanafi Madh-hab and instilling a sectarian approach within the students.”
(10) “At present, madrasas are largely the refuge of the poor, while middle-class parents prefer to send their children to ‘secular’ schools because there they learn subjects that would help them get a good job in the future. If madrasas were to include such subjects in their syllabus, at least to a certain basic level, they would attract these students too.”
(11) “Many traditionalist Ulama somehow automatically assume that anything new is haram. An example is that when loudspeakers were first introduced, these traditionalist Ulama declared them haraam. However, later, the Ulama were forced to change their position.”
(12) “In the West, many madrasas insist on keeping Urdu as the medium of instruction, as if this language has some virtue attached to it”