Understanding the World of Ibn al-Athīr – Hamid Mahmood

Hamid Mahmood 

Picture by Hamid Mahmood

Understanding the World of Ibn al-Athīr

 Ibn al-Athīr, ‘Izz al-Dīn Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī al-Jazarī (1160-1233) the historian of Mosul has been put in first place alongside his contemporary Ibn Shaddād for the study of Saladin’s life.  But on the contrary Gibbs also accuses Ibn al-Athīr of giving a ‘malicious twist’ to the history of al-Isfahānī.  Can both statements be justified without contradicting the other; I believe it of great significance to try and understand the ‘mind’ of the author alongside the surroundings he finds himself in.    I will therefore analyse from the muqaddima (foreword) of al-kāmil, what Ibn al-Athīr believes to be the objective of History and its worldly benefits.  I will focus on the account of Saladin’s death in order to understand the medieval traditionalism at work in al-kāmil and contemporary works and explore the dualism in Ibn al-Athīrs description of Saladin.  Finally I will briefly mention some criticism of Gibbs’ understanding of Ibn al-Athīr by Yaacov Lev.  My main objective throughout, however, is to explore whether Ibn al-Athīr is wholesome negative of Saladin or is his analysis more complex in nature than what is generally thought.

I believe it is greatly significant to analyse a text through its ‘rootedness’ in ‘time’ and ‘place’.  This metaphor of the ‘rootedness’ of texts comes from Friedrich Schleiermacher, who argued that meaning and interpretation began with the intention of the author of a text, with due regard also to the historical context and situation out of which the author wrote.  Thiselton elaborated on what Schleiermacher meant by ‘intending’ as opposed to a simplistic understanding of it, ‘the goal and purpose behind and within a text that signal an author’s desire, will, and action as evidenced in and by the text and its surroundings.  Meaning and interpretation include more than these; but these remain his [Schleiermacher’s] starting point’.[1]  Yaacov Lev in his book ‘Saladin in Egypt’ illustrates such an approach and suggests,

Saladin’s historians were a product of their age and their attitudes and perceptions were shaped by the political and cultural values of the twelfth century… They have much in common in their educational and cultural backgrounds as well as in their professional careers… their world was shaped by the new institutions of learning that spread throughout the middle East from the second half of the eleventh century’.[2]

This analysis, despite it being for Saladin’s historian admirers, also includes Ibn Athīr because he too was influenced by the politics and culture of the time.  Hence, it is important to understand the role a madrasa would play and how it may influence the writings of the author.

The politics and culture in that period were intertwined.  Lev explains that, the cultural and religious life of the period was marked by traditionalism combined with mysticism, and focused on three institutions: madrasa, khānqā and dār al-ḥadīth’.[3]  From these institutions the former and latter were certainly influenced by the state and rulers, due to the system of patronage coupled with a social life that was overshadowed by a ‘zealous adherence’ of people (ta’assub).  Ibn al-Athīr’s work ‘asad al-ghāba fī ma’rifa al-ṣaḥāba’, which gives an alphabetical account of approximately 7500 companions of the Prophet shows ibn al-Athīr to be very much part of the traditional landscape of the madrasa and dār al-ḥadīth.  Secondly al-kāmil, according to Douglas Patton, was commissioned under the patronage of Badr al-Dīn Lu’Lu’.[4]  Hence I will examine al-kāmil, while fully aware of the cultural traditionalism and the patronage that Ibn al-Athīr owed his book to.

Furthermore, it is of equal importance to have in mind the ‘intent’ of the author as explained himself.  In this case we can deduce some points from Ibn al-Athīr’s illustration of the objective of History, which he describes under ‘fā’ida al-taṣnīf fī al-tārīkhfawā’iduhū al-dunyawiyya… al-fawā’id al-ukhrawiyya’ the benefit of authoring in [the subject of] History… its worldly benefits… benefits of the next world…’.  Ibn al-Athīr elaborates under ‘its worldly benefits’ the following points:

“The instructiveness of history has many aspects and its usefulness, both in this world and the other world, is very great.  Here, we shall mention only as much of that as we see fit.  We shall leave it to the natural intelligence of the student of history to make himself acquainted with the rest.

As to the usefulness of history for this world, for instance, it is no secret that human beings like to remain alive and prefer to be among the living.  Would that I knew what difference there is between things seen or heard yesterday and things read in books which contain historical information about the men of the past.  Reading about them is like being their contemporary, and knowing events is like being present when they took place.

Furthermore, kings and persons in authority may find the biographies of oppressors and tyrants treated in books which circulate among the people and which are transmitted from generation to generation.  They look at the ill fame and disgrace that were the consequence of oppression and tyranny, the resulting destruction of countries and human lives, the financial loss and the general corruption.  Thus, they come to disapprove of and avoid practises of oppression and injustice.  Likewise, they may see the biographies of just governors.  They read about the good reputation that survived them after their death, and the development and financial prosperity of their countries and realms.  Thus, they come to approve of their example and to desire to practise permanently what they did as well as to omit all that works to the contrary.  Kings and persons in authority derive an additional advantage from the study of history.  They learn through history about the wise counsels that served (their predecessors) to avert damage at the hands of enemies, to escape disasters, and to protect (?) rich cities and great realms

If such were the only useful aspect of history, it would be glorious enough`…’[5]

Here Ibn al-Athīr points towards three main benefits and also reasons for him writing texts on the subject of History, and his main readership he suggests is ‘men of authority and power’.  For ease of understanding I term each notion as follows: 1) faḍā’il (virtue), the readership approves and implements the ‘good reputation’ that survives the virtuous leaders; 2) mawā’iẓ (admonition), they disapprove of the oppression and tyranny by reading about the ill consequences that befell them and lastly; 3) ma’rifa al-ārā’ al-ṣā’iba (acquaintance of pertinent and wise counsels),  they learn through wise counsels and build awareness of imprudent ones.  Also interesting, I believe, the first two are a direct influence of the traditional background of the author, which could be understood from the Qur’anic verse chosen to conclude the introduction: ‘[We have destroyed even mightier generations before these disbelievers, who travelled through many lands – was there any escape?] There truly is a reminder in this for whoever has a heart, whoever listens attentively’.[6]  This attention to the purpose of History has also been addressed by ibn al-Khaṭīb (1313-1374):

و یری العاقل من تصریف قدرۃ اللہ تعالیٰ ما یشرح صدرہ بالایمان و یشفیہ، و یمر علیٰ مصارع الجبابرۃ فیحسبہ بذلک واعظاً و یکفیہ’ [7]

…and that the intelligent may witness the vicissitude of the omnipotence of God: which enlightens his heart with faith and cures it.  And that he may journey through the falls and ruins of [once] mighty [rulers] and that should be sufficient for him as an admonisher and warning’.

And this is then further systemised by Ibn Khaldūn, which Muhammad Iqbal summarises in his famous poem:

ميں تجھ کو بتاتا ہوں ، تقدير امم کيا ہے

شمشير و سناں اول ، طاؤس و رباب آخر[8]

The destiny of nations I chart for you:

at first: The sword and spear;

the zither’s, the lute’s soft sighs at last.[9]

So, from the outset Ibn al-Athīr’s analysis of history is influenced by the theological trend present in medieval madāris (pl. of madrasa).  However, I will experiment with texts from al-kāmil with these notions for a creative insight into the mind of Ibn al-Athīr or whether he writes with a ‘malicious twist’ to al-Iṣfahānī’s al-barq al-shāmī as argued by Gibbs.

An analysis of the death of Saladin is significant in trying to understand the traditional medieval world of Ibn al-Athīr by merely scrutinizing the titles and benedictions attributed to the Sulṭān.  When comparing Ibn al-Athīr’s text on the account of the death of Nur al-Dīn compared to Saladin there are striking differences, which affirm the influence of ‘zealous adherence’ of people (ta’assub) suggested by Lev:  a notion that influences ibn al-Athīr’s writings and also that of his contemporaries.  Ibn al-Athīr begins with the title:

ذکر وفاۃ نور الدین محمود بن زنکی رحمہ اللہ

ثم دخلت سنۃ تسع و ثمانین و خمسماءۃ  ۔  ذکر وفاۃ صلاح الدین و بعض سیرتہ[10]

‘Account of the death of Nūr al-Dīn Maḥmūd ibn Zankī (God have mercy on him)

The Year 580 [1193]  –  Account of the death of Saladin and a little about his character’.[11] When mentioning Nūr al-Dīn the benediction ‘raḥimahū Allāh’ (God have mercy on him) is clearly cited in the title.  But on the contrary for Saladin it is omitted and only mentioned within the text but not title.  Even within modern Muslim societies such a notion would raise eye brows.  When comparing the accounts of the deaths of both leaders in al-Nawādir and kaitāb al-fatḥ al-qussiyy there is benedictions for both Nūr al-Dīn and Saladin:

ذکر وفاۃ نور الدین محمود بن زنکی رحمہ اللہ

ذکر وفاتہ رحمہ اللہ و قدس روحہ[12]

Account of the death of Nūr al-Dīn Maḥmūd ibn Zankī (God have mercy on him)

Account of his death (may God have mercy on him, sanctify his spirit and give the Muslims a good successor).[13]

ذکر وفاۃ السلطان رحمہ اللہ بدمشق  ۔

جلس لیلۃ السبت سادس عشر صفر فی مجلس عادتہ  ۔  و مجلیٰ سعادتۃ  ۔  و نحن عندہ فی اتم اغتباط ۔  و اتم  نشاط  ۔  و ھو یحدثنا و نحن نحدثہ ۔۔۔[14]

Account of the death of the Sultan (may God have mercy on him) in Damascus –

It is evident from these two that Saladin is more highly revered, as due to the cultural respect he is not mentioned by name: either he is referred to with a  pronoun (huwa – he) or a title (al-sulṭān). This additional reverence suggests the notion of ta’assub for Saladin and is very much similar to that of the Prophet in the Qur’an whereby he is mostly referred to by a qualitative title and his name Muhammad only appears four times in the entire scripture – adding to the idea of a cultural traditionalism prevalent in the madrasa thought process.  And this further suggests a transformation also of the sufi notion of tashakhuṣ (high reverence of the saint) into one that now begins to take precedence when speaking of the political leadership, which Lev also suggests from Ibn al-‘Asākir when ascribing to Nur al-Din an aura of holiness by saying that Nur al-Din’s baraka (blessing) saved people from hardship and brought prosperity to his subjects.[15]

One other factor that is at play in the mind of Ibn al-Athīr is his view of History and reason for the rise and fall of nations and dynasties.  Despite inserting a benediction for Saladin in the text he eagerly mentions Saladin’s conversation with his son al-Afḍal and brother al-‘Ādil, which suggests a greed for land.  Ibn al-Athīr mentions, ‘He [Saladin] said, ‘We have finished with the Franks.  There is nothing to occupy us in this land.  Which region shall we attack?’… [al-‘Ādil then proposes to attack Khillāṭ] because Saladin had promised him, if he took it, that he would hand it over to him…’.[16]  This endless greed for land and power for Ibn al-Athīr is punished by God and he elaborates:

‘I have perused histories and seen many events of Islamic history that can be reliably documented.  I have seen in the case of many who start a dynasty that power is transferred from their immediate offspring to other family and relatives’.[17]

Ibn al-Athīr gives the example of Mu’āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān (602-680), who ‘usurped’ power from Muḥammad’s cousin and son-in-law ‘Alī, from whom power was denied to his descendents and passed onto the Banū Marwān.  Lev points out that, ‘Ibn al-Athīr implies that the establishment of rule is associated with the shedding of blood and violence and therefore the founders cannot enjoy the fruits of their endeavours.  The roots of this concept are Biblical, but it serves Ibn al-Athīr’s purpose well’.[18]  It is interesting to note – despite this concept of punishment – that throughout his al-kāmil Ibn al-Athīr manages to conceal and circumvent this notion for his patron Badr al-Dīn Lu’Lu’, who according to Patton commissioned this work.[19] But, again one is perplexed of Ibn al-Athīr’s praise of Saladin subsequent to the conversation he had with his brother and son:

‘Saladin (may God have mercy on him) was a generous, forbearing, of good character, humble, ready to put up with something that displeased him, much given to overlooking the faults of his follower… as for his generosity, he gave away much, not hesitating about anything he gave away…when he died, he left only one Tyrian dinar and forty Nāṣirī dirhams in his treasury…’[20]

And Ibn al-Athīr continues to describe more virtues of Saladin, which include his humility when Sufis would attend on him; his adherence to the sharī’ah; transmission of ḥadīth and his might in Jihad against the infidels.  Ibn al-Athīr, I believe, divides his description of Saladin between that of Saladin the ‘ruler’ and Saladin the ‘religious’ personality.  This indicates how Ibn al-Athīr had no problem with viewing Saladin as a religious man but his political environment imprisons his thoughts on his leadership and forces him to term him a usurper.  This is similar to Mu’āwiya ibn Abī Sufyān, whose descendants too were deprived of the ‘fruits’ of power but under religiosity he too is highly regarded, also for being the companion of the Prophet the unique benediction ‘raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu’ is placed besides his name, which means ‘God is pleased with him’.


However, as a resident in Mosul under the Zangids and constantly under their patronage, with the Ayyūbids Ibn al-Athīr conceals naught as opposed to curtaining Lu’Lu’s usurpation, and hastens to portray the transfer of power from Shīrkūh to Saladin and then from him to his brother’s descendents:

‘Finally take this Shīrkūh:  as we have mentioned, power was transferred to the descendants of his brother Ayyūb, and from Saladin too, after he had established and exalted the dynasty and become its founder, power passed to the offspring of his brother al-‘Ādil and in the hands of his own offspring there remained only Aleppo… what I think to be the reason for this is that the person who is the first of a dynasty takes ‘extreme measure’[21] and seizes power, while the hearts of his predecessors are deeply attached to it.  Therefore God, as a punishment for him, denies it to his descendents and those for whose sake he acts’.[22]

Clearly when Ibn al-Athīr was writing this only Aleppo remained under the hands of Saladin’s descendents.  However, it is slightly obscure to what Ibn al-Athīr means by ‘punishment’ and the reason for its importance determines the influence of theology present in medieval traditionalist madāris (pl. of madrasa).  For indeed Ibn al-Athīr, when narrating the incident of the death of Saladin, inserted into the text the benediction of ‘raḥimahu Allāh’ God have mercy on him.  This seems to be a contradiction between the ‘punishment’ of God on Saladin to ‘mercy’ of God, this transformation illustrates Ibn al-Athīr’s dual approach – of viewing him as a sulṭan and separately a religious figure.  By that I mean Ibn al-Athīr portrays Saladin as ‘Saladin the usurper and villain, greedy for power and wealth’ in relation to his usurpation of power from the Abbasids but then provides balanced evaluations in relation to the Crusaders and does not shy away from commending his religiosity.


An example of his balanced evaluations can be seen within his analysis and portrayal of the council of doctors.  Ibn al-Athīr mentioned in the introduction to al-kāmil as a benefit of History ‘ma’rifa al-ārā’ al-ṣā’iba’ recognition of pertinent counsels.  Ibn al-Athīr narrates:

‘His emirs attended him and advised him to move from that place and to abandon close pressure on the Franks.  They presented this to him as the best course, saying, ‘We have pressed the Franks hard and even if they wanted to leave their position, they could not.  Our best plan is to move away so that they can pack up and leave.  If they do depart – and this is the likely outcome – then we are spared their trouble and they ours!  If they stay, we can return to the battle and get back to where we were before.  Moreover, your health is bad and your pain intense.  If any rumour of that got abroad, our men would be lost.  By every calculation our best plan is to withdraw from them.’  The doctors concurred in this, so he accepted it to do what was God’s will’.[23]

Despite Ibn al-Athīr being a contemporary to these events he was not an eye witness and uses ‘Imād al-Dīn’s text for this incident at Acre.  It is significant to note that following Saladin’s great victories at Ḥiṭṭīn and Jerusalem, here was a chance for Ibn al-Athīr to launch the most subtle criticism and there was no need to ‘maliciously twist’ the situation either – as Gibbs argues – as it was failure in all aspects of warfare.  But, instead Ibn al-Athīr decides to shield Saladin and bring the ‘councils and their counsels’ at the forefront of his criticism.  I view this as Ibn al-Athīr’s view of the incident through  ma’rifa al-ārā’ al-ṣā’iba or lack thereof and perhaps intends this counsel to be a lesson for future kings.  However, he only comes with this conclusion with hindsight otherwise strategically at the time that was perhaps a better option as strongly argued by the doctors.  Ibn al-Athīr here is trying to portray Saladin’s lack of leadership, autonomy, and a faltering passion for jihād.  It is also felt as though he is covering Saladin and shifting the blame onto his council.  But, he also credits Saladin when he opposes the council in Haṭṭīn, who suggest to avoid a large scale battle for constant raids and he opts for the all out attack, which earns him his greatest victory.  Hence, I agree with Lev that ‘each account that deals with Saladin must be examined on its own merits.  In many cases Ibn al-Athīr’s bias against Saladin is not evident and neither detectable to us because of our restricted understanding of the system of values which guided twelfth / thirteen century historians’.[24]


So is Ibn al-Athīr’s understanding of Saladin merely shrouded by and influenced by political powers or is the matter more complex?  In response to Gibb’s ‘all out attack’ on Ibn al-Athīr Lev suggests for a consideration of the following points to illustrate the complexity of dealing with al-kāmil.   I) Since both historical works of Ibn al-Athir (al-bāhir and al-kāmil) were written after the conclusion of ‘Imad al-Din’s the Syrian Lightning, there is no valid reason to accept Gibb’s assumption that Ibn al-Athir’s account of the years 1169 – 1171 is independent of ‘Imad al-Din. Ibn al-Athir could have used ‘ Imad al-Din for the years 1169 – 1171 too.[25]   2) Ibn al-Athir did collect information and sources quite independently of ‘Imad al-Din. In both works of Ibn al-Athir there are many accounts based on oral information.  For example, the man who was instrumental in the proclamation of Friday sermons in Egypt in the name of the Abbasids was personally known to Ibn al-Athir.  And the account of Nur aI-Din’s death is related on the authority of his personal physician.  Therefore, the divergence between the works of ‘lmad al-Din and Ibn al-Athir is not necessarily a reflection of Ibn al-Athir’s distortion of ‘Imad al-Din; it could have been a result of different and independent sources’.[26]    Also to overlook a culture of study based very much on the oral tradition is erroneous.

3) Hostility to Saladin does not discredit outright Ibn al-Athir’s commentary on Saladin’s deeds and motives.  For the modern student of Saladin a non-partisan account might prove very valuable. 4) A comparison between Ibn al-Athir’s accounts in the history of the Atabegs and the universal history reveals that the narrative in the universal history is more hostile to Saladin. In the universal history Saladin is always portrayed in a worse light than in the history of the Atabegs.

And lastly and most significantly, 5) hostility to Saladin did not permeate the whole of Ibn al-Athir’s writings. The following example can serve as an illustration for the different ways Saladin is treated by Ibn al-Athir. In his account of Shirkuh’s third campaign in Egypt, Ibn al-Athir quotes Saladin as saying: “Allah gave me a possession of what I had not coveted”. Ibn al-Athir’s informant was a person very close to Saladin, and here this illustrated Saladin’s early reluctance to participate in the third campaign to Egypt and the results were beyond imagination.  Lev rightly notes that, ‘Saladin’s aim is to portray himself as a man who is not avid for power.  His fortunes were ordained by God in spite of his own reluctance and  he is merely a tool of God’s will.[27]  By using this account, Ibn al-Athīr propagates in fact Saladin’s self created image, which contradicts that of the power-obsessed leader.  Once again it becomes unclear of why Ibn al-Athīr’s views change throughout the book.

In conclusion I found through a constant focus on the traditional landscape of the then medieval Islamic world that Ibn al-Athīr is shrouded by complexity and by no means is completely dismissive of Saladin’s career.  However, through the focus on the account of Saladin’s death I found that Ibn al-Athīr maybe has a duality in viewing the sulṭan as a leader who usurped but at the same time a man of commendable religiosity.  Hence, he draws a line between his criticism of his usurpation – and any matter related to it – and his religiosity, which includes his jihādī valour against the might Crusades.  I have come to learn that the general view of Ibn al-Athīr as a zangid historian twisting history to stigmatize Saladin, maybe correct in relation to the account of his usurpation and must be dealt with additional care, but throughout al-kāmil there are passages which prove otherwise.


The Qur’an: A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

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Ibn al-Athīr, (D. 630) – (2003).  al-Kāmil fī al-Tārīkh: min sana 489 li ghāya sana 561 li al-hijra – al-mujallad al-tāsi’ (Part 9) (الکامل فی التاریخ: للامام العلامۃ عمدۃ المورخین أبی الحسن علی بن أبی الکرم محمد بن محمد بن عبد الکریم بن عبد الواحد الشیبانی المعروف ‘با بن الأثیر’ الجزری المقلب بعز الدین المتوفیٰ 630 ھ ۔ من سنۃ 489 لغایۃ 561 للھجرۃ).  Notes by M. Yūsuf al-Diqāqa. 4th ed. Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah: Beirut, Lebanon

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Ibn Shaddād, B. (D. 632 A.H.) – (1317 A.H.).  Kitāb Sīra Salāḥ al-Dīn al-Ayyūbiyy al-musammāt bi al-Nawādir al-Sulṭāniyya wa’l-Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya – (کتاب سیرۃ صلاح الدین الأیوبی المسماۃ با لنوادر السلطانیۃ و المحاسن الیوسفیۃ ۔ تألیف القاضی بھاء الدین المعروف بابن شداد ۔ المتوفی سنۃ 632 ھجریۃ). Notes on side by Tāj al-Din Shāhanshāh ibn Ayyūb.  Maṭba’at al-aādāb wa al-mu’ayyad: Cairo, Egypt

Nicholson, H. J. (2001).  Chronicle of the Third Crusade: A Translation of the Itinerarium pereprinorum et gesta Regis Ricardi. (Crusades Texts in Translation).  Ashgate Publishing Limited: England.

Richards, D. S. (2010).  The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh. Part 2: The Years 541-589/1146-1193: The Age of Nur al-Din and Saladin. – (Crusades Texts in Translation; 15).  Ashgate Publishing Limited: England.

Richards, D. S. (2007).  The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin or al-Nawādir al-Sulṭāniyya wa’l-Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya by Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād.  (Crusades Texts in Translation).  Ashgate Publishing Limited: England.

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Websites and Internet Sources


[1] Thiselton, A. C. (2009).  Hermeneutics: An Introduction. pp. 20-22.  See ‘The Rootedness of Texts Located in Time and Place’.

[2] Lev, Y. (1999).  Saladin in Egypt.  pp. 1-2

[3] ibid., p. 2.  In the madrasa, Sunni law and other auxiliary subjects were taught. Dār al-Ḥadīth was an institution of a more narrow scope devoted to the study of the Prophetic traditions. The

khānqā served the mystics (Sufis) as a focal point of their social and religious life.

[4] ibid., p. 36

[5] Ibn al-Athīr, (D. 630) – (2003).  al-Kāmil fī al-Tārīkh: min sana 562 li ghāya sana 628 li al-hijra – al-mujallad al-tāsi’.  Vol. 1,  p.9-11.  Translation taken from: Rosenthal, F. (1968).  A History of Muslim Historiography.  2nd ed.  pp. 298-300

[6] Qur’an 50:33-37

[7] Quote taken from ibn al-Khaṭīb of Granada (1313-1374). Al-iḥāṭa fī akhbār al-gharnāṭa. see muqaddima (introduction)

[8] Taken from Iqbal’s ‘bāl-e-jibrīl’ – available online: http://www.allamaiqbal.com/

[9] Translation from ‘Gabriel’s Wing’ by Taseer, M.D in Pakistan Quarterly, Karachi. April 1947

[10] Ibn al-Athīr, (D. 630) – (2003).  op. cit., Vol. 10, p.589

[11] Richards, D. S. (2010).  The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh. Part 2: The Years 541-589/1146-1193: The Age of Nur al-Din and Saladin. p.408

[12] Ibn Shaddād, B. (D. 632 A.H.) – (1317 A.H.).  Kitāb Sīra Salāḥ al-Dīn al-Ayyūbiyy al-musammāt bi al-Nawādir al-Sulṭāniyya wa’l-Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya.  p. 249

[13] Richards, D. S. (2007).  The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin or al-Nawādir al-Sulṭāniyya wa’l-Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya by Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād. p. 243

[14] Al-Iṣfahāniyy, ‘I. D. (1935).  Kitāb al-fatḥ al-qussiyy fī al-fatḥ al-qudsiyy ‘کتاب الفتح القدسی فی الفتح القدسی’. p. 454

[15] Lev, Y. (1999).  op. cit., p. 8

[16] Richards, D. S. (2010).  op. cit., p.408

[17] Richards, D. S. (2010).  op. cit., p.178

[18] Lev, Y. (1999).  op. cit., p. 40

[19] ibid., p.36

[20] Richards, D. S. (2007). Al-kāmil  op. cit., p.408-9

[21] Richards interprets this to mean taking extreme measure: to acquire and remain in power by killing many people.  He comes to this conclusion because one manuscript mentions explicitly mentions ‘yukthir al-qatl (kills many people).  See al-nawādir, p.179, footnote no. 14

[22] Richards, D. S. (2010).  op. cit., p.179

[23] Richards, D. S. (2010).  op. cit., p.369

[24] Lev, Y. (1999).  op. cit., p. 40-41

[25] ibid., p. 38

[26] ibid.

[27] ibid., p. 39

The Dars-e-Niẓāmī and the Transnational Traditionalist Madāris in Britain – Hamid Mahmood

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The Dars-e-Niẓāmī and the Transnational Traditionalist Madāris in BritainHAMID MAHMOODQueen Mary, University of LondonSeptember – 2012

The Dars-e-Niẓāmī and the Transnational Traditionalist Madāris in Britain Our story is a mixed story, and one part leads to the memory of another part. These lands of ours are a long distance away from the lands of Islam like ‘Irāq, Shām and Mir, so the symbols of Islam here are weak and the lighthouses of knowledge are hidden, except what Allah wills and who He wills, and these are few. ‘Allāmah Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī on Deoband At the conference ‘Our Mosques, our Future’ which took place in Hounslow on the 21st of October 2008, Tim Winter (Abdal Hakim Murad) delivered a presentation on the lack of Islamic leadership in the United Kingdom as opposed to the United States, who boast the likes of Sirāj Wahhāj, Zaid Shākir, Hamza Yūsuf, ‘Umar ‘Abdullāh and other significant scholars who have huge followings not just amongst the intelligentsia, but at the grassroots of the community. Winter insisted that there must be something lacking with the madrasa sector and elaborates: ‘…It is an interesting fact that there are twice as many Muslims training as Imams in this country as there are Christians of all denominations training for Christian ministry. It’s kind of an over population. There are at least twenty institutions now as far as I can see that are doing it, but as yet we have not found the one leader, who can lead cheering crowds in Trafalgar Square, who can galvanise teenagers and lead them in the direction of something that is mainstream, normative and convivial Islam – that individual has not yet appeared. So something needs to be done in that sector as well if we are going to build this thing we want which is the positive outwardly oriented 21st century Mosque…’[1] As, Winter believes that the number of Imams currently under training exceeds that of Christians in Christian ministries and describes it as ‘a kind of an over population’. Firstly, it is essential here that one must explore and define the nature and purpose of leadership that the madāris are providing. Is it really to ‘cheer the crowds at Trafalgar Square’ as Winter insists, to produce orators who speak to Mosque congregations already practising their faith or to provide Mosques with men who can lead the congregational prayers? The question is whether the ṭālibs studying at the madāris themselves are aware of the role they must play in wider society or what the wider society expects from them. I will explore the phenomenon of transnational traditionalist madāris in Britain by analysing three periods; madāris in pre-colonial India, in colonised India, and post-colonial Britain. I will focus specially on dars-e-niẓāmī pedagogy and how this may influence the thought process of the madāris Part of my methodology was to interview and discuss contemporary issues with fāḍils (madrasa graduates) as opposed to ṭālibs (madrasa undergraduates), all of which have been provided in Appendix 1. I have taken much from Sikand, as he has researched the madāris of India much and has a profound understanding of transnational Islamic movements and is proficient in all sub-continent languages. Metcalf is instrumental in portraying the image of colonised Musalmāns. I benefitted from Zaman’s exploration of the mind and ideology of the ‘ulamā’ and finally for ethnography and fieldwork I relied on the works of Gilliat-Ray and Alam and changed my method of approach from ṭālib to fāḍil, which I will elaborate. In my work I have focused thouroughly on three aspects not covered and seen as whole, and examined how they influence madāris here in Britain: the history that has constructed the syllabus; the history and response of a specific madrasa to the media; and an analysis of criticism and reform history of the madāris of Britain The Dars-e-Niẓāmī and the Evolution of Madāris in Hind and British India To understand the madāris in Britain it is essential that the study begins in medieval Hind (India) and an analysis of the context to which the madrasa was a response or a number of contexts that today defines the outlook of Madāris (pl. of madrasa). Gilliat-Ray too insists that the study ‘has to be set against a canvas of responses to colonialism, and the founding of ‘seminaries’ in India in the mid-1800s’.[2] The seminary at Deoband further expanded and saw a vast increase in madāris that claim allegiance to Deoband, they too have to be seen in context: ‘Deoband was intended to resist the British by non-violent methods, the military option having been tried fruitlessly in 1857. But the Mazahir-i-‘Ulum had since its very inception opted out of this worldly (dunya); it had remained committed only to the faith (dīn)’.[3] In the UK the Dār al-‘Ulūm al-‘Arabiyyah al-Islāmiyyah (Bury madrasa) and Jāmi’at ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury madrasa) are considered the ‘Oxbridge’ of the traditional madrasa world. These have their foundations not directly with Deoband, but through its expanded seminaries, namely Maẓāhir-e-‘Ulūm (Saharanpūr) and Niẓam al-Dīn (Tablīghī Jamā’at HQ at New Delhi). Here we seek to explore the civilizational modes that nurtured their mother institutes as, Winter explains: … ‘the traditional madrasa curriculum (the dars-e-niẓāmī) and allied curricula are in fact extraordinarily brilliant articulations of Islam in a particular civilizational mode…’[4] It is for this reason essential to begin with a brief history of madāris and their curriculum (dars-e-niẓāmī) in Hind and how Mughal India and British colonialism influence Madāris today in the modern world. Very little is actually known about the medieval madāris of Sind, Multan and Ajmer but our attention is drawn to 1258 and the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid Caliphate. The incident of 1258 saw vast numbers of refugees seeking refuge in Hind and among them were ‘ulamā and ṣūfis, the former who brought with them major ḥanafi texts, and the trend of producing commentaries of the texts and then commentaries of commentaries further ensured insistence on taqlīd of the earlier ḥanafī ‘ulamā’. And as I believe, this left no room from a critical analysis of the texts being studied. Sikand suggests that due to this notion ‘the ulamā’ failed to develop a system of jurisprudence grounded in the particular context of India, where Muslims were a small minority’.[5] However, it was then that a systematic curriculum was founded in Hind.[6] I will further elaborate on why I am convinced that the dars-e-niẓamī syllabus and pedagogy, too play a significant role in the madrasa thought process. However, the ‘ulamā’ in medieval India were employed in the state bureaucracy in various capacities, as judges, experts in offering legal opinions, censors of public morals, preachers and teachers.[7] Leading ‘ulamā’ thus enjoyed close relations with the state.[8] The Deobandi academic journal ‘Māhnāmah Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband’[9] elaborates how the history of ‘the system of Muslim education in India’ is divided into four stages by Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Lukhnawī. In his article ‘Hindustān kā qadīm niṣāb-e-dars awr us ke taghayyurāt – India’s medieval system of education and its modification’, Lukhnawī begins with dawr-e-awwal, the first period – 7th Century A.H. to 9th Century A.H. This period saw the founding of the following subjects: naḥw (Arabic grammar), ṣarf (etymology), adab wa balāghat (rhetoric and literature), fiqh (jurisprudence), uṣūl-e-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence), manṭiq (logic), kalām (cosmology), taṣawwuf (Sufism), tafsīr (Qur’anic exegesis) and ḥadīth (traditions of Prophet Muḥammad).[10] In this period fiqh was considered to be the most significant subject, and it was deemed sufficient to merely study Mashāriq al-Anwār[11] or Maṣābīḥ[12] for ḥadīth. This heavy influence of fiqh is believed to be the influence the conquerors of Hind had on the land, as they were from Ghaznī and Ghawr – both lands that prided themselves with the study of fiqh. Dawr-e-Dawm, the second period, begins with Shaykh ‘Abd Allāh and Shaykh ‘Azīz Allāh travelling from Multān to Delhi to the throne of Sulṭān Sikandar Lodhī (d. 1517 C.E) in order to reform the previous curriculum by requesting the inclusion of Qāḍī ‘Aḍud al-Dīn’s Maṭāli’ and Mawāqif and Sakākī’s Miftāḥ al-‘ulūm. This period further saw the extension of the syllabus by Sayyid Mīr Shāh’s students by producing commentaries of the mentioned books: Sharḥ Maṭāli’ and Sharḥ Mawāqif. And Sa’d al-Dīn Taftāzanī’s students embraced Muṭawwal, Talwīkh, Mukhtaṣar al-Ma’ānī and Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-Nasafiyyah, the latter two which still remain part of the dars-e-niẓāmī in the UK. In this period Sharḥ Jāmi’ and Sharḥ Wiqāyah too were added to the study of ‘ulamā’. Again the latter text is still studied to this day in the madāris of Britain.[13] Dawr-e-sawm, the third stage, saw the polymath, Emperor Akbar’s vizier Mīr Fatḥ-Allāh Shirāzī (d. 1582), introduce ‘ma’qūlāt’ the logical and philosophical sciences to India. The courts of the Mughal emperors were significantly influenced by Iran especially the courts of Humāyūń (r. 1530 / IIr. 1555)[14] and Akbar (r. 1556).[15] However, towards the end of this third period Shāh Waliyullāh (1702-1762 C.E.), following his 14 year stay in the Ḥijāz, introduced the teaching of the ṣiḥāḥ sittah[16] into the curriculum of India (dars-e-niẓāmī) – which overlaps into the fourth period. Qāsmī further suggests that Shāh Waliyullāh had also devised a new syllabus but because the centre of Islamic knowledge at the time had shifted from Delhi to Lukhnow and because of the influence of the Mughal ‘ulamā’ his syllabus did not reach fruition.[17] Dawr-e-chahārum, the fourth period is the most significant in fully understanding contemporary madāris as it is the stage when Mullāń Niẓām al-Dīn Sahālwī Lukhnawī (d. 1748 C.E.) laid the foundations to the dars-e-niẓāmī prevalent throughout madrasas originating from the Subcontinent. The set of texts chosen by Mullāń Niẓām al-Dīn were selected for the ṭālibs of Firangī Maḥal.[18] The dars-e-niẓāmī, which was named after him was in fact heavily influenced by ma’qūlāt (rational sciences) as opposed the manqūlat (traditional sciences). This syllabus reserved ‘fifteen books on logic, and several books on Greek philosophy, mathematics, history, medicine, and engineering, and also texts on Persian literature and Arabic grammar, rhetoric and literature’.[19] Alongside fiqh, and Uṣūl al-Fiqh, for tafsīral-Bayḍāwiyy’ and ‘Jalālayn’ were taught, and for ḥadiṭh it was thought sufficient to study ‘Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ. It is interesting to note that part of the dars-e-niẓāmī Engineering and Astronomy were also taught as part of the curriculum. Students were also taught the skills of official letter writing and calligraphy, which they would need as prospective civil servants.[20] It is interesting that despite this no longer being taught in the madāris of Britain, it is evident from a fāḍil’s response that skills of this kind may well be required: ‘…they could do more dunyavī (this worldly) wise. They could perhaps work more on career’s advice; we have started an organisation to help ‘ulamā and ḥuffāẓ[21] after graduation to know how the system works e.g. Tax Credits, filling in forms, paying bills etc through our organisation ‘Khidma Station’.[22] It is noted that the current madrasa syllabus is so textual that it fails to respond to the context that it now faces. For this very reason one finds that the ‘ulamā’ are passing this textual study down to their students, but for a living they are having to work other part-time jobs, such as in Asda, B&Q and as taxi drivers.[23] Khalīlī finally elaborates the geographical divide in India during the final daur, as he believes the markaz (centre) of ‘ilm was then divided in three different locations: Delhi, Lukhnow, and Khayr Ābād. Shāh Waliyullah and his family were based in Delhi and they focused on the manqūlāt (tafsīr and ḥadīth); the ‘Ulamā’ of Lukhnow – the traditional scholars of Farangī Maḥal – still remained heavily influenced by the teachings of ‘mā warā’ al-nahr’ (Transoxania), hence their focus was on fiqh and uṣūl al-fiqh, and they taught Jalālyn and Bayḍāwī for tafsīr and sufficed in ḥadīth with the textual study of mishkāt al-maṣābīḥ. The latter, Khayr Ābādī ‘Ulamā’ focused all their attention around manṭiq and falsafah.[24] Following the unsuccessful mutiny of 1857, the British Raj decided to uproot the madāris of India and hence Shāh Waliyullāh’s madrasa in Delhi too became a victim of their tyranny.[25] It is said that for miles no ‘ālim could be found to even lead the funeral prayers.[26] The state of the Mussalmāns of India and their religious institutes was then being compared to the Mongol invasion of 1258, where it was believed the sea first turned black with the ink of books and then red with the blood of the ‘ulamā’.[27] And with this time period is connected the notion of the ‘closing of the doors of ijtihād’. The lack of ‘ulamā’ and also according to Tabassam another significant reason for the establishment of Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband in 1866 was to counter the British Education Policy that aimed at spreading Christianity through various British Colleges and other institutions, and the suppression and exclusion of Muslims from high vacancies.[28] Hence, there grew this opposition to British culture and later western-influenced Muslims. It should, however, be noted that Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband’s foundation and institution did not carry the same grandeur as it does today. Rather it is always portrayed with rather simple and humble beginnings, as it is recorded that Deoband was founded on the 30th of May 1866 C.E. on a Thursday in the courtyard of Masjid Chattah under a pomegranate tree with a single teacher and his student, both Maḥmūds.[29] For indeed this helped the madrasa to remain unnoticed by its colonial rulers. Fig. 1 – The Chattah Masjid and the famous Pomegranate Tree The Syllabus of Deoband that was set, following a decade of the destruction of the three centres of ‘ilm, was a combination of the three centres of knowledge – Delhi, Lukhnow, and Khayr Ābād. Hence, Khalili suggests that the syllabus was founded on dars-e-niẓāmī from Lukhnow with the inclusion of ṣiḥāḥ sittah from the Delhi school and Logic and philosophy from the Khayr Ābādī scholars. Khan further elaborates how in the early syllabus of Deoband an eight volume ‘secular’ book al-Naqsh fī al-Ḥajr was part of the syllabus, which Rashīd Riḍā praised when visiting Deoband in 1912 C.E. Following are the titles of each of the volumes: یہ کتاب ۔ النقش فی الحجر ۔ کیا تھی اس کے مندرجات پر ایک نظر دوڑالیجیئے :



1 Elementary Principles of Physics

مبادی عامہ فی الطبعیات

2 Chemistry

الکیمیا ٗ

3 Physics


4 Physical Geography

الجغرافیہ الطبعیہ

5 Geology


6 Cosmology & Astronomy


7 Botany

علم النباتات

8 Principles of Logic [30]

اصول المنطق


It is interesting to note all the subjects once part of the syllabus through this book and then how the early ‘ulamā of Deoband intertwined the syllabus with spirituality. Khan portrays this rich mix of religious, secular and spiritual development in the following way: یہ حضرات منقولات کے ساتھ ساتھ معقولات کو بھی پڑھاتے تھے اور پھر منقولات کو معقولات کے ساتھ گھول کر پیتے تھے۔ جو نصاب وہ پڑتے اور پڑھاتے تھے ۔۔۔تو یہ حضرات منقولات کو معقولات کے درجے تک پہونچا دیتےتھے اور پھر شب و روز کے اذکار و مراقبات، ذکرِ خفی و جلی اور سلوک و تصوف کے مراحل طے کرتے تے ان معقولات کو محسوسات کے دائرے میں لے آتے تھے ۔ سو جو منقولات کو معقولات اور پھر معقولات کو محسوسات تک کے دائرے میں لے آتے تھے ان کی عظمتوں کا کیا ٹھکانہ ہے۔[31] ‘These elders would teach the ma’qūlāt (secular sciences – Philosophy, logic etc) alongside the manqūlāt (Traditional / narrated), and then ‘drink’ the manqūlāt mixed with ma’qūlāt… so these elders would raise manqūlāt to the level of ma’qūlāt and then following their daily adhkār (supplications) and murāqabāt (ṣūfī meditations); dhikr al-khafī and dhikr al-jalī; and after crossing the stages of taṣawwuf and asceticism they transpose ma’qūlāt into iḥsāsāt (sensory perceptions). Hence, what could be said about such individuals who took manqūlāt to the level of ma’qūlāt and then ma’qūlāt to iḥsāsāt!. However, with contemporary madāris it has now become important to ask the question whether we can really claim or name this syllabus ‘dars-e-niẓāmī’, when it only constitutes merely a third of the syllabus and the isnād do not lead to Mullań Niẓām al-Dīn but rather to ‘masnad al-Hind’ Shāh Waliyullāh.[32] To determine this we will analyse the ‘reformed’ ‘dars-e-niẓāmī. The inclusion and stress laid upon the teaching of the ṣiḥāḥ sittah and fiqh (manqūlāt) also reflects Deoband’s reformist concerns specifically its opposition to un-Islamic and Hindu customs prevalent among the Muslims of India. And this notion, as Sikand suggests, was further deepened by ‘Western-influenced modernist Muslims as well as Muslim groups that opposed the traditional ḥanafī insistence on taqlīd’.[33] This rigid insistence on taqlīd to oppose the threat of their legitimacy as authoritative spokesmen for Islam was dealt with a further insistence on taqlīd that they even condemned inter-scholastic eclecticism, the borrowing from other schools of sunni fiqh, although they accepted these schools as equally ‘orthodox’.[34] And I believe this position, taken by the founders of Deoband, towards ‘rigid taqlīd’ has prodigious influences on the madāris of Britain and the neo-Deobandi phenomenon that prevails over the understanding of mainstream Islam in England. Six months after laying the foundation of Deoband, madrasa Maẓāhir al-‘Ulūm was opened in Sahāranpūr in November 1866 with the same ethos and ideology as Deoband. However, it is significant to note that in 1875 Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817 – 1898 C.E.) undertook an opposing educational initiative to Deoband by opening the ‘Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental High School – an institute upgraded by the British to a college in 1877 and received full university recognition by 1921. I believe this ‘recognition’ of the college too would have put doubts in the minds of the Deobandis and those affiliated to them. Sir Sayyid had also clearly shunned the traditional ‘ulamā’ for their insistence on taqlīd and called for the Muslims to engage in ijtihād to develop a new modernthinking and understanding of the manqūlāt and fiqh in order to reform with‘changing times’. Interestingly, he began calling for this ‘reform’ following his two year study of the education system in England. India began to witness this polar opposition: on one side the ‘traditionalists’ who were adamant on a rigid implementation of taqlīd and on the other a modernist ideology speaking onlyof reform and ijtihād. The opposing phenomenon of Deoband on one side of the spectrum and Aligarh on the other created an educational dualism – this in part was inspired by colonial critiques of ‘native’ education as ‘irrelevant’ and ‘outdated’.[35] The move to reconcile with tradition, modernity and various denominations came in the form of Nadwat al-‘Ulamā (The Council of the ‘Ulamā) in 1892, a group of ‘Ulamā from ‘different schools of thought, Muslim philanthropists, journalists, lawyers and government servants, who came together annually to discuss issues relating to promote a semblance of unity between different Muslim denominations’.[36] I believe it is important to understand this opposition in order to begin understanding the madāris of Britain and their future as indeed currentlythere are over 17 madāris affiliated to Deoband with well over ‘three thousand’ ṭālibs as opposed to only one affiliated to Nadwa with two ṭalibs enrolled.[37] However, to elaborate the vision and ethos of the council, its first president Mawlānā Muhammad Ali Mungeri (1846 – 1927 C.E.) wrote a letter to ‘Ulamā throughout India: ‘Because it is seen that graduates of Arabic madāris have little knowledge of the affairs of the world around them, and because they can do little else at their age, they remain dependant on the people of the world (ahl-e-dunyā) and are considered useless in the eyes of the public. They also do not possess the level of religious knowledge that they should. This organization [the Nadwa] seeks to bring about appropriate reforms in this regard in all madrasas. Today the internal differences among our ‘ulamā are creating severe problems, giving rise to great strife over little issues, because of which the ‘ulamā of Islam and even our pure faith are lowered in the eyes of others. This organization shall strive to ensure that these differences do not rise, and if they do, it shall seek to resolve them’.[38] It is interesting to note that this letter was sent in 1892, just six years following the founding of Deoband and still Mungeri felt he had analysed enough of the madāris and also those running prior to Deoband in homes and Mosques. In this letter Mungeri points towards two significant issues within the madāris: Lack of knowledge of the worldly affairs (secular affairs) and ‘weakness’ in religious knowledge. The former issue left madrasa fāḍils to become dependent on worldly people, by which we suppose is meant those educated in academia, hence they were rendered ‘useless’. I find the latter critique most interesting, and will tackle more thoroughly later, as it resonates with fāḍil 2: ‘I would like to see more scholars discussed from different continents as this is very important for those who live in vibrant diverse societies such as London’.[39] ‘Scholars being discussed from different continents refers to scholars not belonging to one’s own madhhab as indeed Deoband’s stress on taqlīd-e-shakhṣī;[40] the following of the pious predecessors and the abundance of books on fatāwā from the sub-continent in use in Britain today and specifically for Iftā’ courses indicate the confined and consolidated approaches within madāris compared to scholars of other madhāhib. This approach again, I believe, is a direct influence of British colonialism, where the need for standardising Islamic interpretation of fiqh and sacred texts is considered ‘protecting Islam and its interpretation fromexternal dilution’ and hence a vivid metaphor is often quoted among the Deobandi ‘Ulamā: مدارس دین کے قلعے ہیں ‘madāris are the fortresses of dīn-e-Islam (religion of Islam)’. It is believed that not only Islam but also its specific interpretation is defended from an external enemy. I believe, this response to colonialism is still echoed in the attitude of madāris in the West today through a reticence with any kind of external interference. Ron Geaves also elaborates: ‘Deobandi reticence to engage with outsiders has been variously analysed as due to defensive strategies of isolation developed to protect Islam in the crisis caused by the loss of Muslim power to the British in India in the second half of the nineteenth century’.[41] However I strongly believe that even in Britain affiliation to ‘Deoband’ or being ‘Deobandi’ is a generalization and this notion requires further exploration, which is still not accomplished by a madrasa claiming to be ‘Deobandī / Sahāranpūrī’ or even Deobandī / Tablīghī. Transnational Traditionalist Madāris in Britain: an Analysis of their Pedagogy. The history of Muslims in Britain could be divided into two broad periods. The first period, which Ally suggests, stretches from 1850 to 1949 and the second period begins in 1949. The former period witnesses Muslim seamen, students and professionals from abroad and also the likes of Abdullah Quilliam are at the forefront of British Islam.[42] However, the latter period is when large numbers of Muslims migrated from rural South Asia as workers following the Second World War and they brought along with them the madāris – transnational Islamic educational institutes. And the fate of Islam in Britain now depended on the denominational divide of the migrants, as later that would be reflected in the madāris they built. The Gujratis from India play a significant role in this regard: when speaking to a Pakistani Mosque elder he quite wittingly explained how ‘the Gujratis successfully brought with them their poppadums, samosas and madrasas’.[43] By madrasas here we mean the traditionalist Islamic institutes that provide a syllabus which is claimed to be associated to the dars-e-niẓāmī. When migrants came to Britain for economic prosperity they never had in mind the notion of settling down, but rather with the intent to make a fortune and return to their native land. However, this was not the way things worked out because they had finally decided to settle; in 1963 there were only thirteen Mosques that were registered with the Registrar-General as places of worship.[44] But this number dramatically changed from 1966 onwards as new mosques were being registered at the rate of seven per year.[45] The need for leadership and imams increased alongside the increasing number of Mosques and in 1975 the first madrasa was established in a village called Holcombe situated near Bury – known as Dār al-‘Ulūm Bury or Bury Madrasa. The second madrasa to be established was that of the Tablīghī Jamā’at called ‘Jāmi’at Ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury Madrasa) in Dewsbury in 1981, which will be under analysis in this essay. Since then there are now well over thirty such madāris functioning in Britain. Following is a table which shows twenty-five traditionalist madāris in order of the date they were established: Table 1. Survey of Islamic Seminaries, 2003, compiled by Jonathan Birt.[46]

No. Established Name Location M/F No. of Affiliation Notes
1 1975 Dār al-‘ulūm al-‘arabiyyah al-islāmiyyah Holcombe, Boys 410 Deobandi / Mother madrasa to five
(DUAI) Near Bury Saharanpuri other UK seminaries
2 1981 Jāmi’at ta’līm al-Islām Dewsbury, Boys 300 Deobandi / Centre for Tablighi
(Institute of Islamic Education) West Yorkshire Tablighi Jamat in Europe
3 1987 Jāmi’at al-imām Muḥammad Zakariyyā Bradford Girls 488 Deobandi / Affiliated to DUAI
4 1987 The Muslim College London Mixed 50 Azhari Dr Zaki Badawi
5 1991 Islamic Education Institute Crowborough, Boys 50 Deobandi Principle a murid of
East Sussex DUAI
6 1991 Dār al-‘ulūm London Chislehurst Boys 131 Deobandi
7 1993 Madīnat al-‘ulūm al-islāmiyyah Kidderminster Boys 202 Deobandi / Affiliated to DUAI
8 1994 Dār al-‘ulūm School Leicester Boys 87 Deobandi
9 1994 Ḥijāz College Nuneaton Boys 90 Brelvi
10 1995 Al-Jāmi’ah al-Islāmiyyah Bolton Boys 165 Deobandi
Dār al-‘ulūm
11 1995 Dār al-‘ulūm Jāmi’ah ‘Arabiyyah Birmingham Boys 20 Brelvi
12 1995 Al-Karam School Retford, near Boys 123 Brelvi Sends students to
Nottingham Al-Azhar for completion
13 1995 Jāmi’ah al-Kawthar Lancaster Girls 222 Deobandi / Affiliated to DUAI
14 1996 Jāmi’at al-Hudā Nottingham Girls 166 Deobandi Affiliated with Jāmi’at
al-Hudā in Sheffield
15 1997 Jāmi’at al-‘ilm wa al-Hudā Blackburn Boys 246 Deobandi / Affiliated to DUAI
16 1997 Jāmi’at Riyāḍ al-‘Ulūm Leicester Boys 100 Deobandi Principle is DUAI
17 1997 Dār al-‘ulūm Leicester Leicester Boys / 110 Deobandi Principle is murid of
Girls DUAI principle
18 1997 Sulṭān Bāhū Trust Birmingham Boys 32 Brelvi
19 1998 Jāmi’at Madīnat al-‘Ulūm Plaistow, Boys 90 Deobandi
20 1999 Dār al-‘Ulūm Oxford Boys / 2 Nadwi
21 1999 Kanz al-‘Ulūm Birmingham Boys 20 Brelvi Sends students to
Syria for completion
22 1999 European Institute for Human Sciences Llanbydder, Boys 60 Ikhwani Affiliated with EIHS in
(EIHS) Wales France, est. in 1992
23 2001 Not Available Blackburn Girls 150 Deobandi / Principle is DUAI
Saharanpuri graduate
24 2002 Jāmi’at al-Hudā Sheffield Boys 20 Deobandi Affiliated with Jāmi’at
al-Hudā in Nottingham
25 2003 Ḥawza ‘Ilmiyyah Willesden, Boys / 100 Shi’i Sends students to
London Girls Qom, Iran for completion

Yahya Birt gathered the above details from the ‘Muslim Directory 2001/2’, Register of Muslim Independent Schools in England, ‘Ulamā’-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat, Mashāikh & Sufis in UK, Muslim News (London) and telephone interviews.[47] Despite such a diverse array of sources there are still many madāris that are not included in the list, such as ‘Ebrahim College’[48] and ‘Dār al-‘Ulūm Da’wat al-Īmān’[49], both of which have close affiliations with the Dewsbury madrasa (no. 2 in the table). Both will be under study in this essay. It is clear from an analysis of this table that the majority of established maḍāris are those affiliated to Deoband and most of the graduating fāḍils are Deobandī, making it very clear the grassroots interpretation of Islam in Britain is bound to be that of Deoband. I also believe that affiliations alone are not sufficient to understand the outlook and approach of madrasas, and one must go deeper. With the Dewsbury madrasa it becomes very clear just by simply viewing the websites and prospectuses of both Dewsbury and Bradford madrasas, it feels as though both madāris are run by different organisations but interestingly that is not the case (See Official Website screenshots below). The major difference here is that the former is headed by Mawlānā X, but superseded by the shūrā (council) of the Tablīghī Jamā’at markaz, which is directly connected to the madrasa, whereas the latter is Mawlānā X’s own private venture and so one finds a well written prospectus more focus on academic studies; and a ‘more colourful’ website. What is more, not only do denominational affiliations influence the outlook of a madrasa but also the alma mater and taqlīd-e-shakhsī (the following of an individual) of ustādh-mashā’ikhs.[50]For instance, as we will see, why tajwīd is taught more in Dewsbury madrasa than any other because of the close affiliation of the muhtamim with Jāmi’ah Islāmiyyah Ta’līm al-Dīn, situated in Dhābel – India. Dār al-‘Ulūm Da’wat al-Imān (Bradford Madrasa) – Official Website [51] Jāmi’at Ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury Madrasa) – Official Website [52] Firstly, accessing traditional madāris itself has a history among academics and I believe the reader could also understand much from an analysis of this. In 2005 Gilliat-Ray tried to access a number of madāris through fāḍil leads, but found herself being refused on all fronts and noticed that this was a problem more to do with Deobandī madāris than any other. And from amongst the Deobandī madāris it was even more difficult to speak to Tablīghī ones. Hence, she wrote an article based on her experiences of ‘not’ accessing the madāris entitled ‘Closed Worlds: (Not) Accessing Deobandi dār ul-uloom in Britain’. It is important to ask the question why, despite the positive approaches, she and other academics were flatly refused from carrying out their ethnographies. Here are two examples of the refusals and the wording that were recorded by a (non-Muslim) doctoral researcher in the 1990’s, who found himself unwelcomed at the ‘Dewsbury centre (markaz), and was asked to, ‘to leave and never come back’ [53] And this happened despite the academic having been to Deoband itself, ‘proof’ if any were needed of the seriousness of his intent.[54] Here I think it is absolutely crucial to differentiate between the ‘Dewsbury markaz and the ‘Dewsbury madrasa’, and this incident took place in the ‘centre’ (markaz) as opposed to the ‘madrasa’. I will expound on this later in the essay. The second incident took place in the House of Lords on Thursday 4th October 2001 when the Bishop of Bradford showed a willingness, on behalf of himself and his clergy, to observe a madrasa first hand in order to better work with the Muslims in Bradford but was flatly refused, “No, we do not want you”.[55] This incident and the statement too highlight the ultra-defensive tone of the speaker. Gilliat-Ray gave the madāris open proposals that she would be delighted to offer her academic skills and services in whatever she could during or after the project through workshops or simply sharing of findings. She further persuaded the institutions of the disadvantages of isolating themselves, ‘There is considerable, but unfounded suspicion of dār ul-uloom in wider British society. Much media coverage is extremely negative. The more that institutions isolate themselves, the more suspicion is created. Opening the door to qualified, independent, responsible academics is the beginning of dispelling myths and breaking down prejudice. The current Islamophobic climate is exactly the time when dār ul-uloom should welcome sensitively-conducted research which is actively looking for good practice, positive stories, and examples of successful training’.[56] It is important to understand the lack of understanding in madāris of such anthropological research and fieldwork. I was in Bangladesh’s Tablīghi markaz in 2006 where an anthropologist came in wanting to look around. Despite being granted permission there was a feeling of suspicion about him amongst the markaz elders. What I believe contributes to this isolation is madāris’ inability to differentiate between ‘academics’ and the ‘media’ and and their differing intentions. This can be understood from two cases; firstly, following the 7/7 London bombings the Dewsbury madrasa was surrounded by the world’s media because one of the bombers ‘Mohammad Sidique Khan’ happened to pray at the Tablīghī markaz in Dewsbury. And the madrasa being directly connected to the Mosque via a bridge link was also under the spotlight and erroneously accused of ‘training its students for Jihād’. I believe this was the first time the madrasa was faced with such a situation and not knowing what to do they remained isolated. Specially when under the Tablīghi markaz, they even prohibited their students from leaving the building. And it was said to them that, ‘the moment any student interacts with the media, they should simply pack their bags and leave’.[57] ‘Fear’ of the ‘other’ was definitely the case as the madrasa was forced to feel isolated. Another reason for this approach was the experience of Mufti Dudha, a ṣūfī Imam and the founder of the ‘Islāmic Tarbiyah Academy’ in Dewsbury.[58] He invited the local press for an interview and everything went well until the next day the front page of the local newspaper announced ‘Dewsbury-born mufti hates British way of life’[59] This, I believe, further deepened the mistrust Dewsbury madrasa harboured and started to unfairly fear that if they did allow the press the opportunity of an interview it would probably be misinterpreted. Also there was little reason to even have a press-conference when the madrasa had nothing to do with Mohammad Sidique Khan, as he had never enrolled or even applied to study there. I believe Gilliat-Ray also needs to be aware of the ‘suspicion’ that has been created in the minds of madrasa officials towards not only the media but also ‘the other’, which unfortunately includes the academics. Also the feelings that were present during colonised India left their marks in the mind of madrasa. The muhtamin (Principle) of contemporary Deoband still quotes the Lord General’s announcement, ‘We will establish such educational institutions within India that the students will remain Hindustānī (Indian) merely in colour and birth but will be Angrez (English) intellectually and internally’.[60] So this lack of trust must be seen as a natural phenomenon coupled with lack of professional advice. Secondly, focusing on Dewsbury markaz and their decision to remain aloof from the media and politics again goes back to the ‘uṣūl (principles) of the Tablīghī Jamā’at. In the 1960’s when Mawlāna Muḥammad Yūsuf Kāndahlawī (the second amīr / leader of the Tablīghī Jamā’at) went to Pakistan, the Jamā’at-e-Islāmī of Mawlāna Mawdūdī published a negative article in the papers against him. Nu’māni felt he should respond and wrote to Kāndahlawī, to which he replied, ‘Do not respond to their article, because if you do then they will again respond with another negative article and reinforce the negativity with much greater force. Then when you respond again they too will write back a third time, hence the erroneous points written only once will in result be written two to three times and will be published with greater force’.[61] He further stated that our effort is not a secret but it is more beneficial that it is not advertised on the media.[62] However, despite the acceptance or refusal of this approach the Tablīghī Jamā’at made this a point of reference and submitted to it with full allegiance and taqlīd-e-shakhṣī. In further reinforcing my argument, I believe, this ‘lack of trust’ is not just merely due to the academics and observers being non-Muslims. Even in 2012 Tahir Alam, a student of the ‘Institute of Education’ and a practising Muslim, was refused entry into Dār al-‘Ulūm Kent [63] and Bury. For Kent madrasa he was told that since the muhtamim allowed access to ‘the Daily Mail’,[64] as a result of negative and erroneous points published in the article they had employed a policy not to allow any ‘media’ or ‘public access’ to the madrasa.[65] I, however, took a different approach in gaining access to madāris for two reasons; firstly, as I have spent nine years in a madrasa studying the syllabus and having spent my teenage in the environment I did not see it useful to now have to go back to research the madrasa for a mere few days. Secondly, I believe it would be more fruitful to give a set questionnaire to fāḍils (graduates) of the Dewsbury madrasa, as opposed to ṭālibs, and also ask them further questions but in a relaxed environment. I feel the research that took place in the Madāris, such as that of Tahir Alam, do not fully reach the kernel of the matter. How can ṭālibs (madrasa students), who are spending seven years of their lives in the four falls of the madrasa and are yet to graduate and have had no significant contact with the ‘outside’ world, answer the following question of Alam: ‘How do you feel the education you are receiving will prepare you to tackle issues in the outside world’? [66] Another reason for asking ṭālibs this question is the lack of a ‘careers department’ in madāris, and this is clear from the responses I received from fāḍils, that as far as practising and preaching and other aspects of piety were concerned the fāḍils were content with regards to ‘this-worldly’ affairs they felt the madāris needed to do more. When responding to piety, a fāḍil stated, ‘the ‘ālimiyyah course has a phenomenal effect upon me with my day to day life as well as my career, and it helps to lead myself and the community towards the right path’.[67] Another fāḍil stated, ‘It [the ‘ālimiyyah course] made me a better son, brother, husband and father’.[68] One fāḍil, who recently graduated wrote the following response to my question, ‘What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘ālimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? ‘I would say truthfully it has made me ‘helpless’ and ‘paralysed’ due to the lack of career opportunities and lack of recognised qualifications. I feel helpless and paralysed because I am unable to support my family. I went through so much to get into college. I had to redo my GCSEs because in madrasa not much focus is given to secular academic studies.’[69] I believe this kind of response can only be received from a fāḍil, especially a recent one who has just graduated from the madrasa, as opposed to a ṭālib, who is yet to experience the world. Hence, my research was well informed by fāḍil responses, madrasa sanads (similar to certificates) and an analysis of my experience, documented where possible. And I have specifically focussed my attention on a single madrasa – Jāmi’at Ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury madrasa) when closely analysing the syllabus and pedagogy because in the past gaining access to this madrasa has been deemed near impossible and secondly by analysing one the reader gains a significant understanding of the other madāris. Before analysing the methodology, the texts and pedagogy of the madāris I thought it significant to begin with the understanding of ‘ilm (knowledge) and the basic question of ‘how do the ṭālibs define ‘ilm and how this influences the madrasa learning and educational process. There are many ways to approach this question but I come to this by analysing the text of ‘al-Mirqāt: fī al-Manṭiq’ written by Faḍl Imām Khayrābādī (d. 1825), who was from one of the major centres of Islamic learning in India and whose son, Faḍl-e-Ḥaqq Khayrābādī, was also influential amongst the Farangi Maḥallī ‘ulamā who later also fought the British in the mutiny of 1857. This book is studied in many madāris and even in Dewsbury madrasa. It is a book on the subject of logic and in the first chapter begins with the ‘diverse’ opinions of ‘ulamā, yet they all point towards the same notion: مقدمۃ : اعلم ان العلم یطلق علی معانِ الاول حصول صورۃ الشیئ فی العقل، ثانیھا الصورۃ الحاصلۃ من الشیئ عند العقل، ثالثھا الحاضر عند المدرک ، رابعھا قبول النفس لتلک الصورۃ ، خامسھا الاضافۃ الحاصلۃ بین العالِم و المعلوم[70]

Fig. 2 – Picture taken of page 3 from Mirqāt (fī al-manṭiq)

‘Introduction: Know that al-‘ilm (knowledge) is defined into a number of meanings: The first, the acquiring of the ṣūrat al-shay’ (the image or conception of something) in the ‘aql (mind/intellect). The second of them: the ṣūrat al-ḥāṣilah (the acquired conception) from the shay’ in the ‘aql. The third of them: ‘al-ḥāḍir ‘inda al-mudrik’ that which is present and exists within the mudrik (intellect). The fourth of them: the nafs’ (mind’s) acceptance of that ṣūrat (image/concept). And the fifth of them: al-iḍāfat al-ḥāṣilah ‘the acquired connection’ between the ‘ālim and ma’lūm (between the knower and the known).’ Here from Faḍl Imām’s illustration of the four different definitions of al-‘ilm – and giving preference to the third definition ‘al-ḥāḍir ‘inda al-mudrik’ – makes it clear that for them all, knowledge was the presence of or acquiring of ṣūrat al-shay’ (image or conception of something) in the mind and intellect as opposed to a creative or critical function. Then, for the ṭālib, knowledge is that which is acquired and present (as highlighted in the text of Mirqāt) within the heart and this understanding of knowledge explains the notion of ḥifẓ within the madāris. However, Rahman points towards the ‘concept of knowledge’ within the Madāris and critiques this notion and describes this as the most significant and fundamental weakness of medieval Muslim learning; ‘the fundamental weakness of medieval Muslim learning, as of all pre-modern learning, was its concept of knowledge. In opposition to the modern attitude which regards knowledge as something essentially to be searched and discovered by the mind to which it assigns an active role in knowledge, the medieval attitude was that knowledge was something to be acquired. This attitude of mind was rather passive and receptive than creative and positive’.[71] It is important to understand that criticism of the madrasa’s concept of knowledge begins with modernist and reformists, who analyse the phenomenon in light of modern Western enlightenment. But the question is whether this approach to knowledge is causing stagnation overall, and whether this approach could be sustained forever. Sikand believes, following his observation and interview with late Hafiz Sharif in Dewsbury madrasa,[72] that ‘it is likely that the access to duniyavi disciplines that the madrasa authorities have had to provide their students will have important consequences in time to come’.[73] And I believe since, Sikand wrote this in 1996 this may well be the case now as I observe the responses of fāḍils. And further to that Gilliat-Ray observes, which we will later analyse further, that those fāḍils ‘who are able to span the worlds of the seminary and the higher education academy are perhaps an especially important group of people to support and empower within this complex debate’.[74] In this section before analysing the methods of ḥifẓ and muṭāla’ah-sabaq-takrār, I will briefly give an overview of the subjects and substance taught. I have no intention of going in depth in regards to the authors as this has been covered widely elsewhere. Below is a bar chart of five madāris – one from India and the other four situated in Britain: Jāmi’at ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury madrasa – 1982); Dār al-‘Ulūm Da’wat al-Imān (Bradford madrasa – 2002); Jāmi’at Riyāḍ al-‘Ulūm (Leicester R. madrasa – 1997); Dār al-‘ulūm Leicester (Leicester D. madrasa – 1997); and Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband (1866) of India. However, when analysing the madrasa learning methodology and pedagogy I will suffice with an in-depth analysis of Dewsbury madrasa, as I believe the methodology in most traditional madāris is largely the same with a few differences. I produced this chart by initially using a fāḍil’s nine years of exam results’ sheets so that no book was left as at times on madāris’ websites not all books detailed. I then listed each text,[75] because in madāris there is a significant emphasis on text based study, and marked whether the text is studied as on a shashmāhi (six monthly / half module) basis or sālāna (full year / full module). I calculated from the ṭālibs exams results’ sheets and holidays per year that a ṭālib has approximately two hundred and twenty-two lessons per subject of a full module and one hundred and ten for a half module, and generally in madāris the daily syllabus and study of texts remains the same everyday. Therefore, the numbers on the side of the chart represent a lecture consisting of forty-five minutes, so if Dewsbury madrasas’ fiqh average is on ninteen hundred it would mean that a ṭālib of Dewsbury madrasa has had ninteen hundred fiqh lectures over their full stay at their respective madrasas. Some subjects are taught more than once a day, as is the case in the final year where the six authentic books of aḥādīth are to be covered. An interesting point of analysis when scrutinising this graph was that despite the dars-e-niẓāmī comprising of mainly humanities sciences, the subjects that form the core of critical analysis are below the rest of the sciences such as Uṣūl (principles) of ḥadīth, tafsīr and fiqh. Also the study of History and even ‘Aqā’id (beliefs) has not been given much space in the curriculum despite its importance. Also one notices the extra emphasis given to tajwīd in Dewsbury and Bradford compared to other madāris – even more than Deoband itself. Also contrary to popular belief that either ḥadīth or fiqh being studied more and being considered the apex of the curriculum is not the case and in fact the study of Arabic language (combining the study of ṣarf, naḥw, balāgha, literature and vocabulary) takes precedence. Lastly, from all the madāris listed, interestingly, contemporary Deoband is the only madrasa to provide ‘modern secular sciences’, which include sociology and journalism. The study of the subjects mentioned above revolves around texts listed in Appendix 6, but two methods are used in studying those texts: ḥifẓ and the muṭāla’ah-sabaq-takrār method. The notion of ‘acquired knowledge’, I believe, gives birth to the methodology of ḥifẓ and also influences madrasa pedagogy. When ḥifẓ is mentioned within the context of madrasa it could be understood in two ways; firstly that of ḥifẓ al-Qur’ān, meaning the letter-for-letter memorisation of the Qur’an and secondly the literal meaning of memorising, which could include putting to memory certain books and this approach is traditional in nature as in the medieval Islamic world there is much found in regards to the memorisation of large numbers of ḥadīth and even books such as ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. However, here I analysed from the pedagogy applied in Dewsbury that it is incumbent upon the ṭālib to memorise at least one book from each of the significant subjects.[76] For example in Dewsbury madrasa for al-naḥw (Arabic grammar), the ṭālibs memorise ‘ilm al-Naḥw[77] and for al-ṣarf or al-taṣrīf (Arabic etymology) they memorise two parts of ‘ilm al-ṣarf [78] and in a final year of al-ṣarf they put to memory ‘ilm al-ṣīghah. And the manner that the ḥifẓ of initial books takes place is when the ustādh gives half a page of A4 or A3 or a set number of lines from the mentioned books and then the remainder of the day is spent by the ṭālib in memorising those lines. Alongside setting the sabaq (lesson – homework) the teachers spend 45 mintues in each class explaining that. From this I understood that the ṭalib is firstly taught a certain Arabic grammatical rule in Urdu and then he spends the day repeating those few lines to a page trying to commit this to memory, and in the process memorises and understands the sabaq. The next day each student in the class recites aloud the sabaq from memory. During my research I came across a ṭālib’s ‘Ilm al-Ṣīghah [79]book which he had studied and was dated 30th of September 2000. Affixed to the inner cover was his handwritten ‘dawr tartīb’ – ‘revision arrangement’.[80] It was a fascinating piece of paper in which the ṭālib had set out how he would revise the book 31 days prior to his exams. He set each day with a certain number of pages he would recite to a friend by heart and also indications like ‘tamām māḍī kī gardānayń’ (Repetition and revision of māḍī ‘past tense’) point towards the notion of memorising all the Arabic tenses from different ‘abwāb’ (chapters).[81] What I also found fascinating was the memorisation of ‘Arabiyy Ṣafwat al-Maṣādir, a book of Arabic vocabulary with Urdu translation and tenses approximating 70 pages (See picture below). The ṭālibs are not only memorising the translations into Urdu but also the forms of the Arabic roots when moved into different tenses. A ṭālib recalled how one of the ustādh once told him the finest method of ḥifẓ. He said, ‘trying to memorise during the day is like carving into dried cement, but doing so in the early hours of twilight before the fajr prayer is like shaping into wet cement, which then dries and can never be wiped away’.[82] He gave this example to elaborate the best time during the day to set aside for ḥifẓ, and if one was to walk into a traditional madrasa in the early hours of twilight they would surely find ṭālibs awake repeating aloud their sabaq (homework). Fig. 3 – Pages 20 & 21 from ‘Arabiyy Ṣafwat al-Maṣādir, compiled by Mawlānā Charthāwalī The problem with such a method of learning and pedogogy is the diversity within learning styles and how different people learn, which again is a more Western approah to the matter. However, the skill of ḥifẓ and memorisation could be employed in Higher education to a subject like Law. The learning method of ḥifẓ is employed during the initial few years of madrasa, and the reason in doing so is to give students a firm grounding in the introductory subject matter before they embark on a journey of close reading of ‘medieval’ texts, this also helps in understanding basic rules and key terminology.

Fig. 4 – Page 7 of Uṣūl al-Shāshiyy studied various at madaris

What for the academics is defined as ‘medieval’ is in fact a ‘living’ text for the ṭālib. As the initial years pass and the ṭālib sits in front of the book, he does so to benefit from the author with upmost respect and piety as it is embedded in the ṭālib to even have performed wuḍū’ (ablution) prior to the study of these texts. Ḥāfiẓ Patel, the amīr of the Tablīghī Jamā’at in Britain and Europe and spiritual Head of Dewsbury madrasa, always gives the ṭālibs at Dewsbury the examples of piety of the previous ‘Ulamā that in order to read some of the writing which was upside down and sideways or between lines, they would not turn the book but rather go round the table (see figs. 2, 4,5 and 6 to see the notes between the lines and in the footnotes). Interestingly, it is also believed that at the graduation and finishing of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāriyydu’ās (supplications) are accepted’.[83] I feel this idea is somewhat comparable to the notion of ‘Torah piety’ in Judaism, where the purpose is to increase and intensify the relationship with God through Torah study and the manner in which this is done, according to Albertz, is through, ‘doing the Torah and learning the Torah’.[84] Therefore, for the ṭālib the study of texts is more than just an academic exercise but rather ‘textual piety’ (kitāboń kā adab). Hence, the question of ‘reform’ and ‘critically analysing’ these texts would become hugely troublesome and problematic. Fig. 5 – Pages 14 and 15 from Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāriyy, Vol. 1 Fig. 6 – Pages 370 and 371 from the Muwaṭṭa’ Imām Mālik However, part of the pedagogy to ensure a deep understanding of the text is through a ‘triple process methodolgy’ of muṭāla’ah, sabaq and takrār. In simple terms, for the ṭālib muṭāla’ah is where he carefully scrutinises the text of books before the ustādh lectures on it – some written over a millennia ago – which could range from a few lines to a page, and towards the end of the ‘ālimiyyah it could be several pages. Sabaq is the actual reading of the muṭāla’a seated in front of the ustādh coupled with the teacher’s explanation and interpretation of the text, which is noted down by the ṭālibs. This is then followed by takrār, where every evening – supervised by an ustādh – the ṭālibs of each class are split into ‘takrār groups’. The ‘takrār groups’ are groups of approximately four ṭālibs, where one ‘repeats’ the interpretation of the ustādh during the sabaq, whilst the others listen attentively and participate only when sharing a point from their notes. Then for the next book the ṭālib changes, so that everyone in the group has had at least one chance at explaining the sabaq to the others. For indeed it is believed by the students, ‘اذا تکرر تقرر فی القلب’, ‘that only when something is repeated excessively that it is embedded in the heart’. So the ṭālibs study each page of the book utilising the methods of muṭāla’ah, sabaq and takrār to fully grasp its contents and then the following year a book on the same subject is studied but is more academically challenging for the ṭālib gradually increasing the isti’dād (level of intelligence) and awareness of different opinions but within their own ḥanfī madhhab (See Table 2). Table 2 – Showing the addition of texts each year subject wise.

Ḥadīth Fiqh Tajwīd Uṣūl al-Fiqh
1 ‘Arabiyy Awwal Tajwīd Mubtadī
Jamāl al-Qur’ān
2 ‘Arabiyy Dowm Nūr al-Īḍāḥ Fawā’id al-Makkiyyah
3 ‘Arabiyy Sowm Kanz al-daqā’iq Muqaddimat al-Jazariyyah Uṣūl al-Shāshiyy
Jāmi’ al-Waqf
4 ‘Arabiyy Chahārum Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn Al-Wiqāyah Khulāsat al-Bayān Nūr al-Anwār
5 ‘Arabiyy Panjum Hidāyah 1 Al-Ḥusāmiyy
Hidāyah 2
6 ‘Arabiyy Shashum Mishkāt Hidāyah 3
Hidāyah 4
7 Al-Bukhāriyy
Abī Dawūd
‘Arabiyy Haftum Ibn Mājah
(Dowrā-e-Ḥadīth) Al-Tirmidhī
Sharḥ Ma’ānī al-Āthār
Muwaṭṭa’ Imām Mālik
Muwaṭṭa’ Imām Muḥammad

Concerning this type of pedagogy, there is a lot of criticism from modernists and also some from within the ‘ulamā sector. The close scrutiny of texts could, for some students, be problematic and because this is the only method employed this would leave some ṭālibs out of the equation even graduating. One of the fāḍils also pointed towards this when responding to the question reform: ‘…provide students with more help in the way they learn. For example in my class I had a friend who was dyslexic and couldn’t read the words properly, but all the teachers would always say to him ‘why don’t you learn your sabaq?’. However, due to a lot of pressure he left madrasa and went to college, where they recognised that he was dyslexic…’[85] It it also evident that the madrasa expects its ṭālibs to fit into the cycle of muṭāla’ah, sabaq and takrār. And secondly, the recognition and facilities for dyslexic ṭālibs is not available, but what is eminent is an eventual fall out from madrasa of such an individual. I also noted from various discussions with fāḍils of madāris, which due to a thorough 6 – 9 years[86] of following this set method and focusing on the close study of set texts leaves it difficult for them to critically engages with them. Therefore, it is noted when fāḍils do venture into the field of authorship it is difficult to find them doing anything but translating texts or writing commentaries upon them, as they have been so closely tied to the text. Mawlāna Imran Hosein, an eschatologist and Islamic economist, criticised the madrasa learning methodology in the lecture ‘Islam and the International Monetary System’ he presented in a Deobandī madrasa in Newcastle, South Africa: ‘…Where are the scholars of Islam? Where are they? The scholars of Islam have failed and failed miserably. One of the reasons why they have failed is because the educational system which has produced them has been inadequate … the Muftīs are giving fatwā without knowledge of international monetary economics….. Our scholars today are failing partly because the institutions which are producing them are inadequate, they do not have a proper curriculum that teaches them what they need to do. But the failure is for a second reason as well: methodology. There is a methodology at work, which produces students who study this kitāb (book), this kitāb, that kitāb, that kitāb, and they repeat it over and over and over again from now until qiyāmah. It is called ‘mechanical knowledge…’[87] It is interesting to note here that in order to understand a modern topic such as ‘monetary economics’ one has to go beyond a ‘mechanical study’ of texts. I believe, this style of learning is one which follows on from the ‘atomistic’ style of interpreting the Qur’an verse by verse, which is a recognisable feature of medieval exegetes. However, Hosein also pointed out that, ‘they do not have a proper curriculum that teaches them what they need to do’. This is in line with a graduate of Dewsbury, who also studied further at university, suggested that ‘there needs to be a serious revision of what purpose the Dār al-‘ulūm is there to primarily cater for’.[88] And when asked if he thought the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life, he replied: No, though it has the potential to do so. I believe the process of ‘preparing students’ for their post-graduation lives needs to be addressed. The curriculum per se is not sufficient and is deeply rooted in the classical approach to Islamic academia, which is evidently insufficient to prepare graduates. A healthy blend of ancient academic discourse, and discourses on the modern challenges of life, would go a long way in addressing this problem that Darul Uloom graduates face en masse.[89] Alongside this, a fāḍil from al-Jāmi’ah al-Islāmiyyah Dār al-‘ulūm in Bolton indicated his distastefulness towards what Hosein terms ‘mechanical knowledge’ and calls to be recognised as ‘humans’ and hopes for an educational system that is more natural as opposed to ‘mechanical’: The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect. They are put through the same ‘brainwashing’ and ‘indoctrination techniques’ in order to create complacent followers who will in turn work to do the same, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.[90] The notion of a text based study another fāḍil felt could drift the mind of the ṭālib away from the actual subject itself, ‘…teach a more skills based curriculum as opposed to text based. This will keep students more interested and focused on their topic of study’.[91] From these responses it becomes ever more important to ask the question:Is an institute such as the madrasa, being a transnational institution set up and influenced by the culture and environment of the Sub-continent compatible in the West? If they have survived in the Orient, will they flourish in the Occident? Is a text based study, and texts that are a hundred to a thousand years old, with the methodology explained going to resonate with modernity. It is difficult to understand how a close and focused reading of texts explaining medieval transactions and business laws could help a ṭālib in an ever-changing economy of the 21st Century. However, an aspect of madrasa not fully analysed is the teacher and student relationship and the notion of ‘ālim bā ‘amal (a practising scholar). Indeed, the madrasa is where the ‘spiritual’ and ‘intellectual’ worlds meet. Dr Akram Nadwi – now a research fellow at the University of Oxford – describes his own experience in his madrasa (Nadwat al-‘Ulamā), ‘organised formal teaching was naturally of great importance at Nadwah. However, it was the interaction between teacher and student, and the scholarly circles and literary gatherings that provided so much of one’s spiritual and intellectual nourishment’.[92] As Rūmī’s Fārsī poem is oft quoted in the madāris: صحبت صالح ترا صالح کند[93] – صحبت طالح ترا طالح کند ‘That by frequenting the company of the pious one becomes pious, and by keeping bad company the impiety rubs off’. In understanding the notion of ‘ālim bā ‘amal Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī goes as far as stating that an ‘ālim not practising the dīn cannot in essence be called an ‘Islamic scholar’: ‘مولوی سے مراد عالم با عمل ہےجس کا نام چاہےآپ درویش رکھ لیجئے ۔ جو ایسا نہیں ہمارے نزدیک وہ مولویوں میں داخل ہی نہیں ۔ ہم صرف عربی جاننے والے کو مولوی نہیں کہتے۔ مصر ، بیروت میں عیسائ یہودی عربی داں ہیں تو کیا ہم ان کو مقتدا ٗ ِ دین کہنے لگیں ۔ مو لوی اسی کو کہتے ہیں جو مولا والا ہو یعنی علمِ دین بھی رکھتا ہواور متقی بھی ہو خوفِ خدا وغیرہ ، اخلاقِ حمیدہ بھی رکھتا ہو۔ [94]’ ‘By Mawlawī [95] it is understood to mean ‘Ālim bā ‘amal (A scholar, who acts) – you may also call him a ‘dervish’. If one is not likewise then he is not amongst the mawlawīs. We do not merely define a mawlawī as someone who knows Arabic; in Egypt and Beirut there are many Christians and Jews well versed in Arabic, so are we to call them ‘muqtadā-e-dīn (those who are followed in matters of religion – legitimate scholars of Islam). Mawlawī is indeed the one who is Mawlā wālā (Man of God), meaning that he possesses ‘ilm-e-dīn (knowledge of religion), is God-fearing and embodies praiseworthy manners and character’. Thānwī argues very clearly that at the kernel of madrasa pedagogy is not the ‘letter’ but rather the ‘spirit of the letter’ or better, a merging of both. The famous complaint of Imām Shāfi’ī made to his teacher, I believe, is apt in understanding the connection made by madrasa between ‘spirituality’ and ‘intellectuality’: شکوتُ الیٰ وکیع سوءَ حفظی ۔ فاوصانی الیٰ ترک المعاصی فان العلمَ نور من الاھی ۔ و نور اللہ لا یُعطیٰ لِعاصی[96] “I complained to Wakī’ regarding the weakness of my memory. He prescribed for me the abstinence from sins. For indeed al-‘ilm [sacred knowledge] is a nūr (light) from my Lord. And the light of Allah is not bestowed upon a sinner”. Here it is evident that at times the connection between the intellect and spirit is also viewed in a literal sense. That if a ṭālib sins, and opposes the notion of ‘amal, this directly affects his ‘memorising’ capacity. Al-‘ilm is considered nūr min ilāh (divine light) and not merely an academic exercise, and I believe the significance of this cannot be emphasised enough. With this nūr combined is a nūrānī ‘link’, the isnād – the link from a ṭālib through his ustādh to the author of the book and from the author ultimately to the Prophet. The connection of ‘ālim bā ‘amal, a practising scholar, and the isnād is important to understand, as indeed a ḥadīth too is rendered weak on the piety of its rāwiyy (narrator). And the importance of isnād can be appreciated by the saying of ‘Abd-Allāh ibn al-Mubārak, ‘الاسناد من الدین، لولا الاسناد لقال من شا ٗ ما شا ٗ’[97] that the notion of isnād is from the dīn, and if there were no isnād then indeed anyone would narrate whatever they desired. The example of a contemporary isnād is as follows – from an ijāzah of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:[98] Picture from an Indian published aī Muslim studied in madāris Here, starting from the ijāzah as arrowed above, the ustādh states that he himself studied from ‘al-ustādh al-shaykh Wājid Ḥusayn al-Deobandī … [followed by a list of ustādhs up to…] al-Shāh Waliyullāh ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥīm al-Muḥaddith al-Dihlawiyy. And then below the dotted line is the isnād from Waliyullāh all the way to al-Imām Abī al-Ḥusayn Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj al-Qushayriyy al-Nīsābūriyy, the author of the Ṣaḥīḥ. Following the contemporary isnād, which is presented to the ṭālib at graduation I have added a scan from Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, which then connects Imām Muslim to the Prophet. Here is a simple rendering of the sanad: al-Imām Abī al-Ḥusayn Muslim > Naṣr ibn ‘Aliyy al-Jahḍamiyy > Abū Aḥmad > Ḥamzah al-Zayyān > al-Ḥakam > ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Layla > Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah > Messenger of Allāh. Here, there are two things to note; firstly that for the ṭālib he is now part of a spiritual link that ultimately concludes with the Prophet himself – interestingly the tajwīd isnād concludes with Allah, as He recites to Angel Jibrīl and Jibrīl to the Prophet – he must therefore not ‘breakaway’ from his predecessor in the asānid (pl. of sanad) to let in any ‘change’ or innovate in matters of faith. And it is for this reason the ‘ālimiyyah certificate combines the notion, ‘to follow on the steps of the pious predecessors, and to avoid religious innovations’.[99] Indeed, for the fāḍil the disconnecting from the ustādh’s interpretation of texts opens the doors of innovation. And lastly, I believe it is through the isnād that the fāḍil gains legitimacy. It is an interesting point that the ‘Ulamā of Deoband disregarded Mawlānā Mawdūdī because he had not studied ‘under’ an ustādh with an isnād. Therefore, Mawdūdī lacks ligitimacy to interpret Islam, and when he wrote his ‘Tafhīm al-Qur’ān (exegesis of the Qur’ān) the ‘ulamā of Deoband responded with Ma’ārif al-Qur’ān (the famous Deobandī exegesis). The following is from an ‘ālimiyyah certificate, which shows the difference between the secular and madrasa education, and again emphasises the importance of the notion of ‘ālim bā ‘amal: [100] This is the final part of the certificate, which is a reminder that shall always remain present in the mind of the ṭālib. The point, ‘to follow on the steps of the pious predecessors, and to avoid religious innovations, and to hold on to Islam as it was for centuries’ clearly sets aside any kind of ‘change’, ‘reformation’ or even ‘ijtihād’. This merging of the letter and spirit of the letter I believe creates confidence and a ‘sound worldview’ in the mind and heart of a ṭālib which Sikand believes is not the case with modern education. Mukul Kesavan, an Indian historian following his experience of lecturing fāḍils in university, believes madāris help students make sense of the world.[101] Interestingly, Sikand an academic all his life, who completed his Phd on the Tablīghī Jamā’at and was involved in further research regarding the madāris of India just last month stated the following: ‘The more I think of ‘modern’ education the more problematic it reveals itself to be. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that it’s definitely one of the major malaises affecting contemporary humanity. It fails miserably as far as the ethical or moral development of students. And that is something that even folks who aren’t interested in the extra-worldly realm or life after death ought to be worried about’.[102] When I compare this to the responses of the fāḍils and discussions I have had they all illustrated sound world views and felt that the madrasa environment was matchless in this regards. As opposed to what Sikand himself describes his current feelings, ‘I felt totally empty and bereft of any direction whatsoever. My life had lost all meaning and purpose’.[103] A History of Criticisms and Calls for Reform Criticism of madrasa pedagogy and the calls for reform have a history of their own. It is, however, unclear as to where and when ‘the idea first originated’ of a thorough decline within the medieval Madāris, where creative thinking had been buried away in the pages of commentaries on earlier works.[104] Even prior to the formation of the dars-e-niẓāmī the religious education imparted to Emperor Aurangzeb had, according to him, been unsatisfactory. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb himself describes the kind of education he received in a speech addressed to his teacher: ‘What did you teach me? You told me that the land of the Franks is a small island where the greatest king had previously been the ruler of Portugal, then the king of Holland and now the king of England… Glory be to God! What knowledge of geography and history you displayed! Was it not your duty to instruct me in the characteristics of the nations of the World – the products of these countries, their military power, their methods of warfare, their customs, religions, ways of government and political policies?… it is true that for several years you worried my head about unnecessary and nonsensical questions quite unrelated to the issues of life… When I finished my education, I had no real knowledge of any science or art except that I could utter certain abstruse technical terms which confuse even the brightest mind and by which claimants to a knowledge of philosophy cover up their ignorance…[105] Criticism of the irrelevance of the syllabus to contemporary issues is now reaching new heights amongst the Muslims. What prevents madāris from reform? Mawlānā Waḥīd al-din Khan, himself a traditional scholar, argues that the conservative ‘ulamā see change not as a legitimate, evolving historical processes, which must be understood and faced, but of “conspiracies,” which have to be uncovered and resisted’.[106] And clearly these are approaches which the madāris have adopted since British colonialism or simply see this as furthering the cause from pure piety. Contemporary traditional ‘ulamā on the contrary argue for the separation of the religious and secular sciences. What I believe, in colonial India were genuine concerns of the ‘ulamā have now transformed into conspiracy theories as indicated by Khan. Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī wrote in a period when the British Raj was conspiring against the ‘ulamā and therefore he suggested: دینی مدارس میں دنیوی تعلیم نہ ہونا ہی مایہ ناز ہے: مدرسہ دیوبند کی بابت بڑے بڑے انگریزوں کی یہ تحریر ہے کہ اگر اس مدرسہ کی مذہبی تعلیم میں دنیاوی تعلیم شامل ہو گئ تو اس کا مذہبی خالص رنگ باقی نہ رہے گاجو اس مدرسہ کا مایہ ناز ہے۔[107]’ ‘The absence of secular (worldly) study in dīnī (religious) madāris is its very pride – Many Angrez (British) on high levels have written regarding the madrasa of Deoband that if secular knowledge merges with the dīnī knowledge then its true colours of pure piety will be faltered, which in essence is its source of pride. He also quotes Mawlānā Ya’qūb during the graduation ceremony as saying that some people, after seeing our madrasa, think that there is no means of sustenance or a fruitful career for its graduates. He responded in the following manner: یہ تو صرف ان کے لئے ہے جس کو فکرِ آخرت نے دیوانہ بنایا ہے[108] That this [madrasa] is only for those, whom the worry of the hereafter has rendered them insane! I feel one can appreciate the concerns of the ‘ulamā in that period, but the notion of madāris still being the bastions of Islam and requiring fortification from the ‘outside’ culture and thought is one that now requires revision. This statement also indicates criticism of madāris and discont with the system even then. Sikand, in a recent interview with Mawlānā Ṭāriq Rashīd Firangī Maḥallī, asked him the following question in regards to reform, ‘Some traditionalist ‘ulamā argue that the dars-e-niẓāmī does not need any change. They claim that it produced good scholars in the past and so can do so today, too. As a descendant of Mulla Nizamuddin and one who knows the tradition well, how do you react to this argument,’[109] to which Maḥallī replied, ‘I strongly disagree with this argument. It reflects a very strange mentality. So rigid are those who argue this way that they easily brand anyone who calls for change as an ‘apostate’ or an ‘agent’ of this or other ‘un-Islamic’ power. Mulla Nizamuddin did not certainly intend that the syllabus he formulated should remain unchanged forever. The point is that the ulema must be kept abreast with contemporary developments, which is not possible if one argues that the dars-enizami should remain unchanged. 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?…[110] Maḥallī, too recognises the ‘ulamā’s ‘response to change as one finding controversy and an insistence on the status quo ‘a strange mentality’. He also affirms the fact that Mullāń Niẓam al-Dīn never desired this ‘untouchable’ status for the syllabus he set according to the particular needs of his time. The ‘ulamā must be in touch with contemporary issues. The criticism regarding the relevance of the dars-e-niẓāmī is at the epicentre, but I feel there are other simpler problems that are to be dealt with – a professional and reputable career path. In this year’s graduation ceremony (Bukhārī Khatam) of Dewsbury madrasa the ustādh and Shaykh al-Ḥadīth, of some of the major teachers, hinted towards his dislike of having the ‘ālimiyyah certificate accredited by an external unversity: اس علم میں اللہ نے عزت رکھی ہے۔۔۔ جو ہمیں دنیا اور آخرت میں کامیابی دلوائے گا، عزت دلوائے گا۔ حضرت مولانا یوسف (ر) نے ایک مجمعہ میں فرمایا:ارے بھائ ، علمِ دین سے جنت کے اعلیٰ اعلیٰ درجات ملیں گےجس علم کی برکت سےجنت جیسی قیمتی چیز ملنے والی ہے اور وہاں اعلیٰ درجات ملنے والے ہیں کیا علم کی خدمت کرنے سے روزی نہیں ملے گی؟ دال چاول نہیں ملے گا؟ کیسا خیال ہے یہ؟ جنت تو ملے گی اتنی قیمتی اور روٹی چاول نہیں ملے گا؟ اس لئے ہم کو ڈگری چاہئیے روٹی چاول کے لئے، یہ بڑی نادانی ہے۔ اسلئے ہمیں تو زندگی بھر اس علمِ دین کی خدمت کرنی ہے ، اس کو دل میں اتارنا ہے، اس کو اوپر عمل کرنا ہے اور اس کا مقصد اللہ کو پانا ہے۔۔۔[111] Allah has bestowed dignity in this knowledge…which will give us salvation in this world and the next. Mawlānā Yūsuf once said in a gathering, ‘Oh brother, through the knowledge of dīn if you are to gain the high statuses of paradise and the great blessing of paradise itself, then how is it possible that through serving the knowledge you will not have a living?’ You shall not gain ‘rice’ and ‘lentils’? what kind of thought is this? That you will gain paradise – such a virtuous abode – but no ‘rotī’ (chapatti) or rice? Is this why we need a degree, for mere rice and lentils? This is ignorance! Hence, we have to serve this knowledge for the rest of our lives; bring it into our hearts; act upon it; and its purpose is to discover Allah’. What I gathered from conversing with some young ‘ulamā and asātidhā of Dewsbury that they are pushing for change from within, and by change I mean simply having the ‘ālimiyyah certificate accredited local universities, but are not being received by staff closely affiliated to this Shaykh which also further affirms the notion of taqlīd-e-shakhṣī overtaking all aspects of pedagogy. And one insisted that following this year’s graduation ceremony it will be a much strenuous task in convincing them. However, I feel there is a lot of pressure being built within the madāris to reform and Sikand foretold this from his observation and interviews at the Dewsbury madrasa in 1995: ‘Although the Tablighi madaris may not have cheerfully embraced the British legal requirement of compulsory secular education, it is likely that the access to duniyavi disciplines that the madrasa authorities have had to provide their students will have important consequences in time to come. Indeed, it is quite possible this might suggest to TJ grassroots level activists, if not the leaders, the need to move towards a recognition of the importance of addressing the this-worldly concerns of British Muslims if the movement is to survive’.[112] And I feel that many fāḍils who have not had reputable career opportunites, or had to work hard even after their graduation and criticisms regarding the relevance of the ‘dars-e-niẓāmī’ to modern contexts have meant an exploration of systematic reform. Currently, there are different constructive reforms being paved from ‘external’ sources and an ‘internal’ reform is in process. By external I mean three models; the Cambridge Muslim College (CMC); the Markfield Institute of Higher Education (MIHE); and the Ebrahim College model. The first two models appreciate the dars-e-niẓāmī by some degree, and feel that courses provided by them will further equip the fāḍil with skills, modern sciences and some form of recognised qualifications to face the challenges of modernity. The CMC have developed a foundation diploma specifically for madrasa fāḍils and their requiremnets for entry are ‘the completion of an ‘ālim course at a recognised institution of Islamic scholarship and fluency in written and spoken English’.[113] And the modules provided are of topics they believe are not taught in the madāris, a list of them is provided below: Introduction to Western Intellectual History; Science in the World Today; Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science; Science in the World Today; Understanding Contemporary Debates in Ethics & Science from an Islamic Perspective; British Islam Today; Modern British Political History; Effective Communication Skills; Islam & Gender; Islam and Religious Pluralism: Theological and Historical Perspectives; Modern British Intellectual History; Sacred Art & Architecture of the World; Introduction to Astronomy; Introduction to World Religions & Inter-Faith Dialogue; Introduction to the British State; Islamic Counselling & Dispute Resolution; Effective Community Leadership & Development; Introduction to the Social Sciences; Introduction to World History; and History of the 19th and 20th century Muslim World.[114] For each topic specialist lecturers are invited from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, London and various other universities. The MIHE model slightly differs as it is a post-graduate education provider with specialist teaching in Islam, and the way they cater for fāḍils is by accepting ‘ālimiyyah certificate as a valid qualification for them to then study at Masters level in Islamic Studies; Islamic Education; Islamic Finance and Islamic Law.[115] MIHE is accredited by the University of Gloucester, who are also trying other ventures in approaching the madāris. The Ebrahim College model differs from the above as it takes new ṭālibs firstly into their institute for instruction in Arabic and Islamic studies. After the ṭālib passes GCSEs and A Levels in Arabic and Islamic studies he completes a further four years of Islamic studies, which the college has described as ‘the ālimiyyah program’. However, the college has introduced modern subjects and classes such as: English composition; Philosophy of Religion; Academic writing and research skills; Understanding World Religions; Understanding Muslim Sects and Groups; History of Muslim Dynasties; History of Britain; Muslims in Britain; Critical thinking; Women in Islamic Society; and Dissertation in English and Arabic.[116] Following the four year course, which is in the process of being accredited by the University of Gloucester, the ṭālibs are then sent to Dewsbury madrasa – or a madrasa of their choice – for the final two years of dars-e-niẓāmī. The teachers at the college are mostly fāḍils themselves, many of whom who have also studied higher education at universities. It is interesting to note that for the past two years two students being sent by Ebrahim college for their final two years have managed to come first and second in the madrasa examinations. Gilliat-Ray, from her many observations and fieldwork in this sector, believes that fāḍils ‘who are able to span the worlds of the seminary [madrasa] and the higher education academy are perhaps an especially important group of people to support and empower.[117] Interestingly from the fāḍil responses five out of twelve fell under this category of having had both madrasa and university educations. Certainly as one analyses these particular fāḍilfāḍils 2, 7, 10, 11, 12 – responses they will discover a more consistant call for reform which reflects their post-graduation experiences and exceptional adeptness at articulating their minds. The career paths taken by these graduates too are more reputable who have their main careers and then alongside their careers as Telecoms analyst; healthcare and Olympic chaplain; Teachers of RE, Mathematics and Modern Foreign Languages at state seconadary schools, they also serve their religion. On the contrary I found from the responses and observations that the other fāḍils were either working as full time Imāms, which mostly also includes teaching in makātib, or maktab teachers who were having to find other part time jobs such as working at retailers, B&Q, Asda, as Taxi drivers and interestingly one fāḍil also included exorcist as one of his part-time professions. Fāḍils 10, 11 and 12 laid out thorough ideas of how they thought madrasas should be reformed. Fāḍil 11 stressed that British Government should seek to engage, encourage and facilitate future ṭālibs to enter the higher education system as it also helps fulfil their goals of preventing extremism, facilitating community cohesion and giving the Muslim community strong grounded academic leadership.[118] This year – in 2012 – the way for an internal reform was paved by an external source to have the ‘ālimiyyah certificate accredited. This came in the form of a project headed by Ron Geaves, ‘An exploration of the viability of partnership between dar al-ulum and Higher Education Institutions in North West England focusing upon pedagogy and relevance’ at Liverpool Hope University.[119] In this project the aim was to explore various possibilities to collaborate between traditional madāris and universities in close geographical proximity and the area chosen for this initial task was ‘North West England’. The madāris involved were the Bury madrasa and Jāmi’at al-‘Ilm wa al-Hudā (Blackburn madrasa), Bury was more difficult to get through to but eventually through fāḍil leads and overcoming certain issues raised by Blackburn madrasa Geaves’ project finally gained fruition. One such issue for the muhtamim of the Blackburn madrasa was the ṭālibs’ travelling to the university and the reason the problem had arisen Geaves describes, was the problem with permitting post-puberty males to travel alone into gender-mixed environments’.[120] And I believe this was the most crucial part of the project, and it is here that Geaves won over the trust of the madrasa by understanding their concerns and finally after much effort orchestrated the meeting of the final two year ṭālibs of Blackburn and Bury madrasas in a third location accessible for both madrasa ṭālibs and lecturers who are to travel from local universities. This endeavour is to begin in October 2013. When I came across this project I instantaneously contacted the Dewsbury madrasa and told them of such a project, to which I was told that they had already contacted another party in regards to having their degree accredited but were still unsure if they were to go ahead. The young asātidhah were willing to discuss this further with me but hoped that the muhtamim and shūrā (madrasa council) too would allow this to happen. Geaves concludes his project with the statement, ‘the challenges of fruition, that is, the creation of a validated programme of study ready for advanced dar al-ulum students in October 2013 to join a BA in Islamic Studies, will now depend upon the good will and the hard economic realities of University priorities in an unknown terrain’.[121] A sample of the final year curriculum that is being prepared to be lectured by academics could be analysed under ‘Appendix 7’. I started with a thorough analysis of the cultural and political context the madāris were shaped by and are influenced by till this day. Firstly, I traced India’s ḥanafi madhhab to 1258 and the migration of many Baghdādī scholars to India alongside their ḥanafī texts. I then began to reconstruct the syllabus taught in madāris of Britian to find out which text was introduced when and why. I analysed the four adwār (periods), the first laid emphasis on fiqh; the second stage saw the inclusion of texts such as Mukhtaṣar al-Ma’āni, Sharḥ al-Aqāi’d and Sharḥ Wiqāya on the request of students; the third period, witnessed Iranian influence on ma’qūlāt but ended with Shāh Waliyullāh’s struggle in introducing Ṣiḥāḥ Sittah to the shores of India; and then the final stage saw the systemisation of Islamic knowledge by Mullāń Niẓām al-Dīn’s dars-e-niẓāmī. By the end of the fourth period there were three major centres of Islamic learning in India: the Delhi of Shāh Waliyullah, Lucknow famous for its fiqh, and Khayrābād renowned for ma’qūlāt. Till then I believe there was a natural evolution of the madāris of Hind with reform and change. However, British colonialism and the mutiny of 1857 was to change this natural process forever. It was to instil fear in the hearts of the Musalmāns and surround them in their ideological fortresses – the madāris. It was where Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband was to build high defensive impenetrable walls that would allow no ideological explosives to breach its fortifications. It was within its walls pedagogy was devised to protect Islam as opposed to allow its natural evolution through the ages as it had previously been. They achieved this through taqlīd and specifically through taqlīd-e-shakhṣīin order to systemise Islamic thinking to prevent innovation in time of great fitnah. With this spectrum came another, that of the Aligarh modernists who called for naught but change and modernisation. Six years following the founding of Deoband the call for Nadwat al-‘Ulamā was seen as an initiative to take the ‘middle-path’ and reform the madāris system which they thought lacked the qualities required in ‘Ulamā. The majority of Madāris in Britain – approximately 70% – are affiliated indirectly to Deoband. Rendering the Islam in Britain more influenced by Deoband and the influences it had of British colonialism, which always arises in modern context. I believe, if the majority of migrants were from Lucknow or its suburbs then Islam of Britain would have been significantly different, with the likes of Mawlāna Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Ali Nadwi and his student Dr Akram Nadwi who have worked as research fellows at the University of Oxford. As indeed the majority of migrants were from Deobandī backgrounds. Despite the migrants initial intent of returning to their native lands they stayed and brought with them their Madāris. The first such madrasa was established in early as 1975 and since they number more than thirty. However, we learn from the madāris’ response to visiting academics that these madāris brought along with them not only had native pedagogy but also the memories of colonialism. (Not) accessing Deobandī madāris itself became a source for understanding them. The feelings of fear for the ‘other’ and the need to strictly guard one’s specific interpretation of Islam illustrated it. I looked at the case of how Dewsbury handled the 7/7 media at its doors and further discovered that affiliations to Deoband are very well and alive but closer affiliations started to have more impact on their responses to the other. Their decision to isolate themselves was more an influence of the quietist nature of the Tablīghī Jamā’at, as an analysis of the contemporary Deobandī syllabus shows that even Deoband have started to teach subjects like ‘journalism’. Was this the beginning of a neo-Deobandi fringe, but I gathered that there are now new affiliations and notions such as taqlīd-e-shakhṣī that influence and determine decisions. I then thoroughly analysed the pedagogy and methodology applied by the madāris. I did so by exploring what according to the texts in the madāris is understood to be the concept of ‘ilm. I discovered that the concept was more stagnant than creative and this resonated in the methodology of ḥifẓ, despite it being a useful skill for a subject like law. For all subjects an introductory book is memorised, which familiarises the ṭālibs with all new content and terminologies. However, the method of ‘muṭā’la’a-sabaq-takrār is beneficial for encyclopaedic learning but again does not fulfil the creative aspect of knowledge, which Rahman staunchly criticises. I also learned that coupled with this style of learning the notion of ‘textual piety’ increased the improbability of a critical engagement with the text that is so highly revered. In Madāris there were too things very different from modern education; firstly the importance given to acting upon what has been studied; and secondly the soundness of madrasa worldview. Finally I analysed the history of criticism and calls for reform with the madāris and found that despite the madrasa not wanting to reform it was inevitable. Especially due to the ṭālibs’ concern for a reputable career, which is only possible with an accredited ‘ālimiyyah certificate, which is on its way. And it is at the Blackburn and Bury madāris that future research will be done on how madāris and universities can bond to create a new educational model that is to determine the future of Islam in Britain.

Appendix 1. Responses from Fāḍils (Madrasah Graduates)

Survey of UK madrasa Talibs. Please confirm that you are over the age of 18:

  1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years?
  1. What is your current profession/s?
  1. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life?
  1. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life?
  1. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how?
  1. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas?

Responses from UK madrasa Fāḍils Fāḍil – 1 Answer 1. 20 years old (dada) 8 years Answer 2. Imam/ maktab teacher/tabligh/exorcism answer 3. Graduated as alim Its helped me do kidmat of deen. What i wanted, it helps me to be strong in my a’amal, pray salah in masjid, it keeps me bussy doing younght programme/ tafseer/dars/talks etc i get alot time to spend with my family Answers 4. Madrasa’s aim is to teach us quran,sunnah, seerah and fiqh… Now lot of modern day problem could be easilly dealt and tackled if madrassa looked into modern days challenges and provided solution or awareness lessons .. 1)there should be career advice 2)there should be awareness lessons. Answer 5. I felt like i had to stay in the kidmat of odin in order to remain dindar and not to take another career route… Now i think that option of going in to different Line should be given to some and advised.. But since its proven to be harm for some so i dont think its for everyone.. Even i thought of doing teachers training course coz of narrow options in deeni kidmat but in the end chose to stay in imamat and maktab Answer 6. Career advice/options to work in halal field. Modern days challenge media/firqa batila and solutions Sent from my iPhone Fāḍil – 2 1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? i joined at 17 2. What is your current profession/s? I am a healthcare Chaplain as well as an Olympic Chaplain 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa(‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? The Alimiyah course has given me tools necessary in the chaplaincy field which I have shaped and developed further in my work. It has also equipped me to deal with my local community and has taught me that everyday is a learning curve and knowledge never stops for someone but in actual fact stays till the last moments of ones life. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? It gives the tools but these need to be enhanced as one goes forward in their lives either through further studies or work experience. I think this goes across all sciences that once a person graduates, this is just the beginning for them and they use their studies as a foundation to build upon as they go along. 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? The madrasa has helped me understand the purpose of life and has put many things into perspective. Having said that, like I mentioned before, some aspects have changed as I have gained more experience in my local community and work experience. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? I would like to see more scholars discussed from different sub-continents as this is very important for those who live in vibrant diverse societies such as London. insha Allah, I hope the above is ok, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Fāḍil – 3 1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? i joined at 12 – for 9 years 2. What is your current profession/s? Teaching Maktab / Studying Btec applied medical science in college (Level 3) 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa(‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? Daily Life: Manners and Akhlaq, good behaviour with Muslims and Non-Muslims. It has made me spiritually strong. Career: I would say truthfully it has made me ‘helpless’ and ‘paralysed’ due to the lack of career opportunities and lack of recognised qualifications. I feel helpless and paralysed because I am unable to support my family. I went through o much to get into college, I had to redo my GCSEs because in madrasa not much focus is given to secular academic studies. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? This is linked to the 3rd Question career wise. I feel the restrictive and segregated life have made it difficult. Also the ‘label’ of Mawlana keeps me restricted, e.g. I went to buy ‘halal’ sweets from a shop who sell ‘haram’ meat I was frowned upon by the community. Even walking with Female lecturers or even female classmates becomes problematic. And due to this I feel restricted in getting certain jobs, specially without A-Levels. 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? My worldview is a restricted and narrow one – that’s why I think they ask us to go for one year to explore the world. Whilst in madrasa you don’t know what is going on / jaded masa’il etc Whilst in madrasa newspapers are considered haram, and so is internet – maybe they should provide internet with many sites restricted as they are at college. Even sites like Facebook or even typing ‘games’ on Google is restricted. However, without knowing what happens in the outside makes one feel confined and institutionalised once graduated. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? Secular Academic studies: GCSE / A-Levels and more to provide Career opportunities. Have qualified school teachers Many Talibs do not know how to teach children in Maktabs , they should have more experience before graduation and maybe courses. Make the Alimiyyah course recognised! Fāḍil – 4 I hope you receive this email in best of spirits and health. Following are Answers to your survey, I hope you are successful with your survey and your goals are achieved. I am over the age of 18. 1) I joint Madrasa at the age of 14, and i was in Madrasa for approximately 11 years . 2) My current professions are ; a) Imam @ Dunvale Islamic Society, Ireland b) Teacher of Islamic Studies, Arabic language c) Pastoral Care for the society d) Voluntary Chaplaincy @ the hospital. 3) The Alimiyyah course has a Phenominal effect upon me with my day to day life as well as my career, it helps to lead myself and the community towards the right path. 4) The Madrasa curriculum does help to a certain extent in facing challenges of modern life. 5) Madrasa has played a vital role in developing my worldview, over the years after my graduation it has changed slightly when the reality of the world sinks in, but not to a considerate amount. 6) In the modern era I feel that the students should be trained to address the media, taught how to portrait Islam to people of other faiths, more extensive oppurtunities for other degrees, having said all this it’s really important and vital that we don’t lose the object of forming a Madrasa and the efforts,expectations of our pious predecessors. Fāḍil – 5

  1. I joined the madressa when I was 13 years old for 9 years.
  1. I am a teacher in the Edmonton mosque where I teach boys the age of 11-13. I also work in HMC and used to work in retail at B&Q.
  1. The effect of the madressa career has helped me a lot if I never studied and never became and aalim then I wouldn’t have been able to be a teacher in the mosque. It has made an major effect on my daily life as I am more steadfast in my religion ‘ISLAAM’
  1. Yes, I do think the madressa curriculum helps in facing challenges in modern life. If these madressa curriculums weren’t made then we would have struggled in facing challenges in today’s modern life.
  1. The madressa has played a big role in my daily life in various ways, it helps me where I go wrong and keeps me steadfast on my deen.
  1. I think the way madressas are going now ere days is perfect I don’t think there is any need of any reforms to be brought in madressas.

Fāḍil – 6 1= joined at age of 16 for 8 years 2= minister of religion 3= yes the ilmiyyah course has helped me in reaching that position 4= those challenges which a person faces outside the 4 walls of madrasah a student wont know and though experience after madrasah he gets to know them 5= no changes 6= upgrade the syllabus Fāḍil – 7 My thoughts on our Ulama and Madrasas Generally speaking our so-called ‘Ulama’ are more of a clergy than intellectuals. They are no visionaries nor thinkers. They have no independent analysis. In-fact they are opposed to intellectual independence. They’d rather regurgitate ideas that are given to them via archaic books that they have memorised without question. Most of our scholars are stunning simpletons. Many of them care only about how their religion looks on a superficial level, regardless of the problems causing to humanity. Others teach ethics of quietude and mimic laputans; a bit like the ‘Ents’ in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. As long as they could stay cloistered in study circles discussing their four schools of law and despising indifferences from a distance in vague syllogisms, they are content. And our Madrasas seem to give an education that is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same level of indoctrination, to breed and train a standardised following, to down dissent and originality. Our motivational force ought to be truth seeking with a passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us. We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught. To think is to process information in order to form an opinion, but if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth? Every one of us should be using our minds for innovation rather than memorisation, for creativity rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation. The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect. They are put through the same brainwashing and indoctrination techniques in order to create complacent followers who will in turn work to do the same, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation. Furthermore, the relationship between scholars and the people should be like the relationship between teacher and pupil – not between leader and follower, not between icon and imitator; the people are not monkeys who merely imitate. The pupils understand and react, and they try to expand their own understanding, so that someday they will not need the teacher. The relationship that the Muslims today seek and the so-called scholars encourage is one of master and follower; the master must always remain master and the follower will always remain follower. This is like shackles around the neck [i.e. eternal slavery]. In Islam we do not have a class of religious leaders. It is a development of historical Islam. The religious leaders teach that if you understand the Qur’an on your own merit, you have committed a sin. My advice to all Madrasa students out there; ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Do not accept anything at face value. Ask questions, demand truth and scrutinise the evidence first hand. Fāḍil – 8 1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? I joined at 16 for a total of 8years 2. What is your current profession/s? Teaching Maktab – it’s difficult to find somewhere to find a teaching job during the morning hours. Did Imamat / Admin / Maktab for 5 months 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa(‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? Daily: We learn how to live according to the shariah, we do not just study fiqh and aqaid but also ‘kitab al-buyu’. However, they could upgrade the teaching to include ‘modern finance and banking’. Maybe have more lessons in English. I am facing financial problems due to lack of opportunities and mainly our madrasa degree noty being recognised as a formal qualification. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? It does help out a lot, but they could do more dunyawi wise. They could perhaps work more on Career’s advice, hence we have started an organisation to help ‘ulama and huffaz after graduation to know how the system works e.g. ‘Tax Credits, filling in forms, paying bills etc through our org. ‘Khidma Station’ However, now the muhtamim has started giving advice on weekends to Bukhari class instead of shu’ba taqrir. And in this he explains how to run madaris and writing constitutions etc. But with our year he was very busy with other work for madrasa so I guess we didn’t benefit as much. 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? The madrasa has helped me understand the purpose of life and it has helped me out a lot. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? Careers advice! More English 9 years could come down to 6 like other madaris Pedagogy: To provide students with more help in the way they learn. For example in my class I had a friend who was dyslexic and couldn’t read the words properly, but all the teachers would always say to him ‘why don’t you learn your sabaq?’. However, due to a lot of pressure he left madrasa and went to college, where they recognised that he was dyslexic. Madrasa Alimiyyah Course should become recognised. As it is internally understood to be equivalent to an MA in Islamic Studies. Fāḍil – 9 1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? Joined at 17, for just under 4 years. 2. What is your current profession/s? Tajweed teacher 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? I didn’t do the alimiyah course, but doing the hifz has helped me learn basic Tajweed and alhamdulilah due to knowing people, slowly I’ve been able to teach more and more children and earn decent income for the hours I do. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? I believe it is up to the individual. If with the teachings they can implement them in modern life then they will. However, from a practical point of view, there is not much influence in the modern society from the curriculum. 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? My view on world view has 0% influence from Madrasah. Everything I know about the current ongoings in the world is after coming out and being able to research more about this topic. There is very little importance given to the importance of worldview. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? There’s always room for improvement, however, one of the biggest things the madrasah needs to do is put more importance on English to help the graduates to defend Islam better when they come out and are faced with opposition about the religion from non Muslims. And secondly they should be taught the Human Rights, so they are not afraid of defending themselves. Fāḍil – 10

1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years?I was 13; joined in 1998, completed six years of study in left the school in 2003. I had two years remaining in the 8-year course.2. What is your current profession/s?Telecoms analyst3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life?I feel much of what I studied was academic and theoretical, and has limited impact on my day-to-day life. It played a small part in my current career path; I would say the GCSEs I undertook at the institution did more to pave the way for my career than my religious studies at Darul Uloom. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? No, though it has the potential to do so. I believe the process of ‘preparing students’ for their post-graduation lives needs to be addressed. The curriculum per se is not sufficient and is deeply rooted in the classical approach to Islamic academia, which is evidently insufficient to prepare graduates. A healthy blend of ancient academic discourse, and discourses on the modern challenges of life, would go a long way in addressing this problem that Darul Uloom graduates face en masse. Part of the problem, I feel, is that teachers themselves are unaware of the students’ background, place of origin, and the challenges they would face post-graduation. Solutions need to be sought after in terms of vocational education during studies, rather than letting students ‘find their own feet’. Academic accreditation is also a major issue, which was dismissed (even criticised) in my time of study but which I now understand is being looked at by the administrative staff at the Darul Uloom. 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? To be honest, it developed in me a very narrow worldview vis-a-vis Islam. Much of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of teachers, who themselves – with all due respect – have not been exposed to wider social elements affecting Islam and Muslims beyond their ideological comfort zone. It goes without saying that my ‘worldview’ has changed since I left – I would dishonest if I said that I didn’t harbour a degree of resentment to how my views were developed in Darul Uloom, as occasionally they came back to ‘haunt’ me, for want of a better word, in my later life experiences and interactions with other from divergent backgrounds. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? 1.There needs to be a serious revision of what purpose the Darul Uloom is there to primarily cater for. When I was studying, we were taught that (specifically) Dewsbury Darul Uloom is able to deliver on three counts: education, proselytism, and self-reform. Unfortunately, this is a hopelessly optimistic outlook and does not address the realities on the ground with students. Such rhetoric only serves to dilute students’ focus from what their real purpose at a Darul Uloom should be that cannot be catered for elsewhere: education in an academic environment. It should made clear that education is the primary objective. 2. There is a lack of focus on careers advice. A mechanism needs to be developed where pre-graduates know where they are heading post-graduation. Whether that is by setting up a dedicated careers advice facility, getting the Darul Uloom accredited so students know they can pursue studies in more recognised institutions. 3. Serious thought needs to be given on the academic studiousness of freshmen: students should be recruited on more merit-based standards rather than contacts and associations. An independent panel is advised for this. Students themselves are the main component in contributing to the general culture of the Darul Uloom, which can have a long-lasting effect on the institution. 4. Students need to be evaluated away from examination methods, such as appraisals. 5. Teachers must be evaluated to ensure the quality of teaching is maintained. This is to be done by an independent panel. 6. Written independent research (coursework) needs to be incorporated into higher-level studies in the latter half of a student’s Darul Uloom life. 7. The embracing of technology is abysmal and needs to be redressed. 8. Last-year students should be given further responsibilities and should be allowed to take up positions as pastoral mentors for freshmen and early-year students. Selected students should also be allowed to teach various lessons. 9. The incorporation of speacialist chosen subjects for students is a necessity that has been overlooked in favour of universal one-size-fits-all baccalaureates. Students should have a facility of choosing a field of specialisation. 10. Online connectivity, an expanded library, and an ability to travel for research (fieldwork), are all components in Darul Uloom that chronically suffer from limited availability. Fāḍil – 11

1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? I joined Madrasah at the age of 17, half way through completing my first year of A level course. I studied at madrasah for 8 academic years. (Feb 1998 – Sept 2005) 2. What is your current profession/s? a) I am a teacher of Religious Education and Modern Foreign Languages (Arabic) in a state secondary school b) I am the Project Manager at The Abrahamic Foundation (www.abrahamicfoundation.org.uk) c) Freelance Imam – lectures, Jumuah’s, nikah, janaiz, teaching 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? It has obviously impacted my career choices. I am an active grass root level Imam working with many communities, charities and groups of people. This has only been possible due to the Islamic knowledge and training I received from Jameah. With a further desire to make a change to young people’s lives, and in particular the Muslim community I undertook a PGCE in RE. I am now striving to help young people achieve their potentials through teaching in mainstream schools, role modelling, mentoring and impacting school ethos and policies for the betterment of pupils they serve. In 2010 we set up The Abrahamic Foundation. It is a non denominational Muslim organisation that aims to primarily use Islamic education as a catalyst for positive change in society. We believe creating good Muslims will create good people. We offer varied adult part time courses including Arabic language, tajweed and Fiqh Weekly Islamic lectures as well as one day lecture series Childrens structured weekday madrasah One day intensive adult courses Weekend Arabic School Childrens Islamic Holiday Clubs Tuition centre KS2 / 3 and 4 in maths English and science New Muslim Support Services and Networking We are looking to open a Mosque and a secondary school shortly, Inshallah. Effects on daily life It impacts 24 hours of my life, how I live on a daily basis and all the choices and decisions of my life are made upon the Islamic knowledge I have gained 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? Yes, the better and deeper a Muslim will understand his religion he will find a solution to all past present and future problems. To help further facilitate this I believe question 6 should be implemented 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? I think Islam has given me my world view and nothing else. Indeed this was imparted via my studies of Islam at the Jameah. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? I must clarify that the reforms I am mentioning can only be achieved when the Jameah has the manpower and the funding. I fully understand that some of these changes are very difficult for the establishment at the moment. Lessons should be taught mainly in English and Arabic. (this may not be currently possible due to lack of senior scholars able to speak English at an academic level) More focus on western philosophy, history and culture to help further our understanding of Islam and how to adapt Islam to the west A levels in Maths, English, Sciences, Arabic should be compulsory. An option to further these subjects could be offered over the course of 7 years such as R.E, Economics, LAW, ICT, Psychology etc. More of the Islamic arts should be encouraged such as Sports, Art, Poetry and Islamic Music. Extracurricular trips to help pupils understand foreign culture. Visits to Islamic sites to further inspire and encourage excellence in pupils’ studies such as Spain, India, Turkey etc More parent involvement is needed. Most parents are unaware of what goes on in Jameah and what exactly their children are studying. Family events and in particular female family members should be facilitated. Develop pupils to be able to critically analyse theories and concepts from an Islamic perspective. Jameah totally lacks this. We don’t critically analyse our own actions. A deep study of world religions should be made compulsory. At least those religions or isms that are more common in the UK such as Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Atheism, Secularism and Marxism. Pupils from middle years of Jameah should be introduced to community groups and organisation they will have to work with i.e maktabs, mosques, charities, Jamaeah’s etc. This will give them an understanding of career opportunities and highlight weakness’s they currently may have in their studies. A strong careers advice service with a push from the Jameah to encourage its pupils to go into roles that have greater impact on communities and encourage integration between Muslim and other communities i.e. teaching professions, counselling, journalism, law, social enterprise, chaplaincy etc At the moment the only push I felt we got was to become an Imam or mosque teacher. Should Jameah seek Uni accreditation? To help Jameah students to enter further studies and in particular UK universities it would be helpful if Jameah could somehow get itself accredited. This could be achieved in many ways such as seeking recognition via a British University. I think this may be a problem for most Jameahs as it requires too much change to the current system. A way to avoid this would be to seek accreditation from a foreign Muslim University such as Al-Azhar or Damascus University etc. This in return would be accepted by British Universities. I however found entry into University not as difficult as I was a mature student at the time with plenty of experience under my belt, but I am aware that most Jameah graduates are turned away and deprived of such further opportunities. On the other hand the British Government should seek to engage, encourage and facilitate future Muslim leaders (Jameah students) to enter the higher education system as it also helps fulfil their goals of preventing extremism, facilitating community cohesion and giving Muslim community strong grounded academic leadership which it currently lacks much of. MOST OF THE ABOVE POINTS REQUIRE INVESTMENT IN STAFF TRAINING AND SITE FACILITIES. With the very little fees the Jameah charges I don’t think this will be possible and what the Jameah already achieves with its scarce resources is a miracle. Fāḍil – 12 1. At what age did you join the madrasa? For how many years? Aged 16. For 7 1/2 years 2. What is your current profession/s? Secondary school teacher 3. What do you think is the effect of the madrasa (‘alimiyyah) course on your career and other aspects of your daily life? Extremely positive. The madrasah course made me an extremely focused and dedicated student. This helped me when pursuing my post graduate studies and career. It has made me a better Muslim/person. I am able to interact positively with people from different backgrounds and cultures It made me a better son, brother, husband and father. A good role model for my community and society. 4. Do you think that the madrasa curriculum helps in facing challenges of modern life? Through the skills gained during the course – yes Directly tackling relevant issues – no 5. What role has the madrasa played in developing your worldview – if at all? And has this changed since graduating and how? Whilst at madrasah, our lecturers occasionally discussed local, national, international events. I was slightly mature and aware than most students regarding world events. I had access to internet, TV and radio at home which further developed my worldview. Whilst studying I had the opportunity to travel through the madrasah to 4 foreign countries for da’wah. This was extremely beneficial and was one of the reasons I decided to pursue post graduate studies abroad. I also had 2 older brothers in FE who were extremely supportive of my decision to study. They would also guide and inform me of relevant events which helped me grow as an individual Of course my view changed. I consider this though to be a natural change as one gets older, wiser and more experienced. 6. What reforms do you think should be brought into madrasas? If madrasas want to make a greater positive contribution to society they need to 1) Have more selective admissions criteria based on age, academic performance and interest. 2) Based on point 1 – madrasas would be able to have a more extensive curriculum stretching students’ capabilities during the length of the course or consider shortening the course so students have time to pursue post graduate interests and studies. Extra-curricular activities could also be introduced which would add more depth and application to the curriculum 3) Teach a more skill based curriculum as opposed to text based. This will keep students more interested and focused on their topic of study. 4) Have a more rigorous assessment method. 5) Have a mission and Vision statement. This will help them to see if they are successful in their aims and targets. 6) Make Arabic and English the language of medium. 7) Have a fair staff recruitment policy 8) Employ teachers from varied backgrounds and specialities. This will positively impact students’ understanding of their religion and better equip them for life in a multi faith/denomination society 9) Careers advice – In line with their ethos, students should be guided to post graduate activities and careers. 10) Technology – Students should be competent with basic IT skills. Which include word processing in English and Arabic. In this digital age, best practice of utilising social and mainstream media should be introduced. 11) Accreditation – if this ties in with the madrasas vision to facilitate post graduate studies in western universities – this should be looked at. Otherwise myself and yourself and proof that those wanting to pursue this avenue can still be successful without the accreditation. 12) As a significant number of graduates pursue imamat and teaching in maktabs, students should be trained with the relevant skills set required for those professions. These should include communication skills, management skills, teaching techniques etc.

Appendix 2. Shahādāt, Ijāzāt and Asānīd

2.1 | The Shahādat of al-‘Ālimiyyah in Islamic Sciences and Arabic Literature 2.2 | Translation of Appendix 2.1 prepared for admission to a University Masters 2.3 | Sanad for all the ṣiḥāḥ sittah (Six authentic books of ḥadīth) 2.4 | Ijāzah for Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2.5 | Ijāzah for Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2.6 | Ijāzah for Sunan ibn Mājah 2.7 | Ijāzah / Shahādah (Certificate) for Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ 2.8 | Diagram of isnāds from different denominations and schools leading back to Shāh Walīyullāh

Appendix 3. Excerpt from Abdal Hakim Murad’s Lecture on ‘Our Mosques, Our Future’.

‘The question of Leadership in the UK: ‘Young people in particular do not just need a dome over their heads as they pray, and they don’t just need a youth club. They need also role models and particularly religious role models, who represent a form of life perhaps they themselves would want to occupy in twenty or thirty years time. And here I think British Islam has been rather unsuccessful. When compared for instance with Islam in America, there are three times as many Muslims in America than there are in England but they have generally not had the kind of suicide bombings in their cities produced by local Muslim communities that we’ve had here. I think one reason for that – obviously there are other variables – has to be the fact that their leadership actually seems to be more accurate, particularly in English. In Britain we have not produced leaders of the calibre of Sirāj Wahhāj, Zaid Shākir, Hamza Yūsuf, ‘Umar ‘Abdullāh and other significant people who have huge followings not just amongst the intellectual or aesthetic elites, but at the grassroots of the community. There is no single person in British Islam who really stands shoulder to shoulder with these people as far as I can see. And that must mean something is wrong with the madrasa sector. It is an interesting fact that there are twice as many Muslim training as Imams in this country as there are Christians of all denominations training for Christian ministry. It’s kind of an over population. There are at least twenty institutions now as far as I can see that are doing it, but as yet we have not found the one leader, who can lead cheering crowds in Trafalgar Square, who can galvanise teenagers and lead them in the direction of something that is mainstream, normative and convivial Islam – that individual has not yet appeared. So something needs to be done in that sector as well if we are going to build this thing we want which is the positive outwardly oriented 21st century Mosque. Now the training of leadership is particularly difficult because of their entrenched denominational interests at work and very often the institutions are outlets of metropolitan institutions in the Subcontinent, which control the syllabus and which are effectively unreachable. Instead, I suspect that the solution has to come not so much as a kind of eyeball rolling problematizing of the Mullah curriculum, but rather should be more positive. You recognise the traditional madrasa curriculum (the dars-e-niẓāmī) and allied curricula are in fact extraordinarily brilliant articulations of Islam in a particular civilizational mode’. Murad, A. H. (2008). Youtube – Our Mosques, Our Future – Abdul Hakim Murad.

Appendix 3.5 – Yoginder Sikand’s Interview with Mawlānā Tariq Rashid Firangī Maḥallī.

39-year old Maulana Tariq Rasheed Firangi Mahali is a ninth generation direct descendant of Mulla Nizamuddin Firanghi Mahali, who framed what is known after him as the dars-e nizami, the basic syllabus that continues to be followed by the vast majority of Islamic madrasas in South Asia even today. He is one of the few remaining members of the renowned Firangi Mahali family of Lucknow who carry on with their family’s centuries’-old tradition of Islamic scholarship. A graduate of the Nadwat ul-Ulema madrasa in Lucknow, he is presently Director of the Islamic Society of Greater Orlando, Florida, in the United States. In this interview, he talks about his family’s scholarly tradition and its decline and reflects on the dars-e nizami and madrasa education in South Asia today. Yoginer Sikand: Could you briefly describe your family’s tradition of Islamic scholarship? Mawlānā Tariq Rashid: We trace our descent from a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari , in whose house in Medina the Prophet stayed following his migration from Mecca. Our family has, over the centuries, produced leading Islamic scholars. In the early eighteenth century, the Mughal Emperor granted Mulla Qutubuddin, one of our ancestors, a mansion in Lucknow, the Firanghi Mahal, which was earlier used by a European or firanghi merchant, and hence its name. Mulla Nizamuddin, son of Mulla Qutubuddin, prepared an outline for studies, which came to be known after him as the dars-e nizami or the ‘Syllabus of Nizamuddin’. This was, for its time, a very relevant syllabus, and soon became so popular all across India that almost all the madrasas that were later established adopted its pattern. And even today most madrasas in South Asia claim to follow the dars-e nizami and so are called Nizami madrasas. YS: What was so special about the dars-e nizami? MTR: For its times, the dars-e nizami provided a well-rounded education. It included subjects such as Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicine, Philosophy, Logic, Geography, Literature, Chemistry and so on, as well as the Quran, the Prophetic Traditions or Hadith, Islamic Jurisprudence or Fiqh and Sufism. Those who passed through this course of study went on to assume a variety of careers, not just as imams and qazis, but also as bureaucrats in the courts of various princely states. And this is why even Shia and Hindu students studied with the ulema of the Firanghi Mahal family. It was not like today, when, in a climate of increasing sectarianism and narrow-mindedness, madrasas are associated with one sect or the other, and often play a key role in fanning inter-sectarian conflicts. They are now unwilling to tolerate each other. What a contrast this is to the ecumenism that characteristic of the early ulema of Firanghi Mahal! The dars-e nizami, as Mulla Nizamuddin developed it, was not intended to be a hide-bound, fixed and unchanging syllabus, as it is sometimes made out to be today by some maulvis. This is evident from the fact that although Mulla Nizamuddin authored several books, he did not include even one of these in the syllabus that he framed. The syllabus was flexible enough to allow for the inclusion of new or better books. In place of bookish learning, which is characteristic of many madrasas today, Mulla Nizamuddin did not teach entire books to his students. Rather, he taught them only some chapters of each book, and encouraged them to study the rest of these books on their own, so that they could thereby enhance their critical capacities. This was unlike in most madrasas today, where questioning is strongly discouraged. YS: How did the tradition of learning based in Firanghi Mahal develop after Mulla Nizamuddin? MTR: Mulla Nizamuddin did not establish a madrasa in Firanghi Mahal. Rather, students would come to him from different parts of India to learn from him in his house in the Firanghi Mahal. There was no regular, fixed course of study or examinations, as in the case of madrasas today. Students would stay in mosques in the neighbourhood or else rent a place close-by and regularly meet with and study various books from Mulla Nizamuddin or other members of his family. He was also a spiritual instructor for many of them, because he was a Sufi, and a disciple of the noted Qadri saint Shah Abdur Razak Bansavi. This system of informal learning at Firanghi Mahal was then carried on by several generations of our family. Basically, students came from Muslim elite or ashraf families. The system was a product of the feudal period, and our family, like many other scholarly families of that time, was patronised by the Muslim feudal elite. It was only in 1906 that Maulana Andul Bari Firanghi Mahali, who was a noted Islamic scholar of his times and one of the founders of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind, established a madrasa, the Madrasa-e Nizamia, inside the Firanghi Mahal. The madrasa continued to function till the Partition, in 1947, when Maulana Abdul Bari’s son and successor, Maulana Jamal Miyan, migrated to Pakistan. YS: The once-grand Firanghi Mahal structure is today in a state of almost complete ruin, despite the fact that several members of the family are well-off. Why this neglect? MTR: Partition hit our family very badly. Around half of the Firanghi Mahali family migrated to Pakistan. From there, many of them settled in Europe and America. Most of them, like the rest of the family who remained in India, gave up the tradition of Islamic scholarship and took to Western learning. The family was bereft of feudal patrons in the new set-up, and that was also a major cause for the decline of our scholarly tradition. And then those who are the legal heirs of the structure where the Madrasa-e Nizamia once stood are not interested in refurbishing it, although I tried to do so some years ago. Consequently, the structure is now in ruins, in a state of complete neglect. The various branches of the Firanghi Mahal family had, over the centuries, accumulated several thousand books and manuscripts. Many of them were taken to Pakistan by those of our family who shifted there. We were unable to preserve the rest, so we donated them to the Aligarh Muslim University’s library, where they are safely kept. Presently, only a few members of our family are carrying on with our centuries’-old family tradition of Islamic scholarship. These are Maulana Hasan Miyan, my cousin, who studied at the Nadwat ul-Ulema, Lucknow, and is now teaching there, my younger brother Khalid Rashid, who has established a new Madrasa-e Nizamia and an Islamic Centre at the Eidgah in Lucknow, and myself. YS: Some traditionalist ulema argue that the dars-e nizami does not need any change. They claim that it produced good scholars in the past and so can do so today, too. As a descendant of Mulla Nizamuddin and one who knows the tradition well, how do you react to this argument? MTR: I strongly disagree with this argument. It reflects a very strange mentality. So rigid are those who argue this way that they easily brand anyone who calls for change as an ‘apostate’ or an ‘agent’ of this or other ‘un-Islamic’ power. Mulla Nizamuddin did not certainly intend that the syllabus he formulated should remain unchanged forever. The point is that the ulema must be kept abreast with contemporary developments, which is not possible if one argues that the dars-e nizami should remain unchanged. 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? Of course, the Quran and Hadith texts and so on remain the same. They cannot be changed. But the dars-e nizami is overloaded with books on antiquated Greek logic and philosophy, or what are called ulum-e aqaliya or ‘rational sciences’, much of which is quite irrelevant now. They should be replaced by modern ‘rational’ subjects, such as English and social sciences, so that would-be ulema know about the present world. Without this knowledge how can they provide appropriate leadership to the community, as ‘heirs of the Prophets’? How will they be able to answer the questions that people in the streets are asking? How will they 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 that are still taught in the madrasas that claim to follow the dars-e nizami? So, this argument that the dars-i nizami should not be revised, on the lines that I have suggested, is completely absurd. I think it should be revised every thirty to forty years in accordance with changing conditions if it is to retain its relevance. I think a certain hostility to change is deeply ingrained in the mentality of many of our traditionalist ulema. For instance, when I was a child, loudspeakers had just been introduced in India and Mufti Atiq ur-Rahman Firanghi Mahali issued a fatwa declaring their use to be unlawful. Some other ulema also reacted the same way, but later the ulema were forced to change their position. Many traditionalist ulema somehow automatically assume that anything new is haram or forbidden, but, actually, in Islam the right attitude is that everything is permissible if it is not forbidden. The hostility of some ulema to any significant change in the dars-e nizami has also to do with a fixation with a certain understanding of what Muslim culture is. So, even in North America, many madrasas that have come up insist on keeping Urdu, rather than English, as the medium of instruction, although few young North American Muslims know Urdu, their language now being English. As if Urdu has some special sanctity attached to it! The ulema who run these madrasas might fear that if they were to use English instead, the students would lose their Islamic identity or be secularised, but this attitude is wrong because, needless to say, all languages, including both Urdu and English, are ultimately from God. Some ulema might feel that including English in the madrasa syllabus will cause their students to be attracted to the delights of the world and to stray from the path of the faith, but I do not think so. English is now the global language of communication, and if the ulema are to address the younger generation or people of other faiths they must know the language. And if they include English and the basics of modern subjects in their curriculum, they may succeed in attracting students from economically better-off families, too. At present, however, 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 the madrasas were to include such subjects in their syllabus, at least to a certain basic level, they would attract these students too. And then, after they finish a basic course that includes both religious as well as ‘secular’ subjects, their students can choose which line to specialise in. YS: Some maulvis dismiss even the most well-meaning suggestions for reform as a reflection of what they claim is an ‘anti-Islamic’ conspiracy, alleging that these are a means to secularise madrasas and rob them of their Islamic identity. What are your views on this? MTR: Different people might have different motives when talking about madrasa reforms, but surely the sort of reforms that some younger generation ulema like us, who are genuinely concerned about improving the madrasas, are calling for cannot or should not be branded as a ‘conspiracy’! We are not calling for the secularisation of the madrasas or suggesting that they should teach secular subjects to such an extent that their Islamic identity is threatened. Far from it. But surely there should be a revision of some aspects of the dars-e nizami that are no longer relevant and the inclusion of basic English, Social Sciences and so on, while making the Quran and the Hadith the centre of the curriculum, which they were not in the case of the traditional dars-e nizami, which gave more stress to the then current ‘rational’ sciences. Surely, even many ulema themselves recognise the need for this sort of change or else they would not be sending their own children to English-medium schools or even abroad to study if they can afford it. YS: The ‘mainstream’ media often depicts the ulema in a very negative light. Ulema such as yourself are rarely, if ever, mentioned by the media. Why is this so? MTR: Yes, unfortunately, there is this tendency on the part of large sections of the ‘mainstream’ media to portray the ulema as if they were some archaic, monstrous creatures. Part of the reason lies in deeply-rooted historical prejudices. And then there are weird people in every community, and the media often picks on some weird mullah who issues some sensational and irrational fatwas and presents him as speaking for all the ulema, which is, of course, not the case. So, part of the fault also lies with such mullahs. I feel that one way to solve this problem is to encourage what is known as collective ijtihad, through which ulema and experts in various ‘secular’ branches of learning work together to provide proper responses to people’s questions. Only then can the problem of outlandish fatwas, which have given the whole class of ulema such a bad name, be put an end to. I strongly think that reforms in the curriculum and methods of teaching are essential to help madrasas relate better to others, including non-Muslims, the media and the government, and also to counter misunderstandings that many people have about them. Only then will people come to realise that madrasas are constructive, not destructive, institutions. For that we also need to encourage tolerance for other points of view, for other understandings of Islam and for other religions and their adherents. YS: There is also considerable debate about the need for introducing vocational training in the madrasas. Some traditionalists are fiercely opposed to this. What do you feel? MTR: I think vocational training is very important. Ideally, although this is not always the case, one should choose to become an alim not for the sake of a job but as a religious calling. In other words, ideally, imamat in a mosque or delivering sermons should not be a paid profession. It should be an honorary, voluntary thing. This is how it was in the distant past. For instance, Imam Abu Hanifa, whose school of law most South Asian Sunni Muslims follow, was not a professional alim—he earned his livelihood as a businessman. Today, however, the general feeling is that large sections of the ulema live off the donations of others. If one is dependent on others how will one earn the respect due to him? The ulema can gain proper respect only when they are seen as providing benefits, in terms of proper leadership and guidance, to others, rather than, as now, benefitting from them. And, for that, financial independence of the ulema is a must, and hence the need for introducing vocational training in the madrasas. YS: As the head of an important Islamic Centre in America, what do you see as the major challenges before the ulema in thepost-9/11 world? MTR: The most pressing need today is for the ulema to act as a bridge between Muslims and other communities, rather than to add to on-going conflicts. We have tried to do this in our own small way in the United States. After 9/11, in a climate of increasing hostility towards Muslims and Islam, we began outreach programmes with Christians and Jews, speaking on and answering questions about Islam in colleges, universities and other public places. We also helped establish a group to promote dialogue between Muslims and Jews, which is called “Jews, Arabs and Muslims”, or JAMS for short. We plan to have our first big gathering this coming February, and expect some 10,000 people, Muslims, Jews and others, to attend it. Our purpose is to state that the American Muslims are indeed willing to live peacefully with their Jewish compatriots, despite the differences they have. I think 9/11 came as a major wake-up call for us in America. We are much more active now in inter-faith dialogue and outreach work than we ever were before. Earlier, we adopted the same approach that the ulema in India continue to adopt—we were satisfied living in own little cocoons and not making the effort to reach out to people of other faiths, to listen to them and to speak to them. This is what 9/11 forced us to wake up to. And, based on my own experiences in the field of dialogue in the last few years, I must say that the vast majority of Americans are indeed tolerant and willing to listen to what we say, if approached properly. YS: Some Muslims argue that America is an ‘enemy of Islam’. How do you react to this? MTR: I think this is pure hypocrisy. Many of those who make this claim would be the first to migrate to America if they were provided with an American passport or visa! There are numerous fiercely anti-American Muslims, including even some mullahs, whose own children live comfortably in America! I may not agree with some aspects of the foreign policy of the present American government or the attitude of sections of the American media, but nor do millions of non-Muslim Americans. You cannot equate the American government with the American people. The average American on the street cannot be said to be anti-Islam. We have over three thousand mosques in America and enjoy freedom to practise our faith. I think all of us, Muslims and others, urgently need to shed our parochialism, and seek to reach out to each other if the world is to be saved from catastrophe in the name of religion. Needless to add, there are well-meaning people in every community and in every country, America included, and our task is to work together with them for the sake of our common humanity. Accessed online [04.09.2012]: http://indianmuslims.in/maulana-tariq-rashid-firangi-mahali-on-madarsa-reforms/

Appendix 4. Picture of a ṭālib’s ‘ilm al-ṣīghah and affixed to the inner cover his handwritten ‘dawr tartīb’ – ‘revision arrangement’
Appendix 5. THE ALIMIYYAH PROGRAMME / FULL TIME at Ebrahim College.

Tables accessed online [01.09.2012]: http://ebrahimcollege.org.uk/ebrahim/alimcourse/full-time/

First Year
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Arabic Language & Grammar 1 Arabic Language & Grammar 2 Arabic Language & Grammar 3
Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an Arabic Literature 1 Arabic Literature 2
Hadith Mixed Genre’s (mukhtaraat)
Tafsir Tahleeli 1 Tafsir Tahleeli 2 Tafsir Tahleeli 3
Islamic Jurisprudence 1 Islamic Jurisprudence 2 Islamic Jurisprudence 3
Tajweed 1 Tajweed 2 Aqeedah Al-Tahawiyyah
Introduction to Usul al-Fiqh Introduction to uloom al-hadith Seerah
English composition Intro to Philosophy of Religion
Second Year
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Tafsir Tahlili 4 Tafsir Tahlili 5 Tafsir Tahlili 6
Uloom al-Qur’an Tajweed 3 Tajweed 4
Hadith 1 Hadith 2 Hadith 3
Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih
Uloom al-Hadith Uloom al-Hadith The history of the Khulafa
Jurisprudence Jurisprudence Jurisprudence
Hidayah 1 Hidayah 2 Hidayah 3
Islamic Theology Islamic Theology Understanding world Religions
Academic writing and research skills Introduction to Balaghah Understanding Muslim Sects and Groups
Usool al-Fiqh al-Islami 1 Usool al-Fiqh al-Islami 2 Usool al-Fiqh al-Islami 3
Third Year
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Tafsir Tahlili 7 Tafsir Tahlili 8 Tafsir Tahlili 9
Tajweed 5 Tajweed 6 Qur’an, hadith and the Orientalists
Hadith 4 Hadith 5 Hadith 6
Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih
History of Muslim Dynasties History of Britain Muslims in Britain
Jurisprudence Jurisprudence Jurisprudence
Hidayah 4 Hidayah 5 Hidayah 6
Understanding Takhreej and its application Understanding Da’wah and Islamic Movements Introduction to Mantiq
Academic writing and research skills Developing effective translation skills Speaking and composing in modern standard Arabic
Fourth Year
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Tafsir Tahlili 10 Tafsir Tahlili 11 Tafsir Tahlili 12
(completion of the Qur’an)
Al-Tafsir al-Mawdu’i Al-Tafsir al-Mawdu’i Understanding Fiqh al-Fuqaran
Understanding Tafsir and the Mufassirun 1 Understanding Tafsir and the Mufassirun 3
Hadith 7 Hadith 8 Hadith 9
Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih Mishkaat al-Masabih
History of Ideas History of Ideas Critical thinking
Jurisprudence Jurisprudence Jurisprudence
Hidayah 7 Hidayah 8 Hidayah 9
Women in Islamic Society Philosophy of Shari’ah Dissertation 1 (English)
Fiqh al-Aqaliyyaat Leadership and Imamah in the community Dissertation 2 (Arabic)
Appendix 6 – List of Books currently studied at the Dewsbury madrasa.

Ḥadīth Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāriyy Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ‘Amīr al-mu’minīn fī al-ḥadīth’ ibn Ismā’īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn al-Bardizbah al-Ju’afiyy (196-256 A.H. / 810-870 C.E.) was a Shafi’ī / Ḥanbalī / mujtahid muṭlaq. Born in Bukhārā (Uzbekistan) and passed away in Samarkand.[122] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Abū al-Ḥusayn ‘Asākir al-Dīn’ Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj ibn Muslim ibn Warad ibn Karshād al-Qushayriyy al-Nishāpūriyy (206-261 A.H. / 821-875 C.E.) was born in Nishāpūr, Khurasān (Iran). Shāfi’ī / Mālikī.[123] Sunan Abī Dawūd Abū Dāwūd Sulaymān ibn Ash’ath ibn Ishāq ibn Bashīr ibn Shaddād ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Imrān al-Azdiyy al-Sajistāniyy (816-889 C.E. / 202-275 A.H.) was born in Sajistān (Khurasān: Iran / Afghanistan). Historians differ regarding the his maslak : Shāfi’ī / Ḥanafī / Ḥanbalī.[124] Sunan ibn Mājah Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥāmmad ibn Mājah ibn Yazīd ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Rib’ī al-Qazwīniyy (824-887 C.E. / 209-273 A.H.) was born in Qazwīn (Iran). He was Shāfi’ī / Ḥanbalī.[125] Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhī Abū ‘Īsā Muḥammad ibn ‘Īsā ibn Sowrah ibn Mūsā ibn Ḍaḥḥāk Sulamiyy Tirmidhiyy Bowghiyy (824-892 C.E. / 209-279 A.H.) was born in a village called Bowgh near Tirmidh (Uzbekistan).[126] Sunan al-Nasa’ī Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Aḥmad ibn Shu’ayb … al-Nasa’ī (829-892 C.E. / 214-303 C.E.) was born in Nasā’ a place near Sarkhas (Khurasān / Turkmenistan). By maslak, he was Shāfi’ī / Ḥanbalī.[127] Sharḥ Ma’ānī al-Āthār Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Salāmah ibn Salamah … Azadiyy Ḥijriyy Ṭaḥāwiyy Ḥanafiyy (843 or 853 – 933 C.E. / 229 or 239 – 321 A.H.) was born in a small village ‘Ṭaḥṭūṭ’ close to Ṭaḥā in Egypt, and preferred to be called Ṭaḥāwiyy after Ṭaḥā.[128] He was initially Shāfi’ī but then accepted the Ḥanafi maslak. In this book he provides aḥādīth to prove the ḥanafī maẓhab, however he is more famous for his book ‘Aqīdat al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah. Muwaṭṭa’ Imām Mālik Muwaṭṭa’ Imām Muḥammad Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ[129] Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn Arabic / Literature Ṣarf ‘Ilm al-Ṣīghah (ḥifẓ) ‘Ilm al-Ṣarf (ḥifẓ) Tamrīn al-Ṣarf (ḥifẓ) Naḥw Sharḥ ibn ‘Aqīl Hidāyat al-Naḥw ‘Ilm al-Naḥw (ḥifẓ) Tamrīn al-Naḥw (ḥifẓ) Balāgha / Literature Mukhtaṣar al-Ma’āniyy Dīwān al-Ḥimāsah Maqāmāt al-Ḥarīriyy Nafḥat al-‘Arab Safīnat al-Bulaghā’ we Talkhīs al-Miftāḥ Arabic Vocabulary ‘Arabiyy Ṣafwat al-Maṣādir (ḥifẓ) Arabic Sharḥ miat ‘Āmil Mu’allim al-Inshā’ Miftāḥ al-Qur’ān Durūs al-Lughat al-‘Arabiyyah Fiqh Hidāyah (awwal ilā rābi’) Sharḥ al-Wiqāyah Kanz al-Daqā’iq Al-Mukhtaṣar al-Qudūriyy Nūr al-Īḍāḥ Sirājiyy ma’a Mu’īn al-Farā’iḍ (ḥifẓ) Tafsīr (Qur’anic Exegesis) Jalālyn Sharīfayn Tarjuma-e-Qur’ān 1 / 2 / 3 Tajwīd Sirāj al-Qārī al-Mubtadī wa Tidhkār al-Muqrī al-Muntahī Muqaddimat al-Jazariyyah Khulāsat al-Bayān Fawā’id al-Makkiyyah Jāmi’ al-Waqf Jamāl al-Qur’ān Tajwīd Mubtadī (ḥifẓ) Uṣūl al-Fiqh Al-Ḥusāmiyy Nūr al-Anwār Uṣūl al-Shāshiyy Sīrat / Akhbār Ḥayāt al-Ṣaḥabah Qiṣaṣ al-Nabiyyīn Raḥmat-e-‘Ālam Sīrat-e-Khātam al-Anbiyā’ Manṭiq Sharḥ Tahdhīb Mirqāt (fī al-manṭiq) Taysīr al-Manṭiq (ḥifẓ) ‘Aqā’id / Kalām Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-Nasafiyyah Uṣūl al-Qur’ān Al-Fawz al-Kabīr Tārīkh – Islamic History Durūs al-Tārīkh al-Islāmiyy Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth Nukhbat al-Fikr

Appendix 7 – A Sample of the Final Year Curriculum to be set by Modern Academia for Jāmi’at al-‘Ilm wa al-Hudā.

Accessed online [06.09.2012]: http://www.islamicstudiesnetwork.ac.uk/assets/documents/islamicstudies/Presentation_1.ppt Bibliography The Qur’an: A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem Primary Sources Anderson, P. and Suleiman, Y. et al (2011). Reforms in Islamic Education: Report of a Conference Held at the Prince AlWaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge. Imām, F. (1944). Mirqāt مرقات (فی المنطق). H. M Sa’īd Company: Karachi, Pakistan Iqbal, M. (2008). The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Kitab Bhavan: New Delhi, India Nadwi, M. A. (2007). Madrasah Life: A Student’s Day at Nadwat al-Ulama. Foreward by Piscatori, J. Turath Publishing: London, UK Ramadan, T. (2004). Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK Ramadan, T. (2009). Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK Sikand, Y. (2002). The Origins and Development of the Tablighi-jama’at (1920-2000): A Cross-country Comparative Study. Sangam Books Ltd: Hyderabad, India Thanwi, M. A. A. (1425 A.H.). Tuḥfat al-‘Ulamā’: ḥaḍrat ḥakīm al-ummat Thānwī (raḥimahū Allāh) kī senkṛo taṣānīf ka nachoṛ ‘تحفۃ العلماء : حضرت حکیم الامت تھانوی رحمہ اللہ کی سینکڑوں تصانیف کا نچوڑ. Edited by Zaid, M. and Ishaq, M. Idara Ta’leefaat Ashrafiyyah: Multan, Pakistan. [Urdu] Shahādāt, Ijāzāt and Asānīd For various madrasa graduation certificates see Appendix 2 Interviews / Surveys Responses from Fāḍils (madrasa graduates): See Appendix 1 Yoginder Sikand’s Interview with Mawlānā Tariq Rashid Firangī Maḥallī. See Appendix 3.5 Accessed online [04.09.2012]: http://indianmuslims.in/maulana-tariq-rashid-firangi-mahali-on-madarsa-reforms/ Projects / Fieldwork Geaves, R. (2011-12). An exploration of the viability of partnership between dar al-ulum and Higher Education Institutions in North West England focusing upon pedagogy and relevance. Liverpool Hope University Interim and Final Report [Accessed online: 14.08.2012] available from: http://www.islamicstudiesnetwork.ac.uk/islamicstudiesnetwork/projects/display?id=/projects/alldetails/islamicstudies/Jan_2011_Ron_Geaves Secondary Sources Alam, T. (2012). Daru’l Uloom Madrassah Education in the UK: Altering between Conservation and Change. ‘A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MA in the Sociology of Education – ‘Institute of Education – University of London’. Available online [Accessed 20.06.2012]: http://ioe.academia.edu/TahirHaqq/Papers/1433836/Madrassah_Education_in_th_UK_Between_Conservation_and_Change Albertz, R. (1994). A History of the Israelite Religion in Old Testament Period. Volume 2. S.C.M Ansari, H. (2004). ‘The Infidel Within’: Muslims in Britain since 1800. Hurst & Company LTD: London, UK Aẓami, F. R. (1996). Tanwīr al-Ḥāwī fī taẓkirat al-imām Abī Ja’far Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Ṭaḥāwiyy ‘تنویر الحاوی فی تذکرۃ الامام ابی جعفر احمد بن محمد الطحاوی رحمہ اللہ’. Idārah Iḥyā’-e-sunnat: New Delhi, India Bosworth, C. E. (2004). The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. edited by Hillenbrand, C. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, Scotland Belton, B. and Hamid, S. et.al (2011). Youth Work and Islam: A Leap of Faith for Young People. Sense Publishers: Rotterdam / Boston / Taipei Bruinessen, M. V. et al. (2007). Sufism and the Modern in Islam. I.B. Tauris: London, United Kingdom See: Sikand, Y. ‘The Reformist Sufism of the Tablighi Jama’at: The Case of the Meos of Mewat, India. pp.129-148 Gangohī, M. H. (1969). Ẓafr al-muḥaṣṣilīn bi aḥwāl al-muṣannifīn ‘ظفر المحصلین باحوال المصنفین مع اضافات جدید : مع قرۃ العین فی تذکرۃ الفنون’. Mīr Muḥammad Kutub Khāna: Karachi, Pakistan [Arabic / Urdu] Geaves, Ron (2010). Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam. Kube Publishing Ltd: Leicester, UK Gilliat-Ray, S. (2010). Muslims in Britain: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK Hefner, R. W. and Zaman, M. Q. (2006). Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education. Princeton University Press: Princeton, USA Husain, S. S. and Ashraf, S. A. (1979). Crisis in Muslim Education. – Islamic Education Series. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd: Great Britain. Ikrām, S. M. (2009). Rūd-e-Kawthar ‘رودِ کوثر’. Nāẓim Idārah Thaqāfat-e-Islāmiyyah: Lahore, Pakistan Khan, S. A. (2011). Qiyām-e-Dār al-‘ulūm Deoband: ayk ghalaṭ fehmī kā izālah ‘قیامِ دار العلوم دیوبند: ایک غلط فہمی کا ازالہ’. Nadwat al-Muṣannifīn, Nadwah Educational Trust: Islamabad, Pakistan Lewis, P. (2007). Young, British and Muslim. Continuum International Publishing Group: London, UK Masud, M. K. (2000). Travellers in Faith: Studies of the Tablīghī Jamā’at as a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal. Brill: Leiden, The Netherlands Metcalf, B. D. et al (2006). A Concise History of Modern India. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK Nu’mānī, M. (1996). Tablīghī Jamā’at, Jamā’at-e-Islāmī aur barelvī ḥaḍrāt (تبلیغیجماعت، جماعتِ اسلامی اور بریلوی حضرات). Majlis-e-Nashriyyāt-e-Islām: Karachi, Pakistan [Urdu] Nadwi, M. I. J. (1983). Tarīkh-e-Nadwat al-‘Ulamā’تاریخِ ندوۃ العلما. (Vol. 1). Nadwat al-‘Ulamā: Lucknow, India Rahman, F. (1984). Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition. University of Chicago: Chicago, USA Rahman, F. (2002). Islam. 2nd edition. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, USA Ramadan, T. (1999). To be a European Muslim. The Islamic Foundation: Leicester, UK Sikand, Y. (2005). Bastion of the Believers: Madrasa and Islamic Education in India. Penguin Books: New Delhi, India Snow, J. and Lewis, P. (2007). Young, British and Muslim. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd: London, UK Tabassum, F. (2006). Deoband Ulema’s Movement for the Freedom of India. Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind: New Delhi, India Uthmānī, M. T. (2004). Dars-e-Tirmidhī (درسِ ترمذی). Ed. By Saifi, R. A. Maktabah Dār al-‘Ulūm: Karachi, Pakistan [Urdu and Arabic] Zaman, M. Q. (2008). Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi: Islam in Modern South Asia. Oneworld Publications: Oxford, UK. Zaman, M. Q. (2002). The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change. Princeton University Press: Princeton, USA Journals, Articles and Reports Ansari, M. I. (1975). ‘Nadwat al-‘Ulamā: ayk dīnī aw ta’līmī taḥrīk’ ‘ندوۃ العلما: ایک دینی و تعلیمی تحریک’. Islam aur ‘Asr-e-Jadīd ‘اسلام اور عصرِ جدید, Vol. 7, no. 2, April 1975. Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). ‘Educating the ‘Ulama: Centres of Islamic Religious Training in Britain’. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2006, pp. 55-76 Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). ‘Closed Worlds: (Not) Accessing Deobandi dar ul-uloom in Britain’. Fieldwork in Religion, Vol. 1, No.1, 2005, pp. 7-33 Graham, W. A. (1993). ‘Traditionalism in Islam: An Essay in Interpretation’. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 23, No. 3, Religion and History (Winter 1993), pp. 495-522 Hull, J. M. (1998). ‘Religious Education and Muslims in England: Developments and Principles’. Muslim Education Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1998, pp. 10-23 Kadi, W. (2006). ‘Education in Islam – Myths and Truths’. Comparative Education Review, Vol. 50, No. 3, Special Issue on Islam and Education – Myths and Truths, August 2006, pp. 311-324 Metcalf, B. D. (2001). ‘Traditionalist’ Islamic Activist: Deoband, Tablighis, and Talibs’. Social Science Research Council Accessed online [12.03.2012]: http://essays.ssrc.org/sept11/essays/metcalf.htm Metcalf, B. D. (1978). ‘The Madrasa at Deoband: A Model for Religious Education in Modern India’. Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1978, pp. 111-134 Qāsmī, M. K. (2010). ‘Hindustān meń musalmānoń kā niṣāb-e-ta’līm – ہندوستان میں مسلمانوں کا نصابِ تعلیم‘ [Urdu]. Māhnāmah Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband, shumārah (Vol.) 5, No. 94, May 2010 (جمادی الاولی ۔ جمادی الثانی 1431 ہجری) Sikand, Y. S. (1998). ‘The Origins and Growth of the Tablighi Jamaat in Britain’. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 9, No. 2, June 1998, pp. 171-192 Zaman, M. Q. (1999). ‘Religious Education and the Rhetoric of Reform: The Madrasa in British India and Pakistan’. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 41, No. 2, April 1999, pp. 294-323 Speeches and Lectures Fazlur Rahman, M. (2012). Youtube – NEW – Maulana Fazlur Rahman 2012 Khatm-e- Bukhari Shareef Dewsbury Markaz – 12/06/2012. Speech presented at Jāmi’at Ta’līm al-Islām, Dewsbury on 12th June 2012 on the occasion of Madrasah Graduation. Dewsbury, England Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngy_3qTmcQ0 [Accessed online: 16.08.2012] Hosein, I. (2012). Youtube – The Future Of Islam In India, Pakistan & Bangladesh By Sheikh Imran Hosein. Speech presented at Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur on 1st June 2012. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=gBfq6PsT3yM&NR=1 [Accessed online: 10.07.2012] Murad, A. H. (2008). Youtube – Our Mosques, Our Future – Abdul Hakim Murad. Speech presented in Hounslow, UK on 21st October 2008. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnsvV-s0kNc&feature=related [Accessed online: 23.05.2012] For Transcript of excerpt see Appendix 3 Ramadan, T. (2012). Youtube – Tariq Ramadan and Shaykh Babikir Ahmed Islamic Education in the UK A view to the Future. Speech presented at Jesus College Ship Street Centre, Oxford on 6th March 2012. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvaQZZaaeFA [Accessed online: 14.03.2012] Websites and Internet Sources ‘Understanding Islamism’. Middle East/North Africa Report, No. 37 – 2 March 2005. International Crisis Group: working to prevent conflict worldwide. http://www.crisisgroup.org Accessed online [02.02.2009] Sikand, Y. ‘An Analysis of the writings of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’. Available from http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/01032002/0103200280.htm [Accessed online: 11.04.2012] ‘John Mohammed Butt: The hippie who became an imam’ Accessed online [01.01.2012]: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9369142.stm Daily Mail (2010) Article ‘Inside the Muslim Eton: 20 hour days starting at 3.45am with the aim of producing Muslim elite of leaders’. Accessed online [31.08.2012]: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1288053/Inside-Muslim-Eton-Their-day-starts-3-45am-goes-disciplined-20-hours-Their-aim-produce-Muslim-elite-leaders-.html Official Website – Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband, India Accessed online [01.01.2012]: http://www.darululoom-deoband.com/

  • Introduction to the System of Education ‘تعارفِ نصابِ تعلیم’ [Urdu]

Accessed online [08.08.2012]: http://darululoom-deoband.com/urdu/index.htm

  • Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband – Fatwa Wing

Accessed online [01.01.2012]: http://darulifta-deoband.org/ Official Website – Maẓāhir al-‘Ulūm Sahāranpūr, India Accessed online [01.01.2012]: http://mazahiruloom.org/ Official Website – Jāmi’at Ta’līm al-Islām (Dewsbury Madrasa) Accessed online [01.01.2012]: http://jaamia.org/ Official Website – Dār al-‘ulūm al-‘arabiyyah al-islāmiyyah (Bury Madrasa) Accessed online [08.08.2012]: http://www.inter-islam.org/ Official Website – Jāmi’at Riyāḍ al-‘Ulūm (Leicester Madrasa) Accessed online [08.08.2012]: http://www.jru.org.uk/ Official Website – Dār al-‘ulūm Da’wat al-Īmān (Bradford Madrasa) Accessed online [08.08.2012]: http://www.dawatulimaan.org.uk/

[1] Murad, A. H. (2008). Youtube – Our Mosques, Our Future – Abdul Hakim Murad. For full excerpt see ‘Appendix 3’
[2] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). ‘Closed Worlds: (Not) Accessing Deobandi dar ul-uloom in Britain’. Fieldwork in Religion, Vol. 1, No.1, 2005, p. 12
[3] ibid.
[4] Murad, A. H. (2008). For full excerpt see ‘Appendix 3’
[5] Sikand, Y. (2005). Bastions of the Believers: Madrasa and Islamic Education in India. p. 35
[6] Qāsmī, M. K. (2010). ‘Hindustān meń musalmānoń kā niṣāb-e-ta’līm – ہندوستان میں مسلمانوں کا نصابِ تعلیم‘
[7] Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p. 37
[8] ibid.
[9] Qāsmī, M. K. (2010). ‘Hindustān meń musalmānoń kā niṣāb-e-ta’līm – ہندوستان میں مسلمانوں کا نصابِ تعلیم‘ [Urdu]. Māhnāmah Dār al-‘Ulūm Deoband, shumārah (Vol.) 5, No. 94, May 2010 (جمادی الاولی ۔ جمادی الثانی 1431 ہجری). Also see ‘Introduction to the System of Education ‘تعارفِ نصابِ تعلیم’ [Urdu] Accessed online [08.08.2012]: http://darululoom-deoband.com/urdu/index.htm
[10] ibid.
[11] Mashāriq al-Anwār al-Nabawiyyah min Ṣiḥāḥ al-Akhbār al-Muṣṭafawiyyah was written by Raḍiyy al-Dīn Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣāghāniyy (577 – 650 A.H. / 1181 -1252 C.E.) who was born in Lahore, Hind (present day Pakistan). This book was a collection of ḥadīth from the ṣaḥīḥayn and hence amongst the kutub muntakhabāt al-ḥadīth (Books that were regarded collections of ḥadīths from various other books). See Gangohī, M. H. (1969), pp. 477-479.
[12] Maṣābīh al-Sunnah too is amongst the kutub muntakhabāt al-ḥadīth, which includes 4484 aḥādīth from ṣaḥīḥayn and 2434 from Sunan Abī Dawūd and Tirmidhī. This book was written by Muḥiyy al-Sunnah al-Baghawiyy (435 A.H / 1043 C.E.). See Gangohī, M. H. (1969), pp. 169-171
[13] Qāsmī, M. K. (2010), op. cit.
[14] Humāyūń had two reigns, as power was usurped from him by the Sūrī Sulṭāns of Delhi before he regained it for a second time.
[15] Bosworth, C. E. (2004). The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. p. 331
[16] ṣiḥāḥ sittah (the six most authentic books of aḥādīth) refers to Bukhāri, Muslim, Abū Dawūd, Tirmidhī, Nasa’ī and Ibn Mājah.
[17] Qāsmī, M. K. (2010), op. cit.
[18] Firangī Maḥal literally means ‘European Mansion’ – Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb offered this mansion to the sons of Mullāń Quṭb al-Dīn Sihālwī, who was part of the ‘fatāwā-e-‘ālamgīrī’ project of Aurangzeb to produce an encyclopaedia of fatāwā still used by contemporary ‘ulamā’. Mullāń Niẓām al-Dīn, was however the third son of Mullāń Quṭb al-Dīn Sihālwī. There was no such madrasa at Firangi Maḥal till 1905, until that period ṭālibs would study under scholars of the family in their homes and local mosques. See Sikand, Y. (2005) pp.45-48.
[19] Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p. 47
[20] ibid. – By keeping the dars-e-niẓāmī of Firangi Maḥal more rational it was made possible for non-Sunnis, Shia and Hindus to study alongside the ‘Ulamā.
[21] Those madrasa graduates who memorise the Qur’an but do not follow on into the ‘Ālimiyyah course.
[22] See Appendix 1 – Fāḍil 8
[23] Personal interviews
[24] Qāsmī, M. K. (2010), op. cit.
[25] Khan, S. A. (2011). Qiyām-e-Dār al-‘ulūm Deoband: ayk ghalaṭ fehmī kā izālah ‘قیامِ دار العلوم دیوبند: ایک غلط فہمی کا ازالہ’. p. 25
[26] ibid.
[27] These feelings, and comparisons are also found in Iqbal’s reconstruction of religious thought in Islam’, where he compares ‘contemporary ‘ulamā and their approach to the ‘ulamā’ of Baghdad 1258. Sikand too points towards the ‘insecurity among the ‘ulamā’ that saw in free-ranging ijtihad a threat to the integrity of Islam’. See Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p. 22.
[28] Tabassum, F. (2006). Deoband Ulema’s Movement for the Freedom of India. (p. 38), also see Khan, S. A. (2011). p. 23
[29] Khan, S. A. (2011), op. cit. p. 23
[30] ibid., p. 29
[31] ibid., pp. 22-23
[32] By isnād here I refer to the chain from student through his teachers to the author of the book. This will be discussed later in the essay. Waliyullāh is regarded masnad al-Hind as all asānīd (pl. of isnād) are believed to go through him to the authors of classical texts and finally to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Also see Appendices 2.3 to 2.7 for examples of ijāzats and also Appendix 2.8 for the significance of Shāh Waliyullāh for various Indian Muslim denominations.
[33] Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p. 71
[34] ibid.
[35] Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p. 79
[36] Nadwi, M. I. J. (1983). Tarīkh-e-Nadwat al-‘Ulamā’تاریخِ ندوۃ العلما. .Vol. 1, p. 171. Trans. from Sikand, Y. (2005)
[37] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). ‘Educating the ‘Ulama: Centres of Islamic Religious Training in Britain’. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2006, pp. 55-76
[38] Ansari, M. I. (1975). ‘Nadwat al-‘Ulamā: ayk dīnī aw ta’līmī taḥrīk’ ‘ندوۃ العلما: ایک دینی و تعلیمی تحریک’. Islam aur ‘Asr-e-Jadīd اسلام اور عصرِ جدید, Vol. 7, no. 2, April 1975. Trans. taken from Sikand, Y. (2005), op. cit., p.79
[39] See Appendix 1 – Fāḍil 2
[40] Mawlānā Gangohī defines taqlīd-e-Shakh ī as ‘seeking assistance in abiding by a law from a particular scholar.
[41] Geaves, R. (2011-12). ‘Final Report’. p. 4
[42] Sikand, Y. S. (1998). ‘The Origins and Growth of the Tablighi Jamaat in Britain’. p. 172
[43] Pā Ḍamīr (elder).
[44] Sikand, Y. S. (1998). op. cit., p. 173
[45] ibid.
[46] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). ‘Educating the ‘Ulama: Centres of Islamic Religious Training in Britain’. pp. 59-60
[47] ibid.
[50] What I mean by ustādh-mashā’ikhs are usually teachers who are also connected to the ṣūfī line.
[51] ibid.
[52] Official Website: http://jaamia.org/
[53] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2005). op. cit., p. 16
[54] ibid.
[55] ibid.
[56] ibid.
[57] Personal observation
[60] Interview: ‘Darul Uloom Deoband mohtamim’ accessed online [31.08.2012]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YNCQV6D-Ec&feature=related [Urdu]
[61] Nu’mānī, M. (1996). Tablīghī Jamā’at, Jamā’at-e-Islāmī aur barelvī ḥaḍrāt(تبلیغی جماعت، جماعتِ اسلامی اور بریلوی حضرات). pp. 59-60
[62] Ibid., p. 61
[63] See Table 1, no. 6
[64] For full article in Daily Mail , See ‘Inside the Muslim Eton: 20 hour days starting at 3.45am with the aim of producing Muslim elite of leaders’. Accessed online [31.08.2012]: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1288053/Inside-Muslim-Eton-Their-day-starts-3-45am-goes-disciplined-20-hours-Their-aim-produce-Muslim-elite-leaders-.html
[65] Alam, T. (2012). Daru’l Uloom Madrassah Education in the UK: Alternating between Conservation and Change. (pp. 43-44) ‘A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MA in the Sociology of Education – ‘IoE – University of London’. Available online [Accessed 20.06.2012]: http://ioe.academia.edu/TahirHaqq/Papers/1433836/Madrassah_Education_in_th_UK_Between_Conservation_and_Change
[66] ibid. p. 136
[67] See Appendix 1, Fāḍil 4
[68] See Appendix 1, Fāḍil 12
[69] See Appendix 1. Fāḍil 3
[70] Imām, F. (1944). Mirqāt مرقات (فی المنطق). p. 3
[71] Rahman, F. (2002). Islam. 2nd edition. p. 191
[72] Sikand’s Interview with Hafiz Sharif, Dewsbury, 16 December 1995. See. Sikand, Y. (2002) p.249
[73] Sikand, Y. (2002). The Origins and Development of the Tablighi-jama’at (1920-2000): A Cross-country Comparative Study. p. 250
[74] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2010). Muslims in Britain: An Introduction. p. 178
[75] For full list see Apendix 6.
[76] To be precise, this would differ from madrasa to madrasa, depending on what each madrasa deem significant.
[77] A book written by Mawlānā Mushtāq Aḥmad Charthāwalī, which is approximately 60 pages of Urdu explanation of Arabic grammar rules with Arabic examples. So the ṭalibs therefore spend approximately a year studying Urdu, which is problematic for the non-Urdu speaking ṭālibs, and thereafter these books become accessible to them.
[78] Same as above but for the subject of al-ṣarf.
[79]Ilm al-Ṣīghah is a book on higher etymology (ṣarf), written by a Muftī ‘Ināyat Aḥmad (1813-1862) all from his ḥāfiẓah (memory) whilst imprisoned by the British on the island of Kālāpānī following the mutiny of 1958.
[80] See Appendix 4
[81] ibid.
[82] Personal interview.
[83] Fazlur Rahman, M. (2012). Youtube – NEW – Maulana Fazlur Rahman 2012 Khatm-e- Bukhari Shareef Dewsbury Markaz – 12/06/2012. [Urdu]
[84] Albertz, R. (1994). A History of the Israelite Religion in Old Testament Period. Vol. 2, p. 558
[85] See Appendix 1, Fāḍil 8
[86] Some madāris provide a six year ‘ālimiyyah course, for Dewsbury and Bradford it is nine years.
[87] Hosein, I. (2012). Youtube – The Future of Islam in India, Pakistan & Bangladesh By Sheikh Imran Hosein.
[88] Appendix 1, Fāḍil 10
[89] ibid.
[90] See Appendix 1, Fāḍil 7
[91] Appendix 1, Fāḍil 12
[92] Nadwi, M. A. (2007). Madrasah Life: A Student’s Day at Nadwat al-Ulama. p. 5
[93] A Fārsī (Persian) Saying of Mawlānā Rūmī – Accessed online [31.08.2012]: http://www.bedil1.blogfa.com/post-12.aspx
[94] ibid., p. 43
[95] Mawlawī is a term that originated in the Sub-continent for an Islamic scholar, similar to Shaykh used in the Arab world, and literally means ‘my master’.
[96] Thānwī, A. A. (1425H). Tuḥfa al-‘Ulamā’ حضرت حکیم الامت تھانوی رحمہ اللہ کی سینکڑوں تصانیف کا نچوڑ: تحفۃ العلماء- (p. 41)
[97] See Appendix 2.7 – Ijāzah / Shahādah (Certificate) for Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ.
[98] See Appendix 2.4 – Ijāzah for Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
[99] See Appendic 2.2
[100] For full see Appendix 2.1 – The Shahādat of al-‘Ālimiyyah in Islamic Sciences and Arabic Literature. And for translation see Appendix 2.2 – Translation of Appendix 2.1 prepared for admission to a University Masters’ degree.
[101] See ‘Madrassas help students make sense of world’. Accessed online [05.09.2012]: http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2012/Apr/21/madrassas-help-students-make-sense-of-world-65.asp
[102] Sikand, Y. (2012). ‘Modern’ (Mis-)Education: Ethical Concerns Accessed online [29.08.2012]: http://www.countercurrents.org/sikand250712A.htm
[103] Sikand, Y. (2012). My ‘Modern Education’ Accessed online [29.08.2012]: http://newageislam.com/debate/my-%E2%80%98modern-education%E2%80%99/d/8013
[104] Zaman, M. Q. (1999). ‘Religious Education and the Rhetoric of Reform: The Madrasa in British India and Pakistan’. p. 302
[105] Ikrām, S. M. (2009). Rūd-e-Kawthar ‘رودِ کوثر’. Translation taken from Rahman, F. (2002) pp. 187-188.
[106] Zaman, M. Q. (2002). The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change. pp. 181-183
[107] Thānwī, A. A. (1425H), op. cit., p.110
[108] ibid.
[109] For full interview see Appendix 3.5 – Yoginder Sikand’s Interview with Mawlānā Tariq Rashid Firangī Maḥallī.
[110] Ibid., See Appendix 3.5 for full response.
[111] Fazlur Rahman, M. (2012). Youtube – NEW – Maulana Fazlur Rahman 2012 Khatm-e- Bukhari Shareef Dewsbury Markaz – 12/06/2012. [Urdu]
[112] Sikand, Y. (2002). The Origins and Development of the Tablighi-jama’at (1920-2000): A Cross-country Comparative Study. p. 250
[115] Accessed online (14.08.2012): http://www.mihe.org.uk/ma-islamic-studies
[116] For full four year syllabus see Appendix 5. Details accessed online [01.09.2012]: http://ebrahimcollege.org.uk/ebrahim/alimcourse/full-time/
[117] Gilliat-Ray, S. (2010). Muslims in Britain: An Introduction. p. 178
[118] See Appendix 1, Fāḍil 11
[119] Geaves, R. (2011-12). An exploration of the viability of partnership between dar al-ulum and Higher Education Institutions in North West England focusing upon pedagogy and relevance. Liverpool Hope University Interim and Final Report [Accessed online: 14.08.2012]: http://www.islamicstudiesnetwork.ac.uk/islamicstudiesnetwork/projects/display?id=/projects/alldetails/islamicstudies/Jan_2011_Ron_Geaves
[120] ibid. p. 11
[121] ibid., p. 14
[122] Gangohī, M. H. (1969). Ẓafr al-muḥaṣṣilīn bi aḥwāl al-muṣannifīn ‘ظفر المحصلین باحوال المصنفین مع اضافات جدید : مع قرۃ العین فی تذکرۃ الفنون’. [Arabic / Urdu] pp.93-116
[123] ibid. pp. 116-123
[124] ibid. pp. 123-136
[125] ibid. pp. 136-144
[126] ibid. pp. 144-152
[127] ibid. pp. 152-159
[128] Aẓami, F. R. (1996). Tanwīr al-Ḥāwī fī taẓkirat al-imām Abī Ja’far Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Ṭaḥāwiyy ‘تنویر الحاوی فی تذکرۃ الامام ابی جعفر احمد بن محمد الطحاوی رحمہ اللہ’. pp. 6-7
[129] Gangohī, M. H. (1969), op. cit., pp.171-173

Sūra al-‘Qalam (Chapter 68): structure and organic unity

Hamid Mahmood

Analyse Sūra al-‘Qalam (Chapter 68) showing the structure and organic unity of the sūra.

وہ بجلی کا کڑکا تھا یا صوتِ ہادی
عرب کی زمیں جس نے ساری ہلادی

(مولانا حالی ؒ)

Exploring organic unities and structures within sūras is a new phenomenon, as I believe the early Muslims (ṣaḥāba and tābi’īn), when analysing verses and sūras could ‘organically unify and structure each verse with the lived experience of Prophet Muhammad. Hence they sought no need of understanding structures and organic unities. However, now the need intensifies, as even on grassroots level yearn to understand the organic unity of the Sacred Text. I will therefore analyse and experiment with Amin Ahsan Islahi’s idea of ’amūd, by using his basic principles alongside Marwān Nūr al-dīn Sawār’s innovative notion of colour coding verses grouped under specific contexts. I will also aid my analysis with illustrations and diagrams marked on pages 5 and 6.

I will initiate by elucidating Islahi’s notion of the ’amūd and how it functions within each sūra between the verses, knitting together all the sūras of the Qur’ān to form a structured organic unity. Mustansir Mīr explains the notion in four parts:
‘(1) Each Qur’ānic sūrah has a dominant idea, called the axis of the sūrah, around which all the verses of that sūrah revolve. Thus no verse, or no group of verses, stands alone but has a direct relation with the axis of the sūrah and is part of the coherent scheme of the sūrah. (2) The sūrahs of the Qur’ān exist in pairs, the two sūrahs of any pair being complementary to each other and, together constituting a unit. There are a few exceptions, however. The first sūrah, Fatihah, does not have a compliment, because it is a kind of preface to the whole of the Qur’ān. All the other exceptions too are not exceptions in the real sense of the word since each of them is an appendix to one or the other sūrah. (3) The 114 sūrahs of the Qur’ān fall into seven groups. The first group comes to an end at sūrah 5, the second at sūrah 9, the third at sūrah 24, the fourth at sūrah 33, the fifth at sūrah 49, the sixth at sūrah 66, and the seventh at sūrah 114. Each group contains one or more Makkan sūrahs followed by one or more Madīnan sūrahs of the same cast. Like individual sūrahs or each pair of sūrahs, each group has a central theme which runs through all its sūrahs, knitting them into a distinct body. In each group, the themes of the other groups also occur but as subsidiary themes. (4) Each group logically leads to the next, and thus all the groups become variations on the basic theme of the Qur’ān, which is: ‘Allah’s call to man to adopt the right path’.
Now, keeping in mind Mir’s concern regarding the difference between ‘connectedness’ and ‘organic unity’, ‘a connection, howsoever weird and farfetched, can be established between any two objects of the universe. But organic unity implies the presence of a harmonious interrelationship between the components of a body or entity which produces a unified whole, a whole which is over and above the sum total or the components of and has worth and meaning in itself’, I have sought to depict Islahi’s idea through a diagram (see fig. 1.1, p.5) to then project this notion upon each sūrah and in this case, particularly sūra al-qalam. I will explore, through Islahi’s tadabbr-e-qur’ān, the sūrah’s organic unity within itself; with its pair; within it’s group amongst the seven other groups and finally its unity within the Qur’ān.

According to Islahi’s understanding, the seventh and final group of suwar (pl. of sūrah) begins from sūrah 67 (al-mulk) till the end of the Qur’ān and Islahi believes that the Axis of this group is indhār (اِنذار), hence, all the suwar in this group have the notion of indhār flowing through them knitting them all together in harmony. The approach to indhār in this group is reminiscent to the Prophet’s indhār on mount ṣafā. This indhār therefore includes vivid images of qiyāmah; the aḥwāl of qiyāmah; the consequence of denying this indhār for the Quraysh and the power of language and kalām used in delivering this indhār is as described by Molana Ḥālī in his Urdu poem:

وہ بجلی کا کڑکا تھا یا صوتِ ہادی
عرب کی زمیں جس نے ساری ہلادی
Was it a thunderbolt or the voice of a guide (hādī)
That shook the entire Arabian Peninsula

The state was such after the revelation of these suwar that Arabia changed in its entirety: one was either for this call, or on the contrary ardently opposed to it.

However, it is now fitting to analyse the ’amūd (Axis) of sūra al-mulk and sūra al-qalam, as Islahi describes them to be pairs in this final group and believes that they both have the same ’amūd – ‘indhār’ despite the differing style of deliverance. It is also interesting to note that Ashraf ’Ali Thānwī too, portrays in his exegesis similarities between the sūras and marks the slight difference in both:
ربط: سورت سابقہ میں منکرینِ توحید کی طرف زیادہ روے سخن اور اس سورت میں طاعنین فی النبوت (الیٰ ٰاخرہ)
Interconnection (rabṭ): The previous sūra (al-mulk) covers the narratives of munkirīn-e-tawḥīd (those opposed to monotheism), on the contrary this sūra (al-qalam) deals with ṭā’inīn fī al-nubuwwa (those who reproach and taunt the Prophethood of Muhammadؑ), and because denying Prophethood is kufr, hence the earthly (dunyawiyya) and heavenly (ukhrawiyya) punishments have been the axis of certain verses. Hence, it is also possible to see how both the exegetes explain a similar notion from differing perspectives, as for Islahi, he views the axis of the sūra to be indhār, whereas for Thānwī a response to those who reject notions of tawḥīd and nubuwwa.

Hence, I will now experiment with Islahi’s basic concept to structure sūra al-qalam and explore whether the āyāt flow amid the ’amūd – indhār, as apposed to the atomistic approaches. In doing so I will now introduce an innovative idea on grassroots level edited and researched by Marwān Nūr al-dīn Sawār and his team, who have produced a ‘colour coded verse contextualised Qur’ān’, in which all the verses of the same context are colour coded together and a further specific verse based explanation of the text is given at the foot of the page (see Fig. 2.1 on p. 6). Sawār forms six groups of verses in this sūra as shown in Fig. 2.0 : (1) verses 1-4; (2) verses 5-16; (3) 17-33; (4) 34-41; (5) 42-47; and (6) 48-52. Keeping in mind Sawār’s categorization I will now merge Islahi’ṣ idea and axis (’umūd).

Verses’ 1-4, I opine, to be the Qur’ān’s response to the allegations laid down by the Quraysh, who were responding to the indhār of the Prophet by declaring him majnūn. These set of verses in their response play a major role in reassuring the Prophet of his ‘ajr and status, and in doing so hint towards the endeavour of previous Prophets, especially Yūnus (Jonah). Despite the mainstream cognisance of ḥurūf al-muqaṭṭa’āt, that their true meaning is only in the mind of the Author, to understand the relationship of nūn with the ’umūd Ḥamīd al-dīn Farāhī presents sūra al-nūn in support of his theory regarding these letters: “the letter nūn still denotes its ancient meaning of fish. In this sūra, the Prophet Jonah (sws) has been addressed as ṣāḥib al-ḥūt (he is also addressed as ṣaḥib al-nūn in sūra 21:87) that is he who is swallowed by a whale. Farahi opines that it is because of this reference that the sūra is called ‘nūn’. He goes on to say that if one keeps in consideration the example given above, it is quite likely that the abbreviated letters by which other Surahs commence are placed at the beginning of the Surahs to symbolize a relation between the topics of a particular sūra and their own ancient connotations”. Therefore the Prophet has been reminded at the very beginning of the sūra that patience is incumbent once the call (indhār) has been given, by reminding him of the incident of Yūnus in the whale (nūn) which is linked to verse 48 – and be not like the man of the fish. Finally, according to Islahi the purpose of the oath was to give a three fold response to the Quryash; (1) rejection of their claim of the Prophet’s junūn; (2) rejection of their claim that the Prophet’s endeavour is for a limited period, and it would soon fade away with the turning pages of history; and finally (3) that the Prophet is the beholder of high character, therefore the Quraysh call upon themselves grave torment. All purposes for the oath are linked to the axis (indhār) as the response of the Quraysh was a direct result of the Prophet’s indhār to them.

This first set of verses (1-4) then move onto the second, verses 5-16. I believe group 2 to be a follow on of the reassurance to the Prophet by instructing him not to give in and follow or become sympathetic in his call (indhār) (وَدُّواْ لَوْ تُدْهِنُ فَيُدْهِنُونَ) towards such a people, whom the Qur’ān describes as al-mukadhibīn, ḥallāf mahīn, hammāz etc. Thereafter, the theme moves onto a parable of the people of the garden (Group 3: verses 17 – 33). I view this parable from two distinct perspectives, both of which are intertwined with the ’amūd. The first being that of Thānwī mentioned earlier, the earthly (dunyawiyya) torment upon those who reproach nubuwwa, hence reject the indhār foretold to them. The second perspective, I opine, in the midst of all chaos a kind of glad tiding to the Prophet of an ultimate spread of Islam within the Quraysh. For the former notion the Quraysh are warned to beware of similar consequences to those who had all the wealth and the latter to the Prophet, working on the theme of patience, that the Quraysh will not accept in the initial stage of the indhār, but will ultimately embrace once the power of God can no longer be rejected: similar to the saying of one of them ‘Did I not say to you, ‘why do you not pronounce Allah’s purity?”, they said “we pronounce the purity of our Lord. No doubt, we were wrongdoers” (68:28-29) is reminiscent to the attitude of the Quraysh following the conquest of Makkah.

Group 4 of the verses (34-41) sets out an immensely significant ethical principle in Islam: the one who opposes the indhār and on the contrary the one who wholeheartedly accepts it cannot be equal, they will be rewarded accordingly. After illustrating the punishment for those who reject the call, the Qur’ān portrays the awaited rewards for those who take heed of the warning and clearly draws the line, ‘shall We make the obedient like the sinners? What has happened to you? How do you judge? (68:35-36), I believe this also reflects the message of verse 68:9. Group 5 (Verses 42-47) draws vivid images of the resurrection and verse 44 (فَذَرْنِى وَمَن يُكَذِّبُ بِهَـذَا الْحَدِيثِ) could also be taken as clear indication towards the significant unity with the ’amūd. And finally, group 6 (48-52) comes back to what was mentioned earlier: instructing the Prophet to be patient upon his people’s attitude towards the indhār, unlike ṣāḥib al-ḥūt (dhu al-nūn).

In conclusion I believe that if the verses in the suwar ‘seem’ to be disconnected, and there is no logical unity from one verse to the next, then it may in accordance with Islahi’s understanding be organically united with its ’amūd. Hence, unlike modern books which flow from one sentence, paragraph, page and chapter to the next, the Qur’ān’s each verse or grouped verses orbit around the ’amūd; and each group connects to its own axis; and then the seven groups outlined by Islahi encircle the ’amūd of the Qur’ān – ‘Allah’s call to man to adopt the right path’, which man constantly pleads for in the preface to the Qur’ān (اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ). Therefore, when trying to reconstruct the unity in verses and within the Qur’ān as a whole, specifically here in the seventh group: I see the Prophet returning from his first message; enshrouded in his blanket commanded to stand and warn (indhār – qum fa’andhir wa rabbaka fa kabbir); I see his struggle at dār al-arqam and then standing at ṣafā ridiculed, God responding; at times he (the Prophet) warns (indhār) his people of al-qāri’ah, illustrating the unlit sun, the falling stars, the shattering of the earth. I envision him warning the jinn, alongside insān, and his golden promise the ’amūd of which flows through the last group of suwar,

‘if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left…
I would not abandon it (the indhār).


Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qur’an ( تدبرِ القران). Vol. 8 , p. 479
Mir, M. (1999). ‘Is the Qur’an a Shapeless Book?’. Accessed online [25.01.2011]:
Also for a detailed exploration see. Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qur’an ( تدبرِ القران). Vol. 1 , pp. 13-42 [Urdu]. See also Campanini, M. (2010). The Qur’an: Modern Muslim Interpretations. Trans. by Higgitt, C. – Under Chapter IV ‘The Qur’an and Nazm’, pp. 85-88.
اِنذار : (انذر) Andhara (prf. 3rd.p.m.sing.IV.): War ned; Called attention to; Showed the danger to come (Omar, ‘A. M. (2008). Dictionary of the Holy Qur’ān. pp. 557-558) – hence, Indhār would mean ‘warning of an approaching danger’.
Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān ( تدبرِ القران). Vol. 8 , p. 479
Thanwi, A. A. (1424 A.H.). Bayanul Qur’ān (بیان القران ). Vol. 3, p. 571.
Translation of the Urdu text of Bayānul Qur’ān. (بیان القران ). Vol. 3, p. 571
Al-Qur’ān al-Karīm: القرآن الکریم: بالرسم العثمانی بروایۃ حفص لقراءۃ عاصم مذیّلا بِالتفصیل الموضوعی استخدام فکرۃ الترمیز بالتدرج اللونی للدلالۃ علیٰ اقسام المواضیع ۔
Edited and researched by Sawār, M. N (1st ed. 2007)
Adapted from Islahi’s ‘Tadabbur-i-Qur’an’ and translated by Shehzad Saleem. ‘Ḥurūf-e-Muqaṭṭa’āt: Farahi’s View’. Accessed Online [18.03.2011]: http://www.amin-ahsan-islahi.com/?=65
Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān ( تدبرِ القران). Vol. 8, p.512.
all reminiscent to the orbit of the moon around their planets and the planets their sun, all existing in absolute harmony


The Qur’an: A New Translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

Al-Qur’ān al-Karīm: القرآن الکریم: بالرسم العثمانی بروایۃ حفص لقراءۃ عاصم مذیّلا بِالتفصیل الموضوعی استخدام فکرۃ الترمیز بالتدرج اللونی للدلالۃ علیٰ اقسام المواضیع ۔
Edited and researched by Sawār, M. N (1st ed. 2007). Dār al-Fajr al-Islāmī: Damascus, Syria.

Campanini, M. (2010). The Qur’an: Modern Muslim Interpretations. Routledge: London & New York.

Hawting, G. R. and Shareef A. K. (1993). Approaches to the Qur’an (SOAS Series on Contemporary Politics & Culture in the Middle East). Routledge: New York, USA

Ibn Abbas, A. Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs.
Surah al-‘Asr (English Translation by Mokrane Guezzou) accessed online [20.01.2011]:

Islahi, A. A. (2009). Tadabbur-e-Qur’ān ( تدبرِ القران). Volumes 1 and 8. Faran Foundation: Lahore, Pakistan [Urdu]

Mir, M. (1999). ‘Is the Qur’an a Shapeless Book?’. Renaissance, 1999, Volume 9, No. 8.
[Accessed online: 25.01.2011]:

Mubārakpūrī, S. R. (2002). Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum – The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet (PBUH). Revised ed. Darussalam: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

‘Omar, ‘A. M. (2008). Dictionary of the Holy Qur’ān – (Arabic-English). 5th ed. NOOR Foundation – International Inc: USA and Germany.

Thanwi, A. A. (1424 A.H.). Bayānul Qur’an (بیان القران). Volume 3. Idārah Taleefat-e-Ashrafia: Multan, Pakistan

[Accessed online: 25.01.2011]

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The Lost Female Legacy: Women Scholars in Islam

The Legacy of Female Muslim Scholarship
Dr Akram Nadwi


The following are my notes taken from Dr Akram Nadwi’s lecture, so if there is anything not comprehensible it is the failure of my note taking skills. For further clarification and any critical notes please comment below. ( i arrived 20 mins late)

Feminist movement, no one thought about the khāliq, did He make the women less than men. There were no women to be found amongst the Greek philosophers. There were enough muḥaddithīn then why more women muḥaddithāt, our aslāf never asked this question. Allah created mankind for His worship, so they both have a responsibility. So every generation should teach the following one, that’s why we have the notion of the family. In learning there is no difference between a man and a woman, the difference is only their function within the family.

{Worship >;;;;; Family created to follow and pass the worship to the next generation}

The Qur’an does not differentiate between men and women, the story of men are examples for both e.g. Ibrahim (as) and his family. Ismail and mother left in barren land. When there is equal story the Qur’an suffices with male story. However, when there is a unique message in the narrative of a women then the Qur’an mentions it e.g. story of Pharaoh’s wife: she is mentioned because of her du’ā that she wanted to be nearer and closer to Allah, ‘رَبِّ ٱبْنِ لِي عِندَكَ بَيْتاً فِي ٱلْجَنَّة (Qur’an 66:11). The Qur’an is not a book of feminism. Al-jār qabl al-dār. So the Qur’an mentions women where you cannot find such stories amongst the men.

Whilst on ḥajj Dr Nadwi wrote ‘armaghān e ḥajj’, he wanted to mention the names of the women present on the journey but the people told him you do not need the names of our women just write wife of so and so ‘zawjah’. Musa (A.S.)’s story, only one daughter was sent to bring him home. Something unimaginable today. Musa (A.S.) asks Allah for help in time of such difficulty ‘ربِّ إِنِّي لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ’ ‘My Lord, I am in dire need of whatever good thing You may send me’ (Qur’an 28:24). In the Quran women are independent beings. The verse of bay’ah was revealed in the context of women.

Ibn Mas’ūd (R.A)’s wife Zainab used to make things with her hand, hence she was rich and paid zakāt and ibn Mas’ūd (R.A.) was so poor that she wanted to give zakat to him. When she came to the Prophet to enquire of its permissibility, the Prophet was told that Zainab has come, on hearing this the Prophet (S.A.W) asked, ayyu Zayaanib? Which Zainab? Hence, we learn that the Prophet (S.A.W.) knew the names of the women of his time, and there is nothing wrong with that and we also learn that women can give zakāt to husbands and not vice versa.

[In persia kajkolahi, wearing hat bent, which became symbol of Kings and only for them. A man did that and paid daily fine but one day didn’t.]

In ‘īd gāh (field, where the ‘īd ṣalāh was performed in congregation), even women were told to come even those with ḥayḍ (in their menses) so that they too could benefit at least from the advice of the Prophet (A.S.). Single females were also told to come to the ‘īd gāh.

Fāṭimah bint Qays (R.A.) learnt the lengthy lecture of the Prophet regarding Tamim al-Daari’s journey to the island.

Umar ibn al-khaṭṭāb (R.A.) appointed women for the market supervision, which at the time was the most complex market selling goods from Persia and Byzantium. There were men available and among them great faqīhs, but ‘Umar (R.A.) chose women. Hence, those who argue that we have enough male imams and muftīs (jurist consults) and there is ‘no need’ for females, should rethink their idea, which seems is influenced by Greek philosophy according to Dr Nadwi’s research.

Ibn Najjār had 400 female teachers, imagine how many more there were at the time! Women would ask questions to the Prophet directly. Abu Bakr (R.A) used to go to the tent of the women and advise them. Umar (R.A.) accepts the argument of the woman, during his lecture, who said that Umar (R.A.) cannot condition that which Allah has not and read the verse regarding qintār.

Is a woman’s ‘aql less than that of a man? If so how can they accept ḥadīth from women. Dhuhr four sunnats before farḍ according to aḥnāf are accepted because sunan are usually performed in the house and it is from the females that this ḥadīth is narrated.

You will never find female scholars amongst the mu’tazila and philosophers because Greek philosophy has always been indifferent towards women and argue that, ‘women are inferior to men’. Dr Nadwī throughout his research of the topic, which concluded with a ‘52 volume book’, did not find learned women amongst mu’tazila and falsafiyyūn and on the contrary there are thousand amongst the muḥaddithīn. Hence from his research he found that when Greek philosophy had influence over Islamic learning, women have been put aside and when ḥadīth and revelation are influencing the times then you will find ample volumes filled with the names of these learned Muslim women. First three centuries scholarship was good, 4 and 5 it declines then in 6th , 7th , 8th and 9th there is a rise in shām. This is then followed by a decline in the 10th and 11th centuries. In the 12th century there is a rise again in hind with Shāh Waliyullāh. Now again there is a rise in Syria due to which thirty Muslim women have memorized ṣaḥīḥ Muslim by heart.

Overview of the Rise and Decline of Women scholarship in History:

1st Century (A.H.) = RISE
2nd Century (A.H.) = RISE
3rd Century (A.H.) = RISE
4th Century (A.H.) = DECLINE
5th Century (A.H.) = DECLINE
6th Century (A.H.) = RISE
7th Century (A.H.) = RISE
8th Century (A.H.) = RISE
9th Century (A.H.) = RISE
10th Century (A.H.) = DECLINE
11th Century (A.H.) = DECLINE
12th Century (A.H.) = RISE
13th Century (A.H.) = DECLINE
14th Century (A.H.) = RISING

Dr Nadwi disagrees with the notion that women have to look after the children and homes therefore cannot learn as the man. He argues that women who narrated ḥadīth too had children of their own and despite that they spent so much time in learning and passing on the ‘ilm.

Some argue, due to the presence of women there is a high chance of fitnah. Dr Nadwi replies that if there is a problem in the finger don’t cut the finger but cure the finger.

Samar al-‘Ashar, has memorized ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and has written a book on how to memorise ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.

Women are far away from taḥqīq (research) today. An example of a muḥadditha and muḥaqqiqa of the post-Waliyullāh period is Amatullāh bint ‘Abd al-Ghaniyy al-Dihlawiyy. She taught the ṣiḥāḥ sittas and also taught the aḥādīth al-musalsalāt. Amongst the musalsalāt there is the tradition of qabḍ al-liḥyā, so when the Prophet spoke the words he held his beard, and this tradition followed on from his companions doing the same onto our times. However, when Amatullāh taught this particular musalsal ḥadīth she would hold onto her chin.



What were the venues of the learning? It was sometimes in the homes, homes of others, shops, gardens, colleges, and places where men learnt women learnt alongside them.

In India and Pakistan women never go to the masjid so this has an effect on the mind. Sunnah is a continuous practice that goes back to the Prophet (S.A.W.). Women not going to the masjid is a practice that does not go back to the Prophet (S.A.W.). During the Prophet (S.A.W.)’s time the women could see the ‘aura of some of the men, hence they exclaimed, ‘wāru ‘annā ‘awrata imāmikum’.
It could have been easy for the people to make a barrier but they did not.
No jurist says that women cannot go to the masjid.
‘Ātika the wife of ‘Umar (R.A.) was very beautiful, despite this she was not stopped from going to the masjid. During the era of the khulafā (Caliph’s) time they never stopped women from coming to the masjid.

Umm Dardā’ was a tābi’iyyah, her ḥadīth are in Bukhari etc. She taught six months in Dimishq Jāmi’ (Grand Mosque of Damascus) and six months in masjid al-‘Aqṣā, Jerusalem. Her classes were attended by ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān, and he himself was a great learned person and the ruler of the time. After class at the time of ṣalāh would help her to the women’s rows because she was an old woman. Even in the masjid of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Fāṭima bint Ibrāhīm – the teacher of Imām Subki et al – taught ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri. That is the highest post in madrasa. She was requested by ‘ulamā’ to teach in masjid al-nabawi. One notes, ‘when I came to the Masjid, she used to teach by the grave of the Prophet (S.A.W.), opposite the blessed head of the Prophet (S.A.W.) , and sometimes she would lean against the grave. At the end of the class she would give ijāza.

Two big Mosques in Syria: al-Jāmi’ al-Muẓaffarī, and al-Jāmi’ al-‘umawiyyīn. In both mosques men and women both have been teaching.
….. [name forgotten]… Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Zabīdī (630 A.H.) was asked to teach Bukhārī in both mosques, and every day the names of students were written and many of them were female students. They wrote the names of women (As today, amongst the Indo-Pak community this is seen as an ‘aura) . However, Wazīra al-Tanūkhiyyah was also his student; al-Dhahabī studied under her; and she died 812 A.H; she taught 82 years after Imam Bukhari himself. During her ḥadīth career, Egypt realized the decline of ḥadīth on her soil and wrote a letter to her to teach Bukhari in the big Mosque, college and palaces of Egypt. She died at the age of 89 and whilst teaching ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī.

‘Ā’isha bint ibn al-Hādī teacher of ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, taught him 80 books of ḥadīth, and this took place in al-Jāmi’ al-‘Umawi. 22 sound hadith have been narrated with only 14 narrators in the chain to Imām Bukārī, 18 in total to the Prophet (S.A.W.): and [‘Ā’isha or Fāṭima] is in that chain of narrators.

Zainab bint Kamāl (740 A.H) taught at jāmi’ al-Muẓaffarī and al-‘Umawī and other big madāris there. She would also lecture at the mosque near her home. After every hearing they wrote down the place and attendees of the lecture: some classes would include 400 people. She had been teaching 400 books, whereas now in traditional madāris one teaches a maximum of 6 or 7 books. Her class ran from morning till evening. She was very patient, 30 to 40 students came to her home. We should be grateful to these women.

Fāṭimah Al-Iṣfahāniyyah Al-Jūzdāniyyah, taught the whole book (Al-mu’jam al-Kabīr li al-Ṭabarānī: 25 vols, and still parts missing), and this book became known worldwide because of her. Amongst her famous students was Fāṭimah bint Sa’d al-Khayr, who was actually born in China, she was Spanish as her father had migrated from Valencia and took her to a small village called Jūzdān. Both were experts, when she came to Egypt the science of ḥadīth was dying out and she revived it. Some women used to even teach in shops: they would be teaching ḥadīth and if a buyer walked in she would pause serve the buyer and then resume with the lecture.

The current state of female scholarship and learning has not always been as it is. You do not find female scholarship in European, Chinese and also Jewish history. But in Islam almost 1/4 of the fiqh madhāhib teachings are coming from the women.

Rubayyi’ah bint al-Mu’awwiz (R.A) was an orphan. The Prophet (S.A.W) came to her house and he sat next to her on the same bed. She saw the Prophet (S.A.W) doing wuḍū’ as a bride and she taught the male ṣahāba about the Prophet (S.A.W)’s wuḍū’ including ibn ‘Abbās (R.A). Even the teachings of ghuṣl are coming from the women.

Ṣafiyyah the sister of Mukhtār was a tābi’iyyah: she narrated ḥadīth of the Prophet (S.A.W) to her husband ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar, who was a close companion of the Prophet (S.A.W).

[Saeed Musayyab’s daugher. Story about man shouting from roof]

Kāsāni was the student of ‘Alā’uddin, and he wanted to marry his daughter. ‘Alā’uddin said “no” unless you write a book on the Ḥanafī Fiqh. When he completed the book, which is studied till this day in ḥanafī madāris, he allowed Kāsānī to marry his daughter. Later Kāsānī taught in Ḥalab, when he never knew answers to some of the ‘ibārāt she used to explain to him before he went to teach. And at times when he was questioned by students on problematic masā’il, he would go home and confirm with his wife. It was only when his students asked where he would go and get the answers that he told them and hence this information reaches us.

If you do not give women the opportunity to learn you bury them alive!

Many of these women used to give fatwā and also corrected judges. Many times fatāwā were signed by husband, wife and daughter. Ibn Najjār studied from 400 women and Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī from 80 women. All these great scholars learnt from women.

Amra bint ‘Abd al-Raḥmān was a qāḍī in Madina. Once a Coptic Christian was caught stealing and the qāḍī issued the ruling that his hand must be cut. Amra bint ‘Abd al-Raḥmān disagreed with the ruling and explained her reasons, the judge had to reverse his fatwā and the Copt was released. It is significant here to understand that ‘Amra knew what was happening in the town – outside her home – for her to then be able to critically analyse the notion. The qāḍī felt that her fatwā was valid. Imam Mālik quotes her whole story and then uses her opinion.

Trust of Women in Knowledge.

‘Ā’isha (R.A.) one fatwā that no one follows except for her. A man in any age becomes son of the woman whose milk he drinks as opposed to 2 years according to the other a’immah and 2 ½ years according to Imām Abū Ḥanīfa. However the ṣaḥāba respected her opinion but disagreed. She asked her sister ‘Āsima to give her milk to students she wanted to come to her. No one objected to her fatwa, they respected but disagreed.

Fāṭima bint Qays was a muftiyyah. One fatwā she issued was that when women divorced they have no right on accommodation etc. Dr Nadwī believes women muftis have been tougher on the women compared to the men. This opinion goes against the Qur’an. ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb did not take her opinion, despite that people followed and even reconciled their own opinions.

Sam’ān, said I came to Karīma bint Abū Manṣūr (6th century). I asked her brother if he could ask her to teach me, but he refused many times and made excuses. So this problem of keeping the women away from teaching and learning was a problem even then. So the 8000 muḥaddithāt in number is very tiny, there were many others not even recorded.

Quraysh al-Ṭabariyyah was a Ḥāfidha of ḥadīth, which is the highest status in ḥadīth. She revived ḥadīth knowledge in Ḥijāz. She was so learned that if she had been alive and she lead the prayer – a male narrator suggests – I would have prayed behind her. He wrote a comment on this. He does not believe that leading prayer is so amazing in raising their value. Amina Wadud political statement, otherwise do it everyday. No woman has done that in the history of Islam, even ‘Ā’isha (R.A.) would tell her male students to lead the prayer.

Al-Shifā’ al-Adawiyyah (R.A.) was famous for her writing in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W). The Prophet (S.A.W) asked Hafsa (R.A.) to learn writing from her. And some muftis in India had said that writing is not allowed for women. Shuhadā’ al-Kātiba was the writer of the Caliph, and ibn al-Ḥajar knew of her writing. Many people think that ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (R.A.) stopped women from going to the masjid. But this is a misunderstanding, when Al-Shifā’ al-Adawiyyah (R.A.) was appointed as a supervisor by ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (R.A.) of the market of Madinah. Just think! The most complicated market of the world!!!! Where the goods of Persia and Byzantine were sold. She would receive letters from men ad write back to them.

[Woman adorned herself aft giving birth. Abu Sunābi proposed later after disagreeing].

Many fabricated ḥadīth exist, but not a single fabricated ḥadīth narrated by a woman. Because men had other interests and women only did it for the sake of ḥadīth.

Zainab bint Makkī al-Ḥayrāniyyah: even ibn Taymiyyah learns from her.

In Islam most important source is Quran and then Bukhari.
Both two things depended on the women. Qur’an of ‘Uthmān (R.A.) depended on the Qur’an of Hafsa (R.A.). Similarly Bukhari, the most authentic ḥadīth book is also taken from the copy of Karīmah al-Marwaziyyah (d. 463) born in Kushnihān and lived for a hundred years.

Note taker: Hamid Mahmood

To purchase Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s book ‘al-Muḥāddithāt: the women scholars in Islam’ :

Other books by Dr Akram Nadwi:



For more information on Dr Nadwi’s 40 volume project visit his website dedicated specifically to it:

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