Educational Backwardness of Indian Muslims

Aijaz  H. Ansari

Educational attainment ranks high in importance among the various qualifications of a people. Low degree of literacy and lack of adequate training are serious obstacles to economic development.

The development of human resources depends mainly on education. In fact education creates a way for economic growth and social welfare in a country.

As far as the education of Indian Muslims is concerned they are far behind other communities in modern education. This has led to their economic backwardness.

As Lord Brougham has said. ‘Education makes a people easy to led but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave’. But the Indian Muslims are yet to understand the benefits of education. They are unquestionably devoted to their faith and Shariah, they have remained totally aliented to the present scenario of education and progress.

According to the National Sample Survery Organization (N.S.S.O.) of the Central Government, the Muslim constitute, according to 1991 census, 11.8 per cent of the total population of the country. Out of this percentage more than half of the Muslim population in urban areas is totally illiterate; while in rural areas this percentage is 67 per cent. Detail of comparative education (urban & rural) for each household, religion wise, is given in tables 1and 2. Only 6.2 per cent of the Muslim population in urban areas, and 2.1 per cent in the rural areas has received secondary education. (Table 1 & 2).

Educational backwardness of Muslim is the major cause of their all-round backwardness and is the result of certain past movements. However, it can be replaced with progress in future.

When the Mughal empire started disintegrating, the British gradually built their empire, and consequently the Muslims suffered. Hindus and Muslim both under the leadership of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal King, fought the British, but unfortunately they were defeated. Muslims were massacred by the British because of their involvement in the freedom struggle. In return they started hating the British culture and their education, which led them to lag behind in the field of education and progress.

But Sir Syyed Ahmad Khan emerged as a symbol of progress and exhorted the Muslims to acquire modern education. He founded the famous Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College (M.A.O. College) at Aligarh which later expanded in the Aligarh Muslim University and stemmed the tide of growing ignorance to a significant extent.

One of the major causes of educational backwardness of Indian Muslims is their poverty. After the end of the Mughil rule, the lands of Zamindars were snatched from them which reduced their life to mere subsistence level. Consequently, they were totally Qlineated from education. Neither they nor their children could pay attention it.

In the present economic scenario the monthly per capita expenditure of over 38 per cent of the Indian Muslims is less than Rs. 300, and only 4 per cent f them reach more than Rs. 800 according to 1996 reports. This colossal fall from comfortable living has not only dealt a severe blow to their socio-economic status, but has also caused educational backwardness.

Most of the Muslims receive their primary education in madarsah, which cannot prepare them to meet the challenge of practical life, and ultimately, plunge them into educationally backward category. No doubt religious education is necessary but we should receive modern education side by side. Most of the Muslim students, who are interested in science subjects cannot study these because of the low percentage of their marks. This is also one of the causes of poverty, as they are not able to get good education. They are also not having congenial domestic atmosphere for preparing their studies.

As most of the Muslim parents are not well educated, they are not able to guide their children in opting for right subjects. Above all, the Muslim girls are passing through depressing conditions in so far as their education is concerned There is a traditional prejudice against acquiring modern education by girls. They are only expected to live within four walls of the house and depend on men. The girls also find themselves unsafe in the present unfriendly atmosphere. The custom of child marriage still lingers among the Indian muslims. Such married couples remain uneducated. As such they do not send their children to school. This means that the whole generation remains deprived of education. On the other hand, the more fortunate Muslims who advocate girls education and have passed out from elitist public school are hardly visible in mosques or even offering namaz at home, which is a basis of Islam. They also do not care about their uneducated brethern. It is only because they want to prove their secular credentials. On the contrary, a Muslim should treat education as a part of religion. He should be reminded of the words of our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” Unfortunately, this attitude is lacking among the Indian Muslims.

While education is too expensive for a poor family to afford at present, the governmental apathy and neglect is a major problem facing the Indian Muslims. Most of the political leaders merely consider Muslims are a ‘vote bank’, who live on their vague, promises. These leaders have not paid any attention to the educational backwardness of their Muslim votesr.

The Muslims have no option but to raise their voice against all these factors which are further causing deterioration of their educational system. There should be a general awareness of education among them. This should be done by Muslims coming out of universities and colleges. They should reach the Muslim localities both in cities and villages and create a new educational awareness among the community.

Free education, scholarship, free transportation facilities and scheme of midday meals should be provided to the needy and poor students. This can only be done by strengthening the economic institutions of Muslims like wakf. All possible help must be given by the Muslim community to these institutions.

For girls who observes parda, we should start parda schools which should be patronized by Muslim women of the upper classes. Part-time classes should be started for the girls who belong to poor or lower middle classes. Training in tailoring and home science should be provided to girls who are already married but are reluctant to join schools. This will enable them to earn their livelihood in a decent manner.

Retired Muslim men should wo rk for the educational uplift of the Indian Muslims. Traditional pattern of education in Madrasahs and Maktabs should be changed. No doubt, there should be religious education, but these schools should also train students in meeting the needs of practical life.

We should keep the above factors in mind in order to achieve the goal of education and thus make our community strong enough to face the challenges of the modern world, which will lead us to our socio-economic developments.