Bilariyaganj (Uttar Pradesh): Breaking the stereotypes associated with madrassas, a
50-year-old Islamic seminary here teaches subjects like
personality development and home science, runs an elaborate
teacher training programme, has a higher girl enrolment ratio and
has students who are no less active on social networking websites
than their counterparts in the metros.
Welcome to Jamiatul Falah, a madrassa in Bilariyaganj town of
Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh's district that has kept pace with modern
education. The 4,300 students who come here from across the
country are taught subjects like personality development,
economics, political science and home science -- subjects which
are rarely taught in Islamic institutions.
Jamiatul Falah, which means University of Eternal Success, also
started a mini Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and a public
hospital earlier this year.
The institution now wants to start paramedical courses for
"Now the madrassa people across the country recognize that there
is a need to train teachers because they play a key role in any
educational system," Falah manager Mohammad Tahir Madani told
"The modern subjects are helpful to understand the religious
commandments and create confidence among our students," he said.
"If our students don't know other languages, then they won't know
other cultures. Nowadays, if they don't know English they may feel
an inferiority complex," he explained.
More than 50 percent of the students in the institution in higher
classes are comfortable with the Internet and most have a Facebook
Shahid Habib, a student, has 425 Facebook friends. "I access the
internet easily, send e-mails and get information," he said.
Of the 4,300 students, around 2,600 are girls and most of the
outstation students are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal,
Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Nepal. The girls' enrolment ratio in
higher classes is even more.
"Educating the girl child is necessary to empower them. The ratio
of educated girls has increased now. The poor girls can also get
education here," Falah headmistress Salma Jaleel told IANS.
"If someone is poor, then they don't have to pay. We will educate
them as it is our responsibility," Madani said.
Falah, which has a monthly fee of less than Rs.100, provides free
education, accommodation and meals to at least 30 percent of its
The institution's alumni are pursuing research in various
universities in India and abroad.
Its hospital, Al-Falah Hospital, offers allopathy, Ayurveda,
Homeopathy and Unani treatment.
It serves at least 100 patients daily and provides free service to
poor irrespective of race, cast and religion.
Azam Beg, an alumni of Falah hailing from Rajasthan, went on to
study Unani medicine from the Aligarh Muslim University and was
twice elected students' union president.
"Falah is a junction of both curricula, old divine and modern
education. I have learnt a lot from here and it is enough to open
my heart and mind," said Beg, who now runs 12 schools and colleges
and four madrassas in different parts of Rajasthan.
Stressing on the necessary changes in the educational system of
the madrassas, Madani said: "There is an old style of teaching in
madrassa system and certain changes are needed in the syllabus."
"The teaching pattern in madrassas depends on books, not subjects;
we have to change it now," he pointed out.
Falah has a panel to check the quality of education and also
conducts a parent-teacher meeting every three months, a rare
practice in madrassas.
One can see several wall magazines in different languages like
Arabic, Urdu and also English at Jamiatul Falah.
Mohammad Arif, a doctor of Unani medicine in Al-Falah Hospital,
thinks that the madrassas should provide the lead to the community
in every field. "There are large numbers of people who follow the
madrassa teaching. If the madrassas play such kind of role, then
the thinking of people about madrassas would be changed," Arif
Madani states there is a misconception that only Muslim students
can study in madrassas. "Our doors are open for students of every
religion, cast and area. Hindu students have been part of Falah in
(Abu Zafar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)