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Learn Sanskrit at a Delhi madrasa

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  • mohammad imran
    November 4, 2006 Zia Haq, Hindustan Times Email Author New Delhi, April 25, 2008 First Published: 02:43 IST(25/4/2008) Last Updated: 02:52 IST(25/4/2008) Learn
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
      November 4, 2006

      Zia Haq, Hindustan Times
      Email Author
      New Delhi, April 25, 2008

      First Published: 02:43 IST(25/4/2008)
      Last Updated: 02:52 IST(25/4/2008)


      Learn Sanskrit at a Delhi madrasa

      In Jamia Nagar, the sprawling Muslim heart of Delhi, students of the
      little-known Islami Academy — a centre for Islamic higher education —
      are learning a classical language that goes back 4,000 years. Not
      Arabic, but Sanskrit.

      That’s not all. This religious school, meant to prepare the ground for
      mainstream students for Islamic research, has blended modern education
      with a religious curriculum like no other.

      The entrance test is in English. There are compulsory courses on
      pan-Indian culture, Indian history and comparative religions, such as
      Christianity and Sikhism, which a special focus on Hinduism.

      “The idea was to have a very scientific and holistic curriculum in the
      study of religion,” says the academy’s Harvard-educated director, Abdul
      Haq Ansari.

      While traditionally, most madrasas have spurned efforts to modernise
      syllabuses, the Islami Academy has undertaken a much-debated course
      correction. And since it is a centre for higher learning, the
      eligibility being a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university, it
      offers two main postgraduate courses in research and Islamic preaching.

      The academy also functions as a “complimentary madrasa”, one that
      caters to those Muslim students, who missed out on religious education
      because they went to regular, mainstream schools.

      The turning point came when the academy felt its research students
      needed to learn Sanskrit so that ancient Hindu texts could be studied.
      It got in touch with the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan under the HRD
      Ministry and a Sanskrit teacher was provided.

      Fahimuddin, a student from Karnataka’s Shimoga, says his lessons on
      Islamic history have been “so enriched by those on Hinduism”.

      Clerics have often resisted attempts to bring madrasas into the
      mainstream, with the 2003 “Scheme of Assistance for Infrastructure and
      Modernisation of Madrasas” making little headway.
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