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Mastering a new language

Arpit Parashar

Posted online: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 2128 hrs

With English being taught at the Darul Uloom, many students are now writing for English journals

Deoband, may 13: In the sleepy street outside the Darul Uloom campus, a young boy sifts through a set of Urdu and Hindi newspapers and journals, ignoring the only English journal. I don’t know the script, he shrugs. But the vendor Islamuddin says the demand for Eastern Crescent, a journal published in English from Mumbai, is slowly picking up.

[image]The journal that calls itself an “alternative media”, is mostly read by students and Muftis of the Darul Uloom. Muftis say many of the journalists and writers of the English journal are products of the seminary.

Many of the madrassa’s alumni write for the famous journal Milli Gazette and now some of them are also writing for the Eastern Crescent. And many other students who are “computer-savvy and masters of the English language” are planning to start new journals, say the Muftis.

The change in curriculum at the Darul Uloom has created a long list of students choosing alternative professions and careers. The Industrial Training Institute in Deoband has seen a two-fold increase in the number of students from Darul Uloom joining it after completing their course.

“We have had to increase the number of admissions in the institute (with 50 per cent reservation for non-Muslims) twice in the past three academic years,” says Nawaz Deobandi, comptroller of the institute. The other institutes being run on similar lines in the cities close to the National Capital Region and Deoband have reportedly seen a similar rise.

Muftis at the seminary claim that the share of students from the Darul Uloom going on to join other universities like Jamia Hamdard University, Aligarh Muslim University and other colleges in the NCR has also grown manifold in the past decade.

The reason, they claim is introduction of the two-year English and computer courses along with courses in sciences and languages. “The students are taught a curriculum at par with English language courses at a bachelor’s degree level,” says Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Head of the English department. “Many students are now working in metros and outside the country and some are also teaching in madrassas all over the country,” he adds.

The English classes are held after the afternoon namaz at the seminary. “Some students miss the namaz to make it early to the class,” said a Mufti.

With interaction with western students from madrassas like Darul Uloom Bury in England and with Muslim students from other Western countries, many students have also been sent to madrassas and institutes in the West. “Students from here have found jobs in many western countries ,” says Adil Siddiqui, head of the media management department.

“Students from England and NRI Muslims come here to interact with our students,” says Vice Chancellor Marghoob-ur-Rehman.

“The communication gap that has existed for long has to be bridged; mindsets need to be changed and we are moving towards it,” he adds.


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