Three Maulanas and Madrasas: Interviews

We present here three interviews of well-known Maulanas over the issues of Madrasas and allegations against them and on inter-communal harmony. The three Maulanas are

  • Maulana Asrar ul-Haq Qasmi, a graduate of the Deoband madrasa, is the founder and director of the Delhi-based All-India Ta’limi-o Milli Foundation.
  • Maulana Saeed ur-Rahman is the principal of the renowned Nadwat ul-‘Ulama madrasa in Lucknow
  • Maulana Sayyed Hamid ul-Hasan is the principal of the Jami’a Nazmia, Lucknow, a madrasa catering to the Ithna ‘Ashari Shi’a community


Maulana Asrar ul-Haq Qasmi, a graduate of the Deoband madrasa, is the founder and director of the Delhi-based All-India Ta’limi-o Milli Foundation, an organization working for Muslim educational advancement. He is also the Assistant General Secretary of the All-India Milli Council and a former General Secretary of the Jami’at ul-‘Ulama-i Hind.

YS: What do you feel about the allegations being levelled today that madrasas are engaged in spreading hatred against other communities?

MAQ: Madrasas have had a long history in India, of almost a thousand years, and they are thus not a new phenomenon. They see themselves as preserving, transmitting and promoting the Islamic tradition. They also seek to instill in their students certain basic moral values. We believe, in accordance with the teachings of Islam, that God is the Lord of all the worlds and of all creatures. We also believe that God sent the Prophet Muhammad as the mercy for all. But we certainly do not teach our students to hate Hindus, for that would be going against the teachings of our faith. In fact, the Qur’an says that God does not stop you from befriending people of other faiths if they have not persecuted you on account of your faith. It also explicitly lays down that Muslims must not let the enmity of others lead them to swerve from the path of justice. On the other hand, the RSS and its allied organizations run scores of schools where they openly preach hatred for Muslims, Christians and others. Why is it that so few people talk about that and pick on the madrasas instead?

YS: If that is the case, then why do you think there is this organized campaign to defame the madrasas?

MAQ: As I see it, this campaign is motivated simply by political considerations, so that right-wing Hindutva groups can thereby gain the support of the Hindus by spreading baseless rumours about the madrasas. Let me give you a small example to show how successful they have been in poisoning the minds of ordinary Hindus. Some months ago a group of students from the Deoband madrasa were traveling in a train. They started a conversation with some Hindu co-passengers, who, when they came to know that they were from Deoband, made all sorts of wild allegations about the madrasa, based on hat they had been reading in the newspapers. The students then invited them to come with them to Deoband to see the madrasa for themselves. They, however, refused saying that they had heard that there was allegedly an underground chamber in the madrasa where Hindus are routinely killed! Of course there is no such thing in the madrasa, but see how ordinary people’s minds have been so terribly poisoned by Hindutva propaganda!

YS: What would you say about reports of some madrasas in India’s border areas being allegedly used by the Pakistani secret service agencies?

MAQ: There is no evidence to suggest that any of these madrasas is engaged in any sort of conspiracy against the Indian state. Not a single madrasa in India provides military training to its students. Now, there is much talk about madrasas in Rajasthan situated along the border with Pakistan being allegedly used as training grounds for militants. When I first heard of these reports, I met the chief minister and the governor of the state, and then I addressed a press conference. I told the journalists who had come there, almost all of whom were Hindus, that I was going to inspect the madrasas along the border and I invited them to come with me to see if they were really engaged in ‘anti-national’ activities, as was being alleged. I told them that if I saw a single such madrasa I would destroy it myself, with my own hands!After the press conference two journalists, both Hindus, one from the UNI and the other from the Hindu, came along with me to the Barmer district. We went unannounced, so that the journalists could be sure that nothing had been pre-arranged. After touring the madrasas, we found absolutely nothing incriminating at all. Then, one of the journalists asked me if he could address a gathering at a madrasa. He stood on the podium, tears streaming down his face, his hands folded, and said, ‘Please forgive me, I’ve been writing against madrasas all this while, but I had never been to a madrasa before. I’ve now seen for myself the contribution that you are making, with your meagre resources, for promoting education in this area’.

YS: There have been several reports of madrasa students and teachers being harassed by police or intelligence agencies in some parts of the country. What do you have to say about this?

MAQ: Yes, this has happened at several places, and many perfectly innocent people have been wrongly targeted. To give you an example, some time ago, a certain Maulana Atiq Asari, a teacher of ah Ahl-I-Hadith madrasa in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested. The newspapers created a big sensation, claiming that he was an agent of Osama bin Laden. As was later discovered, this was a totally concocted story. Apparently the teacher was arrested for something very different, for some problem in registering ownership of a plot of land. Later, the issue went to the High Court, and he was declared innocent. Meanwhile, his reputation had been totally damaged, with all these wild stories of his allegedly being a terrorist.I’ll give you another instance. Last year intelligence agents came to a village in Hapur to question a young madrasa student, suspecting him of being involved with the Kashmiri militant group Hizb ul-Mujahidin. The boy was arrested and branded as a terrorist, and it was even claimed that he had been involved in a bomb blast in Bhopal in 1986. But at that time he boy would have been only 13 years old. So, we issued a statement challenging this allegation, saying that the charge was extremely doubtful as the boy would have been too young to engage in such an act. We took the matter to the Bhopal High Court, which later declared him innocent. Now, when he as first arrested, the newspapers claimed that he was a dreaded terrorist, but when he was declared innocent no Hindi paper admitted that he was wrongly accused. No wonder then that many people who rely only on such newspapers for information think that madrasa students are all terrorists.

YS: How, then, can this campaign against the madrasas be countered?

MAQ: We must make use of the media to put forward our voices, and to explain to others what exactly the madrasas are all about. One way to do so, as I have suggested to my fellow ‘ulama, is that madrasas must seek to highlight before others the great role played by the ‘ulama in India’s freedom struggle. This is itself a long story, going back to the Shah Abdul Aziz’s fatwa of 1814 against the British, and then carrying on till 1947. All along, the majority of the Indian ‘ulama were strongly opposed to the British and took an active part in the freedom movement, even opposing the Partition of the country. But, today, how many people are aware of these facts? These must be brought to the notice of the wider public.

Also, I have suggested that madrasas must organize functions on the 15 of August every year, on Independence Day, to which they should invite the Hindus, Muslims and others of their localities, as well as government officials. They should arrange for speeches on communal harmony and tolerance and so on, and must also explain to the public what exactly they teach and their sources of income, so that in this way they can counter the misunderstandings that some people might have about them.

Madrasas should also play a leading role in setting up peace committees, comprising responsible people of their locality from all religious communities. These committees must seek to resolve all contentious issues and disputes through negotiation. Also, madrasas must engage in inter-faith dialogue work to promote peace, understanding and good social relations between people of different faiths.

YS: How do you think this agenda of inter-religious dialogue can be proofed?

MAQ: You don’t need to be a profound thinker or theologian to do this! By citing small examples you can make a very deep impact. You must convince people that our country can only survive and prosper if all of us live together in peace, and only if we accept the multi-religious character of our society. Let me give you an example, which I often cite when I talk or write about inter-faith harmony. Some years ago a Saudi plane collided with a Kazakh plane over the village of Charkhi Dadri in Haryana, causing the deaths of all the passengers, now, most of the passengers were Muslims, and there was not a single Muslim in the village. Yet, when I got there the next day I saw the whole village in deep mourning. The local Hindus made elaborate arrangements for providing food to the relatives of the deceased passengers who had gathered there. The village youth helped in lifting the corpses.

I also often refer to another similar incident, but this time the roles were reversed. A fire broke out during a school function at the village of Dabwali, killing several hundred people. Although no Muslims live in the village, at the time of the fire some Muslims had come to the local market to sell rice. When they heard about the fire they hurried to the scene to rescue the people who had been trapped. One of them, a certain Shamim, rushed into the fire seven times, each time rescuing one person. He suffered 75% burns and then died in hospital. Mind you, he must have known that none of those trapped in the fire were Muslims and yet he was willing to sacrifice his life for them. This is what I call the real India, the strength of our India, which people like the RSS-walas want to destroy.


Maulana Saeed ur-Rahman is the principal of the renowned Nadwat ul-‘Ulama madrasa in Lucknow. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand he talks about allegations madrasas as well as the question of madrasa reforms.

YS. What do you have to say about the current propaganda against madrasas as allegedly being ‘dens of terror”?

MSR. This propaganda is completely baseless. The gates of the madrasas are open to all, and anyone can come at any time to see for himself what we are engaged in. Even if the most hardcore Hindutva leaders, who have been demanding that all madrasas in the country be forcibly closed down, were to visit us, our doors would be open for them. Let them come and see exactly what we are doing, instead of issuing baseless state­ments against us. The madrasas are an open book, and we do not have any hidden activities whatsoever. All that we do is to teach religion to our children. But today powerful groups in the West, in order to promote global American hegemony, have started a vicious propaganda against Islam, Muslims and the madrasas, and unfortunately some people in India, too, are toeing this line.

YS: But what would you say about certain madrasas in Pakistan, espe­cially along the Afghan border, that are said to be involved in terrorist activities?

MSR: The social, historical and political context in Pakistan is very different from that in India, and hence one cannot compare the functioning of madrasas in the two countries. In any case, not all, or even most, Pakistani madrasas have been involved in militant activities. Then, one must see the involve­ment of some Pakistani madrasas in militancy as also a reaction to American aggression in neighbouring Afghanistan. As I see it, the people of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province and adjacent parts of Afghanistan have a long his­torical tradition of internecine tribal warfare, and so it is not the madrasa system as such, but, rather, the historical and cul­tural traditions of the people of that area and a complex set of specific political factors, that are responsible for militancy taking root in some madrasas there.

YS: How do you feel the propaganda against madrasas should be combat­ed?

MSR: All this has to be done within the confines of the law, using constructive, not destructive, means. The best way to do this is by our own practical example, by producing students of high calibre who can contribute to the community as well as the country as a whole. Madrasas should regularly invite non-Muslims to visit them and freely interact with their teachers and students. In that way, by seeing things for themselves, oth­ers can learn what are our activities really are. We would even welcome suggestions from them as to how to improve our functioning. We have organised a few such meetings, but I agree we need to do more.

Madrasas can also reach out to people of other faiths through literature. For instance, the Nadwa brings out a journal called Saccha Rabiin Hindi and Fragrance of the East in English, and sends free copies of these to several non-Muslims, including government officials, journalists and social activists, so that they are kept aware of what madrasas are actually all about and of their activities. In this way we are also trying to present before them a balanced perspective on Islam.

YS: Many critics of the madrasa system feel that today’s conditions demand a radical overhaul of their syllabus. What do you feel about this?

MSR: One of the principal aims of the founders of the Nadwa was to reform the traditional madrasa syllabus. They envisaged a new curriculum that would combine the best of the tradi­tional and modern systems of education. The madrasa syl­labus, you must remember, has never been static, and has always evolved according to changing conditions. Today, when the world is changing so rapidly, we feel that change in the syl­labus and structure of the madrasa system, too, is imperative. But the sort of change that we want is such that the basic aim of the madrasa training students who are well versed in the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences is preserved and is not diluted in any way.

As we at the Nadwa see it, in order for madrasa students to play an effective role in society they must be well aware of the changing world around them, and that is why we also teach a range of modern subjects as well, including English, Hindi, science, history, geography and so on. This is also necessary for the students as future ‘ulama in order for them to be able to express Islam in terms intelligible to people today. We encourage our students to keep abreast with the developments in the wider world, for which we arrange for several newspapers, in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and English, to be kept in our library. We organise weekly meetings for students, where they discuss contemporary world affairs and other such topics. We have recently started two new departments of computers and journalism, so that our graduates can play a more socially engaged and enlightened role as community and religious leaders. We have also introduced a one-year course in comparative religions for graduates of our madrasa. Since we live in a plural society we all should know at least something about the religious beliefs and practices of our fellow countrymen. This is also important in order to promote inter-faith dialogue and to correct misunderstandings that others might have about Islam. We would encourage other madrasas to follow our example in this regard and revise their curriculum on similar lines.


Maulana Sayyed Hamid ul-Hasan is the principal of the Jami’a Nazmia, Lucknow, a madrasa catering to the Ithna ‘Ashari Shi’a community. He is one of the leading Shi’a ulama of India, having been educated at Najaf Ashraf under the well-known Shi’a mujtahid, Ayatollah Agha Khui.
YS: What do you have to say about the current propaganda against the madrasas as ‘dens of terror”?

MSH: The madrasa system, as such, is devoted simply to the preservation and promotion of the Islamic tradition. There has been no radical change in the madrasa syllabus in India for decades, if not centuries. So how and why is it that suddenly people have started branding the madrasas as ‘dens of terror? If at all there was any truth in these allegations then how come no one made such allegations ten years ago or before?

YS: Shi’a-Sunni conflicts are still acute in several places, including Lucknow. How can this be solved?

MSH: As I see it, the ‘ulama, both Shi’a as well as Sunni, ought to be in the forefront of efforts to
improve Shi’a-Sunni relations, by promoting serious and peaceful dialogue so that we can understand each other. I strongly feel the need for unity and understanding between followers of the different groups among the Muslims, but I regret to say that the ulama in general have not made any major moves in this regard so far they seem too scared or reluctant to come out of their narrow confines. Now, here at the Jami’a Nazmia, we have tried to reach out to the Sunni ‘ulama, by inviting some of them to come and meet with us and discuss various issues, and I must say that we have registered some success in this regard, although not as much as we would have wished.

YS: How have madrasas responded to the demands being voiced from several quarters for the ‘modernisation’ of their curriculum? In particular, how have they reacted to government offers of financial assistance in return for including modern subjects in their syllabus?

MSH: I cannot speak for other madrasas, but as for the Jami’a Nazmia, we are now teaching both religious as well as modern subjects. We follow the syllabus prescribed by the government-run Allahabad Madrasa Board, which includes both types of subjects. We teach all the modern subjects taught in the regular school system till the sixth grade level. The Board pays for the salaries of some of our teachers. We do not feel that this leaves us open to government interference we at least have not experienced this. Now, as far modernisation is concerned, we have a policy of encouraging our students to simultaneously enrol in regular universities. Almost all the students of our madrasa at the final level have done or are doing a graduation course from Lucknow University, mostly in the Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Islamic Studies Departments. Some of our graduates are now teaching at the Aligarh Muslim University, and others are even working in Islamic centres abroad, including Sweden, Norway and America. Some ‘ulama may think that teaching modern subjects would negatively impact on the faith of the students or trap them in the snares of the world, but I must say that this fear is completely misplaced. Unlike in several other madrasas, we actively encourage our students to regularly read newspapers and magazines so that they know what is happening in the world around them. If they remain ignorant of the world and of contemporary issues, how can they provide proper leadership to the community?

YS: It is often argued that in their teaching of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) madrasas generally focus on issues that are of little contemporary relevance. What do you have to say about this?

MSH: At the Jami’a Nazmia we do use traditional books of fiqh so that the students get a good grounding in traditional methods of dealing with various issues, learning how the ‘ulama of the past interpreted and understood the shari’ah. But we also teach books on modern issues, mostly written by modern Iranian ‘ulama and mujtahids. In the Ja’fari school of fiqh which we follow, the doors of ijtihad have never been closed, and so we insist on the continuing necessity of ijtihad, performed by a qualified mujtahid. Our students are also encouraged to read books written by modern ‘ulama scholars such as ‘Ali Shari’ati and Allama Murtaza Muttahari and so on in order to understand how Islam can be understood and expressed in modern terms. We don’t stick just to old books, as many people wrongly imagine.

YS: What role do you think madrasas and their ‘ulama should play in promoting inter-faith dialogue?

MSH: I feel that religious leaders of all communities have a vital role to play in this regard, particularly since relations between Hindus and Muslims are so strained in our country today. We in India have a purpose and use for every sort of rubbish, but we neglect our most precious resource religion and use it, for the most part, for destructive, instead of constructive, purposes. Now, India is not like Pakistan or Iran, where almost all people follow one religion. We have so many religions here, so we must actively seek to understand our own religions in such a way as to promote inter-communal amity. It is the duty of religious leaders to take a lead in promoting inter-faith dialogue. As for myself, I try in my own small way to do this when I address gatherings.

Recently, in the month of Muharrum, I addressed a ten-day majlis specifically on the issue of jihad, in which several non-Muslims, including the Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University, participated. I stressed the true meaning of jihad, which is striving in the path of God. Jihad does not mean killing innocent people, as is wrongly supposed. I quoted the Qur’an, which says that if a non-Muslim comes to you and seeks shelter, it is your duty to protect him. You should convey God’s message to him and then send him to a safe place. The Qur’an also says that Muslims should struggle for the rights of all persecuted people, not just of Muslims alone. I gave the example of Hatim Tai’s daughter. When, after a battle, she was arrested and brought before the Prophet, she told him that her father, who had died before the Prophet had declared his prophethood, used to help the poor and distressed, although, of course, he was not a Muslim. This so touched the Prophet that he ordered that she be immediately released. Then again, I quoted the story of the Christian priests of Najran, who came to Medina to debate with the Prophet. If the Prophet had ordered all non-Muslims to be killed, I asked, how come the Christian delegation came to Medina? The Christians debated with the Prophet on various religious matters, but in the end did not accept Islam, and they returned home safe and sound. If Islam really insisted on killing all non-Muslims how and why did the Prophet allow them to return?

In the majlis sessions I insisted that the greatest power in the world is love, not brute physical power. I commented that although religions have their doctrinal differences, their basic message is one and the same that is, there must be no bloodshed of innocents in the name of religion. If at all this happens, you can be sure that the person who such an act is not really religious. I made much the same argument in another meeting I recently addressed, at the Christian College in Lucknow, at a conference on religion and terrorism. I feel that religious leaders must go out and address such mixed gatherings so that the message gets across to a wider audience. We can’t afford to stay cocooned in our madrasas and temples any more, hoping that the world will change on its own.

As I see it, the greatest barrier to inter-faith dialogue is ignorance of each other, which then leads to hatred and misunderstandings. I recently suggested at a meeting held to discuss the communal problem that the government and the mass media must play a pro-active role in promoting mutual understanding between different religious communities. When a religious festival of a certain community is being celebrated, I suggested, television and radio companies must invite leaders from all religious groups and get them to say a few words on the occasion, after, of course, passing this through a censorship board to weed out anything objectionable. We have the National Integration Council which should be doing this sort of work, but actually it’s proved to be worse than useless some sahib on the Council gets a fancy car with a red light on it and the only thing he does is say a few seemingly comforting words after people have been massacred in a riot.

YS: Are any efforts being made in the madrasas themselves to encourage their students to play a role in promoting inter-communal harmony?

MSH: There don’t seem to be any organised efforts as such, but some individual madrasa teachers do play a role in such activities in their own personal capacity, and this naturally impacts on their students. I feel that we must train our students so that they learn how to interact with people of other faiths not simply for the sake of telling them about Islam, but also so that they can work together for a better and more peaceful society. I feel that dialogue is important for its own sake to clear up misunderstandings that people have about each other and their religions, and it should not be motivated by any hidden missionary agenda. So, when I interact with people of other faiths I don’t do so with the intention of converting them or denigrating their religion. Rather, I interact with them in order to learn from them, to look at, their good points. After all, everyone has the choice to follow the religion of his own choice. That’s his own business and his affairs are with God.

I feel that we need to study other religions, because this will go a long way in promoting inter-communal harmony. Thus, when I say that I have studied some of the Hindu scriptures, and on the basis of that have come to the conclusion that Hinduism does stress moral values, I can come closer to my Hindu friends. But if I say that such values are found only in ‘ Islam, not only am I wrong, but I would also provoke hatred and conflict. So, I feel that there is a crucial need for us to study comparative religions, but this should be for the sake of promoting better relations with others, and not for refuting people of other faiths or creating conflicts with them. It is only through decent behaviour and good morals (ikhlaq) and not through heated debates (munazara) that we can actually resolve our differences. When you study other faiths you must first cleanse your mind of preconceived notions, or else you will not really learn anything at all.

Published by

Yoginder Sikand

Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He has authored various books on Indian Muslims and allied issues and has done his research work on Tablighi Jamaat. Sikand holds a Master's Degree in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and a PhD in history from the University of London.

76 thoughts on “Three Maulanas and Madrasas: Interviews”

  1. Mohammad, the funny (or sad) thing is that if the Quran had said that loan-with-interest is halaal, you would be singing hosannas for it from your rooftop.

  2. @Varun:

    Self congratulatory chest thumping is not going to lead us anywhere. I will address only a few points that are not only incorrect but ridiculous also.

    You say:

    “I have yet to encounter a temple where they stop Muslims from entering, even if it’s happening in some places, it’s not an organised thing, Tirupati, Vaishnodevi or Siddhivinayak there is no common network here each one of them have separate customs and traditions., t’s not being driven by any policy or regulation where as in Saudi it’s official!! It’s in your face…blatant!”

    What policy or regulations you are talking of? There are hundreds of temples even to this date that do not permit dalits. Guru Vayur temple was recently sanctified after the visit of a christian minister even though the poor fellow happens to be a devotee of Guru Vayur. Indira Gandhi was denied admission to Puri temple even as the Prime Minister of this country since she “polluted” herself by marrying a Parsi. Dalits got admission to Puri temple only two months back after intervention of High Court. Open your eyes before you make any ridiculous claims.

    “…and no-where in the Hindu Scriptures it is mentioned that Women is a burden on the family/parents.”

    “…while i cannot comment on such verses in Quran but there are certainly no such verses in the Hindu Scriptures. ”

    Please define what you consider Hindu scriptures.

    I can get you any number of quotes from Smritis that stipulate place of women under male control – Father, husband or son; that declare “naari” as “narakasya dwaarah”; that declare them unfit to pursue self knowledge and declare them unclean to officiate in religious festivities.

    I myself am a Hindu; have studied scriptures in original Sanskrit and love Hinduism’s syncretic fabric. However I think that more than anyone else, hindu-s need a dose of humility and realism about their self conceit.

  3. Shastriji,

    I tried to answer your queries, please reply.

    What policy or regulations you are talking of? There are hundreds of temples even to this date that do not permit dalits. Guru Vayur temple was recently sanctified after the visit of a christian minister even though the poor fellow happens to be a devotee of Guru Vayur. Indira Gandhi was denied admission to Puri temple even as the Prime Minister of this country since she “polluted

  4. 30/09/07


    1) Temple entry for harijans – It is a punishable offence if harijans are denied temple entry and there are counrts to intervene. Non Hindus are not allowed inside Hindu temples since the temples are sacred places and not places for sight seeing for the secularist scoundrals to play around.

    2) Gender equality – There is a law against domestic violence and efforts are being mnade to ensure gender equality.

    3) Hinduism is the most progressive religion in the world with no record of religious violence; having many reformers and seekers of truth and I am proud to be one.

  5. Shastriji,

    I forgot to ask you few things, Can you please elaborate on the following words which you have used in our comment..

    1) What do you mean by ” self-congratulatory chest thumping”
    2) Excuse my vocabularybut please elaborate on what do you mean by “syncretic fabric”??
    3) What’s incorrect and ridiculous in my comment?

    Thanks and regards,

  6. Abhilash

    “However I think that more than anyone else, hindu-s need a dose of humility and realism about their self conceit.”

    I’ll not dismiss the statement just because its not pretty to my eyes. but i’d request you to help us see the point in what we are doing wrong and believe me, if it makes sense and is progressive, i’ll be the first one to follow u.

  7. @Varun, Thiagan & Triple:

    You are missing my point. This is not a Hindu vs. Muslim forum and I am not here to bash up Hinduism. Hinduism has its own beauty but we do not have to resort to lies or wallow in arrogance to celebrate our religion.

    How am I supposed to react when I see someone claiming that Hinduism does not have discrimination? Should I go along with it because it sounds good or accept the reality and try to change it?

    Varun wants me to give an example of where a muslim was denied entry in temple. It looks like examples of christians, parsis and hindus being denied entry in temple are not enough. But wait a little, Thiagan confirms that temples are not places of tourism hence non-hindus cannot be allowed. So, what should I make of this?

    Varun says that Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas and Upanishads are Hindu scriptures and no one knows about Smritis. May be, he is right. But he has got the order all wrong. The hierarchy of Hindu scriptures follows Shruti, Smriti, Purana and Itihaas in that order of validity. Smritis come two notches above Ramayana and Mahabharata, which are just Itihaas. Coming back to the question of Vedas and Upanishads, they are not supposed to be studied by anyone not wearing a sacred thread. Sacred thread is invested through the rituals outlined in Shatpatha Brahmana that rule out more than 80% of Hindu population including women and shudras. This is a policy institutionalized through those very scriptures. Are we going to reconcile to this?

    And anyways, even among hindus who wear the sacred thread, how many of them have actually read or even want to read Vedas or Upanishads? Let’s be honest about it.

    Triple, if you are a Hindu, I am sure these wrongs would not have escaped your eyes. Let us not be carried away by the RSS propoganda that wants to take Hindus back to some imaginary golden past. If we ourselves deny what is wrong in Hinduism, no one else is going to clean up our house.

  8. Abhilash, thanks for your response. no none of these ills have escaped my eyes, infact i can name a few more that have taken place in the name of hinduism. i do not follow any of the ill practices u’ve mentioned. now am i still a hindu? will Thaigan or Varun or even togadia say that i’m not a hindu because i don’t belive in some (or all) of what’s in any of the scriptures u mentioned? the answer is no. the answer is that innumerable people are trying to clean up the house even today, including my mother who taught us that one must accept whats right and reject whats not. its like science – science does not know all the answers and many foolish beliefs have been held in its name in the past, but it was open to new discoveries and theories. ur statement that hindus need to do this and that and ur assumption that we are driven by some RSS propoganda is highly objectionable. and its black and white too. for example on RSS website they say that all religions are equal, whereas many ‘secular’ champions will not be able to say that. so please don’t make blanket stements and stick to specific issues pls.

  9. Varun:


    I am surprised that you are even arguing that non-Hindus are allowed entry in temples (or most of them) without any problem. The controversies at famous temples of Guruvayur and Tirupati were well-reported.

    Union Minister Vyalar Ravi has threatened legal action against the authorities of Kerala’s Guruvayur temple after they conducted a purification ceremony, days after he visited the temple with his wife and son. The temple performed the ceremony on Sunday after the minister’s family made an offering at the temple where non-Hindus are not permitted to go. The purification ceremony is said to have taken place after the minister’s son Ravi Krishna failed to produce a certificate to prove his religion. [NDTV]

    Incidentally, Ravi himself is a Hindu and has raised his children in Hindu traditions. His only fault is that he married a Christian lady.

    In a country where millions go to bed hungry, Rs 1 million worth of food meant as a holy offering at Orissa’s Jagannath temple was destroyed on Friday because a foreigner had entered it — an act seen as defiling the premises. Priests at the temple in Puri, 56 km from here, also performed rituals to cleanse the shrine after Paul Rodgier, a 55-year-old American Christian, visited it on Thursday afternoon. [DNA]

    Then you have the case of White converts to Hinduism who were not allowed entry because they, well, don’t look like Hindus (whatever that means).

    According to Anil, he and his wife were prevented from entering the temple’s premises last Monday despite displaying their marriage certificate. The servitors and the security personnel manning the entrance of the important shrine were not prepared to listen to Anil’s plea that his wife had already been converted to Hinduism as per Arya Samaj rules in Varanasi. [Deccan Herald]

    And poor dalits have bore the brunt since centuries.

    Tension gripped two villages in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district where Dalit women were reportedly denied entry into temples by upper caste men and beaten for protesting the move. [Times Of India]

    Hundreds of Dalits gheraoed the Collector’s bungalow in Madurai on Thursday, alleging they were denied entry into a temple at Therkutheru village near here.

    Accusing the local police and revenue officials of preventing them from entering the temple, they said the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed that they be allowed to worship at the Arulmigu Mandhai Veeranasamy Temple. [The Hindu]

    Again, my argument is not that temples should allow non-Hindus to look good. If these are private institutions then they should be able to formulate their policies. However, if they disallow dalits to enter then it is illegal because you are discriminating against some people on the basis of something over which they has no control, in this case, their caste.

    So, there is nothing inherently wrong in non-Muslims not being allowed in Mecca because it is a sacred Muslim city and they get to choose who enters and who doesn’t. As I mentioned previously, I am all for a debate on whether it serves any purpose or not. Also, I am not sure how long this ban has been in practice and whether it was in force during the time of Prophet.


    Of course, all citizens of a country should be treated equally and I don’t think anyone has argued otherwise here.


    You wrote:

    my main point was that in Islam there is a fixed set of Rules which everyone has to follow and which was conceived centuries back.

    Again, this shows your lack of understanding of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence. There are no ‘fixed set of Rules’ frozen in time but the Islamic law has evolved over centuries adapting to contemporary situations. The door of ijtihad (independent interpretation by jurists) of issues is always open. May be not as much as some Muslims would like to have but there is always an option. You would be surprised to know that the Islamic position on family planning and abortion is much more practical than the Catholic church. I think you are taking the cacophony created by some extremist Muslims too literally.


    Here are the exact figures for no. of females for 1000 males:

    Hindus 930
    Muslims 936
    Sikhs 892

    Chandigarh had the lowest figure in the entire country at 776. [Source: Census India 2001]

    Also, Vani K. Borooah and Sriya Iyer in their paper “Religion, Literacy, and the Female-to-Male Ratio in India” concluded that “the preference for sons (and the aversion to daughters) exercised a stronger hold on Hindu families than it did on Muslim and on Dalit families.” [Source: pdf format]

    As for your comment that nowhere there is written in Hindu scriptures about women being burden on the family, sample this from Atharva Veda:

    “Let a female child be born somewhere else; here, let a male child be born

  10. All should thank Muhib and IM in bringing out the facts to us. I must also say that Madrasah are purely for Islam and this does not restrict non-muslims to be students. Those who have apprehension about conversion on being overhelmed, let me tell you about a letter to editor of an English Monthly published from Bangalore namely (IV). while conceeding that IV does not write only about Islam and that even commercial cinema is islamic for IV the point is the writer asked the editor to write about whats there in the Ka’ba at Makkah and that if he is ready to explain why non-muslims are restricted from Haram-Shareef, he would convert to Islam. The editor replied that whilst he is clarifying his doubts is subsequent lines, his conditional conversion is not at all acceptible as faith is not a lottery. I have read about a story of two Hindu children learning to read the Qur’an just to know what is there, so there is no question of restriction in entering a mosque of reading the Qur’an. Non muslims are exempted from the mandatory requirement of being ‘paak’ and ‘wuzu’ to visit a mosque or read the Qur’an. Muslims are supposed to talk about Islam on dinning tables and restaurants and not confine it to private places or bedrooms.

  11. Thanks Asad for posting this. Though the suggestion by Swami Iyer is great in spirit but I dont think it will work. From where will the Madarsas get so much funding? Can they really compete or need to compete with colleges like IIT, AIIMS or IIM?

    In the past the Madarsas had a wider meaning where they were seats of general learning. In today’s scenario there are already institutes that are providing those educations. The part where the Madarsas are missing out is bringing out Islamic scholars of real depth, scholars who have a mastery over maqasid-shariah (goals of shariah), scholars who understand the complexity of society and appreciate the place of various fields of learning and impart that in the society. I think if we can achieve even a part of that the madarsas will have a purpose to serve.

    Though he has qouted Maulana Rahmani (whose interview was on this site itself) I think the Maulana also understood the purpose of introducing various subjects in the context of the madarsa students apprecitiating the need of the subjects rather than mastering them.

  12. Mirza, Why don’t you directly say that reforms are not needed. Why deeper and shallower learning? Do You mean to say that currently madarsas are producing scholars who don’t have knowledge. What is wrong in making them centres of general learning? How will they appreciate a general scientific approach if they still study that sun goes around the earth?

  13. Mirza, Guess spoke fast…Hope I am welcomed as always…:-) read your previous comments also..Hmmm…It is indeed a complex issue…Madarsa education is for Islamic learning…How and to what extent they should and can be exposed without deviating from the main path is something I guess Muslims in probably IT industry and Ulema in these madarsas should find a common ground in…I can suggest an idea…..Muslim countries nowadays are improvising in Islamic Banking..Shariah Courts…And all this type of stuff…All these fields require specialised software…this requires people with Islamic education and knowledge….Something on these grounds can be thought of….Because defintely these students coming out from madarsas will be domain experts…I have more ideas…I think this will help in providing madarsa students employment while also combating the negative propaganda against them…also I think that these madarsas should open up theological discussions with other streams…not like Dr Zakir Naik for sure but something like Dara Shikoh where he was open to mingling of the 2 oceans. Recently there is a Hindu Priest who has said that Prophet Mohammed is the 8th Vishnu Avataar Kalki whom hindus have been waiting for….Many of the descriptions of Kalki match with Prophet Mohammed….Hmm Now I guess I have both hindus and muslims coming for me…:-)

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