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Islamic education was a foreign system which was transplanted to India and grew up in its new soil with very little connection with Brahmanic education.--Dr. F.E. Kaey


The political organisation of the Muslim rulers was decentralised. The Mansabdars, kings, zamindars or landlords, etc., became dependent rulers of their individual areas after paying the requisite tax to the royal treasury. These rulers had mosques constructed, and soon the mosques changed into maktabs and madrassas. During the Muslim period, Agra, Delhi, Jaunpur, Lahore, Ajmer, Bidar, Lucknow, Ferozabad, Jalandhar, Multan, Bijapur, etc., became important centres of education. Agra: Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodi. He had the town established as a centre of Islamic education, and it soon took the form of a university. Hundreds of madrassas in this town provided education in literature, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, etc. Later on, Akbar, Jehangir and Shahjehan also contributed to the development of education in this town. Delhi: Delhi was renowned far and wide as a centre of Muslim education. Nasiruddin established the Nasaria Madrassa here. The Gulam dynasty also helped the spread of education in Delhi. During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, 34 famous scholars of Islam lived in Delhi. Feroz Tuglak had 30 madrassas established. Humayun opened madrasssas for imparting knowledge of astrology and geography. Akbar, Jehangir, Shahjehan and Aurangzeb also established various madrassas for imparting knowledge of various specific fields. Jaunpur: During the reign of Feroz, Jaunpur was a prominent centre of Muslim education. It had many schools imparting education in the arts, literature and other spheres of knowledge. The Sharkias made valuable contributions to the development of education. Sher Shah Suri himself was a student here. Bidar: Bidar, too, was an important educational centre. Mahmood Gawan had a huge madrassa and a library established here. Later, Alauddin Ahmed contributed to the development of education. In addition to the above centres, there were at least one maktab and one madrassa in every village of Bijapur, Golkunda, Malwa, Khandesh, Multan, Gujarat, Lucknow, Sialkot and Bengal.


During the Muslim period, the system of education was organised in the following manner: Bismillah: Education began with the performance of the ritual known as `Bismillah', which was performed at the age of 4 years, 4 months and 4 days. It was similar to the Upnayan ceremony of the Vedic period and the Pabbaja ritual of the Buddhist period. On this day, the child was adorned with a new crown anti sent to his teacher, the Maulvi, where the latter inaugurated the child's education with a recitation from the Quran. Affluent people had this ritual performed at home. Maktab: Education began in the maktab, i.e., a primary school. The teachers called Maulvis taught the alphabet along with verses from the Quran. The child's primary education took place in these schools. Generally, most such maktabs were appendages of mosques. The child was taught writing, the Quran, namaz or prayer, adaan, arithmetic, drafting, conversation, letter-writing, etc. Madrassa: Madrassas provided higher education to the students. They were aided by the government. Here higher education was imparted through lectures. There were arrangements for hostels in the madrassas. They were owned privately as well as by the state.

Syllabus: The syllabus of education in the Muslim period included such subjects as the holy Quran, the biography of Hadrat Muhammad Sahib, the history and the laws of Islam, Arabic and Persian, grammar, literature, logic, philosophy, law, astrology, history, geography, agriculture, Unani system of medicine, etc. There were provisions for teaching Sanskrit to Hindu children. Madrassas provided both religious and material or worldly education. Subjects of religious education included Quran, Islamic laws, history and Sufi philosophy, while worldly or material education consisted of grammar, language, literature, etc. There were some specialised centres for education in particular subjects. Method of Teaching: Emphasis was placed on memorisation in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. The most prevalent method was the oral. Individual attention was paid to students. The monitor system had been used in maktabs and madrasssas. Student-teacher Relationship: During this period, relations between students and teachers were not marked by intimacy, but there were no doubts about sincerity and purity. Though teachers received a low salary, they had an important place in society. People respected them and bestowed faith on them. The teacher had a paternal attitude towards his wards. It was believed that the students who served their teachers made God happy. Despite this, there was nothing notable in this relationship. Aurangzeb is known to have insulted his teacher Mulla Shah Saleh. Reward and Punishment: There was a system of severe punishment to maintain order and discipline, but brilliant scholars were also rewarded. Medium of Education: During the Muslim period, Arabic and Persian were the media of education. However, after the growth of Urdu, education began to be imparted through this language.


The stream of Muslim education continued to flow in India for a period of almost 500 years. Its system passed through the hands and reign of many rulers. This process inevitably left an indelible mark of Indian life. The shortcomings and virtues of this method of education can be enumerated as follows. According to Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, "The impact of the Muslims and the Hindu has evolved the present Indian culture. We cannot, even if we are foolish enough to try, untwist this closely intertwisted and intertwined unity of culture that makes modern India." 1. In this period, there began a synthesis between worldly or materialistic and religious education, and consequently, a tendency towards professionalisation or vocationalisation emerged. Only high educated individuals were given employment in state services. 2. Education had achieved objectivity. Education was not merely for the propagation of knowledge. Its practical use fullness was another essential condition. Aurangzeb laid great stress on making the education of princes highly practical. 3. Education was compulsory for Muslim children. Hadrat Muhammad had declared that receiving education was akin to achieving God. He who obtains education obtains God. 4. During this period, great attention was paid to the growth of history and the art of writing history. In fact, the tradition of writing history had its roots in this period. The various forms of literature also underwent significant growth. 5. The relations between students and teachers were generally good, but during Aurangzeb's reign, teachers lost their high status in society. 6. During this period, Agra, Delhi, Jaunpur, Bidar, Ajmer, Bijapur, Golkunda, Hyderabad, Malwa, Khandesh, Gujarat, Lucknow, Sialkot, and Bengal emerged as important centres of Muslim education.

Though education underwent considerable propagation during this period, it was not free from shortcomings. It also became lax when the Mughal empire began to decline. The invasions of Nadir and Ahmed Shah Abdali also had a detrimental effect. Its defects were the following: 1. During this period, excessive stress was laid on the material aspect of education. Though religious education was a part of the curriculum, more attention was given to the material aspect of life. 2. Madrassas and maktabs had a short life during-periods of anarchy. Political instability undermined their economic strength. 3. During this period, Arabic and Persian education had great influence. Akbar did make attempts to popularise and spread Hindi, but they proved futile. In the end, it was Urdu that emerged. 4. During this period, only the affluent received education. There was no arrangement for public education. Besides, education was limited to towns, since there were almost no educational facilities in village. 5. The education of women was completely neglected during this period. Special provisions were however made for ladies belonging to the royal families. Besides, since a sense of insecurity prevailed almost everywhere, no attention was paid to the education of women. 6. In this educational system, the emphasis was not upon integral development; it was almost exclusively upon reading and writing. 7. Not much importance was attached to self-study, and students were often found enjoying their comfort instead of studying. Most students and teachers remained involved in useless controversies. The history of Muslim education has been the history of a system of government and a social system extending over 700 years. As a result of numerous political and social factors, Muslim education could not touch the heart of public life, and ultimately, not even governmental protection could prolong its life.


With the emergence of Islam, the attention of Muslim kings turned towards India. Time was kind to them. It allowed them to settle themselves firmly in this country. After the Gulam, Khilji, Tuglak, Sayyed and Lodhi dynasties, Mogul kings established many educational institutions in India. This education, too, had its roots in religion. During this period, Indian art and culture came under the influence of Arab culture and civilization. It was only natural that the same political influence should also have made itself felt. In consequence, education too came under this influence. Islam had its origin between 570 A.D. and 632 A.D. Hadrat Muhammad collected his messages in the Holy Quran, and this text came to be an instrument of social direction for the Muslim kings. During this period, these kings made arrangements for education in order to serve their own interests. Muhammad Gauri started his aggression on India, but at the same time, he also had mosques and schools constructed in Ajmer to make arrangements for education in Islam and Muslim law. His successor Qutubuddin also followed in his footsteps. The other rulers of his dynasty, Altamesh, Razia Begum, Nasiruddin Balban and others also had mosques, maktabs and schools established with government aid. According to Hadrat Muhammad, of all the gifts that parents can give to their children, the best is the gift of a liberal education. The ink in the pens of students is purer and noble than even the blood of martyrs.

In the same manner, Ferozshah Tuglak of the Tuglak dynasty made efforts for the propagation of education. One of the schools established by him in Delhi has been described as follows. The school was located in a large ground and a big building with massive towers. It was situated in a garden in which human skill harmonised with nature, thus creating an environment most suitable for contemplation and thought. Near the school was a lake, whose water shone like silver. The grand building of the school was reflected in its waters. It was an enchanting sight to see hundreds of students crossing the polished and smooth floors and congregating round their teachers. According to N.N. Law there were provisions for governmental aid and scholarships in these schools. During the reign of Sikander Lodi (1489-1519), Indians, too, had begun to learn Persian (Pharsi). After obtaining knowledge of this language, they began to work in governmental departments. The Muslim rulers themselves felt the need for Hindu workers in the administrative sphere, and hence they made arrangements for the study of Indian languages. And, as a result of the contact between the Hindus and Muslims, Urdu, which was the spoken form of Persian mixed with Hindi, was evolved. The Mughal rulers who followed the earlier Muslim rulers had relatively greater interest in education, and hence it was in this later period that education developed more adequately. Akbar authorised the translation of many important Indian texts, including the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, Atharvaveda and Lilawati, into Persian. Akbar's deep interest in education is highlighted by Abul Fazal's comments in his famous work Ain-e-Akbari to the effect that in every country, and especially in India, boys were kept in school for years where they were taught about consonants and vowels. Since they had to read numerous books, a large part of the boys' time was wasted. Emperor Akbar declared that each student should be taught to write the alphabet in various ways. Each student was required to learn the name of every letter (varna) within two days. Emphasis was laid upon imparting education in moral values, arithmetic, political arithmetic, agriculture, medicine, logic, and physical, mathematical and divine philosophy to every student. Jehangir went so far as to enact a law that the property and wealth of any person dying without an heir would be utilised for the repair of schools and religious buildings. Shahjehan had a university established near the Jama Masjid. Aurangzeb did propagate Muslim education, but at the same time he destroyed Hindu schools and temples. He granted excessive facilities for Muslim students, but he accorded a low status to teachers. After the collapse of the Mughal Empire, schools suffered a severe blow. Many such institutions closed down due to anarchy and lack of finances. According to Vakil and Natrajan-"It must be noted that while mosques, maktabs and madrassas sprang up with the spread of Muhammadan power and provided facilities for Islamic learning in different parts of the country, the Hindu system of education continued to prevail in pathashalas, maths and temples except where their work was disturbed or dislocated by Muhammadan inroads or invasions." One finds a lack of organisation in Muslim education. In the Muslim period, education was founded on community basis. Hence, it is illogical to claim that the Muslim ruler sought to propagate education liberally. Whatever the extent to which they propagated education, it was motivated by their own objectives, selfish interests and ambitions. Bernier, the famous French traveller who visited India during this period, observed that during the period which he had described, it was only natural to find deep and universal ignorance. Was it possible to establish suitably financially aided schools and colleges or other centres of education in India? Where would the organisers be found? And, even if they were found, from where would the students be obtained? He also observed the absence of individuals whose wealth was adequate for providing suitable aid to colleges. And, even if such individuals existed, he felt that no one had the courage to compel them to bring out their wealth for such an investment. He felt that even some

individual did venture on such a foolish act, there was an absence of religious places, enterprises and offices with employment potential which could utilise the ability and science imparted to students, and thus serve as an inspiration for youth to be hopeful and to compete for future success.


During the Muslim period, education developed so slowly that no notable characteristic of it ever emerged. Minor rulers had educational institutions established for the satisfaction of their interests. However, the following features can be noted Encouragement by the State: Muslim rulers took an interest in education, and so they provided aid to maktabs and madrassas. There were granted jagirs or landed property. Scholars were given places of eminence in the courts of kings. The rulers started giving aid to madrassas and maktabs being run in or along with mosques. Hence, their propagation of education was communal. Arabic and Persian: During this period, special stress was laid on the teaching of Arabic and Persian, which were made the media of education by Muslim rulers. Knowledge of these two languages was essential for securing employment in government offices. Consequently, Hindus too began to learn Arabic and Persian. Religious Influence: The education of this period was profoundly influenced by Islam. Every Muslim sought education for the purpose of searching for knowledge and for religious purposes. There is direct evidence of the influence of Islam on the education of this period. Students were required to memorise the Quran. Importance was attached to study of Islam. This religious influence upon education was positive proof of the communal attitude of Muslim rulers. Materialism: Muslim education sought the spread of education only from the practical and materialistic viewpoints. Education in manual skills, sculpture, agriculture, medicine, etc., is proof of this. In addition to religious education, teachers tried to ensure that after receiving education, the child should become capable of earning his livelihood. Consequently, knowledge of military science, painting, sculpture, housing construction, manufacture of weapons, etc., was also imparted. Knowledge of such subjects was given to students directly and individually by experts through a system of apprenticeship. Development of History-writing: By initiating the writing of the history of their period. Muslim rulers helped to develop the art of writing history. Both Mughal and Muslim rulers commissioned the writing of the histories of their period or reigns. Among the most famous of these are Babar nama, Akbar nama, etc. Emergence of Urdu: The evolution of the new language `Urdu' which emerged from the intermixing of Arabic and Persian, is the greatest contribution of the Mughal period. The importance that this language enjoys today is due entirely to the Muslim period.


The education imparted in the Muslim period had numerous objectives. Its prime objective was to create able employees for the political and administrative system. However, the objectives of education underwent modifications as the attitudes of successive rulers changed. The objectives of education during Akbar's reign were completely different from its objectives during Aurangzeb's rule. In general, Muslim education had the following objectivesPropagation of Knowledge: Religious knowledge could have been propagated among the Muslims who had come to India or those who had been converted to Islam only through education. Hadrat Muhammad had said that knowledge is divine and without it salvation is not possible. He taught people the difference between duty and wrong actions, religious and irreligious deeds, and laid stress on the need for knowledge through education.

Propagation of Religion: Religion was the basis of education, and hence the purpose of education was propagation of religion. Maktabs were established along with mosques. It was generally held that the propagation of Islam was synonymous with the propagation of religion and he who engaged in this became-a martyr. It was for this reason that knowledge of Quran was imparted in the maktabs. Hadrat Muhammad had also declared that a proper and liberal education was the finest of gifts that parents could bestow on their children. Propagation of Religious Laws: Education also aimed at propagating the major laws of Islam and the Shariyats of the holy Quran. Islamic religion had evolved very specific moral criteria, and it was the purpose of education to propagate them. All these elements contributed to the achievement of Islam's social and political objectives and the strengthening of its laws and customs in this period. Wordly Progress: According to Jafar, the state encouraged the educated, people in every conceivable way. The posts of Kazis (preachers) and wazirs (ministers) were reserved for the educated. Besides, Muslim education also aimed at preparing the individual for future life. Many Hindus received the highest Muslim education and rose to high positions.

Strengthening the Administration: Another objective of Muslim education was to strengthen the administration. Muslim rulers believed that their administration could not be firmly entrenched in the absence of education, and hence they wanted to utilise the educational system for strengthening their own political position.


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