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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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What is a Madrassah? Durable Link to this BLOG
What Really is a Madrassah?

These days we are hearing a lot about the Madrassahs (a.k.a. Madarasa, Madrasa, from Arabic). They are labeled as terrorist training camps that harbor hatred and intense religious fervor. Unfortunately that's what has happened to the great Islamic institution of Madrassah today.

A Madrassah is simply a traditional Islamic school of higher learning. Till the western forces destroyed (18th Centuty) the indigenous systems of education like the Gurukuls, the Ghatikas, and the Madrassahs, they were the only formal means of education in the medieval sub-continent. A Maqtab (a.k.a. Makhtab ) was a primary school in the Islamic world while a Madrassah was like a high-school or college of today. In the medieval Islamic world, there were many Madrassahs as big as the universities of the twentieth century, complete with libraries, display museums, and visiting scholar programs.

Great scholars and teachers devoted their lives in the Madrassahs for the study of  Islam, the Farsi language, and most importantly, to spread knowledge among common people. Prophet Mohammad is to have said "a scholar’s ink is superior to a martyr’s blood", and the thought of the period (10th to 18th centuries) took upon itself to propagate Islam though advancement of arts, sciences, and devotion. Royalty as well as commoners were educated in the Madrassahs.

Here is a picture of a great and historical Madrassah in Southern India.

Madrassah of Mahmud Gawan
15th Century Madrassah of Mahmud Gawan

The Madrassah was to find a renewed strength and survival in the post-Soviet Union Afganistan and Pakistan. As the inflow of foreign money dried up, the people resorted to low cost, Islamic schools where the Maulvis (clerics) shared their wisdom. As those nations turned more fanatical, and fundamentalistic, the lessons also reflected the mood of the people. Although today the Madrassahs are branded as breeding areas for hatred of the West, they are the only means of education available to a large number of Afghan, Palestinian, and Lebenese children whose lives have been torn by civil (and non-so-civil) wars.

• ABCNews: Visit to a Madrassah
• NYTimes: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Sciences Secure Site - Requires Login

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Reference: A forthcoming book on the History of Education in India by my mother.

Indya.com is Dead. Long Live India.

This just in. Indian portal Indya.com that started with mega backers, media blitz, and hype panaroia has fired all its employees.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Last Modified: 1/29/2003
Tags: definition

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