There is an unprecedented growth of Maddersah’s in a hilly hamlet Bhalessa (Doda). There is rising tide in madrasah education, as is being witnessed today. The Madersah’s increased in number. Interestingly, the number rose to 12 in an inaccessible area of Bhalessa including Thathri. Besides nurturing the Islamic clerics from these Madrasah’s including Hafiz and Ulema, these institutions seemed increasingly imparting modern education also at the pattern of other government schools under the ambit of the state government. Innovative Madrasah’s like the Jamia Gunyat ul Uloom are increasingly visible today, Jamia Gunyat ul Uloom Bhatyas established in the year 1983 and was named after Hazrat Abdul Gani Sadiqui. The madrasah is managed by Gunyat Ul Uloom Trust Bhalessa is the largest Institution imparting Madrasah and academic education to the students of hilly terrain of Bhalessa.It currently has more than a thousand students on its rolls. Patterned on the Dar ul Uloom Deoband model, it is one of the few madrasah’s in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that provide Islamic education till the Alim Fazil or specialization level.
Besides Jamia, there are several other maddersa’s like Madrasah Asrar Ul Uloom at Neeli Bhalessa named after Shah Asrar ud Din Bagdadi (RA). Other Madrasa’s are:- Madrasah Anwar-e-Madina Gandoh, Madrasah Aweesya Ameenya Dhraveri, Gulshan-e-Madina at Dhadkai hamlet, Akhyar ul Uloom at Kahara, Gayas Ul Uloom at Gingota hamlet, Inam ul Uloom at Donadi, Ume-Sadiqa at Kilhotran, Madrasa Taleem ul Quran Bharti and Zia-ul Uloom at Thathri. Madrasah Um –e Sadiqa very recently founded by the Fredya Welfare Society Bhalessa headed by Alhaj Shoket Ali Batt. The madrasah is unique in the sense that it is meant for Girls only. There are as many as 80 girl students getting Islamic education. The madrasah is named after Hazrat Aishya Sidiqa (RA). The Madrasah focuses on the life and teachings of Hazrat Aishya Sadiqa (RA)There is an unprecedented growth in the madarasah’s owing to which the students are graduated at the pattern of Dar ul Uloom Deoband of Utter Pradesh. The unique feature of these Madarasah’s is that they focus on Inter community relations. All these institutions follow the curriculum prescribed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Board for Education,
These maddersa’s are either affiliated to the state education department or are the sister concerns of the Jamia Gunyat Ul Uloom Bhatyas. In Jamia there are as many as 250 students memorizing Quran popularly called Hifz. They stay for a night in the hostels managed from the donated money by the management of the institute. The students, neatly dressed in spotless kurta-pajamas and topis, sit in a circle on a large quilt accompanied by a qualified Hafiz or a Maulana- The teacher who teaches the students in madrasah. The Maulana translate verses of Quran or teaches as to how to pronounce the verses in a particular language. Jamia is situated in a mountainous slope where Haji Sahib’s residence is located. Haji sahib who is also regarded as a Mohatmim of Jamia.
There is a frequent visit by one and all even by the local state politicians like Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to express their sympathy to Madersah on an occasions like of annual celebrations or a meeting with revered Sufi Haji Sahib. On being prompted by management committee, the Madersah organize an annual day celebrations with the initiative of the local masses and students of nearly maddersa’s. The students stand up and deliver an impassioned speech in Arabic and recite Naat Khuwani in Urdu. I had a frequent visit to this Institution especially in connection with the Annual day celebrations. On that very day I sit among the students to listen the details of the programme presented by the students on that day. The management focused on the importance of academic education and on how Islam positively encourages it. Apart from Islamic education in the institution, the academic education is an indispensable part of the Jamia curriculum; The Jamia is till 10th grade and is affiliated to J&K State Board of School Education. The result is also very excellent as the institute gets 10-12 distinctions every year in the matriculation examination controlled by J&K Board of school education in this improvised area of Bhalessa.The welcome addresses over on the annual day of Madrasah, I sit with the students and discuss their studies. One of them wants to know how to secure admission in the English department of the University of Jammu. Another wants to know how he can I prepare for Kashmir Administrative services exam after completing my graduation in Islamic studies or Arabic. A third asks me, in impeccable English, ‘Why are Muslims, especially the ulema of Deoband, thought of as terrorists by many, while they had actually played a leading role in India’s anti-colonial struggle?’
The students and their teachers insist that the Deobandi elders are not against modern education as is commonly imagined. Mufti Ishrat Mattu who was graduated from Jamia argues with me, ‘Islam says that all beneficial knowledge can be acquired and so our ulema have never opposed what is good in the modern educational system. What they were opposed to, however, was Western culture. We can and, indeed, should acquire knowledge of all the beneficial modern disciplines, provided this is done according to our culture and that it helps us become better Muslims. Maulana Shoket Ali Qasmi President of Madersah Asrar Uloom Neeli Bhalessa tells me about the 60 such students. Who are enrolled in thehifz course in Asrar ul uloom to memorize the Quran. However, Asrar Ul Uloom was sat up in 1980, It has 210 other students enrolled for academic courses upto 8th class and is recognized by the state government. The Maderasah is functioning on public donation as is clear from the very recent block constructed from the public donated money. In contrast to most other institutions that specialize in hifz, the students here must also study English, Urdu, Mathematics and Science. Maulana Shoket Ali Qasmi also refers to his plans to arrange for his students to simultaneously enroll for the tenth grade examinations, so that after they finish their course they can join various different departments in regular colleges and universities. ‘Our ulema must keep themselves abreast of modern knowledge and contemporary developments’, he stresses. ‘That is essential for them to provide proper leadership to the community’.
I ask the Mufti Abid Hussain who joined after, about the Kashmir dispute, but he brushes aside my question politely. ‘We have nothing to do with politics’, he says. He stresses, however, that allegations about madrasah’s inJammu and Kashmir being allegedly involved in promoting ‘terrorism’ are false. ‘We are completely transparent, an open book, and have nothing to hide. Mufti added that anyone can come and visit us and sit in our classrooms’, he replies. ‘Not a single madrasah in Jammu and Kashmir has been identified by intelligence sources as engaged in that sort of activity’. He added further that the vision of Madersah is different from the Politics of land” He explained me a curriculum of Asrar ul uloom. He added that in Madersah we offer to the aspirants the teachings like, Nazra Quran, Tajweed e Farsi, Ilm-e-Nahw, Sarf- e- tafseer, Hadees-e-Mantiq, Falsafa-e-Bayan, balagat and fiqah. He told me as we sit in a circle on a tiny play ground at Madersah flanked by other Mufti’s. They stressed me in response to my question regarding the Hindu -Muslim relation in this hamlet. They stressed, “We talk about inter-community relations”.Moreover, he adds, ‘we must learn about each other’s religions and sentiments not to condemn and denounce others, but to understand them’. Lastly, the call (Azaan) for the Friday prayer comes floating in. As we get up to offer the prayer in nearby Jamia Masjid at Changa, the Maulana hands me a bunch of booklets that the Madrasa has published, including Taaruf of Maderasa.