Mumbai: Its 9’oclock late in the evening, the time to pack up for most of the people in Mumbai. However at Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) in the heart of the popular international city in India, it is as if the beginning of the day. The activities in the classrooms, the calm in the library, the clerks at work, the buzz in the court-yard and the appetizing smell emanating from the kitchen, the combination was a match perfect to describe beginning of a busy day in any institution. No. They haven’t started their activities now. In fact they are busy right from 6 in the morning. Yet the freshness over their faces reveals absolutely no sign of fatigue.
This is the routine at Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) in Mumbai, the Institute-cum-Research Centre for Madrasa students. The Institute that polish a select batch of immature yet talented Madrasa students and convert them into a valuable asset for the country and the world. The Institute that is the brainchild of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi who came into the limelight after floating Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) few years back and recently after winning the parliamentary election by a huge margin.
“We don’t have a weekly off, neither a Friday nor a Sunday. Our students are busy right from the morning till late in the evening for whole of the year”, said Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi. Maulana Burhan, the trusted lieutenant of Badruddin Ajmal in Mumbai, is also the principle of the Institute, a mentor and a father like figure for the students. At the same time, very confident and absolutely clear while expressing his views.
We asked him the motives behind setting up an Institute for Madrasa students, a bunch considered as useless and on whom no one would consider investing anything let alone millions of rupees every year, the philosophical Burhanuddin Qasmi goes on. “Had there not been Ulema after the decline of Muslim rule, the mythical Indian civilization would have absorbed Muslim identity and culture”, he said while adding, “Ulema have been the backbone of the Muslim community and their extraordinary efforts through ages have kept the Islamic assets protected and flourishing on the Indian soil. Therefore, the fate of Muslims as a unit and a separate religious group depends on the progressive ideas, up-to-date policies and universal thoughts of their spiritual leaders.”
“At the onset of the new millennium”, he said, “As the community was surrounded by multitude political problems, it faced the biggest challenge to its civilization and cultural heritage. Since the Ulema, being aware of only Islamic sciences and Urdu-Arabic languages, were not only lacking access to the international community but also to a good part of their population. Hence it is needed to equip the graduates of Madrasas with the modern science so that they can meet the modern challenges and play a greater influential role in the society.”
At the helm of the affairs, Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi personally takes care that the quality is strictly maintained for the two-year course having a total of just 25 students for each year. No less than education bliss for the Madrasa students, Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) has changed the lives of more than hundred students in few years since its foundation.
“Total discipline and absolutely no leisure to anyone, our rules are very clear. Above all our evaluation method leaves no chance for the students to freak out. To come with the flying colors, they have no option but to perform”, said Maulana Burhan Qasmi.
Today the Madrasa students after completing the course from Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) are most sought after by the consulates, publishing centers and even by the industries, everyone coming to Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center (MMERC) with attractive packages and lucrative offers for MMERC students.
Certainly an IIM in making for the Madrasa students, the experiment that began in Mumbai has now spread to Assam, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (UP).
Diploma in English Language & Literature (DELL): English is the Lingua Franca of the world today. People world over, communicate with each other and transact business through this language. Though Ulema from Madrasas know Arabic and they can comprehend Islam directly from the original sources, they find it difficult to communicate with the intelligentsia as they lack proficiency in English language. Consequently they are not only unable to present Islam to others but also fail to communicate with the educated people of their own community. To cement this communication gap, the Institute inspires Ulema to learn English so that they acquire enough proficiency in reading, writing, speaking this language and translate Islamic works into the same utilizing the modern tools of communication such as computer and Internet. It may help them become effective preachers and propagators of Islam.
Under this program, graduates from different Madrasas are selected after written and oral tests to join this two-year course. Priority is given to those graduates who have an aptitude and willingness to learn English and an ambition to work for Dawah in future. Students joining this course undergo training for two years with the sole objective of acquiring proficiency in English language and operating computer and Internet.
Students completing this course stand at par with graduate of English medium public schools and colleges. Also they become capable of writing articles, delivering lectures on Islam and comparative religions, teaching English and Arabic and taking research works in English independently. At the same time they get an opportunity to join renowned organizations, institutes and magazines and also to work as an administrator, teacher, interpreter and translator in India or abroad.
Having successfully passed the exams, some qualified students are selected for three years intensive full time “Research and Training Course”. During the period research methodology is instilled in them and in the process they are trained for an in-depth research. The topic of research is basically related to Islam and Muslims. During the first year the trainees select a topic in consultation with his guide. He is asked to collect materials and participate in seminars on the subject. He is also encouraged to meet different experts of the subject and visit various libraries. The trainee is required to submit a thesis of his research findings in no less than 100 pages. Once a trainee completes the Research Training course and submits his paper successfully, he is enrolled for “Research Fellow” phase.
During second year, the Research Fellow is to take thorough research on the same topic for which he has already submitted a paper. Intensive research is done here with a view to come out with new findings that help remove misgiving related to Islam vis-à-vis other religions and modern scientific researches.