History of Islamic Education In India and Nadvat Ul-‘Ulama’

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Item Code: NAH180
Author: Dr. Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Publisher: Kitab Bhavan
Language: Arabic and English Text
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8171513476
Pages: 320 (5 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 600 gm
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Book Description


1857 was the turning point for the Indians especially for the Muslims. They were enjoying upper hand in the society but now their position was weakened and they suddenly found themselves nowhere. When they came out of the shocks of the time they realised their pitiable condition. The worst was in the field of education. Some very sincere efforts were made in this field by those who knew that with the change of the time and in fastly developing conditions of the world it would not be possible for anyone to stand on his own foot without proper education and modern know how. Those who were very religious in their thoughts considered that the religious education has to be given the utmost priority and religious institutions are to be opened to help prove those detoriating conditions. The others who were minutely observing the changes in all the spheres life in the world thought that only religious education will not get them any place in the fastly changing world scenario. They were of the opinion t modem education especially the knowledge and learning of English, which has become the need of the time, will the most beneficial way to compete the challenges of the time.

Those belonging to the first category established Dar ul-uloom Deoband and formulated a syllabus strictly based on religious studies or so-called Darse-Nizamia. They did not include any modern educational system and more so they thought that it will take Muslim society far away from the religion.

The other who were in favour of Modern education and were keeping an eye on the future were strictly of the opinion that modern education is the only remedy of the worsening and decaying conditions of the Muslims. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who was the pioneer of this thought has already observed the slight of the Muslims. He was very farsighted and had decided to venture in the field of education to upgrade and men. He was of the firm opinion that all the ills among the Muslims are due to lack of education. He was closely following the changing trends of the society and also of the pattern of education while he was close to the English people. He was not against religious education as some Ulama blamed him. But in his view English and modem education was the only way to face the challenges of life and the role of religion in this regard was to check and keep ones faith in religion and religious activities intact. In this opinion there was no conflict between modern education and religion or religious studies. To fulfil his ideas first he opened a school named Madarsatul-uloom which became Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College later on (and Aligarh Muslim University afterwards).

A number of Ulama did not agree with Sir Syed's revolutionary ideas. They feared that if he succeeds the religion may be marginalised in his curriculum. They were also not fully satisfied with the pattern of education at Deoband. They believed that traditional as well as modem education are to be plugged together and should be studies side by side. They agreed upon the need of immediate change in the syllabai of the madaris and also resolved to form an institution where the updated curriculum be implemented. Among them were Maulana Mohammad Ali Mongeri, Allama Shibli Nomani, Maulana Shah Sulaiman Phulwarvi, Maulana ahmud Hasan, Habibur Rehman Khan Sherwani etc.

They formally met in Kanpur in 1892 and decided to form an organisation with the name of Nadwatul ulama. The objectives were to make changes in the prevalent system of education and include history, philosophy, economics etc to make it more useful and relevant.


After re-establishing their rule, the Europeans started a policy of persecution against the Indian Muslims because they feared and considered the Muslims as exclusively for what they called the Mutiny of 1857. This policy of continuing persecution the British ruined the Indian Muslim society, giving rise to a general feeling of helplessness. In this situation of gloom, some farsighted Muslims stood up d took certain steps to restore their self-esteem and preseve their religious identity. Maulana Qasim Nanautavi founded Dar ul-Ulum Deoband in 1866 for slamic education on traditional pattern. Dar ul-Ulum ob and followed, more or less, Dars-e Nizami and did not include modern or Western education in its courses of studies. It was a syllabus meant for the teaching of Qur'an, badith, tafsir, jiqh and 'aqa'id. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, on the other hand, founded .A.O. College in 1875 at Aligarh and adopted western arts and sciences. This emphasis on purely religious or totally modern education left between the educational goals, a widening gap. In fact Nadvat Ul-Ulama' was established mainly to fill this gap. It aimed at reforming the syllabi of madaris-e Islamiya and striving to lessen the differences among Muslim sects and groups. Soon the fame and reputation of Dar ul-'Ulum Nadvat ul-Ulama' outshone many Islamic seminaries. It came to be considered next only to Dar ul-Ulum Deoband in the whole of the sub-continent.

The influence of Dar ul-'Ululm Nadvat ul-Ulama' in the teaching of Arabic language and literature has been very remarkable. The contributions of its graduates particularly in the field of biography and Islamic history are a hallmark of Nadvah. Its scholars are scattered all over the world and have been playing a very conspicuous role in the dissemination of Islamic teachings and values.

The introductory part of this study focuses in detail on the impotance of education in the light of Qur'an and hadith and the history of madrasas and its development with special reference to Saltanat and Mughal period in India. Courses of studies of the madrasas and the reasons of downfall of the madrasas have also been discussed.

In the first chapter, conditions of the Muslim Community in India during 19th century in respect of education have been described at lenght. It highlights the resolutions and policies of the British regarding education. Muslim responses to Western education, social, political, educational and economic condition of the Muslims in the post-1857 period and role of Maulana Qasim Nanautavi, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and 'Allamah Shibli No'mani in the upliftment of the muslim Community.

Chapter two is related to the establishment of Dar ul-'Uhum Nadvat ul-Ulama' and the causes which required the need of urgent attention. The Chapter deals at length with the objectives of Nadvah, outline of the prosposed Dar ul-Ulum, relations between' government and Nadvat ul-Ulama' and the foundation ceremony of the institution.

In chapter three the first and foremost objective of Nadvah, i.e. to reform and update the subjects and courses of studies has been discussed in detail. The chapter elaborates Shibli's views regarding the curriculum, characteristics of Dars-e Nizami, Shah wali-ullah's contribution to education, Maulana Mongeri's Musavvedah-e Nisab-e 'Arabi, opening of Darjah-e Takmil and the revision and division of the course of stuides.

Chapter four has been divided into two parts. Part first focuses on the lives and contributions of the founders members of Nadvah. Second part highlights he lives and works of the renowned scholars of Nadvah.


1. (A) Quranic Verses Regarding Dissemination of Education Iqra the first word of the first revelation of the Holy Quran, which means ‘Read’ or ‘Recite’ or ‘Rehearse’ or ‘Proclaim aloud’ points to the direction, Islam wants for its adherents. It is a direct commandment for the acquisition of knowledge. While writing the commentary of Surah ‘Alaq (XCVI: 1-5) ‘Allamah Zamakhshri (d. 1144)lays down the importance of education in Islam in the following words:

“God taught human beings that which they did not know, and this testifieth to the greatness of his beneficence, for He has given to His Servants the knowledge of that which they did now know. And He hath brought them out of darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge, and made them aware of the inestimable blessings of the knowledge of writing, for great benefits accrue therefrom which God alone compasseth; and without the knowledge of writing no other knowledge (‘ulum) could be comprehended, nor the sciences placed within, bounds, nor the history of the ancients be acquired and their sayings be recorded, nor the revealed books be written; and if that knowledge did not exist, the affairs of religion and the world could not be regulated.”

The commandment of Iqra addresses here not only to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) who was un-lettered but also provides a universal direction. The attitude of Quran to knowledge and its acquisition is very positive and emphatic. Time and again, it declares that to acquire knowledge for understanding the Creator’s greatness whenever and whatever is possible is a human duty. In the following lines, there are some Quranic verses which reflect the importance of education.

(i) ”My Lord! Increase me in Knowledge.” (XX:114)
(ii) “He hath taught him utterance”(LV: 4).
(iii) “Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge to high rank” (LVIII: 11)
(iv) “ Even as We have sent unto you a messenger from among you who reciteth unto you Our revelations and causeth you to grow, and teacheth you the Scripture and Wisdom, and teacheth you that which ye knew not”.(11:51)
(v) “ And Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of what which He willeth” (11:251)
Qur’an emphasizes, as many as 750 times, regarding the acquisition of knowledge directly or indirectly through various words like contemplating, understanding, thinking, reading, writing, being knowledgable, reasoning etc.
(B) Muhammad’s (S.A.W.) Sayings:-

Muhammad (S.A.W.) himself urged the people to acquire knowledge by all means. His orders, encouragements, inducements and prohibitions reflect the importance of knowledge (‘ilm). He says,

“If any one travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise, the angels will lower wings form good pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, and the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and fish in the depth of the water will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon on the night when it is full over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the prophets and prophets leaves neither dinar nor dirhams. leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes and abundant portion.”

The Prophet (S.A.W.) directed the believers.
“Acquisition of knowledge is incumbent upon all the faithful, men as well as women”, “Whosoever goes out in search of knowledge is in the path of Allah till he returns”, “Whosoever searches after knowledge it will be expiation for his past sin”, “Ulama are the successors of Prophets”, “Acquire knowledge and teach the people” “A learned man is a trust of God on earth.”

Muhammad (S.A.W.) says that the seekers of knowledge are placed above the martyrs as well as worshipers;

“The ink of the learned will be weighed against the blood of martyrs on the Resurrection Day”, “The superiority of Prophets over ‘ulama over shuhada is one degree”, “To be present in an assembly of a learned man is better than visiting one thousand funerals.”, “If a believer hears a good advice and than his worship for one year”, “There are difference of one hundred degrees between a worshiper and a learned man.”

Further, the Prophet (S.A.W) says that best gift for the children (son and daughter)of a guardian is the proper arrangement of good education and training. According to him.

“No present or gift of a parent, out of all the gifts and presents to a child, is superior to a good liberal education”, “that man gives a liberal education to his child, is better for him than that he gives a large measure of corn in alms.”

Not only this, Muhammad (S.A.W.) forgave the literate captives of the Battle of Badr on the condition that each would teach twelve unlettered Muslims.



1 Transliteration Table vii
2 Illustrations of Nadvat ul-Ulama’:  
3 Acknowledgement xiii
4 Foreword xv
5 Preface xxi
6 Introduction 14611
  Chapter-I 35796
  Chapter-II 99-132
  Chapter-III 133-170
  Chapter-IV-A 171-190
  Chapter-IV-B 191-217
7 Conclusion 219-227
8 Glossary 229-242
9 Bibliography Books(A-Eng.) 243-266
10 Bibliography Articles(A-Eng.) 267-273
11 Index 275-296


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