Muslim Intelligentsia in the 19th Century
The Islamic East had maintained, over the centuries, a social, cultural, economic and moral equilibrium, based on eternal values drawn from the revealed truth. Political ascendancy of the West, which gradually enveloped the entire world of Islam, not only paved the way for internal conflict within social fabric of Islam but also encouraged disintegration of its intellectual and creative energies by its undue emphasis on the materialistic view of life and the world. The Western influences, often forcibly imposed upon the world of Islam, created a schism between the spiritual and material domains of the community's life. The religion began to be looked down as something of a private concern having nothing to do with the affairs of the world. Islam, like Christianity, was divided into the Church and the State. On the one side, there was the sovereignty of God; on the other, that of Caesar. As a result of it, and, quite naturally too, the scholars of religion were relegated to the background and the leadership of political and cultural movements Passed on into the hands of those who were shorn of all Islamic values. The State was deprived of honest and conscientious rulers, of dedicated workers and devoted administrators, and the religion of its watchmen and defenders.
The isolation of religion from practical life and its problems made the doctors of religion indifferent to the affairs of the contemporary world. And if they ever tried to interfere in these matters they were put to ridicule, because of their unfamiliarity with the modern thought and store of knowledge.
The Western nations launched an unrelenting attack on Islam from all directions-the philosophy, history, literature, science, politics and culture The strategy of the modern West called for now weapons to defeat it and it was the 'Ulama alone who could forge them.
Sectional Jealousy ::
While the Islamic Millat was passing through these highly critical times, the Millat itself was torn between two groups-the modern' and the orthodox'. The former group had developed a blind faith in Western sciences and civilization. It stood for the total and uncritical adoption of the Western system of instruction and education. The latter group, on the other hand, reposed in implicit faith in the infallibility of the way of earlier Ulama. It held the syllabi of instruction laid down by them to be absolute and final. A slightest alteration, according to this group, amounted to apostasy and perversion. Religion and the religious sciences had fallen a prey to these excesses. Moderateness had become extinct.
The dangers of this situation were realised by some sincere and far-sighted religious scholars who were firm and staunch in their belief in the doctrines of Islam and held a high and venerable place in the Millat on account of their piety and learning. They possessed wisdom and a vision that was broad and enlightened. They came from Shaikh-ul-islam Hazrat Shah Waliullah's line of disciples. The guide and leader of this earnest group of men was Maulana Mohammed Ali Mongeri who was an outstanding theologian and spiritual mentor of his time. He had been the most favourite pupil of Maulana Lutfullah Saheb of Aligarh and was the Khalifa-i-Majaz Spiritual successor of Maulana Shah Fazlur Rahman of Gani Moradabad.
Formation of Nadwatul Ulama
These venerable after discussing and corresponding with the other Muslim divines of their time decided finally to establish a religious and educational Association. The main object of this Association was to bring about harmony and co-operation among the different groups within the Muslim Millat, and thereby to bring about the moral, religious and educational reform and progress of the Muslims.
The Association was named as Nadwatul Ulama and its first session was hold at Kanpur in1893 (A. H. 131 1) under the presidentship of Maulana Lutfullah Saheb of Aligarh. In this session the call was given for resolving the differences among the Ulama for creating an atmosphere of unity and co-operation and for bringing about suitable changes and improvements in the out-dated syllabi of the Arabic Madrasas.
Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama
Nadwatul Ulama Association held annual session in different cities. But it was soon felt that unless some practical steps were taken to translate these ideals into action, it will not be understood and appreciated by the Muslim masses. The first step, accordingly, was taken in 1898 (A. H. 1316) with the establishment of a Darul Uloom which soon earned for itself a place in India and abroad as a modern seat of Muslim theological learning. This institution was named Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, was established at Lucknow which is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state of India, and an important centre of Muslim culture for many centuries.
The Managing Committee of the Darul Uloom consists of distinguished Muslim divines of the country and of men known for their solicitude for the religious welfare of Muslims. It is an elected body with a fixed tenure. When the term of a member of the Committee expires, a new member is elected in his place. The retiring member can also seek re-election.
The Managing Committee comprises 63 members who are drawn from all parts of the country. The Committee nominates a Nazim (Secretary General) who is incharge of day-to-day management. The post of Nazim is an honorary one. Then there are M'otamad-i-Talim (Academic Adviser) and M'otamad-i-Maliyat (Treasurer) who are also nominated by the Managing Committee to assist the Nazim in the discharge of his duties. They, too, work in an honorary capacity.
The administration of the Darul Uloom is entrusted to a Mohtamim (Principal). The Darul Uloom pays, according to its means, the salaries of the staff and also arranges for the free lodging, board and clothing of students who cannot afford to meet their own expenses. Besides, scholarships amounting to about Rs. 65,000 are awarded annually to the deserving students.
Supervision of the Academic
The guidance of Nadwatul Ulama and the management of the
Darul Uloom was entrusted to the men of learning who, though
firm and orthodox in faith, were ready to be tolerant in
controversial matters; who, with their expert knowledge
of theological sciences, were also fully conversant with
the problems of the day and kept a discerning eye on the
demands of the time, and who, in addition to being known
for their piety and strict observance of the Shariat, believed
also in concord and unity among Muslims. They all came from
highly distinguished families, religiously and educationally.
Maulana Mohammad Ali Mongheri was the first to be appointed
as the Secretary General of the Darul Uloom. After him,
Maulana Masihuzzaman Khan of Shahjahanpur, teacher of the
former Nizam of Hyderabad, hold that position. The Maulana
was succeeded in turn by such illustrious men as Maulana
Khalilur Rahman Saharanpuri, son of Maulana Ahmad Ali Muhaddis
of Saharanpur (author of Hashiya-i-Bukhari), Maulana Syed
'Abdul Hai (author of Nuzhat-ul-Khawatir) who was a scion
of Syed Ahmad Shaheed, and Dr. Hakim Maulana Syed Abdul
Ali. At the death of the last-named, this responsibility
fell on the shoulders of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi,
the well known religious personality of the present-day
Islamic world. The Maulana has ever since made his valuable
services available to the institution ungrudgingly.
In the beginning the academic supervision of the Darul 'Uloom was entrusted to Maulana Shibli Nomani under whose guidance and inspiration the institution acquired an intellectual and literary atmosphere from its earliest days. It developed the taste for scholarship and research and quickly reached the pinnacle of its fame. After the Maulana, his place was taken by one of his celebrated pupils and successors, Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi. He discharged his responsibilities in the most admirable manner and the way Darul 'Uloom has profited from his unique literary abilities, the width of his experience and his prestige and influence, is simply unforgettable. When Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi retired, this office was also placed under the charge of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi.
Educational Policy ::
Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama was established on the principle of a balanced synthesis of the classical education with the modern. Its chief purpose was (a) to evolve a proper integration between the eternal fundamentals of the faith and ever-changing values of human knowledge and learning and (b) to bring about harmony and cohesion among the different groups and schools of thought of Ahl-i-Sunnat Muslims. As Islamic sciences are living, evolving and progressive and education was subject to the law of change and reform, hence it was essential that the system of education too, should change and evolve with time for needs of Islamic Millat.
Special Features of the Syllabus
The Darul Uloom concentrated particularly on the holy Qur'an and introduced it into syllabus as a living book and an eternal message. At the initial stages a simple study of the Qur'an was prescribed. For moral training and discipline a course of the Traditions of the holy Prophet dealing with his noble virtues and ethical and social conduct was included in the curriculum. For secondary and higher classes the commentary of the Qur'an (Tafsir) and selected books of Traditions and fundamentals were prescribed for study. Full attention was paid to the Arabic language since it held the key to the understanding of the Book and the Sunnah. Without knowledge of it, it was not possible to avail oneself of the vast treasurehouse of Islamic thought and learning. Moreover, it was the sole medium of contact with the entire Muslim world. The Darul Uloom thus, included Arabic in its syllabus both as a classical and a modern language. Many books were specially got written by it for the purpose of promoting the study of Arabic language. The importance and usefulness of the endeavours of the Nadwatul 'Ulama in this respect have been acknowledged not only throughout India but in the Arab world also. Thanks to these efforts, the Darul Uloom has been able to produce a number of Arabic scholars and writers whose proficiency and merit has won whole-hearted praise even from the literary circles of the Arab countries.
The Nadwatul 'Ulama also brought about certain far-reaching changes in the traditional curriculum of the Arabic Madrasas of India in the context of the changed circumstances and needs of the age. Some of the medieval sciences which had lost their utility in the present times were excluded from the curriculum. A large part of the scholistical sciences, that had grown out-of-date and had ceased to have any value owing to the disappearance of those sects and philosophical disputes which had sprung up in the earlier days, was discarded and in its place certain modern sciences and languages were introduced. It was felt that without a knowledge of these it was not possible for a Muslim evangelist and missionary to serve the cause of Islam in the modern world. These alterations were deemed necessary with a view to ensuring that they should not be lagging behind any one in the race of knowledge and learning and that the students passing out of the portals of Nadwatul -Ulama should be fully alive to the spirit of the age and properly equipped with the latest intellectual weapons for the defense of the faith.
In brief, the Darul Uloom has tried to produce such broad-minded scholars who could effectively discharge the duty of the propagation of Islam in the modern world; who could expound the eternal nature of the Divine Message, the distinguishing features of the Islamic Shariat and the way of life envisaged by it in such an attractive manner and easy and simple language as might appeal to the modern mind, and serve as a sort of confluence of the old and the new.