Lucknow: Overcoming the harsh summer sun, Reena Verma and her students arrive at a madrassa in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district. Despite the heat, the gleaming faces sit in a tin-roof room memorising today’s Sanskrit lessons.
Al-Husain Public School is certainly a breakaway from the stereotyped image of madrassas as “outdated” and a “centre for radicalization”.
Situated in Belwa hamlet of Kothi area of the district, Al-Husain madrassa has become an example to peaceful co-existence for the locals despite recent communal flare-ups in the state.
As you enter the madrassa, you can hear to the chants of 'Allah-Hu-Akbar' and 'Jai Hanuman Gyan Gun Sagar'. Students of Al-Husain school are encouraged to learn both Arabic and Sanskrit at the same time.
A place which is usually seen as centre of Islamic religious studies has students and teachers from both Hindu and Muslim communities.
The aim behind this initiative was to make children learn about their own faith as well as each-others’ beliefs in order to develop a sense of brotherhood respect for each other, says the school’s founder.
Thirty-two year old Qazi Furqan Akhtar, who is a graduate in journalism studies from Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, left his job to establish the madrassa in his hometown in 2015.
It all happened on one fine day when Furqan returned to his village and realised that his hometown lacked a proper educational institution. After much thought, he decided to start a madrassa named Al-Husain Public School.
Speaking to News18 exclusively, Qazi Furqan says, “There is a very big misconception that madrassa is only for Muslim students and it is a place for religious studies only. Well ‘madrassa’ is an Arabic word which means school, I don’t know why people have established it with a particular religion. My motive is to change the thinking of our society and that is why our main focus is to impart knowledge from both Hindu and Muslim religious books along with imparting modern education from books in English and Hindi language as well.”
"People who are spreading hatred and violence in the name of religion have no knowledge about their religion. No religion in this world teaches you to spread violence and hatred, all the religions just teach one language and that is of love and peace. I want that kids should have proper knowledge and understanding about their religion and also must have knowledge about other faiths at the same time. Then only they will develop a sense of respect for all the religions," added Furqan.
Reena Verma, who teaches to the students at this madrassa, says that there is absolute no difference here because of religion.
“There might be differences in our society due to religion, but here in madrassa religion does not matter at all. All the subjects are taught to students here properly and many parents of the students here have also said that there wards are having absolutely no trouble here,” she says.
Furqan’s decision to include teachings of both faiths received flak initially. But everybody realised his dedication and gave up their opposition, he said.
“My motive was to work for the society and to impart education. A lot of people opposed my idea in the beginning, but gradually everyone came in my support. Seeing both Hindu and Muslim students under one roof learning about each other’s faith is my biggest achievement and give me an immense sense of satisfaction,” says Furqan before he gets busy in the preparations for the evening Iftar.