Al-Jamia Al-Islamiya Santhapuram, Striving to become a centre of excellence for Islamic higher education


Al-Jamia Al-Islamiya Santhapuram in the south Indian state of Kerala has been striving to become a centre of excellence for Islamic higher education for the past six decades. It has become one of Indias reputable Islamic universities, enrolling students from different parts of the country. The university has been playing a significant role in spreading the message of Islam across India and abroad. Its graduates are capable of addressing contemporary issues in light of the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah and counter smear campaigns against Islam and Muslims. Established in 1955 as a college for teaching the Quran, Hadith, Arabic language, Islamic history and Islamic jurisprudence by the workers and supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, it was developed into a university in 2003 to enhance its contributions toward enriching Islamic knowledge. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a world renowned Islamic scholar and author, launched the university. By the Grace of Allah, Al Jamia has been successful in producing a new cadre of scholars, thought-leaders, Islamic preachers, socio-political activists, media persons, writers, and intellectuals capable of leading the community from the front. Its graduates have been rendering exemplary services in a wide spectrum of fields in India and abroad and in providing leadership for the Islamic movement. Its totally funded by JIH with the support of its workers. State President MI Abdul Aziz is the chairman of its Supreme Council. By fusing together a holistic interdisciplinary educational paradigm that combined Islamic tenets of knowledge with the futuristic secular education, Al-Jamia brought about an Islamic educational renaissance in Kerala. Many institutions later followed its example, said Dr. Abdussalam Ahmed, the rector of the university. Al-Jamia was instrumental in changing the prevailing narrative of Islamic education in Kerala. The medium of instruction is Arabic, which makes it different from other Islamic colleges and universities in India. It has faculties for Shariah, Usuluddin (basic Islamic studies), comparative religion, the Quran, the Hadith and Language and Translation and offers a diploma course in Islamic Economics and Finance. The Faculty of Language and Translation has become very popular since its start in 2009 as students seeking jobs in the Gulf prefer this one-year intensive programme that enables them to master both English and Arabic, said Professor Moosakkutty Vettikkattiry, the dean of the faculty. Al-Jamia wants to develop its diploma course in Islamic economics and finance into a full-fledged PG programme with Calicut University recognition. The Faculty of Comparative Religion has been developed by introducing a new syllabus to enhance capabilities of Islamic propagators. The programme is redesigned to help students obtain an MA in comparative religion from a recognised university. The university encourages its students to make use of online courses to help them receive degrees in Arabic language, English literature and Islamic economics and finance, Dr. Ahmed said while explaining Al-Jamias features. Al-Jamia is planning to expand its cooperation with universities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Malaysia and other countries. We have signed a MoU with Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh for exchange of students, teachers and visiting professors and cooperation in research, textbooks and syllabus preparation. We want to take more concrete steps in this regard shortly, the rector said. This years convocation ceremony, which was held on Dec. 21-22, witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between Al-Jamia and the International Islamic University, Malaysia, which is based in Kuala Lumpur. We have good cooperation with Al-Azhar and they have expressed readiness to admit our students and recognise our degrees. Qatar University also admits Al-Jamia students and provides Arabic language training to its teachers. The universitys management is currently implementing a number of endowment projects to develop permanent revenue sources to meet its expenses. We provide all support and facilities for our students to develop their skills through extracurricular programmes, the rector said. Al-Jamia has been promoting specialised studies to produce scholars having in-depth knowledge on different subjects. At present several students from other Indian states have been enrolled with the university. Moreover, we have established an off campus in Mewat, Haryana, he added. The universitys syllabus prepared by prominent scholars from India and abroad has been approved by many foreign universities. This has helped Al-Jamia graduates get admission at universities in Turkey, Qatar, Malaysia and Britain, Ahmed explained. It receives visiting professors from foreign universities who give lectures on various topics. After the formation of Al-Jamia in 2003, 23 graduates have obtained doctorate from Indian and foreign universities. Most of our graduates continue their higher education at reputable Indian universities to obtain integrated postgraduate degrees. Currently, 20 graduates study for Ph.D. while 30 graduates do postgraduate courses in foreign universities. We provide a good learning atmosphere for students to become capable scholars. Our library, which has a large number of reference books in English, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and other languages, plays an important role in this respect, he explains. Recently, it organised a number of seminars and conferences as part of its convocation ceremony, which included an international academic conference to prepare a roadmap for the reformation of higher Islamic education. Prominent academics, including Dr. Ahmed Al-Raissouni, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Dr. Khalifa Al-Kuwari, Dr. Muhiyuddin Ghazi, Dr. Mohammed Badiuzzaman, Dr. Kunhimohammed Pulavath and Dr. Zubair Hudawi presented papers. Al-Jamia graduates having different tastes pursue their higher studies in different areas such as journalism, Islamic finance, film production and direction and management. Its alumni include prominent personalities like O. Abdurrahman, group editor of Madhyamam daily and Mediaone channel, Hamza Abbas, editor in chief of Gulf Madhyamam, T.K. Ubaid, a leading Quran commentator, V.A. Kabeer, a well-known author and winner of Sheikh Hamad International Translation Award, and Ashraf Kizhuparamba, executive editor of Prabhodanam weekly and author of several books. Referring to students from other states, the rector said: We have admitted these students as part of our mission to empower north Indian Muslims educationally. All our courses are open to these students. I am sure these students will be able to make remarkable changes in their native places after completing their studies. Some of them work for Urdu newspapers while others run various institutions and pursue higher studies at other Indian universities. Al-Jamia plays a significant role for empowerment of women. All our courses are open to girls. We can see huge presence of Muslim girls at institutes of higher learning all over India. This is a good sign. We receive brilliant girl students who have obtained A+ in all subjects. As a result most of them bag first ranks in all faculties. Unfortunately many of these girls are unable to continue their studies because of different social, family and economic reasons, Ahmed explained. Muslim girls should be allowed to pursue their higher studies after marriage. This is essential for strengthening social and community development, he adds. Al-Jamia is open to all students irrespective of Muslim groups, the rector said. Because of organisational bias, the number of students belonging to different Muslim groups at Al-Jamia is small. We have made deliberate attempts to overcome organisational barrier and appointed teachers belonging to other groups. We should consider scholars of different Muslim groups as a common asset as people should be able to make use of their knowledge, he said. Like other universities, Al-Jamia focuses on research. We want to promote a culture of research among our students in different faculties and promote research studies on topics that concern the Muslim community. We make use of foreign scholars to conduct workshops and seminars when they visit the university, he adds. The relevance of Al-Jamia is increasing day by day to spread the message of Islam across the world by producing and training scholars who can carry out the duty of Prophets. Islam is the fastest spreading religion across the world, especially in the West, being a divine religion that resolves the various problems facing human beings. At the same time, its the most misunderstood religion due to smear campaigns by enemies. Our university tries to spread the peaceful message of Islam and remove misconceptions about it, said the rector in his concluding remarks.

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