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Home / mix / Education – A Historical Look / The Madrassah – The Seven Lives of a Madrassah

The Madrassah – The Seven Lives of a Madrassah

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The Madrassah – The Seven Lives of a Madrassah

Contributed by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD

The madrassah, an ancient institution founded in the early years of Islamic history, has gone through profound transformations in the last 1400 years. The various dimensions of this transformation have been investigated and documented in other articles in the encyclopedia. In the table given below, we summarize the major changes that the madrassah, as an institution, has undergone and the historical context of those changes. We hope this table will serve as a quick reference for the historical evolution of the madrassah.

Period Archetype Institutional Structure/Teaching Method The Syllabus The Universities
632-765The
UmayyadPeriod
The
visionary;Salman
Farsi;Omar bin Abdel Aziz
The halqa;Imam in an open halqain a mosqueor home Knowledge transmitted
by the
Prophet
Madina
and Kufaemerge as centers of learning;Damascusis a

learning
center

765-847The Early Abbasidperiod The
rationalist (man of the mind);al Mansur;al
Mutawakkil;
The mosque-madrasa complex;A’alim totalib;Open

discourse

The Qur’an;The
Prophetic tradition;Arabic
language;Philosophy;

Logic; Mathematics

Baghdad
becomes
the
intellectual capital of
the world.
Darul
Hikmah established
in Baghdad
847-1258The late Abbasid
period. Brilliant civilizationin Khorasan and Spain
The integrationist;“al Hakim” (man of
the body,
mind, and
the soul);Ibn Sina
The mosque-madrasa complex;A’alim totalib. Structured discourse Qur’anic sciences;Akhlaq;Languages;Mathematics;

Logic;

Natural
sciences;

Experimen-
tation;

History;

Medicine Tasawwuf

Thriving universities
In Kairaoun,
Fas,
Cordoba,
Toledo,
Seville,
Baghdad,
Cairo
(Al Azhar), Esfehan,
Herat, Samarqand, Bukhara
1258-1650Political and social disintegration in Asia
and the Maghrib (1212-1500);The
Ottomans,
The Safavids and the
Great Moguls
emerge.
The Sufi;The wali;(man
focused
on the soul);Man of
Akhlaq;

Shaikh
Abdel
Qader
Jeelani

The zawiyah;Decentralized educational system;Shaykh to murids The Qur’an;Tasawwuf;Trade skills;Basic technology;

Military
skills;

Chivalry;

“Aadab”;

Arithmetic; (Neglect
of basic
natural
sciences)

Universitiesin
Samarqand, Tabriz,Qum,Timbaktu,
Cairo,
Kairaoun, Bijapur,

and Pasai
exist side

by side

with the

zawiyas;

Patronage

of scholars

in the

Delhi

courts.

1650- 1850The ascent
of Europe.Science and technology move West.Muslims lose trade routes.

European colonies

The traditionalist;The Mullah;The Mufti;Aurangzeb Isolation
of the
Madrasa. Beginning of “the age of discontinuity”;Mullah totalib
The Qur’an;Hadith
(Neglect ofMathematics, science,history and
the sciences

of the soul)

Universitiesin Egypt and Africasurvive as skeletonsfrom a

bygone era

1880-1920Hey-day of colonialism The “reformer”;The
apologist;Jamaluddin
al Afghani
“Western”
style
university;Continuation
of “the age of discontinuity”;Complete dissociationof “deeni”

and “dunawi”
or secular education;

Professor to student

Languages;Clerical
skills;Some
science;Some math (Neglect of history and

the sciences
of the soul)

“Western”style
universitiesin Istanbul;Aligarh,

Cairo, and

later in

other major cities
around
the world

1920-TodayPost colonialperiod.Neo-colonialism The awakening;Mohammed Iqbal Attempts to reconcile western
thought with Islamic teachings;Professor to student
Emphasis on science and technology

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