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Kerala: Sandalwood Tilak On The Forehead, Muslim Students Reciting Sanskrit ‘Shlok’ And ‘Mantra’ Under The Watchful Eye Of Hindu Gurus!: At the Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies run by Malik Dinar Islamic Complex, Thrissur, Kerala, Sanskrit language and literature is being taught for the last seven years.

Muslim Students Are Learning Sanskrit From A Hindu Teacher

In an Islamic institution, Muslim students are reciting Sanskrit ‘Slokas’ and ‘Mantras’ under the watchful eye of Hindu Gurus! Unbelievable as it may sound, it has been an all-too-familiar scene for the past seven years at the Malik Dina Islamic Complex-run Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies in Thrissur, Kerala. And this is what separates this Muslim educational institution from other educational institutions in the country.All conversations between students and professors in class are in Sanskrit. Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies Director Onampilli Muhammad Faizi said the first purpose of teaching Sanskrit verses, Upanishads, Puranas, etc. is to create knowledge and awareness of other religions among the students. The second and main reason for teaching Sanskrit to students in Muslim institutions is, however, Faizi’s own academic background. He himself studied Shankara’s philosophy. He said, “I felt, students, should know about other religions and their customs and practices. But it is not possible to study ‘The Upanishads’, ‘Sastras’, and ‘And Vedantam in depth in eight years. Instead, here they are imparted basic knowledge about them and create awareness among them about other religions.”

He also said that important parts of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and Ramayana are selectively taught to the students. The reason for teaching a selection of these texts is that the institution is primarily a Shariah college. Academic pressure is huge. That is why we take students for Sanskrit education, who can bear that pressure. An entrance test is also conducted for this.

Students said that Sanskrit was as difficult as Arabic in the beginning. But with constant study and practice, Sanskrit also becomes easier. Neither the parents nor anyone else raised any objection in this regard. However, the major challenge before the Islamic institution is to find good quality teachers to properly teach Sanskrit, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, etc. to the students.

Prof. KK Yathindran is one of the Sanskrit teachers at this institution. He said Faizi was a bit worried when he was appointed. In an Arabic institution, he was worried about how much a Hindu could teach. Even common people are surprised to see him walking towards the Institute of Muslim institutions with a sandalwood tilak on his forehead. However, hearing that he was going to teach Sanskrit there, everyone applauded him. Fazio said no one made any negative or discouraging comments.

There is currently a major debate going on in Kerala regarding the politicization of educational institutions. On the one hand, the Left government in Kerala accuses the Center of gentrification of educational institutions, while on the other they are accused of spreading communism in educational institutions. In this context, these Islamic institutions have set an example by teaching their students Sanskrit and Bhagavad Gita along with Arabic and Quran.


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