Making Sense of Madrasa Discourse

Saad Ahmad Madrasa Café

Books are my enemy I cannot think about them like this. In general, they are like my mother always ready to give something of my like. For some, books could be friends and for a few, they are like girl beloved and for one, like myself; they are real girl friends. Having said that Professor Moosa came into my life in none of the above form, but as a father like figure. I have seen him as someone who cares of the heritage, ideas, knowledge, traditions, traditionalisms, curiosities and rationalities of the society. For me, he is mystic who loves realism. He came to me in the form of a realist who has embraced idealism. Apologies in advance if I am exaggerating but he came to me as literalist with amass of contextualism. He came to me with convincing contextualism with single thread of textualism. I first encountered prof Moosa in a book during my university days.

However, I always fell in places which I didn’t like at all____ thus I did my Masters in human rights. Despite of my lack of interest towards my opted course, I was a pacifier ____I used to pacify with things and situations I hated and chased for things that would make me happy. As a result of which I started having affairs with all my girl friends’ mothers, “the library”. Though, the affair was of a different kind, it was love for the knowledge but a platonic one.

Having a background of Madrasa, I was raised in an atmosphere that was result of thinking about the universe of the Madrasa itself. My mother was someone, who taught more than three languages, Arabic, Urdu and Persian in a girl’s school. My father, a Madrasa-graduate and attended university is a teacher. He is a man of learning and knowledge. He teaches Arabic, Urdu, Persian literature along with Bukhari and Mughal History.

Apparently, inherited the insights of my family, their deep experiences, perception and worldview, I never loved disciplines of humanities in India such as Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Islamic Studies but lived them at my home and during university education as extra necessary readings. I could be but not more than a flag bearer against those disciplines and their vulnerable situation in universities as I used to feel. During this period of my life, my hunt in the motherland, (library) led me to read book such as Khaled Abou Fadl, Farid Essack, and Omid Safi. In the case of Omid Safi which I bought later twice, I was surprised not only by the title of the book but by the varieties of the themes discussed in the book. Here, I first saw Prof Moosa in the book as a Ustad who could lead me to the avenues of knowledge, science and tradition___ the land of heritage and turath, the land of traditions and ae’jaaz__ the land of normalcy and Ishraq. In the book, he was talking about the burden of some kind to which I felt the topic familiar as despite being educated in secular subjects in university, one cannot ignore echoes about the burden of an inclusive Ummah …. not limited to Muslims only but everything which breaths and maintains a biological cycle.

One is fortunate as being part of Islam also invites people to share the burden of Ummah. This consciousness in me was responsible for being a part of Madrasa Discourses. No matter how little one is I am habitual to see mountain and squirrel at the same height when they talk to each other. For me, they are the real discourser as none of them considers each other’s height but are into something which is considered as discourse. For me, the discourse of Madrasa Discourses is not something of a career but an attempt to make everyone a part of the story the world is telling to us. I believe that we cannot claim over the picture of the world must be exactly what we are trying to interpret, but if we believe in ONE GOD then I feel we must give it a try. To try something one must not sit and look at the picture with great curiosity about the images within it _____ one must not be a lost boy/girl looking at the moon and waiting for his share of happy stories. One must tell his own stories. One must produce images which could be settled in the big picture.

Madrasa Discourses: Remedy or Poison?

Interested in the death of Socrates from the time of my initial education in Madrasa, most of the time I used to get out from the prison of the present while thinking about him or event of his death. After a long time, I got an opportunity to read a terrorist, yes, “philosopher terrorist” (who terrorises by his philosophy) named Jacques Derrida who introduced me the Greek word pharmakon in terms and desire with I wanted to express my feelings about one who deserves it. The word ‘Pharmakon’ has its relation with Plato’s pharmacy whose context launches two related meanings of the word, remedy and poison. What Prof Moosa gave us either is remedy or poison since knowledge plays as remedy or dance as poison? Knowledge makes you alive or kills you at first sight. May be, Prof Moosa made us to drink such syrup which can keep us active for the entire life but who can run on the ramp if there is no ramp at all? Derrida’s discovery was also relating pharmakon with its meaning scapegoat. In case of not being able to continue the purpose of the Madrasa Discourses who will carry other meanings of pharmakon such as sacrifice, scapegoat, getting expelled as token of purification or qaumi tatheer? The idea of pharmakon also keeps us to receive and reflect upon knowledge from the traditions as remedy or poison or from modernity as poison or remedy or from past as a source of sacrificial rituals only or from imagined future as controllable and calculable. Those who are in the present will be scapegoated if we do not do anything __we do not try anything. The present exist nowhere but it is made.

I thank to Dr Mohammad Saleem a senior to me when I was in Jamia Millia Islamia, he introduced me the project known as Madrasa Discourses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *