Bhatkal: The gate opens to a straight road leading to a courtyard with an impressive citadel amidst verdant environs radiating knowledge from its corridors. Here, a beehive of students adorning Islamic caps rushing into their respective classes as early as 7am is a pleasing sight to watch. Welcome to Jamia Islamia, one of south India’s distinguished seats of Islamic learning, which has now completed glorious 50 years of its existence.
A venerable patriarch among Islamic institutions in south India, Jamia Islamia in Bhatkal (Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka) has won accolades for its quality education, healthy environment and an outlook which embraces tolerance and peace. As you enter a spacious classroom, young Abdul, doing his alimiat course, is busy reciting his practical lessons along with other students under the watchful eyes of his teacher. Alimiat course leading to a degree in aalim (religious scholar) encompasses subjects like exegesis, or tafsir, of the Qur'an, the ahadith — the traditions of the Prophet, Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), Arabic literature, and Islamic history, etc as well as instruction in english, kannada, mathematics, geography, science, computers, etc.
At another building a row of pretty looking young boys wearing felt caps are engaged in reciting of the Holy Quran. They are among the 300 students who have enrolled for the huffaz (memorization of the Quran) course. With total student strength of 1141 and still going strong, and a well-learned faculty of 70, Jamia has won accolades from all over south India for all round excellence. Every year, about 35 aalims (graduates in Islamic studies) and 25 huffaz (those who memorise the full Quran) are produced.
The Jamia has an excellent accommodation and mess facility for students as well as teachers. An elegant-looking library equipped with thousands of academic and valuable books and CDs; guest house, mess, accommodation facility, playground adorn the well manicured campus of Jamia Islamia.
The genesis of Jamia goes back in 1962 when it opened its doors for students. Today Jamia Islamia is a testimony to the perseverance, fortitude and foresight of its founding fathers, namely, Sada Jifri, Mohiddin Muniri, D.A. Abubaker, D. A Ismail and Dr Ali Malpa. All have expired except Dr Ali Malpa who is the current honorary president of Jamia Islamia.
This citadel of learning sits on sprawling campus at a place 4kms from the bustling Bhtakal town, known for Navayaths, a Muslim community tracing their origins from Arab but integrated with the local ethos and traditions. These days the Jamia Islamia which boasts of students from all over South India, but predominantly from Bhatkal and its vicinity, is busy gearing up for celebrating its 50 years of selfless service. Local non-Muslims, officials and media were completely engaged from the preparatory stage itself. They have shown keen interest and have lent a helping hand in the celebrations of this institution which is known for peaceful atmosphere and whose curriculum teaches peaceful co-existence among different communities.
According to Moulana Ilyas Jakti Nadvi, convenor of the golden jubilee celebrations committee, ‘A very important agenda during the 50th year celebration was the hosting of a grand education convention to commemorate 50 years of Jamia Islamia which was held under the patronage of Moulana Syed Mohammed Rabey Hasani Nadvi, president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, who also inaugurated the celebration. A series of dawati and literary programmes at the national and international level was organized during March 19-21, 2012 on the central theme, 'Role of Islamic institutions in propagating peace'.
On this occasion, several seminars were held on topics like 'importance and need of religious studies in secular education', 'Enlightening the new generation of students with Islamic values', 'contribution of Shafi scholars from the Sub-Continent in the domain of fiqh (jurisprudence), 'contribution of old students of Jamia in the field of dawat and education' and also on issues of human rights. A galaxy of experts from reputed institutions and universities participated in these seminars.
A Special Volume on the contribution of founders and well-wishers of Jamia Islamia was released on the occasion. Exhibitions on Islam and the Quran and highlighting the Cultural Heritage of Navayaths were a part of the celebrations.
From August 1962 to March 2012, Jamia has crossed a major milestone from being originated at the residence of late Gawai Muhammad Meeran Saheb in Farooqui Street, Bhatkal to a sprawling campus in Jamiabad, 4kms away from the town.