‘We a bit stew in our own juice’

Kadimism was defended and it was offered to start studying at 6 years at a conference dedicated to the 140th anniversary of Mukhammadia madrasah

A conference dedicated to not only the celebration of the 1100th jubilee since the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria but also the 140th anniversary pf Mukhammadia madrasah took place in a new building within the Russian Forum of Teachers of Muslim Educational Institutions. There were found many apologists of traditional forms of education among speakers of the madrasah that followed new methods from the very beginning. Hazrats in general offered to return several very interesting things from the pre-revolution experience.

Historical buildings, culture centres, military commissaries, basement

Though speakers often talked about history, turned to the hundred-years-old and older history, they constantly took the road of everyday issues. For instance, at a plenary meeting of the forum, Tatarstan Mufti Hazrat Kamil Samigullin said that all institutions of the republic train precisely Tatar-speaking imams, that's to say, workers not only for Tatarstan but also for the Tatar world, Russian regions, CIS countries where Tatars compactly reside. This means they need to know Tatar.

Also, Hazrat Kamil called the fact that some graduates do not work as imams after they finish the madrasah a problem. This is an issue of career guidance. As Vice Director of Mukhammadia madrasah Zulfat Gabdullin said later, 4,156 people studied here in the new era. It is five muftis and four vice muftis, 150 teachers, 210 imams and regional religious leaders among them. These are the figures in Tatarstan. For instance, 130 teachers and imams studied in the madrasah in Bashkortostan.

Mukhammedzhab Galeyev, Imam Galimzhan Barudi's father, founded Mukhammadia as a one-storey wooden building (16 to 8 metres) in 1882. The building burnt in 1898.

Existing buildings started to be constructed in 1901. Gabdullin reminded the audience that the history of Mukhammadia started in 1993 when late Valiulla Yakupov two rooms in the Lenin Culture House where 30 kids were admitted for grade one. Then the madrasah moved to a wooden military commissariat near Ramazan Mosque in Kirovsky District.

Then it moved to the basement of Nur Islam Mosque, later to the Apanayev Mosque where a kindergarten was located just recently. Only then it returned to its historical building. By the way, thw conference was held in a new building, which opened this autumn.

“Students and teachers had computers in their heads”

The pre-revolution Mukhammadia is called a stronghold of Jadidism for its aspiration to update educational programmes. The madrasah issued newspapers, had even a theatre. There was maths, geography, natural sciences among its subjects.

At the same time, Marat Gibatdinov, head of the Center for History and Theory of National Education of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, indicates that Kadimism, a traditional training method at the madrasah, shouldn't be crossed out.

“This is the educational system of that era. Learning by heart and repetition were the main method. Without deep analysis and discussions,” the scientist indicates. “It should be said that despite all the disadvantages, this system permitted talented students to get knowledge. Because in this system — without separate classrooms, classes, only by studying textbooks, learning by heart — students could create an individual learning strategy, if we put it in a modern language. Such people as Qursawi, Marjani managed to do it thanks to their talent and teachers.”

“We sometimes look at the Kadimist method as something outdated,” added Marsil Farkhshatov, head of the Department of History and Culture of Bashkortostan of the Institute of Socio-Economic Research of the Ufa Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“While we should consider it in a way that students and teachers had computers in their heads where the books they learnt were placed. And when needed, as we see in our Arab friends, a quote from the Quran, khadid was found for every word. Many of our students surprised foreign teachers with this after the revolution. Now we look at books. There are madrasahs that teach using the traditional method now too, in Iran for example. Hazrat Rafik Mukhametshin (Editor's note: head of Russian Islamic University) offered to go back to such a scheme.”

Farkhshatov remindes the audience that by the 10th anniversary of Galiya madrasah, its manager Ziya Kamali was presented a Quran thanks to the understanding of the Quran. In other words, Islam, not secular sciences.

Two-thirds of the audience at the conference are girls and women

Then Alfit Sharipov, director of Khusainiya madrasah in Orenburg, delivered a speech. He stated that people now start studying to become imams at a teen age.

“As people put it, you educate a child before they turn 6-7 years. After 6 years, you reeducate then. If they were admitted to the madrasah at 6, there would be a religious component. This is how it used to be at Khusainiya. Rizaitdin Fakhretdin came to Orenburg and left his children to study. Only then he moved himself.”

Also, Sharipov reminded the people that earlier students sat exams in front of many people, with journalists among them.

“Newspapers wrote about the exams. It was a kind of ad. And Muslims willingly took their children to the madrasah. This should be introduced now because we a bit stew in our own juice.”

Finally, Chairman of the Religious Muslim Directorate Centralised Religious Organisation of the Republic of Chuvashia Mansur Khaybullov said that if earlier the median age of students at their madrasah was 38 years, now there is more young.

They work with them in a format of events. For instance, instead of just saying that New Year is a non-Muslim holiday, a present is made in Chuvashia by Ramadan making children wait for it every year.

There were many women among the speakers. Let's say, Rafilya Gimazova, head of the Department of Islamic Theology at Russian Islamic University, co-author of a collection of materials on the history of Mukhammadia issued by the jubilee, talked about pre-revolution madrasah Izh-Buby opened vy Mukhlisa Bubi.

Gimazova said that parents spent money with a great desire to send their daughters to study. The building of a madrasah for boys was renovated with this money.

At the same time, one couldn't help but notice almost two-thirds of the hall was occupied by women and girls at the conference. Girls believe that if the tradition of conferences continues, they will have more time for their reports.

Radif Kashapov

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