The government recently recognised Dawra-e-Hadith degree as equivalent to a Masters Degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic in mainstream education. The move elicited both positive and negative reactions among academics, experts and the civil society.
Qawmi madrasas across the nation will begin holding this year's Dawra-e-Hadith exams today.
What is in the Dawra-e-Hadith curriculum? Last week, the Dhaka Tribune spoke to several Muhaddis (Hadith scholars) and academics to find out.
According to a 2015 report of Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), 1.4 million students are currently studying in 13,902 Qawmi madrasas across the country. However, Qawmi madrasas say the number of students is not below 1.7 million.
The BANBEIS report, which is the first ever study conducted on Qawmi madrasas, was prepared following directives from the Prime Minister’s Office. According to the report, 12,693 Qawmi madrasas are for men while 1,209 are for female students.
As many as 1,058,636 male and 339,616 female students are studying there while 73,731 teachers teach in these institutions.
Mubasshar Hasan, an assistant professor at North South University who has studied Islamic education systems, told the Dhaka Tribune that the government's initiative was a good move, but there should be some changes in the Qawmi curriculum.
Some experts say it takes 16 years to complete the entire Dawra curriculum, but the actual degree can be done in six years.
Most Dawra students taking up the degree have had 10 years of Qawmi education, which includes 24 subjects. Most of these involve fundamental Islamic teachings as well as the Arabic, Urdu and Persian language.
From levels one to eight there is also a portion of the curriculum dedicated to general education, including Bangla grammar and literature, mathematics, English, history, geography and general science.
Dawra-e-Hadith on the other hand is a six-year intensive programme completely focused on Islamic jurisprudence based on the Quran and the Hadith, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SM).
The primary element of the curriculum is the Sihah Sittah - the six Hadith compilations considered the most authentic. These are Sahih Bukhari (Arabic), which has over 7,000 Hadiths, Sahih Muslim (Arabic), over 9,000 Hadiths, Sunan an-Nasa'i (Arabic), Sunan Abu Dawood (Arabic), Jami al-Tirmidhi (Arabic), and Sunan ibn Majah (Urdu).
These books are studied directly as well as via several explanatory guides and compendium on specific topics.
Some of the books studied in particular are Muwattaʼ Imam Malik (Arabic), a collection of Hadiths concerning the subjects of Islamic law, Muwatta Imam Muhammad and Tahabi Sharif.
Features of the curriculum
Several Mohadiss (Dawra-e-Hadith scholars) said Hudu'd Law is basically Islamic jurisprudence. 'Muwattaʼ Imam Malik' is the main book of law in the Dawra syllabus.
Islamic penal laws such as severing of the arm as punishment for stealing, stoning to death as punishment for illicit sexual intercourse, are among those laws studied in these texts.
The Arabic word “jihad,” which means struggle or striving, is understood in Islam - as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SM) - as internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslim, as well as working to inform people about the faith.
A veil is an article of clothing or hanging garment that is intended to cover some part of the head or face, or an object of some significance. It is especially associated with women and sacred objects.
Women's rights, systems and workplace:
The Dawra syllabus has long chapters on women's rights. Qawmi teachers said they teach about women's rights, their workplace amenities, education facilities and all other necessities.
Wali Ullah Arman, a senior Dawra-e-Hadith teacher at the Jamiya Arabiya Darul Ullum Madrasa told the Dhaka Tribune that under Islamic laws, women need to work within workplaces specifically created for female workers.
“Also, as Islam says, women should go to their workplaces wearing Hizab and Nikab,” he said.
War (Kitabul Magajee):
Kitabul Magajee is the book on Islamic warfare, which contains all war related Hadith that describe when Muslims can engage in war, what for, against whom and others issues on wars.
Business (Kitabul bayah):
This book elaborates in which situation Islam allows buying and selling of goods.
Islamic State Policy: Dawra students study Islamic state policy, county-to-country relationship and business policy, financial structure, and other issues related to the running of the state.
Islamic financial system:
The curriculum sheds light on Hadith related to Islamic financial systems like savings, stock systems, banking systems and all other business and their explanations.
A key tenet of this is the prohibition of riba, or interest. The term literally means “an excess” and is interpreted as “any unjustifiable increase of capital whether in loans or sales.”
A Muhaddis said Dawra students study treatments for 3,000 different ailments.
Of these, 1,000 have various herbal remedies and the rest have specific du'a or prayer for their cure. One of the Hadith that points to the importance of medicine in Islamic studies says: “For every disease there is a medicine, and if that medicine is applied to the disease, he will recover by Allah’s Leave.”
Policy on non-Muslims:
The study of Islamic jurisprudence contains rules on how to treat non-Muslim communities, people and cultures. Non-Muslims are essentially allowed to stay in any Muslim state, but they have to pay a specific amount of tax to do so.