It is an undeniable fact that ulama (Islamic scholars) have been the backbone of the Muslim ummah, and their extraordinary efforts through ages have kept the Islamic assets protected and flourishing on the Indian soil. Had there not been ulama after the decline of Muslim rule in India, the mythical Indian civilization would have absorbed Muslim identity and culture here. Therefore, the fate of Muslims as a unit and a separate religious group depends on the progressive ideas, up-to-date policies and universal thoughts of their spiritual and religious leaders. At the threshold of the new millennium, as the ummah was surrounded by multitude political problems, it faced the biggest challenge to its civilization and cultural existence. Since the ulama, being aware of only Islamic sciences and Urdu-Arabic languages, were not only lacking access to the international community but also to a good part of their own fellows as well.
Apprehending the alarming bell, the president of Markazul Ma'arif, Assam based famous NGO, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Al-Qasmi, stepped up to establish Markazul Ma'arif Education & Research Centre (MMERC) in 1994 in New Delhi (which is now shifted to Mumbai keeping a branch office in New Delhi) to equip the graduates of madrasas with the modern communication means so that they could meet the contemporary needs and play a greater influential role in the society. It is notable that MMERC is the first institution of its kind in the world, which undertakes to train madrasa graduates with modern skills and communication technologies.
MMERC also serves as a platform that bridges the gap between the two streams of the educated Muslim community i.e. college and university educated intellectuals and madrasa educated ulama. This is high time for them to cast aside their rigidity and the silos of dual education system for the noble cause of unity in Muslim ummah.
MMERC introduces a number of courses and programmes for the benefit of the community, which are given below.
Post-Madrasa Education for Ulama
English is the lingua franca of the world today. People, the world over, communicate with each other and transact business through this language. Though ulama from madrasas know Arabic and are able to comprehend Islam directly from the original sources, they are unable to communicate with the intelligentsia because they lack proficiency in English language. As a result, they are not only unable to present Islam to others properly but also sometimes fail to communicate with the educated people of their own faith. MMERC wishes to remove this communication gap and wants ulama to learn English and utilize the modern tools of communication such as computer and Internet so that they can read, write, speak and translate Islamic works into English and could become effective preachers and peaceful propagators of Islam. MMERC, in this regard, has introduced the following courses.
Diploma in English Language & Literature (DELL)
Under this two-year program, graduates from different madrasas are selected only on merit basis following formal written and oral tests. Priority is given to those graduates who have aptitude and also willingness to master the English language and work for Dawah in the future. MMERC selects students from fresh graduates of Islamic educational institutions such as Darul Uloom Deoband and Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow etc. Students undergo training for two years with the sole objective of acquiring proficiency in the English language and computer and Internet skills along with basic education in journalism, mathematics, geography, science and political science, comparative study of religions etc.
It is a two year diploma course covering English language from Alphabet to BA English Honours textbook contents with an emphasis on practical use.
Having successfully passed the exams of Diploma in English Language and Literature (DELL), some interested students are adopted for one year intensive full time 'Research and Training' under MMERC. During this period they are imparted education on research methodology and prepared for an in-depth research work on a particular topic of their choice. The topic of research basically remains related to Islam and Muslims. During the first year, the trainee selects a topic in consultation with his guide at MMERC, collects materials, participates in seminars on the subject, meets different experts of the subject and goes to different libraries. The trainee is required to submit a paper of his research findings in no less than 100 pages. Once they complete the Research Training period and submit the papers successfully, some of them are again enrolled for "Research Fellowship".
During this two-year period, the Research Fellow is guided to take thorough research on the same topic for which he has already submitted a paper. The intensive research is done here with a view to come out with new findings that help in removing misgivings related to Islam vis-à-vis other religions and modern scientific arguments. Topics of research are also chosen with a view to highlight certain lacuna prevailing in our own social system that are not compatible with the teachings of the glorious Qur'an and Sunnah. MMERC sometimes assigns topics of research with the objective of highlighting the reasons for Muslims' educational and economic backwardness so that corrective measures could be taken in future by those interested in it.
Both research trainee and research fellow are enrolled on monthly scholarship basis under MMERC, Mumbai.
Avenues for Pass outs
The Centre has achieved great success in this field. Students who successfully complete MMERC prescribed intensive language course stand at par with graduates of English medium public schools and colleges. So far around 400 graduates from different madrasas have been trained by MMERC who are capable of writing articles, delivering lectures on Islam and comparative religion, teaching English and Arabic through English as medium of instruction and undertaking researches in English independently.
Most of the successful students of MMERC have been absorbed at renowned organizations, institutes and magazines in India while several have gone abroad as translators, teachers and interpreters. The senior alumni are now well capable of teaching the new ones.
MMERC alumni frequently participate in national and international seminars and workshops etc. as representatives of mainstream Muslim society. Its alumni have produced hundreds of research theses – published and unpublished; independently as well as through mainstream universities in English, Arabic and Urdu.
MMERC has materialized a long cherished dream of ulama in India by publishing Eastern Crescent: Alternative Media, People's Choice — an English monthly magazine, from May 2006. It is an effort with verity, quality and plenty of content. MMERC has strived to emerge on the horizon of mainstream media with an alternative effort. Its sole purpose is to reach the readers with issues and views ignored overtly by the media. With similar 'OUT LOOK' of 'INDIA TODAY' EASTERN CRESCENT varies in content as it voices the issues, incidents relating to socially and economically suppressed and underprivileged sections of the society. Moreover, the magazine tends to concentrate on issues that affect the life of people in India and the world over.
Today Eastern Crescent is a brand and a trend setter for so many others. Five new magazines of international standard are already in the market by MMERC alumni following the footsteps of their alma mater. A group of trained graduates are working with professional media houses in and out of India following their work with Eastern Crescent.
Online Darul Ifta is one of the pioneering achievements of MMERC. It is known to all that the anti-Islamic forces are using the media and social media to defame Islam and tarnish its image. Unfortunately, due to lack of true representatives of Islam in media, many mischievous people have succeeded to mislead commoners in the name of Islam. Therefore, it was a crying need of the time to play an active role in the world of media. In view of the prevailing situation Markazul Ma'arif (NGO) has built its website in 1998 that, along with description of its multifarious activities, offers a wide range of information on Islam and Muslims, and answers queries asked by Muslim and non-Muslim surfers for their day-to-day Islamic practices. This part of the website is handled by persons graduated and specialized in Islamic Jurisprudence from Darul Uloom Deoband and then trained by MMERC for the same purpose.
The main website is now redesigned into six new websites along with mobile apps and maintained by different NGOs of Ajmal CSR from three different locations. The website www.mmerconline.com carries information on courses both online and offline along with information about services that MMERC offers from Mumbai.
Today, MMERC trained graduates are using all modern gadgets and social media sites or apps from WhatsApp to You tube to put original teachings of Islam before the world with extreme care and required wisdom.
MMERC's Part-Time Courses
Short-term English Learning Course (SELC)
MMERC has introduced a Short-term English Learning Course (SELC) specially designed to cater to the need of ulama, imams of masjids and huffaz. This course helps them in their day-to-day life to communicate with each other and transact regular business with no difficulty. MMERC conducts this course with minimum fees.
The course duration is 30 classes only (two hours a day, thrice in a week, in three months) at various places in India.
Short-term Arabic Language & Islamiyat Course (SALIC)
It is too obvious to mention here that what type of negative change the education system of Lord Macaulay has brought about in our young minds from an Islamic point of view. Though they learn modern sciences and technology but they remain unacquainted with their religion and culture. This results in a situation that they being on high posts have no vital role to play in the development of Muslims and the larger society. Some even do not know – how to perform regular prayers, what to eat and what is halal or haram as livelihood?
Therefore, MMERC has started a six-month course to introduce Islam and its regular characteristics to the college or university graduates so that they can live as true Muslims and have their due share in building the community and restoring its past glory. The information, they are provided with, are as follows:
Fundamental Beliefs and Practices of Islam, Islamic History, Basic Fiqh (related to day-to-day life), Arabic language, Recitation of the Glorious Qur'an with Tajweed, Ahadith and Dua's.
Vocational Training Camps (VTC)
Likewise, MMERC conducts vocational training camps to cater to the need of the school going young Muslim students – boys and girls. Seizing the opportunity of various vacations and holidays, MMERC brings them to a stage where they are provided with know–how about a particular skill along basic Islamic knowledge and practices in an entirely Islamic atmosphere.
English Conversation & Personality Development (EC & PD)
This course is designed to make the graduates coming from rural backgrounds to be at ease with Spoken English and improve their personalities as professionals for the modern human recourse market. The graduates from vernacular background have the knowledge of the English language, but they are not adept in speaking fluently and open up confidently. It is sometimes difficult for them to pronounce certain words correctly. This makes them lose confidence and they are not able to face the interviews with assurance, especially interviews conducted by a multinational company for placement in India and abroad. The emphasis is given on correct pronunciation, conversation, group discussions, public speaking, presentation and personality development.
The course is of 3-month duration, thrice a week, 2-hour a day.
MMERC runs two batches for this course; one is free for graduates coming from economically backward areas who are unable to bear the cost of the EC & PD. The second is for graduates already recruited by private companies; this course is run on request of the concern companies and is fully sponsored.
Intensive Qur'an Recitation Course for Adults (IQRA)
In view of the importance of the Glorious Qur'an and people's increasing interest, Markazul Ma'arif has launched two separate courses for adults. One is for those who do not even know Nazra Qur'an and the second is for those who wish to learn Tajweed of the Qur'an.
The duration of the first course is 60 classes while the later consists of 30 classes only. These courses are mainly conducted during Ramadhan with morning and evening batches.
Elementary Islamic Education (Maktab)
It is known to all that the majority of our children go to schools and not madrasas. The school education generally does not provide with basic Islamic education. As a result, the children grow while they are unaware of their basic faith and the Qur'an. Hence, MMERC imparts part-time elementary Islamic education to the school going boys and girls of the locality so that they can at least know their faith and recite the Glorious Qur'an. Markazul Ma'arif implements the maktab syllabus of Jamiatul Ulama in which students are given education of the Qur'an, Urdu, Basic Aqaaid, Fiqh etc. The classes are at present run in three shifts – morning, afternoon and evening by trained teachers.
MMERC's Welfare and Charitable Activities
Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre also does various charitable and social welfare activities along with its focus on academic excellence. It provides medical aid, marriage aid, widow aid and scholarship to very poor students as per availability of financial means to it. It also carries relief and rehabilitation work during emergencies such as man-made or natural calamities etc. The organization also takes active part in various environmental and social awareness programs such as cleanliness, anti-drug campaign and drive against child abuse etc.
Other Activities of MMERC
*Publishing Books on Islam and Muslims
*Creative Writings and Translation of books from Urdu and other regional languages to English language * Public Talks
*Chat, debate, dialogue and discussion through Internet
*Moderating E-groups, FB Groups and dissemination of information on socio-educational issues and developments taking place all over the world
* Writing and printing pamphlets in English for free distribution
MMERC the Leading Inspiration
Inspired by the successful experience of MMERC to teach the madrasa graduates English language and modern communication skills, many organizations and institutions have started the same course with the help of MMERC. In 2002, Darul Uloom Deoband has introduced this course under its Dept. of English, faculties are MMERC alumni. Likewise some 6 other famous Darul Ulooms including Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband and Jamia Islamia Ishaatul Uloom Akkalkuwa have included the Department of English in their system, which are also managed by MMERC alumni or DELL graduates.
At present (2019) 8 institutions from across India are directly affiliated to MMERC, Mumbai which follow its teaching methodology and curriculum in letter and spirit.
MMERC is termed by some mainstream media houses as an “IIM for madrasa graduates”. It has set a benchmark and paved way for “modernization of madrasas” in real sense in India under a silent educational revolution. Today its alumni are teaching in many central universities including the University of Delhi as well as in UK, USA, Saudi, Emarati universities, colleges and public schools.
Entrance Exam for DELL Course
Markazul Ma'arif Education and Research Centre (MMERC) announces the dates for the national level entrance exam for fresh madrasa graduates every year in the middle of Rajab, the 7th month of Islamic calendar. MMERC holds this competitive exam in Deoband, which has objective and subjective types of questions. Students get tested through written and oral exams in various fields of Islamic knowledge such as the Qur'an, its exegesis, hadith, fiqh, Arabic language and literature and also their proficiency in writing in Arabic and Urdu. Their awareness of general knowledge is also tested in the entrance exam. A candidate's ability and merit is the only criterion for selection in his chosen institution. Only those who have done graduation (Alimiyat or Fazilat) from any madrasa in India can apply for appearing for this exam. Details about the exams and dates are separately declared each year through press and official website.
Find us Online
* For all online, offline, free and premier courses or services offered by MMERC, Mumbai, please visit us at www.mmerconline.com
* To know about our publications or to buy them, please visit us at www.markazmedia.com
* For our media products, online TV and Eastern Crescent, please visit us at www.easterncrescent.in