History of the dars-e-nizaami
Before describing the curriculum of Darul Uloom it will be apt to relate a short history of the syllabis of Arabic sciences so that the academic tendencies, right from the first decade of Islam to the present day, may be briefly estimated.
In the prophetic era education began with the Holy Quran. During the caliphate of Hazrat Umar special arrangement was made, along with the teaching of the Quran, for the teaching and learning, and dissemination and publication of the Hadith lore also. As time rolled on and educational needs multiplied, as per necessity, disciplines also continued to be added. Till the middle of the second century-Hijri, arts and sciences were restricted to the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and the Arabic poetry. Thereafter, till the end of the fourth century Hijri, which is called the age of invention and redaction, the invention of different arts and sciences and their translations came into being along with civilization growth and progress, and as per necessity some arts also began to be taught. As such, Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh, Principles of Fiqh, Grammar and Syntax, Lexicon, Arabic poetry and History were considered the subjects for scholastic education of that period. Medicine, Astrology, Astronomy and some other Greek sciences can also be added to this syllabi.
Between the fifth and the seventh century Hijri the science of Dialectics or Scholastic Theology was established through Imam Ghazali and for the support of which, besides the afore-said sciences, poetic sciences like Logic, Philosophy, etc. also became a necessary ingredient in the curriculum of the Islamic schools and universities.
Though these sciences were current, more or less, in all the Islamic lands, nevertheless the impact of national, local and ethnic peculiarities was inevitable in different countries. Since Arab families had settled in countries like Egypt, Syria, etc. in great numbers, giving predominance to Arab leanings in these countries, sciences like Tafsir, Hadith and Asmaur-Rijal were comparatively paid more heed to. In Andalusia (Spain), literature, poetry and history had acquired great ascendancy. In Iran, logic arid philosophy were predominant, and in Khurasan and Transoxiana, Fiqh, Principles of Fiqh and Tasawwuf were more in the vogue. At the same time, however, due to influences of the milieu and demands of the environs, the process of change and alteration in the syllabi has often taken place in different periods in one and the same country.
Although the Muslims had reached India in the very first century Hijri and a pretty good increase took place in their number in the beginning of the fifth century Hijri, that is, during Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi’s period, when besides Sindh, the area of the Punjab too had been included in the Islamic dominions, the period of their real influence begins from the beginning of seventh century Hijri, that is from the regime of Sultan Shahabuddin Ghuri (597/1191 – 602/1205). It was that period when in Khurasan, Transoxiana, etc. though, along with Tafsir and Hadith, Grammar and Syntax, Rhetoric’s and Literature, Jurisprudence, Logic, Scholastic Theology and Tasawwuf were being considered the standard learning. Jurisprudence and the Principles of Jurisprudence held higher importance. The Muslims that had come to India had mostly come from these very countries, and naturally therefore, the coming of their leanings too was inevitable. As such all these sciences were included and were a part and parcel of the syllabi of this era in India.
Maulana Hakim Sayyid Abdul-Hayy Lakhnavi has fixed the following four periods of the old Indian curriculum:-
Its beginning should be taken from the seventh century Hijri and its end in the tenth at a time when the second period had begun. For more or less two hundred years the acquirement of the following disciplines was considered the standard of learning:-
Grammar, Syntax, Literature, Rhetoric, Fiqh, Principles of Fiqh, Logic, Scholastic Theology, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Hadith.
It appears from the particulars of the Ulema of this class that Fiqh and Usul-e-Fiqh were considered the highest criterion of learning and merit in their period. In Hadith the study of Mashariqul-Anwar alone was considered sufficient, and for more understanding and expertise in Hadith the Masabih was the ultimate.
The peculiarities that are seen in the curriculum of this period were the result of the effective taste of the conquerors of India. The people who laid the throne of Islamic state in India had come from Ghazni and Ghaur. These were those places where proficiency in Fiqh and Usool-e-Fiqh was considered a diploma of distinction; the rank of jurisprudential traditions in these countries was very high.
In the late ninth century Hijri, Shaikh Abdullah and Shaikh Azizullah, in order to elevate the previous standard somewhat, introduced Qazi Udhad’s books, Matale and Mawaqif, and Sakkaki’s Miftahul Uloom in the syllabi.
In this period Mir Sayyid Sharif’s disciples brought Sharh-e-Matal’e and Sharh-e-Mawaqif into vogue and Tafta Zani’s disciples conventionalized Mutawwal, Mukhtasarul Ma’ani, Talweeh and Sharh-e-Aqa’id-e-Nasafi.
Moreover, in this period Sharh-e-Waqaya and Sharh-e-Jami were also introduced in the syllabus.
In the end of this period Shaikh Abdul-Haq Muhaddith Dehelvi, having studied the science of Hadith under the instruction of the Ulema of the two holy cities (Mecca and Madina), tried to encourage and bring into limelight the study of the science of Hadith. After him his son, Shaikh Nurul -Haq, also tried to spread the study of Hadith but did not meet with success.
It appears from the chronicles of the eminent Ulema of this period that even as Sadra and Shams-e-Bazigha are held to be the ultimate books in our own time, Sukkaki’s Miftahul-Uloom and Qazi ‘Udhad’s Matal’e and Mawaqif were considered the ultimate books in their period. Badauni, while writing the chronicles of the Ulema of this era, has hinted at this here and there.
The people’s aspirations had increased due to the change that took place in the syllabus of the second period and now they were wishing to raise the standard of proficiency still further. Mir Fathullah came to India from Shiraz. Mughal Emperor Akbar welcomed him by awarding him the title of Udhadul-Mulk. He made some new additions to the previous syllabi which the Ulema readily accepted.
Hazrat Shah Waliullah who was the last but the most illustrious divine of this era he went to the holy cities (Mecca and Madina) and, sojourning there for fourteen months, he completed the study of the science of Hadith under the instruction of Shaikh Abu Tahir Kurdi. On returning to India he disseminated it so assiduously that the effects thereof are still extant. Hazrat Shah Waliullah and his able sons and descendants, by their effort and endeavor, made the teaching and imparting of the Sihah Sitta an integral part of the syllabus.
Shah Sahib had structured a new course of study also. But in those days the centre of gravity of knowledge had shifted from Delhi to Lucknow. Moreover the new relation that had developed with Iran during the period of Humayun and Akbar had gradually produced a new change in the academic taste in India. Through the influence of the Iranian nobles and Ulema of the Mughal Court, Logic and Philosophy, which were ab initio considered the highest criterion of learning in Iran, were gaining superiority, slowly but steadily, over other sciences; and hence Shah Sahib’s restructuring of the course could not gain general popularity.
The fourth period began from the twelfth century Hijri. Its founder was Mulla Nizamuddin Sahalvi, who was contemporary of Hazrat Shah Waliullah. The curriculum known as “Dars-e Nizami”, which is current today in all the Arabic schools, is a relic from him. Adding something more to the syllabi of the third period, Mulla Nizamuddin prepared a new syllabus.
The great peculiarity of this syllabus is that more attention has been paid in it to the creation of depth of insight and power of reading in the student, and although immediately after the completion of this course proficiency is not acquired in any particular subject, this much ability is surely created that, through one’s own independent reading and labor, one may acquire proficiency in any subject of one’s liking. The standard of Hadith and Tafsir in this course too is not much high, and of literature there is included no book at all.
In the middle of the thirteenth century Hijri there were three centers of thought of education in India: Delhi, Lucknow and Khairabad. Though the syllabi of the three were somewhat common, the points of view of all the three were different. More attention was being paid to Hadith and Tafsir in Delhi. Hazrat Shah Waliullah’s family was assiduously busy in the dissemination and teaching of the Quran and the Sunnah, and the noetics were of a secondary position. In Lucknow the old seventh century Hijri tenor was dominant over the Ulema of Farangimahal: Fiqh and Principles of Fiqh had had more importance in their centre. In Tafsir, Jalalayn and Baizavi, and in Hadith, Mishkatul-Masabih alone, were considered sufficient. The academic subject at the Khairabad centre was virtually restricted to logic and philosophy; these subjects were taught with such care and assuduity that the teaching of all other sciences had almost become eclipsed before them.
THE CURRICULUM OF DARUL ULOOM
In the second half of the thirteenth century Hijri the educational centrality of Delhi and Khairabad had come to an end; however, some light of knowledge was still lingering in Lucknow. Although the centrality of these places had ended, the distinctive peculiarities of all these three centers were extant more or less, in all the Arabic schools of India.
Darul Uloom Deoband, has not only preserved the greatness of these sciences but has also played an important role in developing them. The peculiarities of all these three places have been gathered in the syllabus of Darul Uloom and the syllabus thus prepared with their amalgamation has been in force generally for more or less. a century in all the Arabic schools in the country. At some places other modern syllabi are also current. Amongst such seminaries the position of Nadvatul-Ulama Lucknow, is most conspicuous, but this type of syllabus is not very common.
Inspire of the afire-said comprehensiveness of the syllabus of Darul Uloom even as changes and alterations have taken place in the syllabi in every period as per the demands of the age, similar elimination and addition has been done, in accordance with the zeitgeist, from time to time, in the syllabus of Darul Uloom also in which, along with the religious sciences, contemporary sciences and economic necessities too, on the whole, have been paid attention to endeavoring to make it more and more useful.
The present syllabus consists of four stages: Primary, Middle, High, Mastery (Post-graduate stage).
According to the rules of Darul Uloom, the completion of the primary course is necessary for reaching the “Arabic Classes”.