The education imparted in the Muslim period had numerous objectives. Its prime objective was to create able employees for the political and administrative system. However, the objectives of education underwent modifications as the attitudes of successive rulers changed.
The objectives of education during Akbar’s reign were completely different from its objectives during Aurangzeb’s rule. In general, Muslim education had the following objectives:
1. Propagation of Knowledge
Religious knowledge could have been propagated among the Muslims who had come to India or those who had been converted to Islam only through education Hazrat Mohammad had said that knowledge is divine and without it salvation is not possible.
He taught people the difference between duty and wrong actions, religious and irreligious deeds, and laid stress on the need for knowledge through education.
2. Propagation of Religious Laws
Education also aimed at propagating the major laws of Islam and the shariyats of the holy Koran. Islamic religion had evolved very specific moral criteria, and it was the purpose of education to propagate them. All these elements contributed to the achievement of Islam’s social and political objectives and the strengthening of its laws and customs in this period.
3. Propagation of Religion
Religion was the basis of education and hence the purpose of education was propagation of religion. Maktabs were established along with mosques. It was generally held that the propagation of Islam was synonymous with the propagation of religion and he who engaged in this became a martyr.
It was for this reason that knowledge of Koran was imparted in the Maktabs. Hazrat Mohammad had also declared that a proper and liberal education was the finest of gifts that parents could bestow on their children.
4. Strengthening the Administration
Another objective of Muslim education was to strengthen the administration. Muslim rulersbelieved that their administration could not be firmly entrenched in the absence of education, and hence they wanted to utilize the educational system for strengthening their own political position.
5. Wordly Progress
According to Jafar, the state encouraged the educated people in every conceivable way. The posts of Kazis (preachers) and Wazirs (ministers) were reserved for the educated Besides, Muslim education also aimed at preparing the individual for future life. Many Hindus received the highest Muslim education and rose to high positions.
Centres of Education
The political organisation of the Muslim rulers was decentralised. The Mansabdar’s, kings, zamindars or landlords, etc., became dependent rulers of their individual areas after paying the requisite tax to royal treasury.
These rulers had mosques constructed, and soon the mosques changed into Maktabs and madrassas. During the Muslim period, Agra, Delhi, Jaunpur, Lahore, Ajmer, Bidar, Lucknow, Firozabad, Jullundur, Multan, Bijapur, etc., became important centres of education.
Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodi. He had the town established as: centre of Islamic education, and it soon took the form of a university. Hundreds of madrassas in this town provided education in literature, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, etc. Later on, Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan also contributed to the development of education in this town.
During the reign of Feroz, Jaunpur was a prominent centre of Muslim education. It had many schools imparting education in the arts, literature and other spheres of knowledge. The Sharkias made valuable contributions to the development of education. Sher Shah Suri himself was a student here.
Bidar, too, was an important educational centre. Mahmud Gawan had a huge madrassas and a library established here. Later, Aladdin Ahmed contributed to the development of education.
In addition to the above centres, there were at least one maktab and one madrasa in every village of Bijapur, Golkunda, Malwa, Khandesh, Multan, Gujrat, Lucknow, Sialkot and Bengal.
Organisation and system of education
During the Muslim period, the system of education was organised in the following manner-
Education began with the performance of the ritual known as ‘Bismillah’, which was performed at the age of 4 years, 4 months and 4 days. It was similar to the Upnayan ceremony of the Vedic period and the Pabbaja ritual of the Buddhist period on this day, the child was adorned with a new crown and sent to his teacher, the Maulvi, where the latter inaugurated the child’s education with a recitation from the Koran. Affluent people had this ritual performed at home.
Education began in the maktab, i.e., a primary school. The teachers called Maulvis taught the alphabet along with verses from the Koran. The child’s primary education took place in these schools. Generally, most such Maktabs were appendages of mosques. The child was taught writing, the Koran, Namaz or prayer, azaan, arithmetic, drafting, conversation, letter-writing, etc.
Madrassas provided higher education to the students. They were aided by the government. Here higher education was imparted through lectures. There were arrangements for hostels in the madrassas. They were owned privately as well as by the state.
The syllabus of education in the Muslim period included such subjects as the holy Koran, the biography of Hazrat Mohammed Sahib, the history and the laws of Islam, Arabic and Persian, grammar, literature, logic, philosophy, law, astrology, history, geography, agriculture, Unani system of medicine, etc.
There were provisions for teaching Sanskrit to Hindu children. Madrassas provided both religious and material or worldly education.
Subjects of religious education included Koran, Islamic laws, history and Sufi philosophy, while worldly or material education consisted of grammar, language, literature, etc. There were some specialized centres for education in particular subjects.
5. Method of Teaching
Emphasis was placed on memorisation in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. The most prevalent method was the oral. Individual attention was paidto students. The monitor system had been used in Maktabs and madrassas
6. Student-Teacher Relationship
During this period, relations .between students and teachers were not marked by intimacy, but there were no doubts about sincerity and purity. Though teachers received a low salary, they had an important place in society. People respected them and bestowed faith on them.
The teacher had a paternal attitude towards his wards. It was believed that the students who served their teachers made God happy.
Despite this, there was nothing notable in this relationship. Aurangzeb is known to have insulted his teacher Mulla Shah Saleh
7. Medium of Education
During the Muslim period, Arabic and Persian were the media of education. However, after the growth of Urdu, education began to be imparted though this language.
8. Reward and Punishment
There was a system of severe Punishment to maintain order and discipline, but brilliant scholars were also rewarded.