Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Arabic Academy of the Dawoodi Bohra Community in Mumbai. The PM was accompanied by His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq, head of the global Dawoodi Bohra community, and Rector of Jamea, Eknath Shinde, chief minister of Maharashtra and deputy chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis among others.
Jamea is considered to be the principal educational institute of the Dawoodi Bohras and looks to impart religious as well as other branches of knowledge.
Calling the university a "place of learning" and an addition to educational institutes in Amrit Kaal, he said that the Dawoodi Bohras have ensured that they adapted to change and technology for development and progress and have stayed with the times, which is important for a community and that reflected in Jamea.
"This university was a dream of many decades. To dream something like this is itself big. But only honest desires get fulfilled," said Modi calling it a contribution to learning in Amrit Kaal as government looks to have a medical college in each district and has achieved to have a university and two colleges opening every week in India in last eight years.
Calling ancient India a place of learning with universities like Nalanda and Taxila, PM said that it was important to have the pride place of education system back in India. "We are heading there with the speed and scale. The young of the country will show the way to world one day," said Mr. Modi.
"The British introduced English and made English education system but even after Independence we have stayed with it. It was biggest loss to poor, underprivileged and Dalits. Just because they did not know English, they lost out," said Mr. Modi. He emphasized education in local language and mother tongue and said that each stream of thought had its own contribution to make. "We have also started skill based programs that are helping youth and industry. Both institute and industry should complement growth," said Modi.
The PM called for a future based on "Vikas" (development) and "Virasat" (heritage / legacy) and through modern infrastructure and social investment. "We are digitizing all ancient texts. When I went to Mongolia, there was an ancient text on Buddha. I asked them to give it to us to be digitized," said the PM.
The PM who shares cordial relations with the Dawoodi Bohra community spoke fondly of his association with the Spiritual leaders over the years and how the community has worked for the progress of the country, him and can be the "Brand Ambassadors of India abroad". "When Mahatma Gandhi did Dandi March, he stayed at the bungalow of the 51st Dai of the community there. That sea facing bungalow is now a memorial and the time is immortalized," said Modi.
The PM even tried his hand at making roti in the community kitchen before addressing the gathering. "If I land at 2 am abroad, two to three families of Dawoodi Bohra are always there to greet me," said Modi. He recalled his meeting with late 52nd Dai saying he was amazed to see the late laeader teach students at age of 98. "He continues to inspire me. They conitue to do tremendous work on water conservation and nutrition based programmes in Gujarat," said Mr. Modi.
A documentary showed his assocation with the community leaders and him attending the Ashura event in Indore as PM, and his meeting with them as achief minister of Gujarat. "He has been with us in our sad and happy occassions. Today is a happy occassion," said His Holiness Mufaddal Saifuddin. "India has been our home for centuries, and we are at peace here,” said His Holiness.
The Academy that has been functioning from its original campus in Surat, India for nearly two centuries had a sister campus come up in Karachi in 1983 followed by Nairobi in 2011 and then in Mumbai in 2013. The Mumbai one has been a makeshift one before the present structure came up that will be like a boarding school and can educate 700 students. At present, across the world there are more female than male students in Jamea Campus.
Students & Faculty:
● 500 students currently enrolled at Mumbai campus with a capacity of 700
● Majority of students are from India or NRIs
● Approximately 220 female and 300 male students
● Across all four Jamea campuses, there are 3000 students
● Highly selective admission process, 1 in 4 applicants admitted after assessment in areas including: Quran memorization, English proficiency, math and science aptitude, IQ, emotional intelligence, religious understanding, general knowledge, and extra-curricular activities
● 160 faculty members and staff at Mumbai campus
● 11-year program spanning from secondary to postgraduate studies, students enter Jamea at ages 12-14
● Students receive both local/international credentials and theological qualifications from Jamea
● Jamea prepares students for positions of leadership and service within Dawoodi Bohra community
● Encourages students to advance in all fields of life and serve others
● Students provided opportunities for service throughout their education, including leading worship, visiting rural areas, and environmental awareness initiatives
● Memorizing the Holy Quran is a key aspect of Jamea education and considered the fountainhead of knowledge in the Islamic tradition
● Jamea continues to preserve 1000-year old tradition of Islamic scholarship and graduates often pursue further studies at reputed universities
● Mumbai campus covers 850,000 sq ft and located in Andheri East in Marol near CSIA
● Project announced in 2013 and temporary premises arranged for students during construction
● Multiple structures including new premises for Hasanat High School.
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