In an Islamic educational organization located in Thrissur district of central Kerala, students dressed in long white robes and white headdresses recite Sanskrit “slokas” and “mantras” under the supervision of their Hindu gurus. The institution, Malik Deenar Islamic Complex, runs the Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies (ASAS).
The primary objective of teaching Sanskrit, Upanishads, Puranas, etc. is to create an understanding of other religions and their customs among students. Faizy, the principal of ASAS, has studied Shankara philosophy and believes that students should learn about other religions. Selective portions of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and Ramayana are taught in Sanskrit over eight years after the students pass out of Class 10.
The teaching of Sanskrit and Hindu texts at ASAS is not without its challenges. Finding qualified teachers for Sanskrit, the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, etc. has been difficult. The academic workload at ASAS is extensive, and students must meet rigorous standards. There is an entrance exam for admission to the institution. Despite the challenges, the response from students and faculty has been encouraging.
Professor Yatheendran, a Hindu faculty member, said he has never faced any objections while teaching at ASAS. The faculty members have devised a good curriculum for students to learn Sanskrit, and videos of the Sanskrit classes are posted on the institute’s Facebook page.
In conclusion, ASAS is a unique example of an Islamic educational institution that aims to provide a diverse education to its students. By teaching Sanskrit and Hindu texts, the institution promotes an understanding of other religions and customs. While there have been challenges, the positive response from students and faculty demonstrates the value of teaching about different cultures and traditions.