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Islamic institution in Kerala teaches Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures

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A classroom in an Islamic institution with students in long white robes and head coverings reciting Sanskrit mantras and slokas presents a very different and inspiring scene from India’s multi-religious society. Apart from these studies, in this institution – Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies, located in Thrissur district of Kerala – students and faculty members converse in Sanskrit.

Onampilly Muhammad Faizy, Director of ASAS run by Malik Deenar Islamic Complex, explaining the aim of the courses, said it was to instill in students knowledge and awareness of other religions.

Interestingly, Faizy himself studied the Shankara philosophy. Speaking to the PTI news agency, he said: ‘Therefore, I felt that students should know about other religions, their customs and practices.

He added that since it would not be possible to study Sanskrit and shastras during the eight-year course period, “the idea is to provide basic knowledge about them and make them aware of another religion “.

Students who join the course after completing their Class X learn portions of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata, in Sanskrit.

They are also taught Urdu and English in the arts curriculum delivered by the University of Calicut.

As the academic workload is heavy, students are selected after passing an entrance exam. “We welcome students who can handle it and also maintain high standards,” Faizy observed.

Although students find it difficult to learn Sanskrit at first, they become skilled with regular practice. The parents of these students do not oppose their learning Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures.

It’s about getting qualified teachers to teach students, which is difficult. This is the reason why the teaching of Sanskrit started seven years ago and that too in this particular branch only.

Underlining the importance of this learning, Hafiz Aboobacker, coordinator of the Institute, told the media: “It would help students to know and understand another religion through their history and the Puranas. It would also help to synchronize our religious views with theirs. It would help create a fresh start for a new India.