By Shafeeq Hudawi, TwoCircles.net
How often do you hear a recitation of the Quran and Sanskrit classes being held in the same education centre? Now, let us assume that this happened somewhere…but what are the chances of both these activities being supervised by the same person, who is a devout Muslim? Some will see the woman in question, Rasiya Mohammedkutty, as a person trying to break stereotypes, but according to her, there are no stereotypes to be broken here; it is a simple matter of providing knowledge to all because knowledge is power.
Rasiya, or Rasiya Teacher as she is better known, met the correspondent at her teacher’s training centre–Mother’s Institute–in Edappal in Malappuram district. Here, 96 students study Sanskrit under the watchful eyes of Rasiya, who is a firm believer in the idea that language has nothing to do with religion. “No discrimination should be allowed when it comes to attaining knowledge,” Rasiya says. Which also explains why studying or teaching Sanskrit doesn’t stop her from performing religious prayers. “In fact, our day starts with dawn prayers and reciting the Quran. After that, my two daughters also join the class in reading Sanskrit books,” she adds.
But Sanskrit was never the first choice for Rasiya, who graduated in Chemistry from CMS College, Kottayam before picking a career in teaching.
After her graduation, she attended the Association Montessori International, Montessori and enrolled in the international diploma course, followed by a period where she trained teachers in the same institute. She also bagged a degree in the Neuro Linguistic Programme (NLP) degree, which qualified her to counsel and teach autistic children too.
Her interest in Sanskrit started in 2012, when she was drawn towards the vedic language by a group of Viswa Sanskrit Prathishthan volunteers, who approached her with leaflets regarding Sanskrit classes. Over the next two years, Rasiya completed her Pravesha, Parichaya, Shiksha and Kovida levels. In 2014, she started offering the preliminary level-Praveshika-at her institute.
Today, more than 180 students in three batches have learnt Sanskrit under Rasiya. According to Vineetha KS, a student at her centre, “Studying Sanskrit is a privilege and it is an added merit. Plus, we get to learn it from a Muslim lady, which makes us extremely happy and proud of her.”
About one-fourth of her students are Muslims, who attend the weekly Sanskrit class at the institute. These students include well-known local Muslim scholar and preacher Rasheed Baqawi.
“Our families are glad to hear that we are taught Sanskrit. Why should we hold back when a Muslim scholar attends the classes,” says Nafeesa MV, who hails from a conventional Muslim family at Edappal.
Rasiya is also a familiar face in training and religious camps for Muslim women in the state. She regularly leads a Qur’an program which lends spiritual teachings to women community in her locality. As a Qur’an teacher, Rasiya has got numerous students ranging from her daughter to a 60-year old lady in her neighbourhood.
Inspired by Rasiya, the lady is planning to continue her education after completing Tenth standard through alternative education.
Apart from Sanskrit, Rasiya has now started teaching Qur’an at her Institute, where Hindu students keenly attend the classes.
“Spirituality is the soul of all religions. Let all know virtues of other religions too,” she says.
In order to increase her knowledge in Qur’an and Puranas, Rasiya has set up a small library at her institute. Rasiya along with her two daughters have also started studying French in a bid to explore their knowledge.
Language, as Rasiya says, may have nothing to do with religion, but in Rasiya, it has an inspiring ambassador.