Named after freedom fighter Maulana Mazharul Haque, what ails this state university of Bihar?

Established in 1998, Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic & Persian (MMH A&P) University in Patna is named after a great freedom fighter of the country. | Photo: MMH A&P website

Formed with an aim to fulfill the educational needs of the minority Muslim community of Bihar, the Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic & Persian (MMH A&P) University in Patna is today mired in controversies ailing its development.

Sami Ahmad |

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BIHAR – Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic & Persian (MMH A&P) University in Patna is named after a great freedom fighter of Bihar but is lagging and ailing behind in its aim to fulfill the educational needs of the Muslim community. Right from its establishment, the university has been mired in controversies. The notification for its formation came in 1992, however, the campus was established only six years later in 1988. It took another 10 years for the university to become functional in 2008 with its first academic session.

On December 22, the university celebrates its annual day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Mazharul Haque.

The university is in news these days regarding allegations of financial irregularities levelled by its Vice-Chancellor Professor Mohammad Quddus against his predecessor Professor S.P. Singh. The allegations were followed by Professor Quddus’s resignation on December 17, 2021. Profession Quddus alleged that the former V.C. S.P. Singh was “a habitual offender and he had hired a manpower agency ignoring the norms.” Against this, Professor Singh served a legal notice for defamation of Rs. 5 crores against Professor Quddus.

Professor Quddus cites the “pressure to pay the staff from internal sources” as one of the major reasons for his resignation. His other allegation is that he was not getting proper cooperation from the university officials and staff members.

Who was Maulana Mazharul Haque
Maulana Mazharul Haque (1866-1930) was born in Patna and received a law degree from England. Siwan district administration presents him as an ‘eminent personality’, who had later practised law in the nearby town of Chhapra. According to its website, “He got his primary education from a Maulvi at home. He passed his matriculation from Patna Collegiate in 1886. Then he went to Lucknow for higher studies and took admission in Cannigh College but did not continue there and went to England for studying law in 1886. He returned to India in 1891 after passing the law and started practice at Patna. On the advice of his friend William Barket, he joined the judicial service as Munsif. But he soon resigned following differences with the District & Session Judge and started practice at Chhapra. Again, he went to Patna in 1906 to practice law.”

According to the website of MMH A&P University, “Maulana Mazharul Haque was a legal luminary, a statesman, an educationist, a journalist, a poet and a philosopher combined in one. He was a staunch nationalist and a firm believer in the secular foundations of this country. He believed that ‘Whether we are Hindus or Mussalmans, we are in the same boat. We must sail or sink together.’”

Not good beginnings
The University named Maulana Mazharul Haque, however, is not sailing together with the other two universities established in 1992 like the Veer Kunwar Singh University, Arrah and B.N. Mandal University, Madhepura. Ironically, MMH A&P has jurisdiction over the entire Bihar while the other two are restricted to their areas.

Since its beginning, it started sinking and floating all alone. First, it took two decades to get land for its campus near Mithapur old bus stand in Patna after changing its address half a dozen times. It has a sprawling building but its area is a mere 6.5 acres while the other Universities have a much bigger area of land. For example Veer Kunwar Singh University, Arrah has over 40 acres of land.

As senior journalist and Professor Abdul Qadir puts it, ‘This University was started with no assets like colleges and another establishment.” It ran without any course or any students from 1998 to 2007. In 2008, it started 9 courses in which 786 students were enrolled. After the affiliation of Madrasas for their Alim and Fazil degrees, the number of students has reached over 20 thousand.

While B.N. Mandal University has 14 constituent colleges and Veer Kunwar Singh University has 18 constituent colleges, as per the information available on their official websites, the MMH P&A University has not got a single constituent college.

The B. N. Mandal University has 18 affiliated colleges, MMH P&A University has just one. It is the number of B.Ed. colleges that brings in some balance as MMH P&A has 29 B.Ed. colleges affiliated to it.

In 23 years of its establishment, the University has seen nine regular vice-chancellors including two non-academicians. There were three occasions when the VCs of other Universities took its additional charge.

Strength as weakness
Professor Abdul Qadir says that the tag of Arabic and Persian could have been its strength if it could have some Memorandum of Understanding with Gulf countries and their educational institutions but this vision was lacking. “Instead, this tag caused the abandonment by the officials of the education department,” he said.

The University offers diploma courses in functional Arabic and Persian, manuscriptology and oriental librarianship.

These courses might have been and still can be its strength, argues Professor Qadir.

Lack of staff
MMH A&P University has received sanctions for 56 teachers but there are only 5 appointed by the government on its pay register. Three more permanent teachers are expected to join in Islamic Studies department. This would leave 48 seats of teachers vacant. To cover up to around 23 seats, guest faculty have been hired. Similarly, around 65 non-teaching staff should have been appointed on the government pay scale but only 7 are working in that capacity. Its budget is a meagre 25 crore rupees while its internal resources are used for paying the staff while Veer Kunwar Singh Univesity, Arrah runs on a budget of over 600 crore rupees.

The website page for Departments and Schools does not open with the message ‘Page Not Found.’ However, Registrar of the University Dr Mohmmad Habibur Rahman, while talking to, said that “there are eight departments in the University namely Arabic, Persian, Urdu, English, Education, Islamic Studies, Management and Journalism. There are around 350 students currently studying in these departments.”

No grants from UGC
MMH A&P University got included in the list of universities maintained by the University Grants Commission under section 2 (f) in 2004. However, the UGC said that the University will not be eligible to receive any assistance from it and any other source funded by the Government of India.

Registrar Dr Habubur Rahman said that while inclusion under section 2 (f) gives the right to start courses and give degrees but to get grants from UGC and other sources of the government inclusion under section 12 (B) is required. As MMH A&P’s wait for inclusion under 12 (B) is not yet over, its development as a research-based University is marred.

Minority connection
This state university is seen as a source of educational development of the Muslim minority of Bihar with an emphasis to tag Madrasa students for streamlining their education with modern learning and tools.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar while paying homage to “the great personality” of Maulana Mazharul Haque wrote in its souvenir that the state government was committed to bringing the entire community into the mainstream through education, health care, jobs and business opportunities.

A senior official of the Bihar government Amir Subhani has mentioned in the university’s souvenir that “this university has a pivotal role to play in improving the educational level in the state particularly among the students of minority communities.”

The Minority Welfare Department has tied up with the University for conducting its important scheme for providing free coaching to the students of the minority community of the state who are preparing for several competitive examinations.

The university is the second such institution that is facing rough weather in its aim to help uplift the educational standards of the Muslim community. The other one is the Kishanganj centre of Aligarh Muslim University. Pertinently, Kishanganj was recently declared as the poorest district of Bihar by NITI. 

Way ahead
Both Professor Quddus and Dr Habib agree that the university should be registered under section 12 (B) of UGC to get financial assistance. Secondly, appointments on all the sanctioned posts by the government must be completed without any further delay.

Professor Quddus said that the “V.C. must correct the irregularities to run it smoothly.”

Both suggested that the university should get control of the establishment for Madrasa examinations as it is not involved in the preparing syllabus for Madrasa degrees of Alim and Fazil.

Sami Ahmad is a journalist based in Patna, Bihar. He tweets at @samipkb.