From madrasa to university in US — an inspiring journey of Mohammad Furqan

Sami Ahmad,

Patna: At a time when eyebrows are being raised on the kind of education being imparted in madrassas across the country, Mohammad Furqan from Madrasa Alia Arabia, Masjid Fatehpuri, Delhi, has been selected by the University of Notre Dame at Indiana in the United States to pursue masters in Global Affairs in Peace Studies.

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Hailing from Darbhanga in Bihar, he began his educational journey from the Islamic seminary and completed fazilat (bachelors) with first class in 2016. But he did not stop there.

He cracked the entrance test for a BA (Honours) course in English literature at prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI). He then pursued masters in Islamic and Arabic studies from the JMI in 2023.

While continuing his formal education, Furqan also completed Advancing Scientific and Theological Literacy in Madrasa Discourses — a three-year research program for madrasa graduates. It is run by the Keogh School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame. Furqan says since it was an online course, he pursued it easily.

Talking to, he said he went to madrasa because he had interests in studying religion. Though he is still keen about religious studies, he has now moved to modern education.

Talking about his family background and struggle so far, he said, “It was a very amazing and wonderful journey. After the madrasa, my interest in modern education landed me at Jamia Millia Islamia.”

Unlike many other madrasa students, the decision to opt for elementary, secondary and higher secondary education was not for financial reasons. “I did not face any financial hurdle so far as my family and relatives have always been very supportive of me,” he said.

His father is a private teacher, while mother is a homemaker.

“Coming from an ordinary family, I could have never imagined to study in the United States,” he said, thanking his teachers in the madrasa and the university.

Furqan got to interact with several renowned academicians and scholars from different countries while pursuing the Madrasa Discourse Programme. He said his experience of the course was “life-changing”.

Asked about attacks on madrasas in some states, he said, “I think there should be freedom of all kinds of education for children. And both religious and modern education are equally important for society.”

He encouraged and suggested madrasa students to pursue modern education as well. He said there should be a system in religious seminaries, which helps its students get enrolled in universities across the country.

Furqan is quite clear about his plans. “I am interested in academics and don’t have any plans to go for civil services,” he added.

Sami Ahmed is a freelance journalist based in Patna, Bihar