Asif M Basit
Education has always been of paramount importance in the history of the Jamaat. Right from its inception at the hands of the Promised Messiahas, special attention was given to educating the younger generation of the Jamaat.
While most of us know that Madrassa-e-Ahmadiyya was founded by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah, to impart religious education and train Islamic scholars to propagate the message of Islam, it is worth noting that a secular education facility was also founded by Hazrat Ahmadas and named Talim-ul-Islam School. This school was established to train pupils in secular disciplines so that they could excel in education and serve not only the Jamaat but also the nation and the whole of humanity at large.
Soon after it had been established, it could be seen rising to the top ranks of schools in the Punjab. How it excelled and expanded, and how it turned out to be an international phenomenon is a story in its own right and requires a few issues of the newspaper to cover it. However, here we mention how it was seen in its early days by the general public and how this impression was reflected in the press.
What gave the students of Talim-ul-Islam school a distinctive position among the schools of the Punjab was not only their educational excellence but their high moral standards. They would stand out among the thousands of students as the best in their educational pursuits, obedience, loyalty to their nation, perseverance and, above all, the excellent moral standards that they exhibited in (and even out of) their school premises.
Student strikes and boycotts had become a common occurrence in the days of political awakening of British India and it was in these days that a small school of a small community in a small town emerged to set new standards that were looked up to by all moderate, right minded people.
We present below a report from The Tribune (Lahore) that was included in its issue of 10 July 1910. The report covered a strike where students from all major educational institutes had participated.
“It will not be out of place if I draw the attention both of the Muslim leaders and the Muslim students to a class of students who may be put down as model students at least as far as their relations with their teachers are concerned. They are the students that come from the Qadian High School.
“Whatever view we may hold with regard to the particular tenets of the sect which differentiate the Qadian sect from the orthodox Muslims, there will be no two opinions, I believe, as to the fact that the students that come from the Qadian High School are very obedient. Those who have had an occasion to test them in this respect will, I believe, endorse my opinion.
“There have been 4 strikes among students in Upper India during the last two or three years viz, the strikes in Aligarh College, the Government College, Lahore, the Medical College, and the Islamia college, and on all these occasions the Qadian students were conspicuous for keeping aloof from the strikers, in spite of the pressure that was brought to bear upon them by their fellow students.
“I mention them here both to say a word of praise about them which they justly deserve and to offer to them as worthy models to be followed by the children of the orthodox Muslims. As the institution that is started by the Ahmadiyya community at Qadian produces such students, I think other Mahomedan institutions will do well if they also train the students on the same lines on which boys are trained at Qadian.
“The Qadian students are very pious and strictly regular in the performance of their religious duties, and it is for this reason, I believe, that they are so law-abiding and obedient. I hope they will continue to deserve the credit they have earned and keep up the reputation of their institution by ever treading in the path of obedience. They deem it their religious duty to obey every order which they receive from their leaders at Qadian and obedience to authority is one of the teachings which are particularly impressed not only on the students, but also on the members of the sect.
“In the end, I once more urge on the leaders of the Mahomedan community the necessity of looking to the character and the religious training of their students. Let them try to teach them piety and morality and impress on them the teachings of Islam, and obedience to authority will follow as a necessary result.”