Welcome to Husayni Madrasah
Husayni Madrasah is a Sunday school teaching Islamic subjects based in North Harrow, which was established in 1977. Over the 30 years, Husayni Madrasah has developed in various ways. Many of the teachers were students in the very same Madrasah in the past. Teachers still teach purely on a voluntary basis – as has always been the case – with the only intention being for the pleasure of Allah (S.W.T.)
In 1977, a newly qualified doctor, by the name of Nizar Merali, moved from Manchester to London. At this time, he decided to start a Madrasah in his house in Northwood. With the help of an ex-teacher of Mombasa Madrasah, namely Sabira Kanji, he managed to establish the Madrasah.
With students squatting on the floor facing a make-shift blackboard, the Madrasah began to grow and the classes moved from house to house until the first major step to hire School premises was taken.
Initially this Madrasah had no name. In time this moved to Ruislip to be called Ruislip Madrasah and then Maulana Sabzwari recommended the addition of the name “Husayni” and the name was changed to Ruislip Husayni Madrasah. When the Madrasah finally moved to Harrow, the name Ruislip was dropped.
Since then, Husayni Madrasah has evolved in ways which, according to him were “probably unimaginable then.” The Madrasah was not affiliated with any organisation or community, but remained totally independent.
At its peak (from 1987 to 1997) the Madrasah occupied 14 classrooms at Nower Hill High School with children from the age of 3 to the age of 16. The classes used to run from 10:15am – 1:15pm every Sunday morning during school term time – making a total of about 37 sessions in a year. The total number of pupils at this time was 280 with attendance ratings of over 90%. Even by 1987 over 75 teachers had passed through the Madrasah. It is gratifying to know that these teachers have continued to teach at various Madrasahs nationally and internationally; having taken their experiences of Husayni Madrasah with them.
Many teachers even attended institutions to further their learning and to attain teaching qualifications, so that they would be able to part their knowledge to the children they taught. In fact, as early as the 1980s, Husayni Madrasah held its own teachers’ training workshops. Amongst the first of these was one held at Brunel University organised by Late Dr. Sadik Rahom and Fatma Asaria.
Similar to the structure now, the Madrasah began every week with Assembly – where parents were invited to attend so that they could watch as their children would go up to the stage and perform a presentation. There would then be the various lessons during the morning, with a break for sports and the Madrasah classes would end at 1pm with Salaat.
For the very young, there were playgroup classes, which were taught by teachers who also used to teach at a local playgroup during the week. The various subjects were taught in such a way that the children picked up vast amounts of knowledge through playing and learning.
The subjects were the same as they are now: Qur’an was taught from playgroup and developed into memorisation of Surahs of the Qur’an.
Islamic History was also taught at great depth – beginning with the basics of Prophethood and Imamat along with the social contexts at the times as well as going into the more recent history after the Ghiabat of the 12th Imam.
Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) was taught to a level at which children were able to analyse and compare the views of different Marj’a.
Arabic as a language was taught to a standard at which some pupils even carried out O level exams in the subject.
Current Affairs was also taught at this time and focussed on the Muslim Ummah – as well as developing the knowledge of the current governmental system in England and internationally.
Of course, as there were no set premises where items could be stored, it was necessary to have a mobile cabinet to home the equipment needed for the Madrasah. This would include a photocopier, T.V., video, slide projector, stationary etc. as well as 1000 books, 20-30 video cassettes and many audio cassettes.
As there was such a large resource here, there were on average 75 items borrowed from Husayni Madrasah every week.
Husayni Madrasah, however, also encouraged extra curricular activities. Not only were sports part of the Madrasah curriculum itself, but the children were encouraged to produce a publication: called Al-Muntazir three times a year. The work for this was carried out as a joint effort by both teachers and pupils alike. In fact, this publication was so popular that it was spread throughout the world.
The Madrasah was divided into 4 houses after the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) called Abu Dharr e Ghaffari (red), Salman e Farsi (blue), Miqdad al Aswad (yellow) and Ammar bin Yaasir (green). The house points was used to help foster a competitive environment. The primary purpose was to provide pupils with an incentive to strive for improved academic achievement.
At the suggestion of Nizar Latif and Sundus Latif, an annual Summer Project competition was established in the mid 1980s. For this competition, pupils were asked to spend some time during their Summer to carry out some research on various Islamic topics. They would then present the project to be judged by independent adjudicators and receive prizes for their achievement.
Annually, there would be a Parent’s Day programme, which would include a presentation by the children as well as an opportunity for the parents to meet and discuss their child’s progress with the teachers. For this event, the Madrasah had the honour of welcoming various Guests of Honour of international repute including Seyyid Fadhil Milani, Late Mulla Asgher M M Jaffer, Seyyid Mohsin Araki, Professor Naobi and many more.
It was a strong belief that Husayni Madrasah should keep in close contact with various other Madrasahs in order to exchange ideas and further development of Islamic thought and teaching. This included joint events with Madrasahs such as an Eid programme with Idara-e-Jaafariya. In 1985, Ali Raza Nanji (the Principle of another Madrasah called Husayni Madrasah in Nairobi) was a great supporter of Husayni Madrsah and he invited Nizar Merali to meet with a congregation of other Madrasahs to try to establish a syllabus, which was standardised throughout the world. However, this never materialised.
Various Madrasahs made their own books and Husayni Madrasah itself created a set of Arabic Books. This feat was led Haider Asaria, Zuhair Walji and Shirin Merali who strove to produce Arabic textbooks that are now used in many parts of the world. A comprehensive syllabus was also created, which laid out, in detail, the material to be taught to each year group.
With all this in mind, what did the founder of Husayni Madrasah have to say about this at the time?
“I would be telling a lie if I were not to say that I am proud of this progressive Madrasah…We have learnt from our own mistakes. In the Western World we were not fortunate to benefit from the mistakes of other such institutions. However, this has been possible only because of the absolute devotion of the staff.” (Dr. Nizar Merali)
The Madrasah acknowledges the voluntary services of numerous people in the past and present, both as teachers and as administrators. The list huge and we feel it unfair to list them all as we undoubtedly would miss some people.