Pooja Kushwaha, an 18-year-old class12th student is a teacher to 35 kids. The interesting fact is that she is a Hindu and the lessons she teaches are from the Muslim’s holy book Quran. Kushwaha hails from western parts of Uttar Pradesh, teaches the children in an open-air classroom inside temple’s premises in Agra, according to a TOI report. With a great accent of Arabic words Kushwaha’s teaching looks every bit what the parents of the children would have wanted. This goes on to show how tolerant that part of India is.
Speaking to TOI Pooja revealed how she got interested in Arabic and the Quran, she said, “Many years ago, there was another woman of mixed faith in our locality. Born to a Muslim father and Hindu mother, Sangeeta Begum used to hold Quran classes for the kids. I got interested in the holy book and started attending her classes. I made steady progress and was ahead of all others in her class soon.” Interestingly, Pooja does it all without any fee.
Pooja said, “Most of the kids are from poor families. They do not have money to offer and I do not want it either.” When the number of children grew, neighbours and relatives provided her space to continue her teaching.
70-year-old Haji Jamiluddin Qureshi is a popular figure in the region and heads many forums along with a school. He told TOI, “It’s heartening to know that such rare examples of communal harmony exist in our city. A teacher is a teacher and her religion doesn’t matter as long as she knows the holy scripture well. Moreover, Islam doesn’t object to anybody learning Arabic or reading Quran.”
Notably, Nandini who is Pooja’s elder sister imparts Bhagwat Gita and Hindi lessons. Rani Khushwaha, the mother of Pooja and Nandini, said, “These children are from underprivileged backgrounds and giving education to them is a great work. I am proud of my daughters.”