‘I Dreamt of Becoming Civil Servant in Madarsa’: Shahid Cracks the UPSC Exam

Shahid Raza Khan

Shahid Raza Khan from Gaya broke the age-old-prejudice of Madarsa by cracking the UPSC exam, says that he dreamt of being a civil servant, while in madarsa

Waquar Hassan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Twenty eight Muslim students cracked the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination 2018. However, two of them only are shining bright – one is Junaid Ahmed who clinched the third all India position and the second being Shahid Raza Khan.

Shahid, shines the brightest, not because of his rank but his background. A student of Azamgarh-based seminary Madarsa Jamiat-ul-Asharfia, Shahid dared to dream for what seemed impossible – to become an IAS officer.

“I aspired to be a civil servant when I was studying in the Azamgarh Madarsa. I remember, how determined I was to crack the UPSC exam and how I used to keep telling people and of course,  – I want to become the District Magistrate. I began my full-fledged preparation when I got enrolled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Univerisity,” said Shahid while talking to Caravan Daily.

Shahid, who hails from Bihar’s Gaya district, did his schooling at his hometown. After completing his higher secondary, he got enrolled at the Azamgarh Madarsa, following which he took admission in JNU to pursue a degree in Arabic, following which he pursued his Masters and M.Phil too. At present, he is pursuing his PhD from the Department of West Asian Studies at JNU’s School of International Studies.

“If madarsa’s are equipped with modern subjects then I would have had a clearer concept about the civil service exam. In fact, I would have begun my UPSC preparation at madarsa itself. I had in fact started my preparation right there but in a small way. I used to study some books related to general studies during my madarsa days. My classmates used to often point out that whatever I was studying or reading was not included in the madarsa syllabus. I used to reply back saying that I was reading these books as I want to become district magistrate,” said Shahid while talking about his aspiration and journey so far.

With the madarsa syllabus and UPSC being completely different, students from madarsa background hardly dream of cracking the UPSC exam. In general, very few are aware of what UPSC is all about. Hence the fact that Shahid dreamt of becoming an IAS officer, made preparation for UPSC and cracked it, makes it inspiration for many. Despite him securing 751st position, his achievement is definitely huge.

“It has been a really long and tough journey for me. I had to struggle a lot to enjoy this day. From madarsa to the university to UPSC, I studied a variety of subjects. I had a lot of personal constraints, which I gradually overcame to better my skills and effort. It was really difficult for me to study those subjects which I had not studied in madarsa. I had to start from the scratch in order to prepare for the UPSC exam,” revealed Shahid. He then added, “The journey was definitely tough, but I have enjoyed it.”

After having achieved what he had dreamt of he feels that intelligent students enrolled with madarsa education system could also follow his path.

“Anything is possible. We need to be perseverance and have the confidence of doing the impossible. Remember, nothing is impossible. It’s like dreaming something and working consistently and constantly with confidence and patience. Nothing is out of reach,” stated Shahid, defining the qualities needed to crack exams like UPSC, especially for candidates coming from a madarsa background.

Shahid also feels that madarsa education also helped him in cracking UPSC. It built up his confidence and sharpened his memory. Admitting the limitations of madarsa education, he feels the need for a reform of sort in the madarsa education system. “Language is very important whether it is Urdu, Hindi and English. They should be familiar with the important languages of the country. General studies should be included and general knowledge has to be in the syllabus,” he said. “Some madarsa is following this like my own alma mater madarsa Ashrafiya but to a limited level,” he said.

Shahid’s will to crack the UPSC was given wings by the Jamia Millia Islamia’s Residential Coaching Academy, where his skills were honed and acumen sharpened along with other students hailing from the minorities and SC/ST communities. Here the students are coached for free. This year 42 students from the coaching academy have cracked the UPSC exam. Junaid too is a product of the same academy.


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