The First Non-Muslim to Top All-India Islamic Studies Entrance Exam is the Hope an Increasingly Divided India Needs

Mavis D'Silva
·3-min read

Religion has been at the centre of polarising debate recently, be it on TV or social media. There has been incessant name-calling on news channels and targeted hashtag campaigns online to run down particular faiths.

In this toxic atmosphere, 21-year-old Shubham Yadav has paved the way for a more open-minded approach. The student from Alwar in Rajasthan has become the first non-Muslim candidate to top the all-India entrance exam for a master’s course in Islamic studies at the Central University of Kashmir.

“Islam is portrayed as a radical religion and there is a lot of misconception about it. The division in the society is growing today and it is really very important to understand each other’s religion,” said Shubham Yadav, who will pursue the course in Kashmir for two years.

The university confirmed that Yadav is the first non-Muslim candidate to top the exam. “This is the first time a non-Muslim has topped the entrance exam… We’ve had non-Muslim scholars in the past,” Professor Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi said.

Yadav hails from Alwar, where two lynching cases, including the one of Pehlu Khan took place in 2018. “Such kind of incidents also made me think and gave motivation to read about the religion (Islam). I convinced my parents to pursue Islamic studies by making them understand that it will be about Islamic history and culture and they agreed,” he said.

Yadav claimed that his interest in Islamic studies peaked during college days and he has informally studied about the Arab spring, Iran issues, early days of Islam, and Prophet Muhammad.

Yadav is also preparing for his civil service examinations. While some indulged in the routine name-calling, many congratulated the youth and cheered his success.

More power to young Shubham Yadav. While some choose to spew venom in the name of religion, his attempts to study and rightfully articulate the noble tenets of religion must be appreciated.