Madrassas in Pakistan

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Madrassas of Pakistan are Islamic seminaries in Pakistan, known as Madaris-e-Deeniya in Urdu. Most Madrasas teach mostly Islamic subjects such as Tafseer (Interpretation of Holy Quran), Hadith (thousands of sayings of Prophet Muhammad), Fiqh (Islamic Law), Arabic Language;[1] but include some non-Islamic subjects (such as logic, philosophy, mathematics), that enable students to understand the religious ones.[1] The number of madrassas grew dramatically during and after the reign of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, and are especially popular among Pakistan’s poorest families in part because they feed and house their students.[2] For the majority of Saudi families they may provide "the only realistic option" to educate their sons.[1] Estimates of the number of madrasas vary between 12,000 and 40,000.[3][4] In some areas of Pakistan they outnumber the underfunded public schools.[2]

Most madrassas in Pakistan are Sunni, follow the doctrine of the Deobandi sect. An estimated 4-10% madrassas serve the minority Shia population. Additionally there are a number of Quran academies offering diplomas in Islamic courses. Critics have complained that many madrassas offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, and that analysis of the profiles of suicide bombers who have struck in at least one region of Pakistan have found most attended madrasas.[2]

History[edit]

The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier.[5] They catered not only to the religious establishment, though that was the dominant influence over them, but also the secular one. To the latter they supplied physicians, administrative officials, judges and teachers.

The expansion was due both to the growth of Pakistan's population and active government programmes geared towards promoting a specific culture and ideology. Major elements sought to promote the indigenous culture originally taught in the madaris in Pakistan. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Afghan government officials often supported jihad activities (freedom fighters) in various madrassa schools in northern Pakistan[citation needed].

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, American television commentators widely associated madrassas with violence or fundamentalism. Former Pakistani president Gen. Musharraf tried to introduce an element of nominal control as an overture to American pressure, which have by and large been considered a failure.

Growth of madrassas[edit]

Estimates of the numbers of madrassas vary, but all agree their number has grown enormously, having expanded greatly during and after the rule of President General Zia-ul-Haq (1977–1988).[1] According to The News International, in 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan but over "over 40,000" by 2008.[3][4] According to David Commins their number grew from around 900 in 1971 to over 8000 official ones and another 25,000 unofficial ones in 1988.[6] In 2002 the country had 10,000-13,000 unregistered madrassas with an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million students, according to Christopher Candland.[7] According to the New York Times, as of 2009 there more than 12,000 registered madrasas and more unregistered ones in Pakistan. In some areas of Pakistan they outnumber the underfunded public schools.[2]

Curriculum[edit]

Most Madrasas teach mostly Islamic subjects such as memorization of the Quran, Tafseer (Interpretation of Holy Quran), Hadith (thousands of sayings of Prophet Muhammad), usul ul hadith( rules of hadith), Fiqh and Usul ul fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence and principles of Islamic Jurisprudence), Sarf and Nahw (branches of Arabic grammar), Arabic Language, Islamic Finance, Mantiq (Logic), Philosophy, classic Arabic literature and eloquence. Mastery of these subjects qualifies a student to become an Islamic scholar or cleric (maulvi or maulana).

In terms of religious doctrine, many of the madrasas are funded by Saudis groups and combine Deobandi ideology with "Wahhabism as reflected in the education imparted to students in Saudi Arabia government." Critics complain on intolerance in teachings as reflected in the line that "Muslim pupils in radical madrassas chant at the morning assembly: `When people deny our faith, ask them to convert and if they don't destroy them utterly.`"[1] Other Saudi madrassas, particularly schools in Afghan refugee camps, may provide an interpretation of Islam that "blends Pushtun ideals and Deobandi views, precisely the hallmark of the Taliban."[6] The vast expansion of madrasas during the 1980s meant a shortage of qualified teachers such that "quite a few teachers did not discern between tribal values of their ethnic group, the Pushtuns and the religious ideals."[6]

Post 9/11 oversight[edit]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the US government encouraged former Pakistani president Gen. Musharraf to do something about Madrassas. Musharraf tried to introduce an element of nominal control. Two laws were passed: one to create state-controlled madrassas (model: Dini Madaris, 2001); the other to register and control them (2002). The first had moderate success, as some religious institutions registered in 2003 with the Pakistan Madrasah Education Board created by this law. However, the three alternative institutions it created suffer from organizational difficulties. The second measure proved unpopular with the madrassas, but the government has restricted some access of foreign students to the madaris education system.

Madrassas in Pakistan have been used to recruit jihadists and as a pretext to finance militancy. For example, officials with the Lashkar-e-Taiba's charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, travelled to Saudi Arabia seeking donations for new schools, vastly inflating the schools costs to the donors – then siphoned off the excess money to fund militant operations.[9]

Overseeing bodies[edit]

The Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya, a federation of the five Waqfs (seminary boards) in Pakistan, represents AhleSunnat Wal Jammal Deoband, AhleSunnat Barelwi, Ahl-e Hadith, Shia and Jamaat-e-Islami schools of thought. Maulana Saleem Ullah Khan is the president of Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya Pakistan.[10]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Hiro, Dilip (2012). Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia. Yale University Press. p. 162. After 11 years of Islamization by Zia ul Haq, the madrassa total then ballooned to 2801 with the Deobandis accounting for 64% of the total, and the Barelvis only 25 per cent. Situated mostly in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the megalopolis of Karachi. ... With the inflow of Saudi funds in these institutions, the curriculum began to combine Deobandi ideology with Wahhabism as reflected in the education imparted to students in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabi Islam divided the world into believers and unbelievers, and enjoined the former to convert the later to the true faith. This intolerance toward non-Muslims in encapsulated in the line that Muslim pupils in radical madrassas chant at the morning assembly: `When people deny our faith, ask them to convert and if they don't destroy them utterly.` 
  2. ^ a b c d TAVERNISE, SABRINA (May 3, 2009). "Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy". New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Hyat, Kamila (2008-09-25). "No room for doubt and division". The News International. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  4. ^ a b see also: Mohanty, Nirode (2013). America, Pakistan, and the India Factor. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 168. Retrieved 6 April 2015. In Pakistan, in 1947 there were 250 madrassas, in 1987 it increased to 3000, and in 2008, there were over 40,000 madrassas, mostly funded by Saudi Arabia to teach Wahhabi Islam. 
  5. ^ George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, 1981: Edinburgh Univ. Press. pp. 10-24
  6. ^ a b c Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I.B.Tauris. pp. 191–2. Jamaati Ulama Islam ... figured as a fairly minor part of Pakistan's religious scene until the regime of General Zia al-Haq ... who used an Islamic policy to buttress his military dictatorship. Part of his policy to `Islamize` Pakistan was a campaign to expand religious education with funds for thousands of new madrases. Their number grew from around 900 in 1971 to over 8000 official ones and another 25,000 unofficial ones in 1988. With financial support from Saudi Arabia, Deobandi madrasas were part of this vast proliferation in religious education, much of it located in Afghan refugee camps that sprang up in the 1980s. This rapid expansion came at the expense of doctrinal coherence as there were not enough qualified teachers to staff all the new schools. Quite a few teachers did not discern between tribal values of their ethnic group, the Pushtuns and the religious ideals. The result was an interpretation of Islam that blended Pushtun ideals and Deobandi views, precisely the hallmark of the Taliban. 
  7. ^ Christopher Candland, "Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education" in Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future, (Robert M. Hathaway, ed.), 2005: Washington, D.C: pp. 151-153
  8. ^ Dina Temple-Raston (2007). The Jihad Next Door: the Lackawanna six and rough justice in an age of terror. Perseus Books Group. ISBN 978-1-58648-403-3. 
  9. ^ Walsh, Declan (2010-12-05). "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists". The Guardian (London). 
  10. ^ Jamia Mohammadia Ghausia

Additional reading[edit]

  • Ali, Saleem H. 2009. "Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan's Madrassas." Oxford University Press.
  • Candland, Christopher. 2005. ‘Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education’. In Hathaway, Robert. M (ed). 2005. Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future Washington D.C: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. pp. 151–165.
  • Hartung, Jan-Peter and Reifeld, Helmut. 2006. Islamic Education, Diversity and National Identity New Delhi: Sage.
  • Makdisi, George. 1981. The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Malik, Jamal, ed. 2008. Madrasas in South Asia: Teaching Terror?. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Rahman, Tariq. 2004. Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarization in Pakistan Karachi: Oxford University Press. Chapter 5.
  • Robinson, Francis. 2002. The Ulama of Farangi Mahal and Islamic Culture in South Asia Lahore: Ferozsons.