Madrassas in Pakistan

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Madrassas of Pakistan are Islamic seminaries in Pakistan, known as Madaris-e-Deeniya in Urdu, that teach mostly Islamic subjects such as Tafseer(Interpretation of Holy Quran), Hadith(thousands of sayings of Prophet Muhammad), usul ul hadith(rules of hadith), Fiqh(Islamic Law), Sarf and Nahw(branches of Arabic grammar), Arabic Language, Usool ul fiqh(Jurisprudence), Islamic Finance, Mantiq(Logic), Philosphy, classic Arabic literature and eloquence, leading to graduation as a scholar or cleric (maulviormaulana). The students are admitted after matriculation or high schooling and after 8 years of intense study, acquire a degree of Shahadat ul Aalymiya which is equivalent to a masters degree by the HEC Pakistan. Their number grew dramatically during and after the reign of General Zia al-Haq, and are used especially by Pakistan’s poorest families in part because they feed and house their students.[1] 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.[1]

Most madrassas in Pakistan are Sunni, with an estimated 4-10% madrassas serving the minority Shia population. Most Sunni madrassas follow the doctrine of the Deobandi sect. Additionally there are a number of Quran academies offering diplomas in Islamic courses. Critics have complained that the 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.[1]


The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier.[2] 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.

In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan,[3] but there number expanded greatly during the rule of President General Zia-ul-Haq (1977–1988).[4]

In 2002 the country had 10,000-13,000 unregistered madrassas with an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million students.[5] A 2008 estimate puts this figure at "over 40,000".[3]

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].

Total number of Deeni Madariss in Pakistan according to PAKISTAN ECONOMIC SURVEY 2009-10 is 288 between which salaries are distributed of their teachers under Madrassa Reforms Project.[6]

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.

Conservative fundamentalism[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.[8]

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.[9]

Comparative studies[edit]

In addition to the South Asian Dars-i-Nizami curriculum, the students read books in Urdu as part of comparative religion or training in the beliefs of the sub-sect (maslak).[citation needed] These texts are taught in a manner in order to promote understanding of differences and similarities as they exist, with the stated goal of respect for human diversity.[citation needed] Subjects such as Western ideologies — capitalism, individualism, freedom, feminism, socialism, democracy, human rights are discussed in the context of how they relate to the Muslim thought and identity prevalent in the schools.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c TAVERNISE, SABRINA (May 3, 2009). "Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy". New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  2. ^ George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, 1981: Edinburgh Univ. Press. pp. 10-24
  3. ^ a b Hyat, Kamila (2008-09-25). "No room for doubt and division". The News International. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  4. ^,801&hl=en&sa=X&ei=m5WdUMDwPMSy0AGg0oC4Dg&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Walsh, Declan (2010-12-05). "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists". The Guardian (London). 
  9. ^ 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.