In early days of Islam Madrassa was considered a source of both Islamic and secular knowledge. In the early madrassa system clerics did not teach lonely those subjects which were related to Islam like Tafseer (Interpretation of Holy Quran), Hadith (thousands of sayings of Prophet Muhammad), Fiqh (Islamic Law), but also taught subjects like English, astronomy, architecture, physics, literature, and politics. Unfortunately, these days the case is different, particularly so in Pakistan. In Pakistan the madrassa only imparts an Islamic knowledge in the form of sectarianism and hatred among society. At international level Pakistani Madrassas are considered factories of jihadists and terrorists, not only in non-Muslim but also in Muslim countries.
Especially after the 9/11, the Pakistani Madrassa came in limelight due to involvement of Al-Qaida and Taliban in the attack. In 2001 Musharraf made an attempt to streamline the Madrassa system and made the registration compulsory but failed. No action was taken against those who did not abide by law.
Proliferation of Madrassas is the ugly consequence of Pakistan’s myopic response to strategic changes in its neighbor countries in 1980s. Shia Revolution in Iran and invasion of Soviet Union on Afghanistan in provided an opportunity to clerics in Pakistan to increase the number of Madrassas and recruit jihadists to defeat the soviet. Pakistan felt existential threat from the two cataclysmic events in its immediate neighbors and wanted to cope with it. For this purpose Ziaul Haq, the then Islamist military ruler of Pakistan, patronized the large numbers of the religious schools and training centers in Quetta, Peshawar and FATA where Jihadists were recruited and trained and sent to Afghanistan to kill the soviet soldiers. Thus it bestowed an opportunity to the jihadist to proliferate and become Frankenstein Monsters in later years. Pakistan is a state which face security challenges since its birth. For tackling of the deteriorate security challenges the curriculum of the Madrassa is much more importance to emphasize it. In the curriculum the clerics present the Islam violent and radical religion to the young children and shows that we (Mullah) are lonely on the right way. They imbue the wet clay mind of young innocents with negative and radical ideas. Most of those indulging in suicide bombing and actual fighting against non-Muslims are young, radical and angry people belonging from the Islamic institutions, who are majorly anti-West due to neo-colonial and exploitative policies.
To keep in view the quality of the Madrassa education is also much more pregnant. The purpose of the education is to learn what is good, and what is bad, what is prohibited and what is permitted in Islam. But unluckily, this is not the case in Pakistan, as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has researched Pakistani school textbooks to discover that there is religious biasness in almost every Madrassa, which leads to societal intolerance and maligns the minority groups.
Another problem is sectarian violence’s which is face by Pakistan government from few decades. Most Madrassas are supporting by Arab countries like Saudi and Iran which divide our society in Shiite and Sunni sects. Hundreds of people lost their lives in Pakistan especially in Peshawar and Quetta through the sectarian violence’s. For the Sunnis, the majority sect in Pakistan, Madrasas are divided among Deobandis, Barelwis and Ahl-e-Hadith sub-sects. The Shia Madrasas also follow their own point of view like the Sunnis.
Majority population of Pakistan is living in small villages and towns who send their children to Madrassas which provide them free education and boarding. Clerics in Madrassas mesmerize the minds of the young children with radical and roughshod ideas which providing perfect recruits to the extremist organizations. There are numerous cases of torture, sodomy, rape, violence and terrorism connected to Madrassas in 2011 alone.
We can correct the Madrassa system if Pakistani government take it under directly control like Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Iran. In Bangladesh government has full control over Madrassas system. Madrassas teach all Islamic subjects along with all the required modern subjects like English, Bangla, science, social studies, math, geography, history, etc which is issue by government. These Madrassas are registered with, and supervised by, the government-appointed Bangladesh Madrassa Education Board. The board also arranges and issues curriculum, conduct examinations and specify salaries for the clerics of the Madrassa.
Pakistan should take bold action against the Madrassa system and bulldoze all those Madrassas which are not registered in Government documents. Uniformity in education and to remove the division of sects is much more important. Madrassas not only spread a certain kind of ideology to students, they also spread it in society, to the families and extended families of these students. The government has right to write down such a curriculum which is talking about peace and love and to take away all those chapters which create negative ideas or sectarian disharmony in society. Scholar like Javed Ghamdi and Dr Israr Ahmad have the same opinion about the nationalization of Madrassa and mosque. Otherwise we would face more radical and militant mullahs in coming days like Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal masjid.
Writer: By Ziaullah
The writer is law student at Islamia College University, Peshawar, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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