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Topic initiated on Thursday, October 19, 2006  -  10:12 AM Reply with quote
Myths about indian madarsas

indian madarsas truth and false


....Madrasas have been unfairly linked to terrorism, an accusation that is not borne out by facts. As is becoming clear, the perpetrators of the Mumbai blasts were educated in modern institutions rather than in madrasas, a pattern which one sees repeated in almost all terror strikes. In a case study of 75 terrorists done last year by US based scholars Peter Bergen and Swati Pandey, they found out that 53% of them had college degrees. Of the most famous ones, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the organizational planner of 9/11 had studied engineering in North Carolina and Mohammad Atta had a degree in, of all things, Urban Preservation! In their study, the authors also point out that there were two PhDs who had joined the call for jihad. In fact, out of the profiles of 75 terrorists, only 9 had a madrasa education, and all of them were involved in just one attack, the bombings at Bali. And even in this case, the masterminds were all college educated, including two university professors. A similar pattern seems to be emerging for the Mumbai blasts...

Despite them being touted as ‘centres of Islamic learning’ it is a fact that only very low class and low caste Muslim groups generally access madrasa education. Partly owing to their poverty and partly due to the dismal state of primary education in the country, these Muslim groups are resigned to send their children to madrasas which not only offer them free education but more importantly also free food and other living amenities. What these children learn in madrasas is very largely based on outdated religious texts that fail to equip them with skills required in contemporary times. Moreover, after spending six to seven years in a madrasa, it is too late for student to go to a regular school. Most of these students, having limited recourse to other modes of earning, end up opening their own madrasa since this is the only skill that they have acquired. In the process, they end up perpetuating the very system of which they were unknowing victims. What kind of social service is this that does not make its own product capable of making decent life choices and perpetuates a regime of ignorance? On the other hand, it is equally painful to realise that those who take lead in this ‘social service’, those who establish madrasas, seldom educate their own children in them. Also the well to do Muslims, on whose financial support these madrasa run, prefer English medium schools for their children. It is positively shameful that the burden of carrying the flag of Islam seems to rest on the tired shoulders of poor and low caste Muslims.

But, more importantly, the focus of contemporary madrasa education is narrowly sectarian, catering to various denominational identities with Islam. Thus the Deobandis, Barelwis, Ahl e Hadis, etc. have their own network of madrasas. Far from even developing a sense of Islamic identity, madrasas are engaged in rubbishing each other’s interpretation of Islam. A student in a Deobandi madrasa therefore learns how other denominations like the Barelwis, etc are leading the Muslims astray and vice versa. If this is not all, madrasa students learn that women have been assigned a lower position than men. What kind of humanism is this, which teaches that Muslim women should stay at home, observe purdah and serve their husbands?

Posted - Saturday, October 21, 2006  -  1:04 AM Reply with quote

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