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The Madrasa in Asia

The Madrasa in Asia: Political Activism and Transnational Linkages

Farish A. Noor
Yoginder Sikand
Martin van Bruinessen
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Madrasa in Asia
    Book Description:

    Since the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the traditional Islamic schools known as the madrasa have frequently been portrayed as hotbeds of terrorism. For much longer, the madrasa has been considered by some as a backward and petrified impediment to social progress. However, for an important segment of the poor Muslim populations of Asia, madrasas constitute the only accessible form of education. This volume presents an overview of the madrasas in countries such as China, Indonesia, Malayisia, India and Pakistan. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0138-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgement
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction: Behind the Walls: Re-Appraising the Role and Importance of Madrasas in the World Today
    (pp. 9-30)
    Farish A. Noor, Yoginder Sikand and Martin van Bruinessen

    The term madrasa derives from the Arabic rootdarasa, which means ‘to study,’ and is related to the term for lesson,dars. Technically, a madrasa is an institution where lessons are imparted or, in other words, a school. In the Arabic-speaking world, the term applies to all sorts of schools, including both those that teach only the traditional Islamic subjects as well as those that are completely secularised and have no provision for religious education. In much of the non-Arabic speaking parts of Asia, however, the word is generally understood in a more restricted sense – as a school geared...

  5. 1 Voices for Reform in the Indian Madrasas
    (pp. 31-70)
    Yoginder Sikand

    Reforming themadrasashas today emerged as a major concern for many. Governments, such as those of India, Pakistan and countries in the West, particularly the US, are now eagerly seeking to bring about changes in the madrasa system, in the belief that ‘unreformed’ madrasas are rapidly emerging as major training grounds for ‘terrorists’. In addition, many Muslims, including numerous ulama themselves, are also in the forefront of demands for change in the madrasa system. The different actors in this complex political game have widely different understandings of reform, each reflecting their own particular agendas. This article seeks to examine...

  6. 2 Change and Stagnation in Islamic Education: The Dar al-ʿUlum of Deoband after the Split in 1982
    (pp. 71-104)
    Dietrich Reetz

    Only very recently has the West taken any notice of Islamic schools in South Asia, where especially those following the purist Deobandi interpretation of Islam have attracted much media attention. They were accused of inspiring numerous radical Islamic movements in South Asia, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, sectarian movements fighting against dissenting Islamic groups in Pakistan, and separatist militants battling with the military and the police in Indian Kashmir.¹ While the vast majority of these schools focus on classical Islamic education and not on politics or militancy, it is the narrow theological and ideological outlook of their graduates that has...

  7. 3 ‘Inside and Outside’ in a Girls’ Madrasa in New Delhi
    (pp. 105-122)
    Mareike Winkelmann

    Historically speaking, late-nineteenth-century Muslim reformist ideas influenced the establishment of the earliest public schools for Muslim girls. Prior to that period, education for girls in Islamic matters was mainly a private affair, but it eventually became one of the main issues of public discourse, as it unfolded in the then just introduced Urdu print-culture, in the reformist (male) madrasas, and in voluntary associations oranjumans, which formed the link between the domestic and public realms. By the early twentieth century, education for girls in the confinement of thezenanaor women’s quarters of the home existed side by side with...

  8. 4 Between Pakistan and Qom: Shiʿi Women’s Madrasas and New Transnational Networks
    (pp. 123-140)
    Mariam Abou Zahab

    The Iranian revolution has had a major impact, directly and indirectly, on the presence of Islam in the Pakistani public sphere. Indirectly, it has contributed to the flourishing of various Sunni Muslim institutions and movements, including some radical ones. Both local and foreign sponsors, especially from the Arabian peninsula, who have wished to counter the revolutionary messages coming from Iran, have resorted to supporting the radical strain in Sunni Islam. But more directly, the revolution has galvanised the Pakistani Shiʿi communities, as it did Shiʿi communities all over the world, setting in motion a strong movement of religious intensification and...

  9. 5 The Uncertain Fate of Southeast Asian Students in the Madrasas of Pakistan
    (pp. 141-168)
    Farish A. Noor

    In the wake of the attacks on the United States of America on 11 September 2001; the US-led invasions of Afghanistan in 2002, and the bombings in London in July 2005, Pakistan has emerged on the international stage as both a crisis-riddled country where radical religious politics has gone out of control and – at the same time – as a key ally in Washington’s ‘war on terror’.

    The ambivalent image of Pakistan as a strategic frontline state has been reflected upon by scholars and media commentators alike and this ambivalence has been projected upon the country’s madrasas as well.²...

  10. 6 Muslim Education in China: Chinese Madrasas and Linkages to Islamic Schools Abroad
    (pp. 169-190)
    Jackie Armijo

    This chapter looks at two aspects of Muslim life in China: the development of Chinese Muslim schools, with a special emphasis on girls’ schools; and the linkages and networks of Chinese Muslim students who have travelled abroad to further their Islamic educations. The data presented here was collected over a period of five years of fieldwork carried out in southwest China among Muslims while researching the early history of Islam in this region. The aim is to show how the development of Muslim educational institutions in China and linkages to Muslim educational centres abroad has helped to give the Muslims...

  11. 7 From Pondok to Parliament: The Role Played by the Religious Schools of Malaysia in the Development of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS)
    (pp. 191-216)
    Farish A. Noor

    Thepondokor madrasa has for centuries been a core institution of Malay society, as the centre where the indigenous elite were trained. Thepondokschool takes its name from the dormitories in which the students (predominantly male) live, often simple huts clustered around the home of the teacher or teachers. In the past, states like Kelantan, Trengganu and Patani (which today is a province in Southern Thailand) were known for theirpondoksthat produced successive generations of Muslim scholars who in turn contributed to the Malay world of letters.Pondokschools also played an important role in the development...

  12. 8 Traditionalist and Islamist Pesantrens in Contemporary Indonesia
    (pp. 217-246)
    Martin van Bruinessen

    Like the madrasas in India and Pakistan, the Indonesianpesantrens– religious boarding schools, the local variant of the madrasa – have in recent years drawn some unfriendly attention due to suspicions of their involvement in radical and possibly terrorist activities. The Indonesian authorities did not appear to share those suspicions, certainly not concerning thepesantrenin general, but those of the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and the US, as well as numerous international journalists have shown grave concern. This was mostly due to the fact that some highly visible terrorism suspects share a connection with one particularpesantrenin Central...

  13. 9 The Salafi Madrasas of Indonesia
    (pp. 247-274)
    Noorhaidi Hasan

    Indonesia has long been familiar with that Islamic education institution called themadrasa.¹ In the contemporary Indonesian context, the term refers to primary and secondary Islamic schools adopting a modern system of education, in which Islamic subjects are taught alongside general subjects. The main aim of the madrasa is to produce graduates like those from modern-style ‘secular’ schools, calledsekolah, but is distinguished by its having a better understanding of Islam. Today there are more than 37,000 madrasas scattered throughout Indonesia. Some of them belong to private Islamic organisations, and another important portion are controlled by the government’s Department of...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 275-278)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 279-284)
  16. Acronyms and Names of Organisations, Movements and Institutions
    (pp. 285-290)
  17. Maps
    (pp. 291-296)
  18. Index
    (pp. 297-304)