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Faithful Education

Faithful Education: Madrassahs in South Asia

Ali Riaz
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhxz5
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  • Book Info
    Faithful Education
    Book Description:

    In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, discussions on ties between Islamic religious education institutions, namely madrassahs, and transnational terrorist groups have featured prominently in the Western media. In the frenzied coverage of events, however, vital questions have been overlooked: What do we know about the madrassahs? Should Western policymakers be alarmed by the recent increase in the number of these institutions in Muslim countries? Is there any connection between them and the "global jihad"?Ali Riaz responds to these questions through an in-depth examination of the madraassahs in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. InFaithful Education, he examines these institutions and their roles in relation to current international politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4562-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Map and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION: WHY STUDY MADRASSAHS? UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF ISLAMIC SEMINARIES
    (pp. 1-19)

    Educational institutions called madrassahs have been a feature of Muslim societies for centuries, yet the wordmadrassahwas almost nonexistent in the Western lexicon, particularly in public discourse, until September 2001. After 9/11 the U.S. media took special interest in madrassahs, and referred to these institutions as citadels of militancy, or factories of jihad. In a very short time, a once unknown word gained familiarity and notoriety at once. Media coverage of madrassahs, particularly during the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, was frenzied, to say the least. What became known to the media audience was that the madrassah is a...

  7. CHAPTER 1 MADRASSAHS: LITTLE KNOWN, MUCH DISCUSSED
    (pp. 20-51)

    Although none of the nineteen hijackers who rammed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 came from Islamic educational institutions, media attention turned to madrassahs immediately after the terror attacks. The U.S. media insisted that Islamic religious schools were partly to blame, for they instill hatred in the minds of young people who later become the recruits of terrorist organizations. The so-called War on Terrorism launched by the U.S. administration in response to the tragic events of 9/11 instantly identified madrassahs as one of the principal battlegrounds. Thomas Friedman, aNew York Times...

  8. CHAPTER 2 THE GENESIS AND THE TRAJECTORIES
    (pp. 52-78)

    Educational systems do not emerge abruptly. It takes centuries for a system to appear, grow, spread, institutionalize, and thrive. This is particularly true of the madrassah education system, for three reasons: first, because of its intrinsic link to Islam—a universal religion that spread through various means to a vast area over hundreds of years. In the process there appeared many schools of thought and denominational differences within Islamic theology, which produced a long-lasting impact on the system of education. Inseparability between Islam and the madrassahs is also due to the centrality of knowledge (‘ilm) in Islam, reflected in the...

  9. CHAPTER 3 PAKISTAN: THE MADRASSAH AS A MIRROR OF SOCIETY
    (pp. 79-115)

    The defining features of madrassahs in contemporary Pakistan are their close connections with political activism, their transformation into institutions of indoctrination from predominantly educational institutions, and their interplay with national and international politics. An intimate relationship between madrassahs and politics is not new in South Asia, as the history of madrassah education discussed in the previous chapter has demonstrated. Since the late nineteenth century in colonial South Asia, madrassahs have played a significant role in the political process, including the anti-colonial struggle; but the tie between politics and madrassahs as witnessed in Pakistan over the last three decades is not...

  10. CHAPTER 4 BANGLADESH: A TALE OF TWO SYSTEMS
    (pp. 116-161)

    Madrassahs have been in existence in Bangladesh for a long time. As discussed in chapter 2, Islamic educational institutions began to emerge with the arrival of Sufis and saints, perhaps as early as eighth century, but the invasion of Ikhtiyar bin Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1197 paved the way for institutionalization of madrassahs. Since then madrassahs have become part of the educational landscape and experienced changes, as in many other parts of India, during colonial rule. After decolonization in 1947, the area that constitutes Bangladesh became the eastern province of Pakistan. After about a quarter of a century and a bloody...

  11. CHAPTER 5 INDIA: DIVERSITY AND CHANGES IN MADRASSAHS
    (pp. 162-189)

    The region that constitutes present-day India was the heartland of Muslim revivalism during colonial rule (1757–1947). One of the key institutions that contributed to this revivalism was the madrassah. The fountainhead of one of the most discussed strands of madrassah education, the Deobandi tradition, began and is still located in Uttar Pradesh, India. Nearby, the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow, is still an educational institution revered by Muslims across South Asia, despite the fact that it no longer commands the political influence it had during the nineteenth century. Likewise, the Darul Uloom of Sharanpur, established in the late...

  12. CHAPTER 6 REFORMING MADRASSAHS
    (pp. 190-221)

    In recent years, reform has become one of the central elements of discussion concerning madrassahs. Media analyses and policy discourses, especially in the West, present a simple and linear equation—the problem is security threats, the causes are the madrassahs, and reform is the panacea. Whether or not they subscribe to this perceived causal relationship, governments and civil societies in countries with substantial Muslim populations have also emphasized the need for reform. In a similar vein, some of the scholars of Islamic history and contemporary Muslim politics, portrayed as “Muslim modernists,” insist that reform of the madrassahs, particularly in South...

  13. CHAPTER 7 WHERE TO?
    (pp. 222-226)

    Four major issues have emerged out of the discussion on madrassahs in general and particularly the South Asian madrassahs: transmission of religious knowledge to the next generation, addressing the problems of curricula, stemming the proliferation of unregulated madrassahs, and decoupling the nexus of madrassahs and militancy. These four issues dominate the madrassah scene and demand the attention of anyone interested in South Asian society. For madrassahs, the principal challenge is how to transmit religious knowledge yet remain relevant and adaptive to ongoing changes. They have a dual role to play: “the ability to accommodate curricular changes and concurrently maintain long-traditional...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 227-258)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 259-278)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 279-290)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-292)