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Madrasah (Arabic: مدرسة, madrasa pl. مدارس, madāris) is the Arabic word (of Semitic origin; viz Hebrew Midrash) for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious (of any religion). It is variously transliterated as madrasah, madarasaa, medresa, madrassa, madraza, madarsa, medrese etc.
The word madrasah is derived from the triconsonantal Semitic root د-ر-س (D-R-S), which relates to learning or studying, through the wazn (form/stem) (مفعل(ة mafʻal(a), meaning "a place where X is done." Therefore, madrasah literally means "a place where learning/studying is done". The word is also present as a loanword with the same innocuous meaning in many Arabic-influenced languages, such as: Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Indonesian, Malay and Bosnian. In the Arabic language, the word مدرسة (madrasah) simply means the same as school does in the English language, whether that is private, public or parochial school, as well as for any primary or secondary school whether Muslim, non-Muslim, or secular. Unlike the understanding of the word school in British English, the word madrasah is like the term school in American English, in that it can refer to a university-level or post-graduate school as well. For example, in the Ottoman Empire during the Early Modern Period, Madrasahs had lower schools and specialized schools where the students became known as danismends. The usual Arabic word for a university, however, is simply جامعة (jāmiʿah). The Hebrew cognate midrasha also connotes the meaning of a place of learning; the related term midrash literally refers to study or learning, but has acquired mystical and religious connotations.
However, in English, the term madrasah usually refers to the specifically Islamic institutions. A typical Islamic school usually offers two courses of study: a hifz course; that is memorisation of the Qur'an (the person who commits the entire Qur'an to memory is called a hafiz); and an 'alim course leading the candidate to become an accepted scholar in the community. A regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, Tafsir (Qur'anic interpretation), shari'ah (Islamic law), Hadith (recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad), Mantiq (logic), and Muslim history. In the Ottoman Empire, during the Early Modern Period, the learning of the Hadith was introduced by Suleyman I. Depending on the educational demands, some madrasahs also offer additional advanced courses in Arabic literature, English and other foreign languages, as well as science and world history. Ottoman madrasahs along with religious teachings also taught "styles of writing, grammary, syntax, poetry, composition, natural sciences, political sciences, and etiquette."
People of all ages attend, and many often move on to becoming imams. The certificate of an ‘alim for example, requires approximately twelve years of study. A good number of the huffaz (plural of hafiz) are the product of the madrasahs. The madrasahs also resemble colleges, where people take evening classes and reside in dormitories. An important function of the madrasahs is to admit orphans and poor children in order to provide them with education and training. Madrasahs may enroll female students; however, they study separately from the men.
In South Africa, the madrasahs also play a socio-cultural role in giving after-school religious instruction to Muslim children who attend government or private non-religious schools. However, increasing numbers of more affluent Muslim children attend full-fledged private Islamic Schools which combine secular and religious education. Among Muslims of Indian origin, madrasahs also used to provide instruction in Urdu, although this is far less common today than it used to be.
Madrasahs did not exist in the early beginnings of Islam. Their formation can probably be traced to the early Islamic custom of meeting in mosques to discuss religious issues. At this early stage, people seeking religious knowledge tended to gather around certain more knowledgeable Muslims. These informal teachers later became known as shaykhs; and these shaykhs began to hold regular religious education sessions called majalis (Sessions).
Established in 859, Jami'at al-Qarawiyyin (located in Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque) in the city of Fas, Morocco, is considered the oldest madrasah in the Muslim world. It was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Mohammed Al-Fihri. This was later followed by what is now Al-Azhar University, established in 959 in Cairo, Egypt.
During the late Abbasid period, the Seljuk vizier Nizam al-Mulk created one of the first major official academic institutions known in history as the Madrasah Nizamiyyah, based on the informal majalis (sessions of the shaykhs). Al-Mulk, who would later be murdered by the Assassins (Hashshashin), created a system of state madrasahs (in his time they were called, the Nizamiyyahs, named after him) in various Abbasid cities at the end of the 11th century.
During the rule of the Fatimid and Mamluk dynasties and their successor states in the medieval Middle East, many of the ruling elite founded madrasahs through a religious endowment known as the waq'f. Not only was the madrasah a potent symbol of status but it was an effective means of transmitting wealth and status to their descendants. Especially during the Mamluk period, when only former slaves could assume power, the sons of the ruling Mamluk elite were unable to inherit. Guaranteed positions within the new madrasahs thus allowed them to maintain status. Madrasahs built in this period include the Mosque-Madrasah of Sultan Hasan in Cairo.
Dimitri Gutas and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy consider the period between the 11th and 14th centuries to be the "Golden Age" of Arabic and Islamic philosophy, initiated by Al-Ghazali's successful integration of logic into the Madrasah curriculum and the subsequent rise of Avicennism.
At the beginning of the Caliphate, or Islamic Empire, the reliance on courts initially confined sponsorship and scholarly activities to major centers. Within several centuries, the development of Muslim educational institutions such as the Madrasah and Masjid eventually introduced such activities to provincial towns and dispersed them across the Islamic legal schools and Sufi orders. In addition to religious subjects, they also taught "rational sciences" as varied as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, alchemy, philosophy, magic, and occultism, depending on the curriculum of the specific institution in question. During this time, the Caliphate experienced a growth in literacy, having the highest literacy rate of the Middle Ages, comparable to classical Athens' literacy in antiquity but on a much larger scale.
The following excerpt provides a brief synopsis of the historical origins and starting points for the teachings that took place in the Ottoman madrasahs in the Early Modern Period:
"Taşköprülüzâde's concept of knowledge and his division of the sciences provides a starting point for a study of learning and medrese education in the Ottoman Empire. Taşköprülüzâde recognizes four stages of knowledge—spiritual, intellectual, oral and written. Thus all the sciences fall into one of these seven categories: calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, intellectual sciences, spiritual sciences, theoretical rational sciences, practical rational sciences. The First Ottoman medrese was created in Iznik in 1331, when a converted Church building was assigned as a medrese to a famous scholar, Dâvûd of Kayseri.Suleyman made an important change in the hierarchy of Ottoman medreses. He established four general medreses and two more for specialized studies, one devoted to the hadith and the other to medicine. He gave the highest ranking to these and thus established the hierarchy of the medreses which was to continue until the end of the empire."
In the medieval Islamic world, an elementary school was known as a maktab, which dates back to at least the 10th century. Like madrasahs (which referred to higher education), a maktab was often attached to a dono-mosque. In the 11th century, the famous Persian Islamic philosopher, Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the West), in one of his books, wrote a chapter dealing with the angry maktab entitled "The Role of the Teacher in the Training and Upbringing of Children", as a guide to teachers working at maktab schools. He wrote that children can learn better if taught in classes instead of individual tuition from private tutors, and he gave a number of reasons for why this is the case, citing the value of competition and emulation among pupils as well as the usefulness of group discussions and debates. Ibn Sina described the curriculum of a maktab school in some detail, describing the curricula for two stages of education in a maktab school.
Ibn Sina wrote that children should be sent to a maktab school from the age of 6 and be taught primary education until they reach the age of 14. During which time, he wrote that they should be taught the Qur'an, Islamic metaphysics, language, literature, Islamic ethics, and manual skills (which could refer to a variety of practical skills).
Ibn Sina refers to the secondary education stage of maktab schooling as the period of specialization, when pupils should begin to acquire manual skills, regardless of their social status. He writes that children after the age of 14 should be given a choice to choose and specialize in subjects they have an interest in, whether it was reading, manual skills, literature, preaching, medicine, geometry, trade and commerce, craftsmanship, or any other subject or profession they would be interested in pursuing for a future career. He wrote that this was a transitional stage and that there needs to be flexibility regarding the age in which pupils graduage, as the student's emotional development and chosen subjects need to be taken into account.
During the formative period of the madrasah, used to refer to a higher education institution, philosophy and the secular sciences were often excluded from its curriculum, which initially only included the "religious sciences". The curriculum slowly began to diversify, with many later madrasahs teaching both the religious and the "secular sciences", like logic, mathematics and philosophy. Some madrasahs further extended their curriculum to history, politics, ethics, music, metaphysics, medicine, astronomy and chemistry. Some Islamic schools by the 12th century also taught early ideas related to evolution. The curriculum of a madrasah was usually set by its founder, but most generally taught both the religious sciences and the physical sciences. Madrasahs were established throughout the Islamic world, the most famous being the 10th century Al-Azhar University and the 11th century Nizamiyya, as well as 75 madrasahs in Cairo, 51 in Damascus and up to 44 in Aleppo between 1155 and 1260. Many more were also established in the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Granada (Madrasah of Granada), Murcia, Almería, Valencia and Cádiz during the Caliphate of Córdoba.
In the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period, "Madrasahs were divided into lower and specialized levels, which reveals that there was a sense of elevation in school. Students who studied in the specialized schools after completing courses in the lower levels became known as danismends."
The origins of the college lie in the medieval Islamic world. While "madrasah" can now refer to any type of school, the term "madrasah" was originally used to refer more specifically to a medieval Islamic college, mainly teaching Islamic law and theology, usually affiliated with a mosque, and funded by an early charitable trust known as Waqf. It has been argued that the internal organization of the first European colleges was borrowed from the earlier madrasahs, like the system of fellows and scholars, with the Latin term for fellow, socius, being a direct translation of the Arabic term for fellow, sahib.
"The madrasah was established as a charitable trust (waqf) founded by individual Muslims, which legally bounded the founder to run it as a madrasah. It had the legal status of an institution but was not a state institution. According to Makdisi, there are two arguments in favour of the idea of the Islamic origins of the college. One is the waqf or charitable trust and the other the internal organization of the college."
If a university is defined as an institution of higher education and research which issues academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master and doctorate), then the first "universities" were the Jami'ah founded in the 9th century. While the madrasah college could also issue degrees at all levels, the Jami`ah differed in the sense that it was a larger institution that was more universal in terms of its complete source of studies, had individual faculties for different subjects, and could house a number of mosques, madrasahs and other institutions within it. Such an institution has thus been described as an "Islamic university". The University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest degree-granting university in the world with its founding in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri.
However, if a university is defined as a legally autonomous corporation, then medievalist specialists disagree with the term "university" for the Islamic madrasas and jami'ah because the medieval European institution of higher learning called a "university" (from Latin universitas) was structurally different, being a legally autonomous corporation rather than a waqf institution like the madrasah and jami'ah. Despite the many similarities, medieval specialists have coined the term "Islamic college" for madrasah and jami'ah to differentiated them from the legally autonomous corporations that the medieval European universities were.
What is now Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in 975 by Ismaili Shi`ah Fatimid dynasty, was a Jami'ah which offered a variety of post-graduate degrees (ijazah), and had individual faculties for a theological seminary, Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, early Islamic philosophy and logic in Islamic philosophy. Abd-el-latif also delivered lectures on Islamic medicine at Al-Azhar, while Maimonides delivered lectures on medicine and astronomy there during the time of Saladin. Another early jami'ah was the Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad (founded 1091), which has been called the "largest university of the Medieval world". Mustansiriya University, established by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustansir in 1233, in addition to teaching the religious subjects, offered courses dealing with philosophy, mathematics and the natural sciences.
Madrasahs were largely centered on the study of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). The ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifta' ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") in the medieval Islamic legal education system had its origins in the 9th century after the formation of the Madh'hab legal schools. George Makdisi considers the ijazah to be the origin of the European doctorate. There were some differences though; for example, the former was awarded by an individual teacher-scholar and the latter by the collective faculty.
To obtain an ijazah , a student "had to study in a guild school of law, usually four years for the basic undergraduate course" and ten or more years for a post-graduate course. The "doctorate was obtained after an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose." These were scholarly exercises practiced throughout the student's "career as a graduate student of law." After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded ijazas giving them the status of faqih (meaning "one who does law"), mufti (meaning "professor of Fatwā") and mudarris (meaning "teacher").
The Arabic term ijazat attadris, was awarded to Islamic scholars who were qualified to teach. It has been argued that the Latin title licentia docendi ( "license to teach") in the European university may have been a translation of the Arabic. However, a significant difference between the ijazat attadris and the licentia docendi was that the former was awarded by the individual scholar-teacher, while the latter was awarded by the chief official of the university, who represented the collective faculty, rather than the individual scholar-teacher.
Much of the study in the madrasa college centered on examining whether certain opinions of law were orthodox. This scholarly process of "determining orthodoxy began with a question which the Muslim layman, called in that capacity mustafti, presented to a jurisconsult, called mufti, soliciting from him a response, called fatwa, a legal opinion (the religious law of Islam covers civil as well as religious matters). The mufti (professor of legal opinions) took this question, studied it, researched it intensively in the sacred scriptures, in order to find a solution to it. This process of scholarly research vas called ijtihad, literally, the exertion of one's efforts to the utmost limit."
Though Islamic medicine was most often taught at the Bimaristan teaching hospitals, there were also several madrasah medical schools dedicated to the teaching of medicine. For example, from the 155 madrasah colleges in 15th century Damascus, three of them were medical schools.
In the Early Modern Period in the Ottoman Empire, "Suleyman I added new curriculums to the Ottoman medreses of which one was medicine, which alongside studying of the Hadith was given highest rank."
From around 750, during the Abbasid Caliphate, women “became renowned for their brains as well as their beauty”. In particular, many well known women of the time were trained from childhood in music, dancing and poetry. Mahbuba was one of these. Another feminine figure to be remembered for her achievements was Tawaddud “a slave girl who was said to have been bought at great cost by Harun al-Rashid because she had passed her examinations by the most eminent scholars in astronomy, medicine, law, philosophy, music, history, Arabic grammar, literature, theology and chess”. Moreover, among the most prominent feminine figures was Shuhda who was known as “the Scholar” or “the Pride of Women” during the twelfth century in Baghdad. Despite the recognition of women’s aptitudes during the Abbasid dynasty, all these came to an end in Iraq with the sack of Baghdad in 1258.
Women played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasahs were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.
According to the Sunni scholar Ibn Asakir in the 12th century, there were opportunities for female education in the medieval Islamic world, writing that women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters. Ibn Asakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers in his time. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives, such as Khadijah, a successful businesswoman. According to a hadith attributed to Muhammad, he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge:
"How splendid were the women of the ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith."
While it was not common for women to enroll as students in formal classes, it was common for women to attend informal lectures and study sessions at mosques, madrasahs and other public places. While there were no legal restrictions on female education, some men did not approve of this practice, such as Muhammad ibn al-Hajj (d. 1336) who was appalled at the behaviour of some women who informally audited lectures in his time:
"[Consider] what some women do when people gather with a shaykh to hear [the recitation of] books. At that point women come, too, to hear the readings; the men sit in one place, the women facing them. It even happens at such times that some of the women are carried away by the situation; one will stand up, and sit down, and shout in a loud voice. [Moreover,] her 'awra will appear; in her house, their exposure would be forbidden — how can it be allowed in a mosque, in the presence of men?"
The term 'awra is often translated as "that which is indecent", which usually meant the exposure of anything other than a woman's face and hands, although scholarly interpretations of the 'awra and hijab have always tended to vary, with some more or less strict than others.
While women accounted for no more than one percent of Islamic scholars prior to the 12th century, there was a large increase of female scholars after this. In the 15th century, Al-Sakhawi devotes an entire volume of his 12-volume biographical dictionary Daw al-lami to female scholars, giving information on 1,075 of them. More recently, the scholar Mohammad Akram Nadwi, currently a researcher from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, has written 40 volumes on the 'muhaddithat' (the women scholars of hadith), and found at least 8000 of them.
"The first Ottoman Medrese was created in Iznik in 1331 and most Ottoman medreses followed the traditions of sunni Islam." "When an Ottoman sultan established a new medrese, he would invite scholars from the Islamic world—for example, Murad II brought scholars from Persia, such as Ala al-Din and Fakhr al-Din who helped enhance the reputation of the Ottoman medrese". This reveals that the Islamic world was interconnected in the early modern period as they traveled around to other Islamic states exchanging knowledge. This sense that the Ottoman Empire was becoming modernized through globalization is also recognized by Hamadeh who says: "Change in the eighteenth century as the beginning of a long and unilinear march toward westernization reflects the two centuries of reformation in sovereign identity." Inalcik also mentions that while scholars from for example Persia, traveled to the Ottomans in order to share their knowledge, Ottomans traveled as well to receive education from scholars of these Islamic lands, such as Egypt, Persia and Turkestan. Hence, this reveals that similar to today's modern world, individuals from the early modern society traveled abroad to receive education and share knowledge and that the world was more interconnected than it seems. Also, it reveals how the system of "schooling" was also similar to today's modern world where students travel abroad to different countries for studies. Examples of Ottoman madrasahs are the ones built by Mehmed the Conqueror. He built eight madrasahs that were built "on either side of the mosque where there were eight higher madrasahs for specialized studies and eight lower medreses, which prepared students for these." The fact that they were built around, or near mosques reveals the religious impulses behind Madrasah building and it reveals the interconnectedness between institutions of learning and religion. The students who completed their education in the lower medreses became known as danismends This reveals that similar to the education system today, the Ottomans had a similar kind of educational system in which there were different kinds of schools attached to different kinds of levels. For example, there were the lower madrasahs and then the specialized ones and for one to get into the specialized area meant that they had to complete the classes in the lower one in order to adequately prepare themselves for higher learning.
This is the rank of Madrasahs in the Ottoman Empire from the highest ranking to the lowest: (From Inalcik, 167). 1) Semniye 2) Darulhadis 3) Madrasahs built by earlier sultans in Bursa. 4) Madrasahs endowed by great men of state.
Although Ottoman Madrasahs had a number of different branches of study, such as calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, and intellectual sciences they primarily served the function of an Islamic center for spiritual learning. "The goal of all knowledge and in particular, of the spiritual sciences is knowledge of God." Religion, for the most part, determines the significance and importance of each science. As Inalcik mentions: " Those which aid religion are good and sciences like astrology are bad." However, even though mathematics, or studies in logic were part of the madrasah's curriculum, they were all centered around religion. Even mathematics had a religious impulse behind its teachings. "The Ulema of the Ottoman medreses held the view that hostility to logic and mathematics was futile since these accustomed the mind to correct thinking and thus helped to reveal divine truths" – keyword being divine. Inalcik also mentions that even philosophy was only allowed to be studied so that it helped to confirm the doctrines of Islam." Hence, madrasahs – schools were basically religious centers for religious teachings and learning in the Ottoman world. Although scholars such as Goffman have argued that the Ottomans were highly tolerant and lived in a pluralistic society, it seems that schools that were the main centers for learning were in fact heftily religious and were not religiously pluralistic, but centered around Islam. Similarly, in Europe "Jewish children learned the Hebrew letters and texts of basic prayers at home, and then attended a school organized by the synagogue to study the Torah." Wiesner-Hanks also goes on to mention that Protestants also wanted to teach "proper religious values." This goes on to show that in the early modern period, Ottomans and Europeans were similar in their ideas about how schools should be managed and what they should be primarily focused on. Thus, Ottoman madrasahs were very similar to present day schools in the sense that they offered a wide range of studies; however, the difference being that these studies, in its ultimate objective, aimed to further solidify and consolidate Islamic practices, and theories.
As is previously mentioned, religion dominated much of the knowledge and teachings that were endowed upon students. "Religious learning as the only true science, whose sole aim was the understanding of God's word." Thus, it is important to keep this impulse in mind when going over the curriculum that was taught.
The following is taken from Inalcik.
As with any other country during the Early Modern Period, such as Italy and Spain in Europe, the Ottoman social life was also interconnected with the medrese. Medreses were built in as part of a Mosque Complex where many programs, such as aid to the poor through soup kitchens were held under the infrastructure of a mosque, which reveals the interconnectedness of religion and social life during this period. "The mosques to which medreses were attached, dominated the social life in Ottoman cities." Social life was not dominated by religion only in the Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire; however, was also quite similar to the social life of Europe during this period. As Goffman says: "Just as mosques dominated social life for the Ottomans, churches and synagogues dominated life for the Christians and Jews as well." Hence, social life and the medrese were closely linked, since medreses as is previously mentioned taught many curriculums, such as religion, which highly governed social life in terms of establishing orthodoxy. "They tried moving their developing state toward Islamic orthodoxy." Overall, the fact that mosques contained medreses comes to show the relevance of education to religion in the sense that education took place within the framework of religion and religion established social life by trying to create a common religious orthodoxy. Hence, medreses were simply part of the social life of society as students came to learn the fundamentals of their societal values and beliefs.
In India, there are around 30,000 operating madrasahs. The majority of these schools follow the Hanafi school of thought. The religious establishment forms part of the mainly two large divisions within the country, namely the Deobandis, who dominate in numbers (of whom the Darul Uloom Deoband constitutes one of the biggest madrasas in the world) and the barelvis, who also make up a sizeable portion (sufi orientated). Some notable establishments include: Jamia Ashrafia, Mubarakpur which is one the largest learning centres for the Barelvis. Darul Uloom Deoband which is the largest, and is considered by many to be the most renowned madrasah in Asia, is located at Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh. The HR ministry of Government of India, has recently declared that a Central Madrasa Board would be setup. This will enhance the education system of Madrasas in India. Though the madrasas impart Quranic education mainly, efforts are on to include Mathematics, Computers and Science in the curriculum.
The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier. 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.
Among Western countries post-9/11, the Madrasas are often perceived as a place of radical revivalism with a negative connotation of anti-Americanism and radical extremism, frequently associated in the Western press with Wahhabi attitudes toward non-Muslims. The word madrasah literally means "school" and does not imply a political or religious affiliation, radical or otherwise. They have a varied curriculum, and are not all religious. Madrasahs in India, for example, have a secularized identity. Although early Madrasahs were founded primarily to gain "knowledge of God" they also taught other subjects including mathematics and poetry. For example, in the Ottoman Empire, "Madrasahs had seven categories of sciences that were taught, such as: styles of writing, oral sciences like the Arabic language, grammar, rhetoric, and history and intellectual sciences, such as logic." This is similar to the Western world, in which universities began as institutions of the Catholic church.
The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization examined bias in United States newspaper coverage of Pakistan since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and found the term has come to contain a loaded political meaning:
"When articles mentioned 'madrassas,' readers were led to infer that all schools so-named are anti-American, anti-Western, pro-terrorist centers having less to do with teaching basic literacy and more to do with political indoctrination."
Various American public figures have, in recent times, used the word in a negative context, including Newt Gingrich, Donald Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell.. During Soviet occupation in Afghanistan many CIA official were found involved in breeding terrorist activities in some of the madrassa schools in northern Pakistan. Those who were involved were not yet handed over to the Pakistani government to present them to courts. It was several times accepted by USA government and admitted by several involved like Donal Remsfeld, Colon Powell, Senior Bush etc.
The New York Times published a correction for misusing the word "madrassa" in a way that assumed it meant a radical Islamic school. The correction stated, "An article... said Senator Barack Obama had attended an Islamic school or madrassa in Indonesia as a child referred imprecisely to madrassas. While some (madrassas) teach a radical version of Islam, most historically have not."
Also as mentioned at the beginning of the article, the word itself does not necessarily mean an Islamic School or radical teaching place; it only means school or a place of education.