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Madrassas in Pakistan: Wikis


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Islamic seminaries teach mostly Islamic subjects leading to graduation as a cleric (called maulvi, maulana or mulla) in Pakistan. This article provides a brief introduction to these institutions (also called madrassas and madaris) as they function in Pakistan.



The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier.[1] 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.

In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan.[2] In 2002 the country had 10,000-13,000 unregistered madrassas with an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million students.[3] A 2008 estimate puts this figure at "over 40,000".[2]

out of which most cater to the dominant Sunni sect. There are, however, some madrassas for the minority (estimated at from 14 to 20 per cent) Shias.

Some recognized Wafaq/Tanzeem ul Madaris/Rabit ul Madaris:

  • Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia
  • Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Alhe Sunnat
  • Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Salfia
  • Rabita-ul-Madaris Al Islamia

Some recognized individual Madaris:

  • Jamia Munawwar-ul-islam
  • Jamia Islamia Minhaj-ul-Quran
  • Jamia Taleemat-e-Islamia
  • Jamia Ashrafia
  • Jamia Uloom-i-Sharia Sahiwal
  • Darul Uloom Mohammadia Ghousia
  • Darual Uloom, Karachi
  • Jamia Rashidia Sahiwal
  • Jamia Naeemia, Lahore

Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya

Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya, a federation of the five Waqfs (seminary boards) in Pakistan, represents Deobandi, Sunni, Ahl-e Hadith, Shia and Jamaat-e-Islami schools of thought.

Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia (Deobandi school of thought) is the governing body of all Deobandi madaris in Pakistan and the largest of all the five boards. Its madaris include:

Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Pakistan (Berailvi school of thought) represents the greatest number of madrasas. Mufti Munib-ur Rehman of Jamia Naeemia is the current President. Several education systems are being run under this school of thought:

  • Jamia Munawwar-ul-islam Dr.Syed Abbas Ali Shah Bukhari
  • Darul Uloom Naeemia Karachi, Juctice Mufti Syed Shujaat Ali Qadri
  • Darul Uloom Amjadia Karachi, Mufti Zafar Ali Naumani
  • Jamia Naeemia Lahore, Mufti Hussain Ahmed Naeemi
  • Jamia Islamia Anwar-ul-Uloom Multan, Allama Ahmed Saeed Kazmi
  • Darul Uloom Ghausia Naeemia, Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan Naeemi
  • Darul Uloom Ahsan-ul-Barakaat
  • Jamia Nizamiya Rizviya, Lahore
  • Jamia Mohammadia Ghausia Bhera
  • Dawat-e-Islami
  • Jamia Faridia Sahiwal

Wafaqul Madaris Al-Shia (Shia school of thought). About 400 Madaris.

Rabita-ul-Madaris Al Islamia (Jamaat-e-Islami school of thought founded by Syed Maudoodi)

Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Salfia (Ahl-e Hadith school of thought)

Expansion of Madrassas

The Madaris were few in number when Pakistan was created but were expanded during the rule of the dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq (1977–1988). The expansion occurred both because of the growth in Pakistan's population and because their students (especially the Deobandis) were used to fight the Soviet Union during the Afghan war (1980–1987). Later on the Taliban also had links with the Deobandi madrassas established by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Some of the madrassas published lists of their students who had fought in Afghanistan and Kashmir against the Indian defence forces in the Kargil War over Kashmir, which is claimed by both Pakistan and India. The Talab of the madaris became involved in 1995 when the Taliban started their struggle against the Afghan warlords and Shumali Ittehad.

Non-Curricular discourses

In addition to the South Asian Dars-i-Nizami curriculum, the students read accessible books in Urdu as part of comparative religion or training in the beliefs of the sub-sect (maslak). These texts, and especially the interpretation of the teacher, emphasize the beliefs of the sub-sect in contrast to the ‘other’ which is the sub-sect from which one is to be differentiated. This process may result in sectarian bias. Similarly, students are taught to refute Western ideologies—capitalism, individualism, freedom, feminism, socialism, democracy, human rights—in lessons on combating heresy and dangers to Muslim thought and identity. There are a number of books in simple Urdu in circulation on these themes, though they rarely appear on the reading lists of the madrasah syllabi. However, they remain in print and their arguments are often repeated by madrasah graduates in sermons. Some of them are also on sale outside mosques and madrassas. Thus, while the Dars-i-Nizami teaches neither specifically sectarian nor anti-Western ideologies, these are disseminated among students through Urdu extracurricular polemical books and clerics or fellow students in informal interaction. Moreover, madrassas invite fighters from active frontlines (Kashmir, Afghanistan) to inspire the students to fight against oppression, which is often defined as pro-Western policies of the Pakistani state and that of powers seen as being anti-Muslim (such as the USA, Israel, UK and India). Some madrassas do teach English and social studies and use computers, but they do not allow books or teachers not approved by the clerics to teach them, so that their liberalizing potential is seriously undermined.

Madrassas and violence

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States American television commentators widely associated madrassas with violence. Former Pakistani president Gen. Musharraf tried to bring them under his regime's control. Two laws were passed: one to create state-controlled madrassas (model: Dini Madaris, 2001); the other to register and control them (2002). The first had moderate success, as some religious institutions registered in 2003 with the Pakistan Madrasah Education Board it created. However, the three model institutions it created suffer organizational difficulties. The second was unpopular with the madrassas, but the government has been firm about removing foreign students suspected of being possible or potential recruits of the Al-Qaeda organization.


There five major governing bodies of Madrassas in Pakistan. Tanzim-ul-Madaras (Barelwi), Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Deobandi), Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Shia), Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Ahle Hadith) and Rabita-ul-Madaris (Jamaat-e-Islami)[4]

See also


  1. ^ George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, 1981: Edinburgh Univ. Press. pp. 10-24
  2. ^ a b Hyat, Kamila (2008-09-25). "No room for doubt and division". The News International. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  
  3. ^ Christopher Candland, "Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education" in Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future, (Robert M. Hathaway, ed.), 2005: Washington, D.C: pp. 151-153
  4. ^ Pakistan clerics not giving an inch to govt to modernise seminaries

Additional reading

  • Ali, Saleem H. 2009. "Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan's Madrassas." Oxford University Press.
  • Candland, Christopher .2005. ‘Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education’. In Hathaway, Robert. M (ed) .2005. Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future Washington D.C: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Pp. 151-165.
  • Hartung, Jan-Peter and Reifeld, Helmut.2006. Islamic Education, Diversity and National Identity New Delhi: Sage.
  • Makdisi, George .1981. The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Rahman, Tariq .2004. Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarization in Pakistan Karachi: Oxford University Press. Chapter 5.
  • Robinson, Francis. 2002. The Ulama of Farangi Mahal and Islamic Culture in South Asia Lahore: Ferozsons.


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