ISLAMABAD: The role and mindset of seminaries have been heavily influenced by regional politics. However, both the civil administration and military establishment agree that the narrative coming out of madressahs need to be changed, said Dr Qibla Ayaz, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman on Wednesday.
Dr Ayaz was speaking at the launch of a study titled After Study Hours: exploring the madressah mindset, by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (Pips), which argues that madressah students cannot escape sectarian thinking.
The study was conducted with 135 students from 43 seminaries across the country, including 18 from the Deobandi school of thought, 10 Barelvi, seven Shia, three from Ahle Hadis and two from Jamaat-i-Islami.
CII chairman says government policies regarding seminaries have been unrealistic
Speakers at the launch said seminaries have a very important role in the country, which has a negative side as well.
“In Afghanistan, the Taliban come from madressahs and in a similar way, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal had a very important role in local politics but their rise was mainly due to the reaction to the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq,” Dr Ayaz said.
The main issue is that the authorities do not understand madressahs and the policies of respective governments regarding seminaries have been unrealistic, he added.
“The PPP government considered madressahs as part of the law and order issue, which is why they were dealt with by the interior ministry,” he said.
Madressahs have a role in mosques because their students become prayer leaders, deliver Friday sermons - which also have political implications - and they also have a role in jihad, he said.
The CII chairman added that steps have been taken by the incumbent government to streamline several issues, such as the recently launched Paigham-i-Pakistan, a declaration by senior clerics and madressah boards of all mainstream sects in the country.
“This declaration has the backing of the government as well as the military establishment. This is likely to frame a new narrative and mindset in madressahs in the future,” he said.
A member of the CII, Khursheed Nadeem said a large number of teachers in universities and colleges’ Islamic studies departments come from madressahs which has resulted in a “madressah-like environment” in these departments, and research work has also suffered due to this.
Pips Director Amir Rana said there has to be a role for seminary students after they graduate from madressahs, as they have to earn a living.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2018