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Contesting ideologies and struggle for authority: State-Madrasa engagement in Pakistan

Bano, Masooda (2007) Contesting ideologies and struggle for authority: State-Madrasa engagement in Pakistan. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

PDF - Published Version

URL of Published Version: http://www.religionsanddevelopment.org/files/resourcesmodule/@random454f80f60b3f4/1211531042_working_paper_14___for_web.pdf

Identification Number/DOI: ISBN: 0704425688 / 9780704425682


Thought the current Madrasa Reform Programme launched by the government of Pakistan in 2002 has faced resistance from the ulema, being viewed as the USA's brainchild, the fact is that Pakistani state's aspiration to reform Islam is much older. The state's agenda to reform madrasas, and through that the conservative interpretation of Islam within Pakistan, goes back to the 1960s. From the start the government has pursued a similar objective: to introduce modern subjects to the madrasa curriculum so that the student's 'integrate into the mainstream economy and society'. The fate of the various efforts has been the same: madrasas have successfully resisted state pressure to change their curriculum; even the current madrasa reform programme has managed to enroll less than 200 of the 16,000 registered madrasas. This study highlights two main reasons for the madrasas' ability to resist state-led reform: one, weak political will due to close links between political legitimacy and Islam; two, strong madrasa leadership resulting from an alliance between senior ulema and a strong base of domestic patronage. The paper reveals that the involvement of bigger madrasas is critical to reform because it gives legitimacy to the reform programme, which in turn makes it more acceptable to smaller madrasas. The paper therefore argues that winning the trust of the senior ulema and making them active partners in developing a reformed curriculum is the only way to develop a reform programme that will have broad-based acceptance among the madrasas. This requires a major shift in the mindset of the government and the donor agencies supporting the madrasa reform programme. Rather than starting their planning from how to secularize the madrasa, they need to accept the madrasas' primary role as a producer of Islamic knowledge, and then explore how modern interpretations of the religious texts can be included within madrasa education, rather than exclusively focusing on adding modern subjects to the madrasa curriculum.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Public Policy
Number of Pages:60
Department:International Development Department
Projects:Religions and Development Research Programme
Series/Collection Name:RaD Working Papers Series
Keywords:Public Authority, Religion, Development, Madrasas, Pakistan
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Related URLs:
Copyright Status:University of Birmingham, 2007
Copyright Holders:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1566

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