Pakistani madrassas: What’s inside? | Pakistan Today

Pakistani madrassas: What’s inside?

Madrassa is a religious school or seminary, where Islamic education is given to students. Madrassas in Pakistan have witnessed a mushroom growth in early 1980s. During the Afghan-Soviet war, thousands of new madrassas were established in the country.
Unfortunately after the 9/11, these madrassas were perceived by western people as places that support and spread terrorism.
In spite of the less job opportunities for a madrassa graduate, people in great numbers are interested to admit their children in madrassas for religious education.
IS IT TRUE THAT MADRASSAS ARE PRODUCING TERRORISTS: To find an answer, a number of madrassas were visited.
Two kinds of students are admitted in madrassas: regular and irregular. A regular student has to stay at madrassa while an irregular student has certain study timing and there is no need for him to live in the madrassa.
Age limit of a fresh student is four or five years minimum while there is no restriction on the maximum age- that a person of any age can learn religion from a Madrassa.
A madrassa student has to get out of bed at around 4 am in summer and Wudu (washing of several parts of body before prayer) is the first thing to do.
He has to join the Fajr prayer (morning prayer) in a group. Breakfast comes soon after the morning prayer and then Nazara or reciting of Holy Qur’an session begins for primary level students while senior students have classes of other subjects.
The morning session continues till 12pm then, preparations for lunch begin. All the tasks are done by the student himself and there is no concept of a servant or cook or cleaner in almost all madrassas. It is a good practice of doing one’s own work like washing, cooking and cleaning with his hands. It is a kind of discipline in itself. 12 to 1pm is lunch time and soon after it, is time for Zuhr or early afternoon prayer.
Second study session starts at around 2pm, and a number of courses are taught. 6pm the second and the last session concludes, and in some madrassas the evening tea is taken at that time. With the third prayer of Asr or the afternoon, students go to their rooms or hall, where they sleep for relaxation.
Although very few, but some of the madrassas have playgrounds where students are allowed to play different sports during the time between afternoon and evening. Some other madrassas have no grounds, but students are allowed to go to nearby sports grounds for playing or watching events of various games.
Friday is holiday in all madrassas and on that day students from nearby areas can visit their families, while others who are from remote areas stay there, and they often wash their cloths, relax, study or play.
Some of madrassas have libraries too. Students can go there during their free time and study books on different topics, mostly on religion.
At the time of evening or Maghrib prayer, everyone has to return to madrassa and perform the prayer. After that its dinner time and then sleeping time.
People from anywhere can consult the religious scholars of any madrassa on any religious issue. In some madrassas, for that purpose a specific section has been created where matters of religious are discussed with people.
Some of the main subjects in madrassas are religion, Islamic law (Shariah), mathematics, English, computer, history, general science, Takhasus-fil-Fiqa (fiqh specialization), Takhasus-fil-Hadeeth( Hadith specialization) and Asul-e-Hadees.
Language courses are also available there. Most of the books are in Arabic, Urdu, English and others.
Major courses are Qura-e- Sabgha, Dars-e-Nizami and Hifz or learning of the Holy Qur’an by heart.
Duration of several courses is different. For example the hifz depends upon the ability of student.
Dars-e-Nizami, which is an eight years long course, consists of various subjects like Siha-e-Sita, Tafseer, Philosophy and Arabic Grammar and it is a complete course necessary for an Islamic Scholar.
All those universities have large libraries and there are books on every subject available for the students. Other thousands of madrassas all over Pakistan have more or less the same courses.
There are no fees in any madrassa in the country for any course while the hostel facilities are also free. If any student wants to give donation, he is allowed to do so.
Dastar Bandi or graduation ceremony is held every year in most of the Madrassas.
The main aim of the ceremony is to stress the responsibility of students in spreading their knowledge and delivering their message
A recent graduate of Dars-e-Nizami course from Haqqania Madrassa, Maulana Alamgir Khalil said that he is very happy on completion of his course.
Replying to a question, he added that it is his love to Islam that made him come to the madrassa; and yes there are a number of job opportunities too.
“I can go to any educational institute as a religious teacher and can play my important role,” he said.
Courtesy: On Islam

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