More than a little bit misleading

The madrasas offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.

Caption, “Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy,” New York Times, 2 May, 2009.


4 thoughts on “More than a little bit misleading

  1. I have read works by one Pakistani in the West and many other sources which confirm the basics of the claim – that the Pakistani madrasas are merely memorization workshops, often involving harsh treatment including extreme corporal punishment interspersed with militant ideology. If this is misleading, does anyone know of a source which contradicts these views? Possibly one that discusses successful graduates of these institutions or at least first hand descriptions of a more varied curriculum? I would like to believe that many of these madrasas in Pakistan are giving these kids some math and literacy in their own language – something that might serve them in a career other than a cleric or a fighter/suicide bomber but that is not the impression I have gotten from the information I have read to date.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. The part of this caption that is misleading, in my opinion, is not what is says about the madrassas. Instead, it is what is said about memorization of the Qur’an, as if this in itself is what produces militancy or sympathy for it. Memorization of the Qur’an is the (or one of) the first steps in traditional Islamic education the world over, and did not until recently produce the kinds of results being seen throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rather than blaming the militancy coming out of these madrassas on Qur’an memorization alone, it makes sense, as you do, to look at other components of the “education” these boys are given. If kids memorizing the Qur’an in Syria, Tunisia and Morocco aren’t joining up and doing what their counter parts in Pakistan are, there is obviously something special about the Pakistani madrassas beyond Qur’an memorization.

  3. Great post about the “Falling Sky.” We miss you here at the high school where the sky IS actually falling. My students are suffering from apathy and I-Pod distraction. I can’t take it anymore.

    You sure did a hammer job on Egypt in the previous post but my comments are reserved for your post based on the Foreign Policy article. I agree with your assessment of the pros and cons of such fear mongering. It is disturbing that we have so few speakers that can communicate to the Pashtun’s since so many challenges are coming from that region. Should our fears of Taliban resurgence in SWAT be taken seriously or are the reports as dire as it sounds. From my perspective the Taliban right now seem pretty dangerous but very divided much like the Khmer Rouge were when they swept into Pnomh Penh in the 70’s. However, they enjoy widspread support and cushion it seems in Pakistan.

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