Tolerance: Do religious institutions turn out radicals?

Published: March 19, 2011
Religion, radicalism discussed on second, last day of the conference.

Religion, radicalism discussed on second, last day of the conference.


“The media is pressured by the radical elements in the society. There is a need for alternative media such as magazines and radio channels to encourage an intellectual debate and discourage extremism,” writer Ayesha Siddiqa said on Friday.

She was speaking at the 2nd day of the international conference on Women, Religion and Politics organised by Shirkat Gah and Heinrich Boll Stiftung at Holiday Inn, where the focus was on the role of schools and religious institutions and on radicalism among students.

She read excerpts from her research paper ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers Islam’, a study of the socio-political attitudes amongst the youth in elite universities in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Commenting on Siddiqa’s paper, Nabiha Mehar Sheikh, a LUMS teacher, said there was no difference between conservative and liberal institutions when it came to cases like Salman Taseer.

“In such cases, people in the liberal institutions acted as conservative as those in the religious institutes,” she said.

Neelam Hussain, the Simorgh Women Resource and Publications Centre executive coordinator, talked about her study on madrassas. She said, “The Wahhabi Islam that Zia chose for the country and the medrassas are two basic reasons for the Islamisation of the elite class. People who used to arrange social dinners and parties are now hosting milads and darses, such as Abida Gourmani, Farhat Hashmi and Nighat Hashmi.

Nishat Kazmi, a University of the Punjab student said, “There is no freedom of expression on campus.” Religious student parties, he said, sought to intellectually disable the youth.

Prof Deirde Good of the New Testament at the General Theological Seminary, New York, said she worried about the various versions of Bible translation as there was no check on its translation from Hebrew into English.

She said she also planned to publish a critique of Quran’s various interpretations.

The conference was followed by Zeb and Haniya’s musical performances in Urdu, Persian and Turkish and a poetry recitation by Kishwar Naheed called Taliban Say Qibla Ru Guftgu.

Later Ajoka Theatre performed Dukh Darya.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2011.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (8)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 20, 2011 - 12:32AM

    Yes only radicals are produced because there they are informed not to eat, sit or befriend with this or that person. Finger pointing at others are also taught there. How to qualify for Heaven through different ways including what we are facing right now in the shape of terrorism is common in these different school of thoughts. So mostly misguided missiles are only produced.Recommend

  • pl/sql
    Mar 20, 2011 - 3:46AM

    Is that a trick question? LOLRecommend

  • Mirza
    Mar 20, 2011 - 6:38AM

    The religious schools do not churn out doctors, engineers, scientists, economists, computer professionals, research scholors, etc. The only option they have (without any true scientific education) is to turn out militant extremists. With one or two of the same type of teachers, no labs to verify and experiment, all they learn is same thing like a parrot. They all can read Quran without understanding any Arabic. There is no concept of understanding, thinking and using their own brains at all. At these institutions thinking and questioning is not allowed they are supposed to act like army men or robot. Just follow without thinking.

    As there is no system of education or concept of grading, the only measure is “fanticism”. These robots are the street force that is easily used by mullah, millitary and their right wing allies. An example is JI and JUI, both do not have much electoral power but they have most street power. How JUI was part of the govt but at the same time very well accepted by the right wing opposition.

    Another fact is only nationalists and secular parties and leaders become the target of the religious fantics. No leader of PML, JI, JUI, TI, etc., are ever targeted or killed. However, Baloch nationalists, PPP, ANP and other progressives are always successful targets of these fanactic attacks.

    The media is dominated by Mullah, miliatry/ISI, and right wing alliance against all democratic forces. Democracy scares this alliance because in any election they never win against the nationalist forces. Therefore, the backdoor is the only way for this right wing alliance. Unfortunately the rich and powerful media is not going to support the masses or nationalist forces.

    Mirza, USARecommend

  • Asfiya
    Mar 20, 2011 - 10:11AM

    This article reminds of a time when the verses of charity were first revealed in the Qur’an and so the companions (r.a) would carry loads on their backs to ear something that they could give away in charity. Once, a person presented a considerable amount for charity and the hypocrites criticized, “He has done it to show off”. Another time, a person gave a handful of dates in charity and the hypocrites again criticized, “Allah does not stand in need of this person’s dates.” (Bukhari) Then Allah revealed in the Qur’an, “Those who criticize the contributors among the believers concerning [their] charities and [criticize] the ones who find nothing [to spend] except their effort, so they ridicule them – Allāh will ridicule them, and they will have a painful punishment” – [Qur’an, 9:79]
    I don’t mind if the defamation is from non-Muslims but it really surprises me that some Muslims have the audacity to sit by their keyboards and ridicule Islam. What sick pleasure do they acquire by putting their own religion down? Especially the journalists are making their careers by spitting on Islam’s face. If a Muslim does “X” they aren’t happy, if a Muslim does “Y”, they still criticize. This is exactly how the hypocrites where during the time of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). There was no end to their complaints. They wanted to change Islam entirely and still they were not pleased. Its okay, people like this have lived in almost every era. These people are only hurting themselves, not Islam.

    Kisi ki burai karne se koi bura to nahi ho jata. The only bad is that which is bad in the sight of Allah (which Allah has called bad in the Qur’an). And good is all that which Allah had called good in the Qur’an. So I think every person should worry about themselves and see how Allah views them. We all have to return to Allah and Allah is our Creator and Sustainer, Allah alone will determine our eternal place in Paradise to Hellfire. So Allah’s opinion of us matters the most. So think about improving yourself in the sight of Allah. If we fix ourselves and become better people, inshaAllah this will make the world a better place. But if we are bad, we cannot be the change we want to see in the people. Recommend

  • DIG
    Mar 20, 2011 - 10:39AM

    The whole Christian world backed by the conspirators jews are waging unholy war on Muslims under cover confusing Muslim whether this is Islam or not alongwith media war. Whereas articles like above try to confuse Muslims too as if all Muslims were practicing true Islam before only now they resorted to wrong understanding after Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Ridiculous! Muslims are not meant for killing non beleivers but if non beleivers wage war then Islam is a natural Religion when “turning the other cheek” are conspiring than Islam has lessons for them as well my dearest readers Islam is Hakeem if a problem goes away with words good enough otherwise surgery is within Islam.Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 20, 2011 - 10:44AM

    Do we have a doubt about this headline as far as Pakistan is concerned??? I dontRecommend

  • Deirdre Good
    Mar 21, 2011 - 4:25AM

    Thank you for this article. Unfortunately, Saleha Rauf did not give an accurate report of what I said at the recent international conference on Women, Religion and Politics. It is the publishing company Harper One that plans to bring out a one-volume commentary on the Qur’an next year with international contributors (of whom I am not one). Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2011 - 1:55PM

    Institutions were’t the focus; there was just one panel on education with me, Dr Rubina Saigol & Dr Ayesha Siddiqa. I definitely spoke along these lines but those were not my exact words. To make up a quote for someone and then pawn it off as verbatim is terribly unprofessional. Stick to paraphrasing instead.

    This is the second time where a panel I’ve been part of has been misreported by tribune. Recommend

More in Punjab