Holy cows?: In capital, majority of madrassas operating illegally

Published: January 12, 2015
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“At that time, a list of over 800 madrassas across Pakistan was compiled but the seminary administrations refused inspection teams to step inside their premises,” said a senior official of the ministry who requested anonymity. PHOTO: REUTERS

“At that time, a list of over 800 madrassas across Pakistan was compiled but the seminary administrations refused inspection teams to step inside their premises,” said a senior official of the ministry who requested anonymity. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: 

The religious seminaries, which have been mushrooming in the capital since 80s, may soon outnumber the government-run educational institutes.

A recent survey by the police of the number of registered and illegal madrassas in Islamabad has revealed some eye-opening facts.

In the capital alone, some 160 madrassas and 72 day scholar Quranic institutes are not registered with any of the government authorities.

The survey, jointly carried out by the police and Islamabad Capital Territory Administration, was recently shared with the interior ministry. It states that there are 401 seminaries within the capital city’s territorial limits with the majority of them running under the aegis of the Deobandi school of thought.

The number of government-run schools and colleges in the capital is 422, according to the record of the Federal Directorate of Education.

“The survey was carried out on the orders from the ministry following the Peshawar school attack,” said a senior police official, who declined to be named.

Of the total 401 madrassas, some 72 are ‘day scholar maktabs’ where children recite Quran for a few hours a day. The remaining 329 are full-time seminaries with lodging facilities for students.

Some 31,796 students are enrolled at these seminaries. Of them, 17,419 belong to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, while 14,377 hail from other parts of the country, mainly from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata.

The majority ‘school’

The seminaries are being run by representatives of four major schools of Islamic thought — Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahle Hadith and Shia.

The Deobandi madrassas outnumber other religious groups in the city, not only in terms of registered but also the illegal seminaries.

As per the law, a two-tier approval is required for the establishment of a seminary. First, the registration as a non-governmental organisation with the ICT Administration and subsequently a final registration with the Pakistan Madrassa Board, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Of the 329 madrassas, 206 are located in the urban areas while 123 in rural areas.

Registered and unregistered

Recently, the leadership of JUI-F and other religious parties expressed their ‘deep concerns’ over the government’s renewed efforts to curb extremism, saying it aims to target madrassas under the garb of the National Action Plan for countering terrorism.

The Deobandi school of thought, which the party adheres to, has a total of 193 seminaries of which 84 are unregistered or illegal.

Of the 118 seminaries belonging to the Barelvi school, 68 are illegal or unregistered.

The Ahle Hadith have seven registered and two unregistered seminaries while there are three registered and six unregistered seminaries being run by the Shia school of thought.

Majority of seminaries are concentrated at Sihala with a total of 44 seminaries. Of which 37 are unregistered followed by Bhara Kahu, Shahzad Town and Margalla Town with 43, 42 and 37 seminaries respectively. The Deobandi seminaries are in a majority in Bhara Kahu (28), Tarnol (24), Shahzad Town (20), and Industrial Area (18).

In 2003, during the tenure of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, efforts were made to regularise seminaries through their registration with the Pakistan Madrassa Education Board.

However, most of the seminaries across Pakistan resisted the move.

“At that time, a list of over 800 madrassas across Pakistan was compiled but the seminary administrations refused inspection teams to step inside their premises,” said a senior official of the ministry who requested anonymity.

As the government prepares to tackle extremism and terrorism in the wake of the Peshawar attack, experts agree that the first step should be the registration of seminaries, said to be a hotbed of militancy, across the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Emjay
    Jan 12, 2015 - 7:10AM

    Oh wow. This is overwhelming!

    Recommend

  • Jan 12, 2015 - 11:31AM

    Of course, our government of rustic bureaucrats and banal politicians will not take notice of the madrassas, because a mullah will come to hem and say it is heresy. So, there it is! Let them continue and flourish like Lal Masjid.
    What has become of our country after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan? The answer is in front of us. We have to modernize our laws and staff our institutions with educated and well paid functionaries. Salams

    Recommend

  • oBSERVER
    Jan 12, 2015 - 11:41AM

    How are they financed?

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  • Wizarat
    Jan 12, 2015 - 11:42AM

    First things first.
    Show Cause Notices to be issued to individuals who are supposed to be supervising this atrocity pending dismissal from service. This must be at least till Grade 19 officials.

    Give the Madrassas 4 weeks to regularise the units.

    Madaris owners/operators to Provide Funding sources details alongwith an audit by and Independent Auditing company tracing the sources of funding in three months time.

    Curriculum committees be formed consisting of Ulama from Deobandi,Barelvi, Ahle Hadis, and Shia Maslak.

    These committee must meet every two months to ensure that hate material is not included in the curriculum of any Madressa.

    Arrange get together of students of various maslak from the madaris to ensure harmony between them.

    Arrange sports program between all the madaris for harmony between masalik.

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  • zahid
    Jan 12, 2015 - 11:46AM

    The ratio shows highest number of unregistred madrissa belong to shiai then brailvi and at the end comes deobndi and ahlhadeees this shows peoples from which school of thought are law abiding and to which extent

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  • resilient
    Jan 12, 2015 - 12:55PM

    @oBSERVER:
    very good portion by respectable businessmen. Who think it as act of religious duty.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 12, 2015 - 1:00PM

    When the State fails in its responsibilities then a vacuum is created……….and then it matter not what fills this vacuum.

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  • Shakeel
    Jan 12, 2015 - 1:06PM

    All illegal seminaries should be registered or shut down if they refuse. Surprisingly deobandis form 20% of the Sunni population of Pakistan but have twice as many seminaries as anyone else. They’re also the ones with the extremist problem. You won’t find Sufi scuicide bombers or Shia taliban in Pakistan.

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  • disgusted
    Jan 12, 2015 - 1:08PM

    extremism is just one aspect. the biggest taboo that no one dares talking about is the child abuse happening inside these seminaries

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  • Basharit
    Jan 12, 2015 - 1:13PM

    Get them registered or closed down especially those funded from outside Pakistan!

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  • businessman
    Jan 12, 2015 - 1:51PM

    @resilient it’s ironic that these businessmen wont pay taxes wont pay bills but would definitely donate to these seminaries and think they are generous and pious. such a society we have become

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  • Anonymous
    Jan 12, 2015 - 2:06PM

    This must have been done from the very start -> if not then after 9/11 but now we are talking about only registration, when the strict scrutiny must have been done of all madarsas especailly Lal Masjid

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  • Karachiite
    Jan 12, 2015 - 2:16PM

    @Wizarat:
    Islam is a religion of peace. After Nabi Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam, Islam was spread by those, who took education from Sahaba e karaam (rizwanUllah alaihim ajma’een). And it kept on going the same way, till now. Now, those who took religious education are called Ullema. So, we need to atleast show respect to Ullema. And we have no right to disrespect anyone who is at any level serving the religion. (now please don’t take it this way that the attackers on APS are serving religion.)

    Yes, and along with Hate Material, no one should be allowed to disrespect or abuse our Sahaba karaam, and Ullama. And keep everyone inside a walled boundary to perform his sect. related activities.

    Sab se pehley Islam, then Pakistan.

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  • Rumormonger
    Jan 12, 2015 - 3:29PM

    @businessman:
    Want to add to your comments. The money earned by these businessmen is through over profiteering and balck marheting also. They just try to cleanse their riches and clear up their guilt by donating to madrasahs.

    Recommend

  • KS
    Jan 12, 2015 - 4:24PM

    If the government cannot provide education in Capital … ” More Madrassahs than Schools”.
    Just imagine what the reality is … if the whole of Pakistan is to be considered!

    Recommend

  • zakee
    Jan 12, 2015 - 5:07PM

    Who says deobndi are 20% of muslims populations??? correct ur knowledge deobndi are 45% brailvi 41% shia 9% ahlhadees 5% pf muslim population of pakistan

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  • Ahsan
    Jan 12, 2015 - 6:30PM

    Register these seminaries & monitor their activities. Govt should provide the madrassas that cooperate, with financial and administrative aid. There is no doubt these madrassas are providing food, shelter and education(although with a very limited view) where the state failed to fulfil its responsibility,but the illegal madrassas must be registered within a deadline otherwise should be dealt with in a serious manner.

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  • Ali Muhammad
    Jan 12, 2015 - 8:07PM

    So,
    After about 7 years,we returned in 2007 Muharraf’s Era..the most criticized leader of the country!!!
    i donot know either to thank this govt. for this step or to criticize them who politicize this Madrassas reforms back in 2007!!!

    afterall we lost 7 precious year in the History of Pakistan…i donot know how much U-Turn will PMLN,PPPP and PTI will take to be on Musharraf’s reforms in every field…

    like economy reforms PMLN taking on that Mush made!!!

    Pakistan First!!!Recommend

  • Let's be serious
    Jan 13, 2015 - 1:15PM

    Green belts in Islamabad provide perfect QABZA opportunities to the madrassah graduates to open their own branded seminaries without any questions asked by the government. CDA has turned a complete blind eye to this epidemic despite clear orders of the Islamabad High Court, such callousness is unprecedented in the world.

    Recommend

  • Let's be serious
    Jan 13, 2015 - 1:18PM

    Green belts in Islamabad provide perfect QABZA opportunities to the madrassah graduates to open their own branded seminaries without any questions asked by the government. CDA has turned a complete blind eye to this epidemic despite clear orders of the Islamabad High Court, such callousness is unprecedented even in the world of Islam.

    Recommend

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