Wednesday October 04, 2023

Madrassa students share thinking pattern with society: PIPS study

By our correspondents
July 16, 2016


A new study, while reiterating that the worldview of madrassa students is shaped along the sect, to which they subscribe, noted that their likes and dislikes about the world beyond the madrassa’s confines, are not much dissimilar to the society’s in general.

The study, ‘Role of Post-Noon Engagements of Madrassa Students in Radical Orientation,’ conducted by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think-tank, was designed to assess the day-to-day activities of the students after their study hours, which usually ends with noon prayers. The purpose was to learn whether those activities are, in any case, responsible for radicalising them. After all, whenever madrassas are accused of have links with militants, their administrators come to the defence, saying the act of individual should not be linked to the institution in general.

Dr. Qibla Ayaz, former vice chancellor of Peshawar University, led the study by surveying a total of 50 students and 16 teachers of five madrassas in Peshawar and Islamabad.

The study found that madrassa students largely have a self-complacent and self-satisfactory behaviour about their own education. The study deemed this behaviour to the students’ inability to critically review about themselves; instead, Dr. Ayaz observed, the students are taught to deem themselves – the learned ones – superior to others.

PIPS also pointed out that the madrassa students have a strong bond with their teachers, reflective from the nearly-unanimous satisfaction of the students in the curriculum and teaching. Because of such a critical role of teachers, the organisation called for engaging more and more teachers in achieving social harmony. It is these teachers who often discard their seminary’s linkages with militants.

Strikingly, the study found that while madrassa students are often portrayed as acting like somewhat alien from others, that might not be the complete case. They are part of the same society – good or bad. For one, their preference for certain subjects show they too might have economic concerns at the top like students outside of seminaries are. Even their political and ideological orientation some reflects those of Pakistani society in general. Students of the madrassas in the survey access three mainstream Urdu newspapers published from Peshawar and Islamabad, suggesting that their sources of information are similar to the others. Even the opinions they read of, are partly sectarian but also partly of those who write in mainstream outlets.

As the students have conformist attitude towards the education they receive, they otherwise form a somewhat diverse group of people, not least with reference to opinions beyond madrassas.