Madrassas in Pakistan


Madrassas of Pakistan are Islamic seminaries in Pakistan that teach mostly Islamic subjects leading to graduation as a cleric (maulvimaulanaor mulla). There are five major governing bodies of Pakistani madrassas and their corresponding schools of thought are:

Tanzim-ul-Madaras (Barelwi),

Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Deobandi),

Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Shia),

Wafaq-ul-Madaras (Ahle Hadith)

Rabita-ul-Madaris (Jamaat-e-Islami).

Additionally there are a number of Quran academies offering diplomas in Islamic courses.



The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier.[2] They catered not only to the religious establishment, though that was the dominant influence over them, but also the secular one. To the latter they supplied physicians, administrative officials, judges and teachers.

In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan.[3] In 2002 the country had 10,000-13,000 unregistered madrassas with an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million students.[4] A 2008 estimate puts this figure at “over 40,000”.[3]

Most madrassas in Pakistan cater to the dominant Sunni sect, having maximum Deobandi schools, with an estimated 4-10% madrassas serving the minority Shia population.


Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya

Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya, a federation of the five Waqfs (seminary boards) in Pakistan, represents AhleSunnat Wal Jammal Deoband,AhleSunnat BarelwiAhl-e HadithShia and Jamaat-e-Islami schools of thought. Maulana Saleem Ullah Khan is the president of Ittehad Tanzimat Madaris-e-Deeniya Pakistan.[5]


Expansion of madrassas

The Madaris were few in number when Pakistan was founded, but expanded greatly in number during the rule of the dictator General Zia-ul-Haq(1977–1988).[6] The expansion was due both to the growth of Pakistan’s population and active government programmes geared towards promoting a specific culture and ideology. Major elements sought to promote the indigenous culture originally taught in the madaris in Pakistan. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Afghan government officials often supported jihad activities (freedom fighters) in various madrassa schools in northern Pakistan[citation needed]. Total number of Deeni Madariss in Pakistan according to PAKISTAN ECONOMIC SURVEY 2009-10 is 288 between which salaries are distributed of their teachers under Madrassa Reforms Project.[7]


Comparative studies

In addition to the South Asian Dars-i-Nizami curriculum, the students read books in Urdu as part of comparative religion or training in the beliefs of the sub-sect (maslak). These texts are taught in a manner in order to promote understanding of differences and similarities as they exist, with the stated goal of respect for human diversity. Subjects such as Western ideologies — capitalism, individualism, freedom, feminism, socialism, democracy, human rights are discussed in the context of how they relate to the Muslim thought and identity prevalent in the schools.


Conservative fundamentalism

“No one thought to ask about what would happen next…nearly an entire generation came of age in a peculiar all-male world where the only concern was the Koran, sharia law and the glorification of jihad”

—Dina Temple-Raston, 2007[8]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, American television commentators widely associated madrassas with violence or fundamentalism. Former Pakistani president Gen. Musharraf tried to introduce an element of nominal control as an overture to American pressure, which by and large failed. Two laws were passed: one to create state-controlled madrassas (model: Dini Madaris, 2001); the other to register and control them (2002). The first had moderate success, as some religious institutions registered in 2003 with the Pakistan Madrasah Education Board created by this law. However, the three alternative institutions it created suffer from organizational difficulties. The second measure proved unpopular with the madrassas, but the government has restricted some access of foreign students to the madaris education system.

Madrassas in Pakistan have been used to recruit jihadists and as a pretext to finance militancy. For example, officials with theLashkar-e-Taiba‘s charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, travelled to Saudi Arabia seeking donations for new schools at vastly inflated costs – then siphoned off the excess money to fund militant operations.[9]



  1. Jump up^ Pakistan clerics not giving an inch to govt to modernise seminaries
  2. Jump up^ George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, 1981: Edinburgh Univ. Press. pp. 10-24
  3. Jump up to:a b Hyat, Kamila (2008-09-25). “No room for doubt and division”The News International. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  4. Jump up^ Christopher Candland, “Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education” in Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future, (Robert M. Hathaway, ed.), 2005: Washington, D.C: pp. 151-153
  5. Jump up^ Jamia Mohammadia Ghausia
  6. Jump up^,801&hl=en&sa=X&ei=m5WdUMDwPMSy0AGg0oC4Dg&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  7. Jump up^
  8. Jump up^ Dina Temple-Raston (2007). The Jihad Next Door: the Lackawanna six and rough justice in an age of terrorPerseus Books GroupISBN 978-1-58648-403-3.
  9. Jump up^ Walsh, Declan (2010-12-05). “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists”The Guardian (London).

Additional reading

  • Ali, Saleem H. 2009. “Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan’s Madrassas.” Oxford University Press.
  • Candland, Christopher .2005. ‘Pakistan’s Recent Experience in Reforming Islamic Education’. In Hathaway, Robert. M (ed) .2005. Education Reform in Pakistan: Building for the Future Washington D.C: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. pp. 151–165.
  • Hartung, Jan-Peter and Reifeld, Helmut.2006. Islamic Education, Diversity and National Identity New Delhi: Sage.
  • Makdisi, George .1981. The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Rahman, Tariq .2004. Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarization in Pakistan Karachi: Oxford University Press. Chapter 5.
  • Robinson, Francis. 2002. The Ulama of Farangi Mahal and Islamic Culture in South Asia Lahore: Ferozsons.

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