Nov 09 - 15, 2009

Despite the presence of thousands of Madrasas in Pakistan the low level of literacy has remained a serious concern. It is often said that conservative Ulema are responsible for the prevailing condition. The perception is that clerics are averse to the reforms in the Madrasas and oppose any move to modernize these institutions.

The attitude of such Ulema toward inclusion of modern subjects in the Madrasas syllabus is said to be one of the obstacles in linking these institution with mainstream education system. The conservative Ulema oppose reforms in the Madrasa syllabus because they believe that science and its principles are in conflict with the basic tenets of Islam.

According to some of the researchers the theory of conflict between religion and reason was laid down by Imam Ghazali in his famous book Tahafut al-Falasifah. In this book he regarded the reason hostile to basic tenets of Islam. Since then, the clerics preserved this theory of clashing reason with religion, theoretically and practically.

It is also on record that in response to the severe criticism on Islam, Jamaluddin Afghani a reformer wrote an article in a French research magazine, declaring the fact that there was nothing in the basic principle of Islam that is incompatible with reason or science. Then this issue was dealt in depth by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. In this connection numerous Qur'anic verses were referred which instruct human being to think intelligently about the nature and to seek knowledge.

However, the Ulema opposed Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his vision of compatibility between reason and religion. Many of the clerics still believe that science is hostile to the basic tenets of Islam. Therefore, they are averse to any amendment in the Madrasa syllabus.

Keeping in view the attitude of Madrasa operators various recommendations have been made to redefine the curricula and to make these institutions an integral part of the mainstream education system. However, this must be kept in mind that the Madrasas play very important role in providing religious education and they do not propagate terrorism. There may be some exceptions notwithstanding.

Madrasas through which the community ensures that its future generations acquire knowledge have attained a unique identity. In the backdrop of whatever is happening in Afghanistan Madrasas are looked upon with suspicion, despite the fact that most of them are involved in providing religious education. Labeling of Madrasas as 'terrorists' dens' is extremely worrisome for the Muslim community. Even though there has been no credible evidence to suggest that Madrasas are producing terrorists, they are constantly maligned.

This mudslinging has a detrimental and traumatic impact on the children studying in these Madrasas. It has been pointed out that the existence of Madrasas (though not as a substitute for regular schools) is necessary, apart from providing basic education. At times Madrasas are the only available option, especially in areas where no schools are operating. Very often children go to the Madrasas not out of choice but due to non-availability and inaccessibility of other schools, and a near absence of education in their mother tongue.

Even in India there has been a growing demand for greater flexibility in allowing Madrasa students' transition to mainstream education in the basic areas. In this connection, the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee are worth mentioning. It suggested designing of mechanisms whereby Madrasas can be linked with a higher secondary school board so that students wanting to shift to a mainstream education can do so after having passed from Madrasa. It also suggested incorporating flexibilities to enable Madrasa pass-outs to move across to mainstream education, if they wish so. In other words the opportunity should be made available to them, especially in courses where admission is done through an entrance test/competitive examination.

It also suggested recognition of the degrees from Madrasas in competitive examinations such as central and provincial superior services, and in banks, military and other such examinations. The idea is to facilitate a process whereby Madrasa graduates too have a choice and an incentive to participate in the mainstreams.

In nineties the Indian government introduced a scheme for modernization of Madrasas. This was termed a step in the right direction but it was robbed part of its utility because of some deficiencies relating to choice of subjects, quality of teachers, accommodation of the modern subjects in a timetable intensely packed with traditional subjects. The Sachar Committee advised to review and revamp the scheme before embarking on its expansion.

The overwhelming perception is that the Madrasas can play an effective role in promotion of education and that too can pick the benefits from the government sector by qualifying in competitive exams and occupying higher posts if Madrasa education would be linked with mainstream.

The process of integrating Madrasas into mainstream education system was also initiated during Pervez Musharraf regime. However, after the change of regime and under the pressure of the US administration Madrasas are once again being portrayed as nurseries nurturing militants.

Madrasas are playing an important role in educating future generation. It is also imperative for the owners/operators/managers to ensure that no unwanted elements succeed in hijacking their institutions. Parents and guardians must also visit the facilities more often and be watchful of any unusual/undesirable happenings over there.


3rd International Conference and Exhibition on Islamic Banking and Takaful 2009 ended with the superlative success in which delegates from more than 22 countries partook including delegates from Malaysia, Bahrain, UAE, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Kenya etc. The agenda of this conference was not only to promote Islamic banking but also to promote and develop Islamic Microfinance. Presenting thorough case study of taking mandatory initiatives was also one of the motives of the conference to safeguard Islamic banking in the drastic worldwide financial crunch.

At Convention Centre Islamabad, Mr. Kamran Shehzad, Deputy Governor State Bank in his inaugural speech admired the sole effort of Alhuda Centre of Islamic Banking to promote Islamic Banking in Pakistan and all around the world. He also emphasized upon the promotion of Islamic Microfinance in the field of Micro Credit and he also denoted it a step forward to eliminate poverty from Pakistan. He also said that tax laws and SECP instruments relating to the Islamic Banking are being fine tuned so that this mode of banking is promoted and potential existing in the country is fully taped. He further admitted that the Islamic Banking structure of Pakistan has not suffered due to the drastic financial crunch all over the world. He also said that deposits in Pakistani banks are about 3 Trillion in which 5.2% comes from Islamic banking. He added that the part of Islamic banking is around 5.2% in the assets of Conventional banks that is increasing with the passage of time.

First Day of the Conference was comprised upon 6 sessions and the topics of discussion were Islamic Banking, Islamic Banking and Finance-Shariah Supervision, Takaful, Islamic Microfinance, Human Resource Development & Marketing in Islamic Banking and Finance and Islamic Banking, Finance-Sukuk-Islamic Funds respectively. On the 2nd and 3rd Day, Takaful and Islamic Microfinance were discussed respectively. There were 45 national and international experts and specialists who proactively participated in the conference along with 1500 participants.

Renowned Shariah Scholar Dr. Zubair Usmani emphasized upon total commitment of Shariah compliance in Islamic banking to gain the rapid growth of Islamic banking and finance. Registrar SECP Mr Bilal Rasool cleared the role of SECP in the Islamic finance due to which Takaful, Islamic Fund and Mudarabah Companies are meeting rapid growth. S. H. Faraaz, CEO, First Global Investment Sri Lanka declared that Islamic banking and finance did not suffer during the worst international financial crunch. Kazi Mortuza Ali, Managing Director, Prime Islami Insurance shared his valuable views on global Takaful industry. Mr. Kashif Jahangiri, Financial Director, KPMP-Ireland threw light on the Islamic funds industry in Europe. Mir Muhammad Ali, CEO UBL Funds graced the topic of Islamic Funds Industry in Pakistan. Other speakers of the conference include Mr. Pervaiz Ahmed CEO Pak Qatar Takaful, Captain Jamil CEO Takaful Pakistan, Mr. Imtiaz Bhatti CEO Pak Kawait Takaful, Mr. Ahmad Ali Siddiqi EVP Meezan Bank, Mr. Hasim Khan Hoti Head of Islamic Banking Services Askari Bank, Ms. Tabinda Jafferi CEO ASASA, Mr. Ahsan Elahi Khokhar President Dollar East Exchange, Mr. Azeem Pirani FWU-AG, Ms. Farida Tariq CEO, CWCD, Mr. Ehtisham Bari Head of Marketing Dawood Islamic Bank, Mr. Kaleem Iqbal EVP-Albaraka Islamic Banking and various others from 45 countries delivered speeches on their topics.