31 July 2005

Madrassas, Terrorists, Students and Such

The issue of madrassas playing a breeding ground for terrorists has come up again. i say again, because i recall an article that i read in The Times quite a while ago, i think arnd July 2003. It was an eye opener, as the journalist had drawn out many things regarding these madrassas, most importantly, he outline the fact that most of the students in the schools were recruited when they were just 7 or 8, and then went on to spend close to 8 years in those schools.
Hence, I would not be surprised if what is being experienced now is just the tip of the iceberg i.e. there is more to come.
The ans lies, i believe in finding out what drives those children or their parents to suscribe to religious schools. Ofcourse, religion is the main drive, bt what could be the second best reason. I was surfing through the BBC worldservice page, and came across an article that seemed to be an answer. Called View's from Inside Islam's Schools http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4715235.stm
it features the voices of others who are getting their education in the very same system that the terrorists are said to have gotten their ill conceived motivations from.

  • the first, features an Afghan refugee, studyin in a school founded by a leading Jihadi leader. For those who are yet to familiarize themselves with the term, jihad, it is the word used in the Koran to descibe a holy war, much like the crusades, is used to describe those wars fought in the name of Christianity.
  • The second features a 13 year old kid, who is in the school to serve the ambitions of his father, so that he can become a religious mullah. His opinion of his school leads us to believe that he is in it to receive education with a twist, that is, education that is projected for the Islamic mind.
  • The third person interviewed asks, can America or any other Western country give us an assurance that they will not engage in any anti-Islamic activities? And I need to ask, can they? What is the definition of anti-Islamic? Where does one draw the line between what is Islamic and what isn't? More still, should we consider this issue at all? Should I begin to wear a head scarf because not wearing one is anti-Islamic, or does he mean to say, leave us alone. Stay out of Israel, America? We need to give more voice to these people, because listening to them will help us understand what motivated the others to come and bomb us. Yes, they may be terrorists with no serious objectives, whose purpose may be to solely instigate terror, bt while we may say that, can we really say that we understand them?
  • The fourth voice talks of, being dis-enchanted with mainstream education. He is notably from Kashmir, a territory plagued by war in the past decade. In an area where walking out in the streets on any given day is deemed dangerous, how much education can one receive? Understandably, an Islamic education not only nurtures his spirituality, along with giving him the security he needs to live his life as a normal human being. He talks of the seminary being more important to him than his family home, and can any one contest that, when home means cringing at the sound of another bomb exploding in the back ground?
  • The last voice echoes discontent with the education system that he was in. Also from Kashmir. In these voices, we allready see possible solutions. While these men are in these schools away from mainstream society due to many reasons, one of those reasons they seem to be fleeing away from the mainstream society that seems to no longer be moving in the same direction that they are. They are not necessarily driven to these schools for the sake of religion, rather they are driven to these schools following disenchantment with mainstream culture

Isn't it allready clear that what is needed, for these refugees and people who come in from areas stricken by casualty, is an adressing of the problems that they are going through. Perhaps the govts of Pakistan and India ought to invest more in helping the people stuck between their borders as opposed to investing in even more machinery to make what is bad worse.

And from what i read in that edition of Times, differs greatly from what was written on the BBC. Ofcourse, neither can be the absolute truth. But the more voices that one gets to listen to, the closer one can arrive at the truth or at the problem. Rather than point fingers at specific schools, or specific groups of people, it is the so called enemy that everyone ought to get closer to, in order to understand not their mistakes. Not their actions, but our own actions, because looking around us is what brings us closer to ourselves, asking them their opinions on mainstream society is what makes us realize how we too, participate in the creation of hate and misunderstanding.

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