More than 8,000 Madressahs operating in Pakistan

Lahore, June 14, 2008: Jamia Hafsa, known the world over as Lal Masjid, which was attacked and in which female militants attracted the most attention last year, is only one of 200 such female seminaries in the country.

These 200 Madressahs are engaged in imparting religious education up to the level of Shahadat-e-Aaliya (equivalent to university graduation) and Shahadat-e-Aalmiya (post-graduation).

An investigation has revealed that more than 8,000 religious seminaries, where more than 1.7 million students are enrolled, are affiliated with the Wafaq-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia (WMA).

While the US and Pakistan have remained busy in identifying religious seminaries allegedly producing religiously-motivated male suicide bombers, the government never noticed the surreptitious growth of female seminaries engaged in imparting higher religious education (graduation and post-graduation) to a large number of females as compared to males inducted in such institutions.

The break-up of the figures of the seminaries collected from government sources directly dealing with such institutions show that out of more than 8,000 religious seminaries in the country, 771 are imparting religious education up to Aaliya (graduation) and Aalmiya levels (post-graduation) for both male and female respectively.

The remaining 7,229 institutions are teaching basic religious education up to the levels of Shahadat ul Aamah (matriculation) and Shahadat ul Khassa (intermediate), teaching their own set of books and syllabi but not imparting modern subjects, especially sciences.

The investigation reveals strange but interesting data. While there are only 68 seminaries offering graduate courses in religious studies to females, the number of seminaries offering post-graduate studies to females is 130.

Similarly, 270 institutions are offering graduate studies on Islam to male students while 299 seminaries are imparting post-graduate studies to them. A majority of the seminaries in Pakistan belong to Deobandi school of thought, establishing a direct theological link with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They included the two Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Faridia also.

Another interesting feature of the research shows that more females are engaged in

post-graduate studies than male students. There are at least 10 such areas in Pakistan where the number of female religious institutions are higher than male institutions.

The study reveals that there are about 50 seminaries for females compared with 30 seminaries for male students in Islamabad, Bahawalnagar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Chakwal, Sheikhupura, Haripur Hazara (NWFP), Putch and Santhoti in Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA), Lakki Marwat, Mansehra and Haripur.

There is, however, another pattern in certain areas where both male and female institutions, having facilities to impart postgraduate religious education, are equal in number. There are about 40 institutions each for male and female students in Rawalpindi, Khuzdar and Ziarat (Balochistan), Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Mianwali, Abbottabad, Bagh, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur (AJK), Charsadda (NWFP) and Swat.

Incidentally, the biggest city of Pakistan owns the highest number of seminaries for producing male clerics. Karachi claims to have nine female seminaries and 49 male seminaries. Okara (Punjab) has three for males and one for females; Jhang has six for males, three for females; Hyderabad (Sindh) has nine for males, five for females; Khairpur (Sindh) has six for males and two for females. The News

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Sindh allocates Rs 500m to madrassas
Karachi: The Sindh government has allocated Rs 500 million in the 2008-09 budget for the province's madrassas, said sources in the Sindh Finance Department. This allocation is for a project 'Improvement and capacity building of madrassas' under which the government will provide facilities for modern education, including mathematics, English, Urdu, Sindhi and computers teachers, whose salaries will be paid by the government. The federal government launched a project some years ago called 'Deeni Madrassa Reform Project'. Sources said that Rs 5 billion were allocated to this project at a federal level, while Sindh's share was Rs 1.5 billion. However, this project failed to streamline the madrassahs, since NOCs were required from various departments, which were not easy to obtain. After the failure of the first project, the Sindh government will attempt to streamline the province's madrassas. However, it has not been made clear what procedure will be adopted for this provincial project. Daily Times

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