catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Funding Jihadi textbooks/Shutting down the madrasas

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Ironically, the US also played an important part in this harnessing of madrasas for holy war as part of the Afghan jihad, with the CIA financing the production by the US Agency for International Development of some notably bloodthirsty madrasa textbooks “filled,” according to a Washington Post report, “with violent images and militant Islamic teachings.”

One page showed a picture of a jihadi carrying a gun, but with his head blown off, accompanied by a Koranic verse and a tribute to the Mujahideen who were “obedient to Allah…. Such men will sacrifice their wealth and their life to impose Islamic law.” When the Taliban came to power, these textbooks were distributed for use in schools.[footnote omitted] At the height of the Afghan jihad Ronald Reagan is said to have praised Mujahideen madrasa students as “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers [of America].”

Quoted from William Dalrymple, Inside the Madrasas New York Review of Books, 1 December 2005 (article dated 2 November).

Looking to the future, these quotes from the same source, are more interesting:

Puritanical it may be, but it is clear that the Dar ul-Uloom, like many Pakistani madrasas, performs an important service—especially in a country 58 percent of whose population, and 72 percent of whose women, are illiterate—indeed half of the population never sees the inside of a school. Madrasas are often backward in their educational philosophy, but they provide the poor with a real hope of advancing themselves. In certain traditional subjects—such as rhetoric, logic, and jurisprudence—the teaching can be excellent. And although they tend to be ultra-conservative, only a small proportion of them are militant. To close them down, without first attempting to build up the state sec-tor, would relegate much of the population to a state of ignorance. It would also be tantamount to instructing Muslims to stop educating themselves about their religion, hardly the best strategy for winning the war for Muslim minds.

Such militant madrasas are, however, likely to create more problems for Pakistan’s internal security than for the safety of Western capitals. For that, as the July 7 London bombings showed, rather than blaming seminaries in Pakistan we would do better to examine the Islamic extremism blossoming on our own campuses, and the way that the excesses of American and British foreign policies can fatally alienate so many previously moderate Muslims and lead to violence at home as well as in Muslim lands.


Written by Admin

November 17, 2005 at 1:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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