Solutions to Violent Conflict

Strategies for Madrasa Engagement

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2019 at 9:34 am

Mahan Mirza

One could mention several different reasons for influential actors from the West to systematically engage religious institutions and scholars in the Muslim world. The first is for the purpose of interfaith dialogue and cooperation. An example of this kind of engagement is the recent “joint statement on human fraternity by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.”

A second purpose is for business interests seeking to legitimize commercial products as sharia compliant. One prolific provider of this kind of service is Justice Mawlana Taqi Usmani, a leading scholar from South Asia.

A third purpose for strategic engagement is for governments to advance geopolitical interests. An example of this kind of engagement is the mobilization of madrasas in Afghanistan and Pakistan for jihad against the invading Soviet Union in the 1980s.

And a fourth purpose may be to reform madrasa curricula in order to make the scholarly tradition more current and relevant for today’s world. Examples of this reform approach are the Madrasa Discourses project at the University of Notre Dame and the madrasa enhancement initiative of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD) in Washington, D.C.

Understanding the Madrasa Discourses Project

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2019 at 9:34 am

madrasa

Ebrahim Moosa

Madrasas have been much in the news in the past six months in both Pakistan and India. While hardly any credible madrasas engage in training suicide bombers, reports indicate that both the Jaish-e Mohammad and the Lashkar-e Tayyiba, two terrorist groups operating out of Pakistan, have now established their own network of madrasas, a number totaling between 30-40 such units. It is unclear why they are allowed to operate in Pakistan and use students in these schools as cannon fodder for their nefarious purposes. There has been a deafening silence on the part of representatives of the mainstream madrasa community in Pakistan to condemn these “bad” madrasas which pollute the reputation and image of all madrasas whose sole purpose is theological education.

The Ethics of Conversation: Madrasa Discourses in India and Pakistan

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2019 at 9:34 am

Joshua S. Lupo

Recently, I traveled to Pakistan and India to participate in the Madrasa Discourses (MD) project summer intensives. This project aims to enhance the theological, scientific, and theological literacy of recent graduates of Muslim seminaries in south Asia. I had the opportunity to listen to presentations by participants on the relationship between Islamic thought and topics such as evolution, feminism, human rights, and hermeneutics. I also had the chance to share meals, cab rides, chai tea boiled with milk (a new favorite), walks around cities, and visits to various tourist attractions. In these less formal moments, I learned about students’ families, their views on the current political dynamics in their respective countries, and the more mundane habits that make up their days. While these conversations were perhaps less “important” in a purely academic sense, they were significant in building friendship and community with the students. I learned about the importance of family for them personally as well as culturally, what their education was like in the madrasas they attended as younger adults, and the challenges they are facing as they continue their education.