Pakistan has 16,059 high schools and at least 10,000 madrasas.The total high school student population stands at 1.6 million while madrasa students are estimated at 1.5 million. The Federal Ministry of Education has a Curriculum Wing and each of the four provinces has a Textbook Board that prescribes books to be used by the high schools.
Pakistan’s madrasas, on the other hand, have the Pakistan Madrasa Education Board (PMEB) which has its own curriculum. And then we have the Deeni Madaris (Voluntary Registration Regulation) Ordinance, the text of which makes it clear that its prescriptions are not compulsory.
Since 9/11, our madrasas are being subjected to microscopic scrutiny. America’s Congressional Research Service alleges “ties between madrasas and terrorist organisation, such as al Qaeda” and asserts that these “religious schools promote Islamic extremism and militancy”. According to the International Crisis Group, the ‘independent, non-profit, multinational organisation, with over 100 staff members on five continents,’ “The international community has seen madrasas as schools of militancy and terrorism. Pressured to contain and reform its jihadi madrasas, Pakistani officials argue that there is no connection between madrasas and terrorism. The truth lies somewhere in between.”
High schools use books prescribed by their textbook boards while madrasas are largely on their own. The real truth about madrasas may indeed lie ‘somewhere in between’ but there is little denying that most promote a particular world-view based on ‘Alam-e-Islam’ and ‘Alam-e-Kufr’ (the ‘world of Islam’ and the ‘world of infidels’). As a consequence, most madrasa students come out believing that the clash between Islam and Kufr is not only ‘natural’ but ‘eternal’ as well.
A.H. Nayyar and Ahmed Salim compiled a 140-page report titled ‘The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan’ according to which the “themes of jihad and shahadat clearly distinguish the pre- and post-1979 educational contents.” The Report shows how post-1979 textbooks “openly eulogise jihad and shahadat and urge students to become mujahids and martyrs.” (SDPI, Islamabad, 2003, also available at www.sdpi.org)
It notes that the official Curriculum Document, Primary Education, Class K-V specifically prescribes “simple stories to urge jihad.” Under ‘Activity 4’, the prescription for three and eight-year old Pakistanis is “To make speeches on jihad and shahadat.”
Here is a sample collection of quotations that are part of Pakistan’s national curricula being taught at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country:
01. “European nations have been working during the past three centuries, through conspiracies on naked aggression to subjugate the countries of the Muslim world.” — Social Studies, Class VII
02. “The foundation of Hindu set up was based on injustice and cruelty.” — Social Studies, Grade VI, page 100
03. “India is a neighbour of Pakistan. Both the countries ought to have good mutual relations but Bharat always maltreated Pakistan.” — Social Studies, Class IV, page 83
04. “India is our traditional enemy and we should always keep ourselves ready to defend our beloved country from Indian aggression.” — Social Studies, Class V, page 123
05. “The Hindus claim Harijans as their integrated part but deal with them in the same manner as they behave with Muslims and other communities.” — Social Studies, Class VI, page 54-55
05. “Children of Bharat: The religion has deep impact on children in Bharat. The Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian children have their own separate identity. They also speak different languages.” — Social Studies, Class VI, page 63
06. “The Hindu children wear dhoti and kurta, while the Muslim children wear shalwar, pajama and kamiz. The Bharati children also like trousers and coat. Hindu children like to eat vegetables and pulses while the favourite food of the Muslim children is meat.” — Social Studies, Class VI, page 63
07. “The Impact of Islam in South Asia : Before the Arab conquest the people were fed up with the teachings of Buddhists and Hindus. The main cause was the benign treatment of Muslims with the Hindus. Due to this attitude Hindus began to love Muslims and they became nearer and nearer to Muslims.” — Social Studies, Class VI, page 97
08. “Some Jewish tribes also lived in Arabia. They lent money to workers and peasants on high rates of interest and usurped earning. They held the whole society in their tight grip because of the ever increasing compound interest.” — Social Studies, Class VII, page 13
09. “All the Christian countries united against the Muslims and sent large armies to attack the holy city of Jerusalem.” — Social Studies, Class VII, page 26
10. “During the Crusades, the Christians came in contact with the Muslims and learnt that the Muslim culture was far superior to their own.” — Social Studies, Class VII, page 28
11. “The Muslims of Pakistan provided all the facilities to the Hindus and the Sikhs who left for India. But the Hindus and the Sikhs looted the Muslims in India with both hands and they attacked their caravans, buses and railway trains. Therefore about one million Muslims were martyred on their way to Pakistan.” — Social Studies, Class IV, page 83
12. “Before Islam people lived in untold misery all over the world.” — Social Studies, Class VII, page 12
13. “Before the advent of Islam, ruthless, strong dictators usurped power and ruled people mercilessly.” — Social Studies, Class VII, page 89
What message is the Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education sending out? Is the essence of the message any different from the madrasa’s world-view? Admittedly, the only two differences may be in the intensity of the message and perhaps the mode of expression of High School students as opposed to Madrasa graduates. Is this hate literature or curriculum?
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist
I now look forward to your views-comments.
P. S. : Kindly forgive me for asking a personal question. Are you a Grandson or “Grand-Nephew” of the Illustrious Late Sikander Hyat Khan Ji – The last Chief Minister of Undivided Punjab?
A well known person From Pok who has written this Article.