Consequences of encouraging Quamimadrashas

The decision taken recently torecogniseQuamimadrasha degree as at par with graduation degrees obtained by students from the other mainstreams of education in the country, would go unnoticed but for its short and long term consequences. Apparently, it should offend nobody. But any honest examination would show up the adverse economic, political, social and geo-strategic implications of the same.
Without wanting to demean or malign, it can be said irrefutably that madrasha education in general leaves a lot desired. If it had been otherwise, then it would not be considered as unfit to be recognised as a standard and appropriate form of education in the country. Everyone knows that the courses presently taught in theQuamimadrashas are largely based on the tenets of Islam, the practice of Islam and Islamic history, philosophy, law and related subjects. Madrasha education, absorbed seriously, can make its pupils austere practicing Muslims and well versed on Islam. This is not to say that good Muslims are not needed in our society. However, good Muslims are found also among those who have had no masdrasha education but received formal and secular education in the sciences, commerce and the humanities.
The difference is that those who obtain higher degrees in the formal and mainstream education systems of the country are generally found to have fuller education with a relevance to society’s needs. They can fill job slots in different economic sectors and can be counted as productive persons in their particular spheres whereas madrasha degree holders are mainly found to be suitable to serve only as prayer leaders. We surely need prayer leaders but there are probably enough of them and for meeting future needs there is no requirement to dot the countries with madrashas by denying funds to science and technology or other forms of education that only can create true human resources for ready economic application.
The countrywide bombings last year finally alerted the government about the threat from ultra Islamist extremists. Many of them were nabbed by subsequent dragnets of law enforcement bodies. Tracing the background of the arrested individuals, it could be seen that most of them received madrasha education at some stage in their life or were connected to such institutions. Those who feel empathy for madrasha education would say that most of these centres of religious learning are not the reservoirs of terrorism. While this may be accepted with some reservation, the fact is that a large number of them have been found to be the breeding or training grounds of militants who carried out the militant attacksof the last two years. Thus, there is enough ground to generalise that this system of education can foster extreme behaviour .
Anyone with an open mind who cares to mingle with madrasha students cannot fail to note that they suffer from rigid mind-sets. The world, according to them, is a choice between black and white ; there cannot be room for any complexities. One has a choice to either share their world view of standing for Islam and wage jihad against the infidels or be condemned for not doing so. This mental rigidity, failing to appreciate differences of opinion, belief and conduct, make the madrasha educated young ones ideal for use as suicide bombers or for other forms of conduct that derive inspiration from extreme dogmatism or fanaticism that cannot accommodate in the least any opposing thought or action. Persons soaked in madrasha education, therefore, are not expected to be tolerant enough to appreciate the values of democracy, pluralistic societies, human rights and the art of live and let live which is the hallmark of all civilised, peaceful and progressive human societies.
All of the above is really re-stated by this writer because of his complete failure to find rationale in the latest decision of the government to promote rather than regulate and discourage, madrasha education. When it has been amplyrecognised that madrashas are feeding the terrorists or helping to swell their ranks, in this situation, it is simply insensible to create conditions for further luxuriant growth of madrasha education. Reportedly, the number of general educational institutions, which receive government funds, has increased by some 9.74 per cent against a 22.22 per cent growth of madrashas. The latest decision of the government to recognize the degrees of not only Quamimadrashas but other types of madrashas as well, will only inspire the establishment of madrashas at a faster pace.
QuamiMadrasha graduates gaining recognition are expected to sit for public examinations or the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examinations in great number. So far, they had no access to BCS exams as their degrees were not recognized. But now that the bar no longer remains, the floodgates will open and many learners of Quamimadsrasha education will get the opportunity for entering the country’s civil services with their comparatively inadequate knowledge and typical mind-sets. On the one hand, after becoming civil servants they will not help the end of good governance any because of their sheer knowledge deficiency and, on the other, many of them can be expected to work behind the wings for the Islamic extremists to wage Islamic revolution or to Islamise the administration.
It needs no special intellectual abilities to realise either that the ruling party’s alleged and growing fraternity with Islamists are creating serious external concerns and helping to build up a case that Bangladesh is turning into another staging area of Islamic terrorists like Afghanistan was at one time. This is feared and speculated more so because of the alleged links between the extremists and elements within the ruling party. Already, utterances of top ranking leaders in India have been noted that Bangladesh is turning into a country infested by Islamic terrorists who are endangering the security of India. This writer read an article by an American based in Dhaka who underlined that the US and India are having the same outlook as regards the growth of Islamic extremism under official patronisation in Bangladesh which could threaten the security of both India and USA. It was also alluded in that article that the US would probably find nothing disagreeable ifIndia attacks Bangladesh militarily or invades it for a period to root out the extremists. Thus, time is more than ripe to consider what grave dangers to the security of Bangladesh are developing from giving encouragement to fanatical forces.