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«THESIS PAKISTAN, MADRASSAS, AND MILITANCY by Daniel L. Billquist and Jason M. Colbert December 2006 Thesis Advisor: Glenn Robinson Thesis Co-Advisor: ...»

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NAVAL

POSTGRADUATE

SCHOOL

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA

THESIS

PAKISTAN, MADRASSAS, AND MILITANCY

by

Daniel L. Billquist

and

Jason M. Colbert

December 2006

Thesis Advisor: Glenn Robinson

Thesis Co-Advisor: Heather Gregg Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

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1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank) 2. REPORT DATE 3. REPORT TYPE AND DATES COVERED December 2006 Master’s Thesis

4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE Pakistan, Madrassas, and Militancy 5. FUNDING NUMBERS

6. AUTHOR(S) Daniel L. Billquist and Jason M. Colbert

7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION

REPORT NUMBER

Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, CA 93943-5000

9. SPONSORING /MONITORING AGENCY NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 10. SPONSORING/MONITORING

AGENCY REPORT NUMBER

N/A

11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

12a. DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY STATEMENT 12b. DISTRIBUTION CODE Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

13.

Abstract

(maximum 200 words) Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the US government has become increasingly concerned with madrassas, Islamic schools of religious education in Central and South Asia.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced these religious seminaries as radical institutions which produce Islamic jihadists capable of threatening U.S.

national security and interests.

This thesis examines the history and current evidence available on madrassas. Specifically, it analyzes their historical evolution and reaction to domestic, regional and international developments. It finds that there is little evidence to connect madrassas to transnational terrorism, and that they are not a direct threat to the United States. However, Pakistani madrassas do have ties to domestic and regional violence, particularly Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in Pakistan and the Pakistani-Indian conflict in Kashmir, making them a regional security concern. This thesis argues that the best path for combating religious militancy in madrassas is by helping to create better alternatives to madrassa education, including state run and private schools, and not by targeting madrassas directly.

–  –  –

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the US government has become increasingly concerned with madrassas, Islamic schools of religious education in Central and South Asia. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced these religious seminaries as radical institutions which produce Islamic jihadists capable of threatening U.S. national security and interests.

This thesis examines the history and current evidence available on madrassas. Specifically, it analyzes their historical evolution and reaction to domestic, regional and international developments. It finds that there is little evidence to connect madrassas to transnational terrorism, and that they are not a direct threat to the United States. However, Pakistani madrassas do have ties to domestic and regional violence, particularly Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in Pakistan and the Pakistani-Indian conflict in Kashmir, making them a regional security concern. This thesis argues that the best path for combating religious militancy in madrassas is by helping to create better alternatives to madrassa education, including state run and private schools, and not by targeting madrassas directly.

–  –  –

I. INTRODUCTION

A. INTRODUCTION

B. PURPOSE

C. CONCLUSION

II. WHAT ARE MADRASSAS?

A. WHAT IS A MADRASSA?

B. EARLY ISLAMIC EDUCATION INFLEUNCES AND

INSTITUTIONS

C. THE MADRASSAS’ RISE AND DECLINE

D. MADRASSA CURRICULUM

E. CONCLUSION

III. PAKISTAN AS THE FOCAL POINT

A. INTRODUCTION

B. PAKISTAN: A LAND OF COMPETING IDENTITIES





C. ISLAMIC DIVISION OF PAKISTAN

1. Sunni Divisions within Pakistan

2. Shi’ia Division within Pakistan

3. Jamat-i-Islami

D. MADRASSAS OF PAKISTAN

1. Madrassas and the Pakistani Education System................ 25

2. School Enrollment in Pakistan

3. Who Attends Madrassas?

4. Spheres of Influence

5. What Do Madrassas Teach?

E. CONCLUSION

IV. MADRASSAS, POLITICS, AND MILITANCY

A. INTRODUCTION

B. RELIGION IN POLITICS

C. CATALYTIC EVENTS

D. MADRASSA, SECTARIANISM, AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE......... 43

1. Transnational Terrorism

2. Regional Violence

3. Sectarian Violence

E. CONCLUSION

V. AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE OF MADRASSAS

A. INTRODUCTION

B. EARLY PERSPECTIVES OF MADRASSAS IN COLONIAL INDIA.. 56

C. 1947 TO 1970S

D. SOVIET INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN AND RISE OF THE

TALIBAN

vii E. 9/11 TO THE PRESENT

F. CONCLUSION

VI. CONCLUSION

A. INTRODUCTION

B. FINDINGS

1. Madrassas and Trans-National Terrorism

2. Madrassas’ Relationship to Regional and Sectarian Violence

3. Events Influencing Extremism in Madrassas

4. The America Perception of Madrassas

C. U.S. POLICY INITIATIVES

LIST OF REFERENCES

INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST

–  –  –

The authors would like to thank our families, friends, and colleagues for their support in completion of this project. We would also like to acknowledge the outstanding guidance and support of our thesis advisors and professors. We are also indebted to several South Asian scholars for their support and insight.

–  –  –

A. INTRODUCTION In a memorandum dated 16 October 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld posed the following to his Deputy Defense Secretaries and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Today, we lack the metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists everyday than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?1 The debate over the possible link between Muslim militancy and Muslim religious schools, which are known as a madrassa (this paper will use the common current plural form of madrassas in lieu of the correct Arabic plural madaris), actually pre-dates the September 11,attacks. After 9/11, this debate drew more attention as America looked for reasons behind the actions of the nineteen Muslim men involved. Britain began asking similar questions after the July 2005 London subway bombing, when it was announced that three of the suicide bombers recently traveled to Pakistan seeking religious training. No evidence has been uncovered to link any of the 9/11 attackers or London subway bombers to madrassas or even any formal Islamic education.2 Even with the lack of corroborating evidence, politicians in Great Britain and the United States continue to speculate that links exist between Islamic religious schools, madrassas, and increased Muslim militancy. The fifth anniversary of 9/11 and the first anniversary of the London subway bombings re-invigorated the discussion, research, debate and study of madrassa and Islamic extremism. The interest in this topic has extended beyond politics to include academics, media, and the concerned publics of many Western nations. Given all this political and 1 This confidential memorandum written by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was leaked to the news media as was published in its entirety by USAToday on 22 October 2003.

Retrieved May 23, 2006 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/executive/rumsfeldmemo.htm.

2 William Dalrymple, “Inside the Madrassa” New York Review of Books. 52:19. December 1, 2005. 19.

1 public scrutiny, the fundamental question still exists: “What role, if any, does attendance at a madrassa play in the radicalization of Muslims into Jihadists?” In the past few years, various attempts have been made to study madrassas and their potential Islamist link. At the macro level, the data so far has been rather consistent in refuting the notion that madrassa education leads to involvement with global terrorism.3 To further focus the research on this issue, this thesis focuses on Pakistan due to their large madrassas population and assertions of their involvement with militancy. When looking at Pakistan, the data does support the existence of links between madrassas and regional and sectarian conflict.4 The relevance of this connection should not be viewed as a condemnation of the entire Pakistani madrassa system, since only a minority of madrassas can be conclusively linked to militancy. The majority of madrassas in Pakistan serve as a source of religious education and training. It is important though, not to overlook the potential impact on regional and internal security which the militant madrassas pose.

Evidence demonstrates madrassa attendance preconditions students toward Islamic militancy; however, current data does not support the supposition that madrassas are producing global jihadists. The facts lend credence to the argument that some madrassas are involved in radicalization, which influences students to become involved with regional and sectarian jihad.

B. PURPOSE To provide sufficient contextual information on the madrassa, sectarianism and Islamic militancy, this paper consists of three distinct sections. The first section, which includes Chapters II and III, is designed to provide the necessary background information on the madrassa. Chapter II focuses on defining “madrassa” and provides an historical background. It looks at the general

3 Marc Sageman. Understanding Terror Networks, Princeton University Press, 2004.

Peter Bergan “The Madrassa Scapegoat,” The Washington Quarterly 29:2 (Spring 2006), 117.

4 Ali Riaz. Global Jihad, Sectarianism and the Madrassas in Pakistan. Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, Singapore, Working Paper No. 85. August 2005.

Saleem Ali. Islamic Education and Conflict: Understanding the Madrassas of Pakistan.

Oxford University Press. August 2005.

2 development of the madrassa as a center for Islamic learning during the period of classic Islam and discusses how “madrassa” is used throughout the Muslim world today. Chapter III examines the paper’s focal point, Pakistan. This chapter describes the diverse Islamic community within Pakistan. It discusses the madrassa position and roles within the various Islamic communities. Chapter III also examines the potential impact madrassas can have, based on their market share of the Pakistani education system.

The next section, Chapter IV, explores links among sectarianism, militancy and madrassas in contemporary Pakistan. This chapter looks at the role the madrassa has in sectarianism and militancy. To demonstrate the historical depth of this issue, key events in the history of Pakistan, which served to catalyze sectarianism and militancy, are revealed and discussed. Also covered are events outside Pakistan, which have increased the sectarian division and influenced the rise of militancy within Pakistani madrassas. Finally, Islamic militancy in Pakistan is explored and discussed as it relates to militancy at the local sectarian level, regionally and trans-nationally. This serves to clearly delineate known madrassas involvement with Islamic militancy at the research defined levels.

The final sections offer a comparative view of madrassas as well as actions taken since 9/11 to address concerns. Chapters V and VI examine the differing perspectives of the role, utility and challenges offered by Pakistani madrassas. Chapter V examines American perceptions of madrassas. Chapter VI provides a summary of findings and looks at an American policy initiative to assist Pakistan with improving its education system. The most common American perspective of Pakistani madrassas is characterized by the belief that these schools are widely attended and bent on spreading intolerance and hatred.

These assertions culminate in a direct contribution to global terror and terrorism.

While these allegations have some merit, they are somewhat overstated and alarmist, leading to a misperception of the true nature of the problem. The Pakistani perception may offer a more relevant and useful examination of the problem with many Pakistani madrassas. While no definitive evidence supports 3 a link from madrassas to transnational terrorism, there is ample support that some madrassas have contributed to sectarian strife and destabilization in parts of the country. This has concerned both the Musharraf government of Pakistan and the Pakistani population—for many of the same reasons and some quite different ones. However, the majority of madrassas do not play a significant role in spreading such discontent, intolerance and violence, and remain an invaluable, if not irreplaceable, asset to the Pakistani population at large.



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