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Scholars urge enhanced interaction between madrasa students and other segments of society

Madrasa students should enhance their interaction with other segments of the society and influence others by presenting themselves as role models of peaceful, insightful and responsible Muslims and citizens. They should not only accept the reality of how others think about them but also prepare themselves through dialogue with other segments and by acquiring education and knowledge to respond positively. As the world does not judge Muslims by the theoretical and ideological narratives of Islam but how the latter practice Islam and play their roles, it is incumbent on all of us including madrasa students and teachers to learn to live responsibly and peacefully in this plural and diverse world. These views were expressed by speakers and discussants of a one-day training workshop with madrasa students and religious scholars organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) in Karachi on October 24, 2011.

More than 300 students from leading madrassas in Karachi and religious scholars hailing from different schools of thought participated. The training workshop was the second in a series of workshops planned by the PIPS and an Ulama Advisory Board as part of a recently launched initiative meant to engage religious scholars for promotion of peace and religious harmony in Pakistani society. The first training workshop was held in Islamabad on September 19.

Professor Syed Jaffar Ahmad, Director of the Pakistan Study Centre at the University of Karachi, said Pakistan has been facing multiple challenges and problems at internal and external fronts for the last many years mainly due to the inherent weaknesses of the state to govern amid a plethora of problems. Therefore it is incumbent upon civil society organizations and other segments of the society to play their active roles. He stated that it was need of the hour to encourage the culture of dialogue among different segments of society for long-lasting peace. The uncertainty over peace, security, governance and the system of justice has generated a sense of deprivation in society, he said. He called for an increased role of religious scholars at national and regional levels to work towards the promotion of peace and sectarian harmony.

Senior journalist and director current affairs at the CNBC television channel Mujahid Barelvi highlighted the role of media in the context of new era of challenges. He said Pakistani media could play a vital role in promoting peace and harmony among different segments of society as it is considered fourth pillar of the state. However, with the mushroom growth of private TV news channels, journalism in Pakistan, especially broadcast journalism, has become a commercial enterprise. Instead of playing their due role of honest and informed public opinion makers, media houses and channels are more concerned about their public ratings.

Discussing the importance of governance and rule of law in a state, Director of Centre for Public Policy and Governance at F.C. College Lahore Dr. Saeed Shafqat said that the people should know all those rights which are enshrined in the Constitution.  After the breakup of Pakistan in 1971, we got a Constitution in 1973, but till date no government has succeeded in implementing it in its true letter and spirit, he added.  He upheld that the Constitution was like a contract between the rulers and the people which defined roles and responsibilities of the rulers and the subjects, or citizens, within constitutional limits. Unfortunately, the Pakistani rulers were not following the democracy norms of the constitutions. Furthermore lack of research, absence of critical thinking and free spirit of inquiry in Pakistani education system were reinforcing dogmatism and polarization in the society. Through overhauling the public education system and introducing some madrasa reforms peace and tolerance cab be restored.

Chairman of Committee of International Law at Lahore High Court Usman Khan Advocate discussed at length the evolution of Islamic laws in Pakistan. He said that the 1973 Constitution has a preamble that forms the basis of Islamic legislation and Article 2 of the Constitution clearly mentions that Islam is the religion of Pakistan, and the ninth chapter of the Constitution lays out the procedures of Islamic legislation. He explained the importance of the International Law for a sate and said that Kashmir was considered as a problem due to it. Harris Ramzan, a research fellow at research society of International Law Pakistan, also spoke about the importance of the Constitution and said that every citizen has the right to know its rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Chairman Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman stated it is impossible to impose one’s ideas on others in this plural and diverse world. Therefore it is important to understand the views and opinions of others and acquire higher religious and educational scholarship to respond to emerging challenges effectively. He discouraged all manners of violence in the society. He said religious scholars should discourage ethnic and racial divisions and should tell people that all are equal in Islam. It would lead Muslims to have a prosperous life. He stated that many of the difficulties we face today are due to lack of the elements of research and logic in the religious discourse.

President Wafaqul Madaaris Salfia Sindh and Principal Jamia Sattaria Karachi Maulana Muhammad Salafi said that the religious clerics should set examples for others through their exemplary character. They should be lenient to the public to convey the peaceful messages of Islam. President Rabitaul Madaaris Sindh Qari Muhammad Zameer Akhtar Mansoori also stated that the religious scholars should play their role for creation of a peaceful and balanced society. He added that ethnic and linguistic tensions were also dividing the people.
The madrassas whose students attended the workshop are listed below:

  • Jamia Banoria, Site Area, Karachi
  • Jamia Naeemia Karachi
  • Idara Qamarul Islam Karachi
  • Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia Allama Muhammad Yousaf Banori Town
  • Jamia Sattaria Karachi
  • Jamia Al-Falah Karachi
  • Jamia Elmia Karachi
  • Jamia Taleemat-e-Islami Karachi