Following are excerpts from a TV report on religious schools in Pakistan, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on July 9, 2010:
Reporter: The religious school, known as madrasa in the local language of these parts, is defined by Pakistani law as a place where religious knowledge is imparted, and where students receive board and lodging. In this they differ from the study chambers within the mosques, found in almost every one of Pakistan’s mosques, about which there are no precise statistics.
Pakistan is considered to be one of the Islamic countries with the largest number of religious schools – with an estimated 20,000 religious schools in the country’s four provinces.
The Jamia Haqqania in the city of Akora Khattak, in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region, is one of the most renowned Pakistani schools. Tens of thousands of Afghan students studied at this school, and many of them later joined the resistance to the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. They assumed prominent positions in the so-called Afghan mujahideen groups and the Afghan Taliban movement. These include Maulvi Yunis Khalis and Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani – who has the same name as this school – and last but not least, Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban movement. Some people consider Maulvi Sami-ul-Haqq to be the spiritual father of the Afghan Taliban movement.
Samu-ul-Haqq, head of Jamia Haqqania: Thousands of ulama have graduated from here, and none have been arrested for violent acts or involvement in suicide attacks. It is US policy that has produced terrorists. Among the 40 most wanted people worldwide, you will not find a single religious scholar. They are all engineers, geographers, or doctors. Take, for example, Osama Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and their ilk. Most of them studied in Europe. The policies and tyranny of the West are what gave rise to them. None of them graduated from religious schools. They just want to cast a slur on these schools.
I suggest that they shut down the Oxford and Cambridge universities instead, because it is from them that people like this emerge.
A common mistake is to separate politics and religion. Islam is a comprehensive religion, which encompasses everything. It doesn’t separate religion and politics. That is a Western concept. According to the West, the best politician is the one who is best at lying and deceiving. This runs counter to our teachings.
The hadith says: “The Prophets of the Israelites guided them.” Therefore, as religious scholars, we must engage in politics to implement religion. Religious scholars must engage in politics in order to preserve the country’s identity. We do not impose religion upon any human being. What we want is to reform the regime through the parliament, and to implement justice and the shari’a.