Religion in school, interreligious relations and citizenship: The case of Pakistan , British Journal of Religious Education 2: 2008, pp. 143-154.


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Religion in school, interreligious relations and citizenship: The case of Pakistan , British Journal of Religious Education 2: 2008, pp. 143-154.
   PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE This article was downloaded by: [UBO Bibliotek for Humaniora og Samfunnsviten]  On: 25 September 2008  Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 789194714]  Publisher Routledge  Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK British Journal of Religious Education Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: Religion in school, interreligious relations and citizenship: the case of Pakistan Oddbjørn Leirvik aa Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, Oslo, NorwayOnline Publication Date: 01 March 2008 To cite this Article Leirvik, Oddbjørn(2008)'Religion in school, interreligious relations and citizenship: the case of Pakistan',BritishJournal of Religious Education,30:2,143 — 154 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01416200701831069 URL: Full terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.   British Journal of Religious Education Vol. 30, No. 2, March 2008, 143–154 ISSN 0141-6200 print/ISSN 1740-7931 online© 2008 Christian EducationDOI: 10.1080/01416200701831069 Religion in school, interreligious relations and citizenship:the case of Pakistan Oddbjørn Leirvik*  Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway TaylorandFrancisCBRE_A_283228.sgm10.1080/01416200701831069BritishJournalofReligiousEducation0141-6200(print)/1740-7931(online)OriginalArticle2008Taylor&Francis3020000002008ProfessorOddbjornLeirvik The article analyses the relation between religion, education and citizenship as reflected inrecent research and current debates regarding religion in Pakistani schools. Following adescription of the political context, two different views (one Christian, one Muslim) on thecurrent state of affairs are presented. After a consideration of the madrasa system and itsalleged role in fostering intolerance, the article focuses mainly on the role of religion in thecurricula of government-run schools. The article ends by considering prospects for reform. Keywords: Islamisation; Pakistan; religion in school In this article, I will present and discuss recent research and consider current debates on the roleof religion in Pakistani schools, in light of the wider issues of Islamisation, interreligious relationsand equal citizenship. In addition to published material, the article builds upon information shared  by educators and researchers during the visit of a delegation from the Oslo Coalition on Freedomof Religion or Belief to Pakistan in November 2005 as well as papers for a conference held by theOslo Coalition’s Teaching for Tolerance project in the same year.The aim of the current article is to give an overview of recent research and a provisionalanalysis of current debates on religion in Pakistani schools. The main emphasis will be on devel-opments in the public school system. Attention will also be paid to the madrasa sector, althoughin recent debates the role of the madrasas and the numbers of students involved seem often to beexaggerated.After 9/11, a number of critical reports on Islamic madrasas and their curriculum have been produced, by international observers and agencies such as the International Crisis Group (ICG).The focus of the madrasa reports and debates has been whether or not their curricula and textbooks incite hatred against other religions and motivate youngsters to engage in jihad againstthe West. The Government of Pakistan has long promised and in part introduced regulationsaimed at controlling the madrasas, their curricula and enrolment. These measures have been metwith resistance from the madrasa networks, which oppose state control of religion.In the same period, critical reports and research articles have been published on curricula and textbooks used in Pakistani  public schools – highlighting alleged religious indoctrination, narrowdefinitions of citizenship, the exclusion of religious minorities, hostile images of India and Hinduism and gender bias. As in the case of the madrasas, the issue of biased public school curric-ula has caught the attention of the international community and some pressure – not least fromthe USA – has been exerted on Pakistan to revise its curricula and textbooks (Khan 2005).Besides, there are also strong internal forces working for reform (Murphy 2005). Parallel tonational and international debates, the Ministry of Education has declared its intention to makesome revisions in the curricula and textbooks in question. *Email:  D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U B O  Bibli o t ek f o r  H u m a ni o r a  o g  S a mf u n n s vi t e n]  A t : 17 :17 25  S e p t e mb e r 2008  144 O. Leirvik  Political context The context of current debates on religion in school is a political situation in which the governmenttries to maintain a balance between conservative religious parties, minorities under pressure and secular-minded human rights activists.Religion did not permeate the entire educational system in Pakistan until the military regimeof Zia-ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988. In alliance with conservative Muslim forces, Zia-ul-Haq reorganised the educational sector according to his interpretation of Islamic doctrines and whatwas termed the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’. Following Zia-ul-Haq’s measures, the Enforcement of Shariah Act from 1991 directed the state to set up a committee to further examine the Islamisationof education (Amjad-Ali and Amjad-Ali 1993, 41).Given the all-encompassing nature of the Islamisation policy, the issue of religion in schoolis part of a wider discussion of religion, legislation and citizenship. The Constitution of Pakistan proclaims Islam to be the state religion and its Article 227 prescribes that all existing laws should  be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. For this purpose, a Council of IslamicIdeology was established in 1962.With regard to legislation, the debate has concentrated upon the ‘hudood ordinances’ of 1979, 1 the blasphemy law of 1985 (§ 295 of the Penal Code) and the aforementioned Enforcementof Shariah Act from 1991 (Amjad-Ali and Amjad-Ali 1993). The blasphemy law renders anyonewho is found guilty of defiling either ‘the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed’ or a copyof the Holy Qur’an punishable by death or life imprisonment, and is generally seen by humanrights observers as oppressive for both Muslim minorities and Christians who often face falseaccusations under this law (Shakir 1998; National Commission for Justice and Peace [NCJP]2005, 38–52).The practice of the hudood ordinances has rendered both women and religious minoritiesvulnerable to abuse and discrimination, for instance by making raped women liable to a chargeof adultery and by reducing the value of a non-Muslim’s witness in court. Following a criticalreport on the hudood ordinances by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW2003), some changes were proposed by the Council of Islamic Ideology in 2006 (Masud 2006).However, human rights activists have criticised the government for not going far enough and for ‘succumbing to mullah pressure’ (Shakir 2006). Two different perspectives In November 2005, the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Turkish Centrefor Values Education held a workshop in Istanbul on ‘  Learning about the Other and Teaching for Tolerance in Muslim Majority Societies ’ (Kaymakcan and Leirvik 2007). The workshop broughttogether scholars and educators from Bosnia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria, Palestine,Turkey and Western Europe.One Christian and one Muslim participant from Pakistan (nominated by the World Councilof Religions - Pakistan [WCR-P]) were also invited to take part in the workshop but could not participate for practical reasons. The papers they prepared for the workshop demonstrate howdifferently the current state of affairs in Pakistan can be seen.The Christian contribution was prepared by Naeem Shakir, a well-known lawyer and humanrights activist in Pakistan. In his paper entitled ‘  Education for building a pluralistic society in Pakistan – a socio-political perspective ’ (Shakir 2005), Shakir emphasises the political framework of education in Pakistan and the closely intertwined processes of militarisation and Islamisationinitiated under Zia-ul-Haq: ‘three generations of this unfortunate nation were taught how to become a war hero and how bad guys were non-Muslims. The concept of jihad was propagated at state level through literature and mass media’. In the same period, he notes: ‘the mullahs spread   D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U B O  Bibli o t ek f o r  H u m a ni o r a  o g  S a mf u n n s vi t e n]  A t : 17 :17 25  S e p t e mb e r 2008   British Journal of Religious Education 145orthodoxy and obscurantism and sectarian violence through the madrassa’. Through these processes, Shakir argues: ‘socio-political tolerance completely disappeared amongst the people.And the religious minorities were victimised and persecuted’ (Shakir 2005, 2).Shakir also notes that Islam as the state religion has been used to legitimise a number of constitutional amendments and Sharia-based laws that have worsened the situation of women and non-Muslims who are ‘not provided equality under various laws of the land and thus both sectionsof the society stand marginalised’ (3).In the latter part of his contribution in which Shakir refers more directly to the question of religion in school, he claims that textbooks in Social Studies and other subjects are permeated  by the idea that Muslims constitute a perfect community. Whereas other religions (Christians,Jews, Hindus) are generally depicted unfavourably, Muslims are eulogised for their moralityand bravery (3).In Shakir’s view, one can hardly expect textbooks to be any different given the Islamicideology that dominates Pakistan’s constitution and the country’s legislation. Thus, the ques-tion of education for tolerance in school becomes rather a socio-political question than a pedagogical one. Shakir concludes his contribution by criticising the fundamentalist profile of the madrasas and the compliant attitude of the present government towards conservativereligious groups.The Muslim contribution to the workshop was written by Muhammad Hanif Jalandhry, a prominent representative of the madrasa sector in Pakistan who is heading the country’s largestmadrasa network, Wiqaf-ul-Madaris Al-Arabia, which belongs to the Deobandi school. Jalandhryis also heading an alliance of the five main madrasa networks in Pakistan (Ittehad TanzeematulMadaris-e-Deenya), which was formed in opposition to the madrasa regulations put forward bythe government in 2002 (Coulson 2004; ICG 2004a, 6). He is also an active member of the inter-religious network WCR-P which was established in 2004 through Norwegian mediation, with theleaders of the five madrasa networks and Church of Pakistan bishops as founding members(WCR-P 2004).Jalandhry’s contribution to the workshop in Istanbul was entitled ‘  Learning about other religions and tolerance education in Muslim majority societies ’ and reveals a very different perspective from that of Shakir’s. Whereas Shakir speaks from a Christian minority perspectiveand focuses entirely on the Pakistani context, Jalandhry takes a global approach which allows himto present  Muslims as a group under pressure.Jalandhry begins his paper by criticising the very title of the workshop for being biased,since it seems to imply that ‘religious intolerance and bigotry is prevalent only in societieswhich are mainly Muslim dominated’ (Jalandhry 2005, 1). In his view, the workshop titlereflects the zeal of ‘the world intelligentsia and the so called thinkers’ to educate Muslimsocieties in tolerance.Against the perceived agenda of the workshop, Jalandhry argues that it is in fact the Muslimswho in recent years have been systematically discriminated against and persecuted – in placessuch as Bosnia, Chechnya, Philippines, China and India. He goes on to suggest that ‘Muslims onthe whole are much more tolerant than any other religion, race or class’ (2). Whereas Muslimshave always offered a general amnesty to their enemies once they were defeated, historically theChristians have celebrated their victories by massacre and genocide.In this polemical perspective, Jalandhry calls upon the organisers to redefine the aim of theworkshop so as to deal with intolerance against Muslims worldwide. He challenges the participantsto cite a single example where Muslims, when in power, have denied non-Muslims their rights.In a more positive vein, he invites the workshop to define what is meant by tolerance and intol-erance, with the aim of formulating ‘a morality code’ for the interaction between the minoritiesand majorities (3).  D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U B O  Bibli o t ek f o r  H u m a ni o r a  o g  S a mf u n n s vi t e n]  A t : 17 :17 25  S e p t e mb e r 2008  146 O. Leirvik  With reference to the current debates on Islamisation in Pakistan, he argues that different rulesfor different religious groups should not be characterised as religious intolerance. Claiming thatthere is currently ‘a wave of negative propaganda against Pakistan and its religious institutions’,implying ‘that there is a lack of tolerance here’ (4), Jalandhry concludes his paper with a defenceof the country’s blasphemy law as well as of its special legislation against Ahmadis (which makesit punishable for Ahmadis to act as Muslims). The madrasa sector in Pakistan: historical background As noted, Jalandhry’s institutional affiliation is with Pakistan’s madrasa system. Historically,madrasas represent an ancient system of personalised learning in the Muslim world. The tradi-tional Dars-e-Nizami madrasa curriculum was developed in Lucknow, India, in the eighteenthcentury (Zaman 1999, 303). From the nineteenth century onwards, the religious part of thecurriculum ( al-uloom al-naqliya , ‘transmitted sciences’) was supplemented by subjects such asmedicine, mathematics, history, philosophy and polemics ( al-uloom al-aqliya , ‘rationalsciences’). More recently, many madrasas have also included in their curricula modern secular subjects such as English, Pakistan Studies, general science and computer sciences (ICG 2002,4ff.).Trying to counter the widespread negative image of madrasas, some observers have empha-sised their historic role as egalitarian institutions of Islamic learning: ‘madrasas may not becutting-edge in their educational philosophy, but they do provide the poor with a way of gainingliteracy and a real hope of advancing themselves’ (Dalrymple 2005a, 2005b).With regard to citizenship education, however, it is clear that the madrasas have a confes-sional rather than a national outlook. Historically, the development of the madrasa system has been bound up with sectarian strife and competition between different Muslim groups (Rahman2004). The modern development of madrasas in the Indian subcontinent was spearheaded by the puritanical Deobandi school srcinating from the Darul Uloom Deoband which was established in 1867 (Zaman 1999, 304). During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, madrasas have also been established by competing Sunni Muslim movements such as Barelwis (which represents thecustomary folk Islam of the continent with its shrines and veneration of   pirs ), the Ahl-i-Hadith(which is puritanical in its orientation like Deoband but closer to the Saudi-based Wahabi or Salafi movement) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (the Islamist party which was established by Abul AlaMaududi). Together with the Shiite madrasas, this gives a total of five national networks of madrasas in Pakistan.The aforementioned establishment of an alliance between the madrasa networks in 2002might signal a more ecumenical orientation of the madrasa sector – in tune with the politicalMMA-alliance that has been struck between religious political parties against secular- or liberal-minded politicians as a common enemy. How influential are the madrasas? Although ‘madrasa’ has become a catchword for international fears of resurgent Islam, evalua-tions of their actual impact on Pakistani society vary considerably. Shortly after 9/11, P.W. Singer claimed that the madrasas had ‘taken on a primary role in Pakistan’s education system’ whichthey now ‘dominate’ as a result of the government’s failure to provide free education for all(Singer 2001, 5, 9).But how large is the madrasa sector? In his article, Singer cites an estimate of 45,000 madra-sas in Pakistan, a number that corresponds more or less to figures stated for the broader categoryof ‘mosque schools’ in a government policy document from 1998 (Pitman and Chishtie 2004,  D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ U B O  Bibli o t ek f o r  H u m a ni o r a  o g  S a mf u n n s vi t e n]  A t : 17 :17 25  S e p t e mb e r 2008
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