Pedagogy and Discipline in Madrasas

Term Paper, 2013

17 Pages, Grade: 72%




The genesis of education in the Mosques dates back to the times of the Islamic prophet Mohammad. It was the centre for knowledge and solution for people’s problem in life. Over the years religious institutes for education started operating from inside these mosques and were named Madrasa. These Islamic educational institutes play a crucial role for the people of the Muslim community. Madrasas are now considered to be supplementary schools for this specific community. Children are sent to Madrasas from an early age to learn the religious scripture and identify their roots and culture. Changing times have focussed on the real applicability of Madrasa education. Insider elaboration of the facts of Madrasa education is undoubtedly questionable. Out dated pedagogy and corporal punishment for behaviour modification is a daily routine which is seriously harming the children. These children face an uncertain future and are deprived from quality education. Children from poor family attending madrasas for free education end with very little knowledge about secular subjects.


Madrasas are the identities of the Islamic culture and studies connected with the relevant needs of the Muslim societies across the world. Usually the Madrasas are religious schools upholding the teachings of the Ulemas (Islamic clerical scholars) but some Madrasas teach other vocational courses. Many countries like India and Britain have given the Muslims an official minority status. They have been granted the right to establish Madrasas and practice their own religion without the excessive interference of the state. The Madrasas’ are often influenced by the political, ideological and electoral interest of the political parties and the Muslim religious leaders (Nair, 2009). There are various definitions for Madrasas. According to Arabic language, Madrasas means every type of school without any differentiation between secular and non-secular schools. However, different writers have defined Madrasas in different terms. In United Kingdom, Madrasas means specific schools having Islam features and operating out of the “mainstream educational system” (Cherti et al, 2011). According to Hayer (2009) Madrasas means “unofficial Islamic schools”. The Muslim parliament of Great Britain in 2006 termed it as “mosque schools”. MacEoin (2009) defined Madrasas as schools holding classes in the evening and weekend to give extra knowledge about Quran to the Muslim children. The Madrasas are usually considered to be additional schools for Muslim society providing Islamic knowledge and education to safeguard the spiritual, cultural, religious and linguistic characteristics of the community. Madrasas basically impart education by teaching the Quran and discussing the Islamic religion. These classes in most cases are held in the Mosques and are funded by the donation from the community and the fees from the students (Rashid, Latif and Begum, 2006). In the recent times Madrasas have been attracting huge focus from the governments of different countries like USA, Britain and India. The fundamentalism attitude and the ideology of the traditional Islamic education is the main reason for such dominant attraction (ICG, 2002).

According to (Singh, N.D) Madrasas have earned the reputation of fundamentalism due to Islamization. The Ulemas teach traditional practices and beliefs to the children. This reputation led to view that violence and extremism grew its roots from Madrasas. The children in the Madrasas were trained from their childhood to follow the path of Islamization and the code of conduct to achieve this specific process was the behaviour model for children studying in these kinds of institutions. The philosophy of “Deobandism” in Pakistan and Afghanistan fuelled the fundamentalism image of the Madrasas. Deobandism is a philosophy that reins a structured system of education which promotes a single vision of Islam with an idea to develop an organization of trained personnel of “activitist-scholars” with an assignment to oppose an apparent external danger to Islam in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Madrasas in various countries have also come into highlight not only for their education system but also for the corporal punishment meted out to the children. Britain, India and Pakistan along with few other countries have all reported various forms and intensities of corporal punishments given to children in Madrasas. The debate continues regarding pedagogies that are intensely ingrained within the indoctrinal forms of behaviourism. The behaviour and the discipline entrenched within the education system of the Madrasas are also coloured by the Ulemas(teachers) personal views, opinion, knowledge, religious and political settings (Porter, 2007). Does the punishment help the child to assimilate into the cultural colour of the Muslim society? What is the reason for such serious forms of punishment? Are the education system and the punishments in the Madrasas an acceptable form of imparting knowledge within the larger society? Is the education standard of these Madrasas acceptable and suitable enough to develop a normal child? The Institute of Public Policy Research in United Kingdom has profoundly questioned the existence of Madrasas. Several researches were conducted and reports were submitted in the British parliament about the quality of education and discipline of the children (Cherti and Bradley, 2011).


The content of the curriculum contributes significantly in influencing the minds of the young children. Pedagogical practices have always ensured the fact that the learner should achieve the intended learning outcome to make further progress in gaining knowledge. This section of the essay will focus extensively on the pedagogical practices and beliefs of the Ulemas (Islamic clerical teachers) in Madrasas. The attitude of the Ulemas and their teachings has always radically influenced the students and has massive impact on their character. Most of these Ulemas are trained in overseas Muslim countries and have little knowledge about secular subjects and pedagogical practices in the classroom (IPPR, 2011). The curriculum and the education imparted in the Madrasas have been increasingly scrutinized to evaluate the rationality and applicability of it in the modern educational context. The researchers have significantly questioned the quality of the education to find out whether it meets the criteria for the required knowledge and develops the child to face the demand of the job sector. Madrasas have always enjoyed power and autonomy to decide the curriculum which is heavily influenced by the Imams of the Mosques (Ahmed, 2007).

Schwab (1983) an prominent curriculum theorist who had stated in one of his most dominant assertion that, Curriculum is what is successfully conveyed to differing degrees to different students, by committed teachers using appropriate materials and actions, of legitimated bodies of knowledge, skill, taste, and propensity to act and react, which are chosen for instruction after serious reflection and communal decision by representatives of those involved in the teaching of a specified group of students who are known to the decision makers (p.240).

Dillon (2009) had converted the statement of Schwab regarding the curriculum and its importance in school education into a table which fulfils the definition, properties, conceptions, ascriptions in a coherent form. The curriculum question can be used to understand the quality and effectiveness of education in the Madrasas. According to Tyler (1949:1) education should have a purpose and should be aimed at achieving a goal or attainment. It gives an experience to attain the objective and can be organised effectively in future for achieving the purpose of the education.


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Pedagogy and Discipline in Madrasas
University of Manchester  (University of Manchester/ Department of Education)
Master in Educational Leadership and school Improvement
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pedagogy, discipline, madrasas
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Alpona Halder (Author), 2013, Pedagogy and Discipline in Madrasas, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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