Madrassahs Responsible for Decline of Muslim Civilisation

Dr. Taimur Rahman

taimur rahman

Muslim civilisation can never advance as long as it does not do away with the outdated madrassah education system and embrace modern scientific education. For the last 500 years Muslim civilisation has been in an intellectual decline because we simply refuse to embrace modern scientific secular education.

We keep living in the past and talk about Ibne Sina and Al-Khwarizmi. But the madrassah system that stopped all critical thinking after the 13th century ban on ijtehad has gradually become completely outmoded. The only thing they teach is how to memorise things. But they do not teach alternative points of views or critical thinking.

In madrassah a system called Taqlid is encouraged. Taqlid means that we must accept and follow the authority of religious scholars. These scholars wrote more than 700 years ago. But our madrassah system will teach only the bare minimum of anything that has occurred in the modern world. A little bit of maths (nothing about its history or impact on philosophy). A little bit of the languages (nothing from its literature which is mostly considered by madrassah teachers as heretical). A little bit of science but nothing about its battle with faith or its underlying assumptions.

Sir Syed’s great contribution to the modernisation of South Asian Muslims was that he encouraged young Muslims to learn English and acquire modern scientific secular education. This was opposed tooth and nail by the conservatives of his time.


Today Imran Khan is not helping Sir Syed’s cause. He is not modernising education. He is helping the cause of those who always opposed Sir Syed. Those who wanted to go back to the conservative madrassah system.

PTI supporters assure us that he is modernising these madrassahs. Let us look at the record. The first thing PTI did when it took the KPK government was to give the education ministry to Jamaat e Islami (followers of those who always opposed Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). Jamaat immediately went about reversing all the progressive things in the KPK education syllabus and stopped all development of secular scientific education.

And if you are confused about the term secular scientist, let me explain it to you that science is totally secular in its orientation. The word secular means the opposite of sacred. It means that which belongs to the world of matter. To the non-spiritual world. Science seeks the answer to the wonder of this world (not the next).

If you want to catch up to the West, encourage secular scientific education. If you want to stay backward and be the slaves of the advanced countries of the world, continue supporting the enemies of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

  • Purushottam Kulkarni

    well said brother but who listens?in entire pakistan there are very few who think rationally and they are also being eliminated because they are talikg against religeous bigotism

  • Kamath

    Dear author:

    Could you care to explain to your readers where one can find so called “Muslim Civillizations ” or. It’s mini if not dilute form ? Please elaborate a bit more as to the explanation of the idea of civillization.

    Why point out fingers at Madrassahs only? I am told in a country like Pakistan, there are hundreds of them if not thousands! Why not Pak. Govt issue a curriculum that balances religious learning by rote in these institutions? So problem is with the spineless governments who don’t act!


  • Kamath

    Corrections: I meant to say “Muslim Civillizations in the past 5 centuries…..” ,

  • Hafiz, Muhammad Iqbal

    Is this piece of writing can be cites as an example of rational thinking by a so called advocate of liberal and scientific education, who incidentally holds title of a Dr. Firstly, decline of a civilization (I would rather prefer to call it a society) is a very complex phenomenon and is largely controlled by the political and social structure. Madrassahs have been there since more than 1400 years and these institutions have contributed in their own turn and in their own way towards development of arts culture science and civilization. This space does not allow a lengthy discussion in this regard, but in short it will suffice to say that all Muslim scholars and scientists were graduates of these institutions. However, madrassahs cease to play such role when Muslims declined politically.
    Secondly, whether right or wrong, madrassahs are operating in their own sphere, independent of mainstream education system in the country. Failure to produce scientifically trained manpower cannot be attributed to madrassahs. This is the failure of education in this regard is complete failure of the secular elements who are at the helm of affairs of the secular education system. Neither mainstream education system nor its management is in the hands of religious element. Is it not dishonesty then to hold madrassahs responsible for such failure?

  • Harun

    Explosions and gunfire at international terminal of Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. About 35 killed.

    Erdogan’s chickens coming home to roost?

  • Harun

    This picture can speaks thousand words in itself #Istanbul #AtaturkAirport

  • Kamath

    You are right. There are complex factors that have determined the fate of a society or a civillization-inner decay of cultural and intellectual dynamism, wars, natural calamities etc. The World of Islam went down the tube with the rise of the West. Nobody for centuries asked the question,’ what went wrong?’ They put the blame on Mongols’ destruction of Iraq, arrival of colonialism, etc. Now blame the Madrassahs. Just playing victimhood!

  • Kamath

    What are trying to prove here? The bombing of Istanbul airport is because of PKK attacks. Kurds have been demanding freedom from Turkish rule. That is the reason!

  • Studebaker

    Perfect picture.

  • Harun

    US asks China to allow Muslim citizens to worship freely – CAIR National

    This is Bizarre. ‘Great Satan’ USA asks China, the Great Friend of Muslims to let them worship.

  • Studebaker
  • Harun

    The European economic and social crisis is becoming worse with each passing day. One business channel asked me in 2008 how long it might take to recover and I responded saying 40 quarters — they never came back to interview. But now I forecast it may never recover.

    Sri Aurobindo said that India will rise on the ashes of western civilisation and it seems to be coming true. It is important to recognise that the dominance of the West has been there only for last 200 odd years. According to Angus Maddison’s pioneering OECD study, India and China had nearly 50 per cent of global GDP as late as the 1820s. Hence India and China are not emerging or rising powers. They are retrieving their original position. In 1990, the share of the G-7 in world GDP (on a purchasing power parity basis) was 51 per cent and that of emerging markets, 36 per cent. But in 2012, it is the reverse. So the dominant west is a myth.

    Europe is facing three types of crisis – economic, demographic, civilisational and it is not in a position to come out of these. All three are not recent ones; they were developing over a period and are now culminating into a catastrophe.

    The Debt to GDP ratio of most of Europe is at unsustainable levels with our own Britain having above 500 per cent — I say our own since we are going to have to help them run their country sooner than later. There are three major constituents of debt — Government debt, corporate debt and household debt. Of the three, we find household debt has reached nearly 80 to 100 per cent of GDP in most of these countries. The reason is simple — unlike India, households in Europe and USA have forgotten one simple word — savings. They live on debt and are interned by debt.

    The situation is made worse by the unemployment situation. Youth unemployment has reached 55 per cent in Spain and hovering above 30 per cent in most of the other countries. Youth is defined as being between the ages of 16 to 24, unlike in India where even a 43-year-old is a ‘youth icon’. The overall unemployment is at more than 25 per cent in most countries and it is creating social turmoil.

    Along with this is the demographic crisis. The population of Europe during the First World War was nearly 25 per cent. Today it is around 11 per cent and is expected to become 3 per cent in another 20 years. This is mainly due to low reproductive rates and in some countries is as low as 1 when 2.1 is considered as equilibrating rate. Europe will disappear from the world map unless migrants from Africa and Asia take it over. That is why Europe is being referred to as Eurobia and London as Londonistan.

    The root cause of the issue is the attempt in Europe to nationalise families and privatise business. Old age issue/ health issues/ child care issues are all normal family activities that have been taken over by the state and the state is broke. Funded security schemes are facing crisis since not enough numbers are getting in to labour force due to low reproductive rates and unfunded
    security system is in difficulty since taxes are not adequate due to low population growth.

    Coupled with economic and demographic crisis is the crisis of civilisation in Europe. It has renounced the Church and has become secular. Church attendance has fallen significantly and churches have become tourist attractions rather than places of worship.

    Most of the migrants, particularly those doing ‘brown colour work’ – like garbage removal, cleaning plates in restaurant, porter jobs, and grape-picking — are people from Mauritania/ Somalia/ Algeria etc and most are Muslims by faith. Due to a high degree of employment, there is resentment against migrants and this anger is turning into anger against Muslims. Added to this is the new front started by France in Mali to fight Islamic fundamentalists. Africa may become a new Vietnam for Europe.

    Europe is sitting on a time bomb and any small spark could ignite it. Remember that all conflicts in the last 2000 years have started in Europe and became ‘world’ conflicts. India has already given $10 billion or Rs 56,000 crore – nearly one per cent of GDP to help Europe. Not a single European paper or leader has thanked us openly. One can only hope that we need not give more of our GDP or become cannon fodder in anglo-saxon conflicts.

    We can never be certain about our Government. It may involve us in the emerging conflicts since our foreign policy is generally subservient to the anglo-saxon interests and we muddle along instead of doing strategic thinking. The sooner we evolve a strategy, the better, and it should be de-coupled from conflicts and focus on the eastern front.

  • BJK

    It is patently dishonest to blame the physical medium for the underlying message!

  • Harun

    Terror has no religion

    Muslims were spared and non-Muslim hostages slaughtered in ‘Halal’ process – Dhaka slaughter

  • Harun

    – Karada: 18 killed, 45 wounded; car bomb
    – Sha’ab: 6 dead, 12 wounded; self-made explosive

    Baghdad will make you forget Dhaka which erased Istanbul memory that made you forget Orlando which caused amnesia about Brussels. What was 26/11? 9/11?

  • Nuree

    Bangladesh has degenerated into an Islamic fundamentalist country and government is responsible for it

    On Friday morning, I got the news that a terrorist organisation called Ansarul Khilafa from Kerala owing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) had issued a death threat against me on its Facebook page. By the evening, I got the news of the attack by Islamic terrorists in a Dhaka cafe. I was worried for my life for a while. But then, my concerns turned to the lives of the hostages at the Holey Artisan Bakery.
    Bangladesh has already become an Islamic fundamentalist nation. Atheists, secularists, rationalists, bloggers, professors, students, homosexuals, Shias, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are being hacked to death by Islamic terrorists. They kill without fear because the government hardly takes any action against the perpetrators.
    Guilty Until Proven Guilty
    Instead, victims get threatened by the government. The latter accuses freethinkers of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims. This is an overt endorsement of the danse macabre conducted on a regular basis by Islamic obscurantists.
    Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 — that allows the arrest without a warrant of any person who “deliberately publishes any material in electronic form that causes to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or causes to hurt religious belief” — was introduced for one simple purpose: to gag freedom of expression.
    Many bloggers left Bangladesh out of fear. Many stopped expressing their views. No critical analysis of Islam or even Islamic fundamentalism is possible in Bangladesh any more.
    The terrorists at the Dhaka café were 20-25 years old. They were not poor, not illiterate. Heavily indoctrinated in Islam, they shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ while slaughtering people. Those who could recite a Koranic verse were spared. The others were tortured and hacked to death with machetes.
    Those terrorists have nothing but religion. They behaved well with hostages in hijab and hacked non-hijabis — including two Bangladeshi Muslim women, Ishrat Akhand and Abinta Kabir — to death. Faraz Hussain, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, was also among the dead. Tarushi Jain, a 19-year-old University of California student from India, was hacked to death.
    Twenty-eight people were killed, among them 20 were foreigners. Young men have been brainwashed with Islam at home, madrasas and mosques. They have been fed the belief that non-believers, non-Muslims and critics of Islam should be exterminated.
    By killing them, they are successfully taught, they will go to heaven. They have also been taught that ‘jihad’ is mandatory for every Muslim and Muslims should turn Darul Harb (the Land of the Enemy) into Darul Islam (the Land of Islam).
    There is no point trying to confuse the issue by saying that poverty, frustration, lack of jobs and the absence of hope force people to become terrorists.
    It is the other way around. We are often seeing rich and literate, highly qualified professionals becoming terrorists. They join the IS because they know they will be at liberty to do whatever they wish to do, sanctioned to rape and kill and torture.
    Many organisations and institutions in Bangladesh have been funded by Islamic fundamentalists from rich Arab countries for decades. Already, madrasas and mosques are breeding grounds for Islamic fundamentalists.
    Islamisation in Bangladesh started not long after its creation in 1971. It is tragic that Bangladesh, whose very birth was based on secularism and the rejection of the ‘two-nation’ theory, has degenerated into an Islamic fundamentalist country. And the government is to blame for its wilful failure to contain fundamentalism.
    My Way or Fly Away
    In the early 1990s, when I was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, a fatwa was issued against me, a price set on my head, hundreds of thousands of Muslim fundamentalists took to the street demanding my execution, the intellectuals remained silent. Instead of
    cracking down on the fundamentalists, the government filed a case against me on the charges of hurting the religious feelings of people.
    I was forced to leave the country. That was the beginning of what today’s Bangladesh is: full of religionists, fundamentalists, hijabis, burqawalis, an atavistic medieval country.
    Without allowing the criticism of Islam, it will be difficult for Muslim countries to separate the state and religion, to make personal laws based on equality, to have a secular education. And if this does not happen, Muslim countries will remain in darkness forever, breeding people indoctrinated by religion to not tolerate any differences, and where women will never enjoy the right to live as complete human beings.
    People like to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. I, however, have witnessed the opposite since my childhood.
    The time has come for people to tell the truth and listen to it without equivocating: Islam and Islamic fundamentalism don’t have so many differences. Islam isn’t compatible with democracy, human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression.
    You will not be able to kill terrorism by killing terrorists. You have to kill its root cause. You have to stop brainwashing children with religion.
    It is every sane person’s duty to make insane people sane.
    But in the present scenario, the voice of sanity is a cry in wilderness. This has to be changed. Good and sensible people must speak up. Because the silence of the good is the strength of the bad.

    Tasleema Nasreen