Madrassas or schools of Islamic theological learning have been in existence for a very long time. These schools impart education relating to purely religious disciplines and traditionally,  the graduates of these schools become prayer leaders as the education imparted in these schools have no relevance to any other occupation. Normally, not all the mosques had Madrassa attached to them. These schools were run on the donations and the administrators, teachers and others attached to these Madrassas had modest means of living. So had the boarders.

Then came the Afghan war (1979-88) when Madrassas in Pakistan were used as Jihad nurseries. Many of the Mujahideen were educated in these Madrassas which were basically Saudi-financed and were used not only for Jihad training but also to teach and spread Wahhabism, a particularly austere and rigid form of Islam which is rooted in Saudi Arabia. This is in spite of the fact that a large majority of Pakistani Muslims do not subscribe to this violent version and are followers of mystic Islam. With Saudi money, the Madrassa became an industry with mushroom growth. These Madrassas may in fact, be richer than expensive and elite school systems.

Around the world, Saudi wealth and charities contributed to an explosive growth of Madrassas during the Afghan jihad against the Soviets. During that war (1979-1989), a new kind of Madrassa emerged in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region — not so much concerned about scholarship as making war on infidels. The enemy then was the Soviet Union, today it’s America. The administrators of these Madrassas now play in a pool of wealth with SUVs and army of personal bodyguards at their service. It shows that Jihad and Madrassa are not for religious reasons anymore, it is a profitable occupation. With free flow of oil money, number of Madrassa all around Pakistan has multiplied in geometrical proportion in recent years. For those interested in quick bucks, Madrassa provides excellent opportunities.

There is no space for the graduates from these schools as there are not as many mosques. The consequence is opening of new mosques and Madrassas and multiplying the number of graduates who are next to illiterates as far as the “worldly” occupations are concerned. The other consequence of violent preaching of Saudi Islam is very obvious and need no explanation. But the fact remains that Madrassa is a business case with huge profits and no business risks. These Madrassas have defeated super powers on economic grounds; for them war has become a losing proposition both in military in economic terms. For Madrassas and Jihad, it is a business case, profits and excellent returns on someone else’s investment. 72 virgins and a mansion in paradise is on top of that. For details please go to: http://www.pbs.org/

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