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Encyclopedia > Madrassah
Madrassa in the Gambia

The word madrassa in the Arabic language (and other languages of the Islamic nations such as Persian, Turkish, Indonesian etc.) means "school." The word can also appear transliterated as madrasa, as madrash, or as madressa. The word is used in Arabic(مدرسه) in all the contexts that the word school is in English: for private, public and parochial schools, and for any elementary or secondary schools, whether Muslim, of other religions, or secular. Like the English word school, madrassa is not used to refer to a university.

In traditional contexts in which governments do not supply education, religious establishments have taken the role of running educational systems. In this context, madrasa refers to an Islamic school for Muslims, just as parochial schools for Catholics or yeshivas for Jews. All of these institutions are responsible for general education, but also have the purpose of teaching children about religion. In the case of madrasas, Islam.

Both males and females attend traditional madrassas: they sit in separate classes to learn in an Islamic context. A madrassa typically offers two courses of study, a "hifz" course to memorize the Qur'an and become a hafiz, and an Alim course to become a scholar or mullah. A regular curriculum includes learning Arabic, Qur'an memorization and interpretation, Islamic law, hadith, and the history of Islam. Depending on the individual madrassa, it may teach additional courses like Arabic literature, English, science and history.

People of a variety of ages attend, and many often move on to becoming imams and sheikhs. A mullah typically requires more than 12 years of study. Many huffaz, or people who memorize the entire Qur'an, come from madrassas. Some madrassas resemble colleges, where people take afternoon classes and some reside in dormitories.

An estimated 10,000 madrassas operate in Pakistan. A number also exist in North America and in Europe. The oldest madrassas still exist today in the Middle East. They take in orphans and poor children, and provide them with an education.

Recently, some people have come to see madrassas in a negative light, amid accusations that many of them indoctrinate students with extremist views. Some have accused extremist madrassas and "Deobandi seminaries" of fostering the Taliban's reactionary policies during its rule in Afghanistan.

See also: Islamic architecture

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  Results from FactBites:
Pakistan Link Headlines (684 words)
Madrassah is the Arabic word for school and first emerged as an organised system of education system in present-day Iraq in the 11th century.
Also, since the teaching methods and the academic and residential environment in madrassahs are rigid and regimented, it is probable that students are unable and unwilling to be amenable to conduct that does not conform to prescribed norms.
However, unlike the non-elite English medium and, particularly, Urdu medium schools, a madrassah education is of high quality., the report says adding Madrassah graduates are likely to be fully convinced of whatever position they hold and are able to defend their position in an intellectual debate.
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