What really happens inside a madrassa

Published: December 10, 2011

Students are abused and brutally beaten in madrassas and no one says anything because they are too scared. PHOTO: SHAHID BOKHARI/EXPRESS

I was about 10-years-old in the late 90s, when I was forced to go to a madrassa by my mother. I didn’t want to go. I had heard many notorious stories about madrassas and was quite shaken at the thought of being a part of one. Nonetheless, I was sent to become a good Muslim. 

I am a resident of Karachi and come from a conservative family where burqas and Assalam-o-Alaikum are necessary to gain respect from your family and friends. My mother used to emphasize on learning the Holy Quran as I grew up. When I asked her:

“Mom, why can’t I just sit at home and learn the Quran with you?”

She replied with:

“There’s no better place to learn the Quran than a madrassa.”

I still remember my first day there. I was sent to one of the biggest madrassas in Karachi.  I walked in with shivering legs. Looking around me, I found myself in a place with huge ceilings and small rooms where children were sitting together reciting the Quran. The desks they were using were quite weird – I have never seen anything of the like before. The students were reciting the Quran in the loudest possible voices, abruptly moving their upper bodies back and forth. It was basically a ruckus. One couldn’t hear the other person over the sound of hundreds of students reciting so loudly. Frankly, this scared me even more and I asked myself:

“What if Qaari Sahab started beating me and no one could hear my cries for help?”

As I entered the classroom where I was supposed to study, the room suddenly became silent. Taking a look around, I found everyone glaring at me as though I were an unwelcome guest. Glancing meekly at the bearded Qaari Sahab, I managed to utter “Assalam-o-Alaikum”. The Qaari Sahab instantly replied back with “Wa Alaikum Assalam” and asked me to sit beside him. Grateful for any trace of friendliness, I sat beside him cross-legged. After a brief introduction, he asked me to join the other students to recite the Quran. As I started to stand up, he placed a chocolate in my hand. That instantly made him a ‘good person’ in my eyes.

As my first day there came to an end, I discovered that all the notorious stories about madrassas are completely untrue. The Qaari Sahab didn’t beat any student and he didn’t swear at anyone. I began to think that maybe a madrassa is the place where I should really be after all.

Alas, my bliss did not last long, and as the days passed, things started to take a U-turn.

Only after a week of my joining, we heard that some other Qaari Sahab of the same madrassa had beaten up a child so badly that his leg had been fractured. That day I decided to meet the student who was beaten. I wanted to ask him what it was he did  so wrong that ignited this sort or wrath.

Of course, by then, the Qaari Sahab was a heroic figure for me. I was certain that it would be the student’s fault due to which he was beaten so. As the madrassa bell rang, indicating that all classes are over, I walked over to the other classroom where I heard the beaten student was studying. He was just walking out of the room, using crutches. Seeing him limping towards the exit, I felt sorry for him. I went up to him and asked:

“Assalam-o-Alaikum brother! What has happened to your leg?”

He replied:

“Didn’t you hear? I was the boy who refused to fetch my Qaari Sahab dahi (yoghurt) from the shop because I was tired.”

I was dumbfounded when I heard this. I then asked:

“Why would your Qaari Sahab need dahi during the class?”

He gave me a scornful laugh and said:

“You are new here, right? Your Qaari Sahab will ask you to get him something from your home or market any time he wants to. You will look quite similar to me if you ever refuse. Obviously, you are not paid by your Qaari Sahab for anything he wants you to bring him. My Qaari Sahab wanted to have some lassi (yoghurt drink) during class. That is why he wanted me to get him dahi.

Later that day, I related this story to my mother who said:

“If your Qaari Sahab ever needs anything from you, just let me know and I’ll send it over.”

And thus, I was given my first cell phone. I was puzzled. Why would my mother send stuff to my Qaari Sahab just because he wanted it? We are not obliged to be his servants by any means. But when I asked the question, my mother advised me not to question elders.

In a few days, my fears came true and my Qaari Sahab asked me to get him some biscuits from the market. Like a good, faithful student I did. As days passed, my Qaari Sahab came up with more and more outrageous demands. Sometimes he wanted me to get him a good topi (hat) while at other occasions he ordered me to get him a new dupatta for his wife. I faithfully obeyed. My mother was happier than ever as she thought that I was my Qaari Sahab’s favourite student. She would send over things my Qaari Sahab wanted and sometimes she even sent something extra.

One day I was reciting the Quran when my Qaari Sahab asked me to come and sit beside him. When I did, he said:

“I lost my mobile phone last night. I can’t find it anywhere.”

I looked at him with a sorry-to-hear-that expression and started reciting the Quran again. He, however, interrupted and said:

“Can I have your cell phone until I can find my own?”

I was shocked. How could he just ask for my cell phone like that? It was my first cell phone and I loved it more than I loved Winnie the Pooh. I refused to hand it over, and walked back to my usual place in the classroom. Well, that turned out to be a big mistake. It really got the Qaari Sahab angry. He didn’t say anything at the time, but kept giving me intense glares. I was a stubborn young boy so I ignored his angry gestures, and told myself that I would not, at any cost, hand over my cell phone to him. Not even if my mother asked me to.

The very next day I got delayed at school due to detention. There was only a half hour gap between my school’s closing time and my madrassa’s opening. I rushed home, changed, skipped lunch and sped out again to the madrassa. When I reached the entrance of my classroom, I found my Qaari Sahab shaking with rage. He called me over and said:

“Spread your hands.”

I couldn’t understand why I was being punished when many students arrived 30 minutes late due to legitimate reasons and they weren’t even questioned. I explained to my Qaari Sahab why I was late, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. To my disbelief, he answered:

“Your school is your problem, not mine. Spread your hands now!”

Obeying my Qaari Sahab, I stretched out my palms towards him. He took out a thick stick from under the carpet. The stick was about 15 inches long, wrapped in two layers, duct-taped and then with a piece of a rubber pipe. I didn’t get the chance to pull back my hands because as soon as he took out the stick, he smacked both my hands twice with all the might in him.

For one moment I couldn’t feel my hands. I looked down and a few tears sprung to my eyes. My hands were red, bright red. And just then they started throbbing painfully. I respectfully asked my Qaari Sahab to allow me to go to the washroom to wash my hands with some cold water, but he refused and threatened to smack my butt if I didn’t sit down. Now, I wasn’t about to let him go anywhere near my butt. So I instantly sat down and started reciting the Quran again. Later that day, I complained to my mother that I was beaten by my Qaari Sahab. She blamed me for my tardiness and advised me to reach on time in the future.

A few days later as I was reciting the Quran in my classroom when my cell phone beeped. Someone had sent me a text message. Unfortunately, my Qaari Sahab heard it ring. He called me over and asked me to hand over my cell phone to him. I told him that I will make sure that my cell phone is always silent from now on. In an abrupt action he picked up his stick and gave me a good smack on my right leg. That made me leave my cell phone on his desk right away. I walked back home with a pale face.

The next day I found my Qaari Sahab using my cell phone for his personal use.

Months passed as I watched my fellow students being beaten mercilessly and looted by my Qaari Sahab. Everyone was so afraid that no one ever dared to speak out against him. By then, the true image of Qaari Sahab had surfaced and I started to despise him from the very depths of my heart. This led me to frequently, purposely skip my classes at the madrassa. I would spend the time with my friends and lie to my mother about going. But I could only skip a day or two a week without being noticed as any student who didn’t attend more than four classes a week was beaten by their respective Qaari Sahab and their parents were called in.

As I had started skipping my classes more frequently, I needed a good excuse. For this, I designed a mechanism to bunk without being beaten or my parents being called over. Any student who wished to skip more than two days was supposed to get an application delivered and signed by the madrassa’s Naib Nazim. One day I gathered the courage and went over to the office of my madrassa’s Naib Nazim, probably one of the most feared personalities of any madrassa. He was a middle-aged man, his beard unusually red and he had an evil sparkle in his eyes.

I had written an application, forging my mother’s handwriting, asking the Naib Nazim to grant me one week’s leave. He failed to recognise the fake handwriting and signed the application. That day I walked home, very proud of myself for tricking everyone. From that day on, I only visited my madrassa twice a week: one visit for sitting in the class and reciting the Quran like everyone else and the other visit to get just another application signed by the Naib-Nazim for long leave. This went on for three to four months, until I started running out of excuses. At this point, I knew this couldn’t go on any further. I said to myself:

“I have to get away from these thieves – as far away as possible.”

Soon after, I went to the Naib Nazim’s office. I was planning on telling him that I was leaving permanently and wouldn’t be back. As soon as I reached his office, however, the Naib Nazim’s private guard told me that I should wait outside for a while as the maulvi was busy inside with some guests. Just then a car arrived and the guard got distracted. Sensing an opportunity I took a quick peek inside his office from the window and I stopped dead. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. Was it an illusion? I had to take another look to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

They weren’t.

The maulvi was sitting in his usual place near his desk. There was another young boy in his office. He was older than me, around 12 or 13 years old. I had never seen him before but he was wearing a topi just like mine. He was a student, just like me, who had gone to discuss a problem with the maulvi just like I had.

The Naib Nazim had made him turn around, and had placed his hand inside the boy’s underpants. He was sexually abusing him. The boy could easily have been me.

I was absolutely devastated. Shaking, I fled the scene, tears streaming down my shocked face.

I could not believe that my mother had sent me to a place where children were sodomised by supposed mentors. I felt rage building up inside me – rage against my mother, rage against the Naib Nazim, rage on behalf of the poor boy who somehow got trapped by him, and rage against my Qaari Sahab.

By then I had understood that every Qaari Sahab and every employee of that madrassa had a good rapport with each other and they all “had each other’s back”. So if the Naib Nazim enjoyed  sexually abusing young boys then the remaining Qaari Sahabs would play dumb as they were all friends with each other.

That day I went home, not uttering a single word to anyone. I was sure of one thing; I was never ever going back to that madrassa again. When my mother asked me why I was not going to the madrassa, I lost my nerve and shot back:

“Ma, if you ever try sending me back to that place or any place like that, I will run away from home and won’t ever return.”

From that day on, I wasn’t forced to go to the madrassa. More than 12 years have passed, and I haven’t told anyone what I saw. Until today. The madrassa I used to go to is still one of the biggest madrassas of Karachi. Hundreds of innocent children still go to that place and many fall victim to sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying, and mental torture.

The Qaari Sahab who ‘taught’ me back then still teaches there. And so does the Naib Nazim. I have sent many letters to the Nazim of the madrassa asking him to keep a stern check on his employees but I have yet to see a Qaari being fired by the administration.

In a desperate plea, I would like to send this message to all parents: Don’t ever, ever send your child to a madrassa. You will not only lose your child’s innocence but you might also lose your child to the numerous beatings at the hands of these ‘blessed’ men.


Farhan Jaffri

A businessman and a CSS student who tweets as @farandk.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://insidedisillusion.wordpress.com Mahwash Badar

    There will be many people who will say that you can’t generalize the occurrence of that one madrassah over the many others that are operating in the world right now – but the facts state otherwise. They actually tell you to be cautious. The state of affairs in these institutions run by ignorant, uneducated mullahs are an eyesore to humanity, they are an absolute outrage. The kind of things that go on inside these holier-than-any-other-place-in-the-world places are just atrocious.

    Of course the ghairat brigade will never be able to see that and will continue to make excuses for things that go on as ‘isolated incidents’.

    That’s why more people need to blog/write/educate about what goes on inside these places. You’re very brave for writing this. More power to you and everyone else who is as brave as accepting this.Recommend

  • http://www.ibrahimsajidmalick.com Ibrahim Sajid Malick

    Thanks for sharing your story- I truly hope other parents will learn from experience and never send kids in harms way.Recommend

  • AZ

    @Khurram Mansoor:

    Did you even read the article?Recommend

  • Talha

    @Khurram Mansoor

    Please don’t let your biased views get in the way of harsh realities.Recommend

  • http://www.webs.ceen.com Taha Ceen Tayyab

    @Khurram Mansoor:
    Dude I think AZ is right did you even read the thing?Recommend

  • Irfan

    @Khurram do u think kids usually like to tell people around them that they were sexually abused ….. What does having a good job has to do with a mederssah education.Recommend

  • Mj

    While such exploitation may not take place in every madrassa, it does certainly take place in many of them. I personally think that if kids start reporting abuse that goes on in madrassas it will greatly outnumber the reports of abuse by priests and clergymen. Leaving kids alone with socially maladjusted and repressed adults with voracious sexual appetites is a recipe for disaster and I wish parents would take more concern about what goes on in such establishments. I personally am a witness to inappropriate touching (of thighs) of another kid by a qari at a very well reputed madrassa. Living in denial does us no good.Recommend

  • Mj

    @Mango Man:
    Cell phone had become quite common in mid and late nineties.

    Parents need to stop being lazy and take out their own time if they want their kids to read holy books. Wouldn’t it be better that kids are taught in a language they can understand instead of reading something without understanding? I can memorize Crime and Punishment or Beowulf in its original language but what good would it do me?Recommend

  • Decoy

    Agreed with Mango Man. This is absurdRecommend

  • Ali

    @Mango Man
    Mobile phones were launched in 1983 and maybe the writer belongs to a very rich family and thats why he had a mobile phoneRecommend

  • FAZ

    @Mango Man:
    absolutely agree!!
    I cant deny the allegation on madarsaas, but still “aatay may namak braber log” have brought a bad name to themRecommend

  • umair

    mango man … you must be one of those liberalphobe and subliminally conditioned to submit to qaris. oh they cant be bad.. ive seen this happening and i got my first mobile in the 98. no biggy Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/#!/needroos Nadir

    @Farhan: Your much braver than most people and while we shouldn’t generalize, the occurance of physical, mental and sexual abuse in schools, tuition centres and Madrassas is a common curse in wider society. At school teachers in Pakistan like to the play the “In school teachers are your parents” card to justify slapping and beating around someone elses child. In Madrassas religious piety and peer pressure helps silence those who may raise a voice against child abusers. I still dont understand how parents in Pakistan except this reality where they are happy to allow someone else to lay a hand on there children. In the US and Europe only now are cases of child molestation against the Catholic Church coming to light and Priests arrested and prosecuted. In Pakistan sadly, many many more children will be abused before such acts begin to become socially unacceptable. The exploitative behaviour of Maulvis, teachers or any individual in a position of authority before children should be completely unacceptable. But sadly, even in many so called “elite schools” children have been beaten to near death and others have actually died, but parents, current and former students more concenred about the reputation of their current or former institution look the other way.Recommend

  • mohammad ali leghari

    @Khurram Mansoor:
    brother ur absolutely right.those who failed to do something in their life always blame to others, in this case there is long story regarding Madrassa to underestimate the advantages that most of are getting from there. do the people know what happened in churches in western civilized country where there pop do shameful acts with the children and nun. goods and bad is present everywhere. we have to find the solutions to solve them instead of elaborating the issues.Recommend

  • Daniyal

    I do agree with the writter that students are sodomized at maderssah but not everywhere. He says it was 90’s when he was about ten and hails from a religious and conservative family. I agree till this but someone can tell me when a cellular service was started in Pakistan as I came to know that it supposed to be late 90’s. How a religious and conservative family allowed their child to keep a cellphone while majority of parents avoid such a practice among their kids in modern days. Such a time wasting story.Recommend

  • Red

    I find it interesting how much the publishing medium affects the comments :)

    @Mango Man
    Cell phones were available in the 90s. Recommend

  • Khalid Javaid

    I never went to any Madrassa but for sure I have heard a lot of stories like that about the Madrassa. Not only the Qaara Sahab’s but also about the senior Students of the Madrassa.

    This all system need to have a check on it and should be revised.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    There are sunni Rizvis and jafris, Naqvis, Farooqis, Siddiquis, Warsi, and muslims tooooRecommend

  • Emaar Kasbati

    Man there is a lot of bias in it… When you are giving out any story, don’t include your implications in it… It is the most vicious act…

    And please try to “Grow Up!”Recommend

  • romana

    My father and uncle were taught the Quran in a madarsah and went there for only about 2 weeks. They ran away mostly due to the same reasons you mentioned in your article so I won’t say your article is false.
    I also know a Hafiz-e-Quran who was bound by chains in a madarsah and beaten black and blue by a Qari.

    The only thing I do not understand is that if you told your mother what happened why didn’t she do anything?Recommend

  • http://vertexstudio.wordpress.com Muhammad Usama

    @Mango Man:
    Great (Y). I have been to madarsaa too and whatever he said never happened to me or to anyone.Recommend

  • Anon

    And you knew at the age of ten what sexual abuse was?

    I didn’t go to Madrassa but my parents had hired a Molvi Sahab to come home and teach me Quran. I can remember that he would repeatedly touch my bottom and I actually thought it was pretty normal thing to do. I didn’t know that I had been abused as a child until I was about 17 years old! Recommend

  • daqyanoos

    Thank you Express Tribune. It’s a pleasure to see ‘Evening Special’ making a comeback in English and that too with such great packaging. Thumbs up!Recommend

  • Dr.A.K, Tewari

    The products of madrssas are generally behind the most of the terror groups . They are now projecting the present image of muslim communities arround the world .

    Having full sympathy with the author and appriciate him for his bold initiative .Recommend

  • MirMajid

    Poor show tribune…you people cant realize, how much people you have de-tracked by now by publishing this article ..hundreds of thousands of people carry QURAN-e-PAK in their hearts just only because of these MADARSAS….Recommend

  • Muhammed Usama Aziz

    Well it may happen in some but you cant blame all Madressa’s for this. I and many of my friends/relatives have been in Madressa but none of them have ever reported any kind of incident like this.
    And to those saying that you can learn Quran in home by reading it yourself, then why do you go to School/College/Universities when books are available in the market? Why cant you read those books at home yourself and become an Engineer/Doctor? Because these things cannot be learned at home. You have to go to the field and practice that thing. In the same way how can you expect a person to understand Quran just by reading it himself? There has to be a place where proper religious education is provided. Then only we would be able to come out of this mess.
    may ALLAH show us the right path.Recommend

  • saad

    went to Madarsa :) gud going boyRecommend

  • Leila Rage

    mohammad ali legharu: Why are you comparing the west and pakistan? whatever happens there is their problem, what happens in Pakistan is our problem. If we dont talk about our problems how can we hope to solve them?Recommend

  • Tanoli

    There are many schools, specially in rural areas, where similar things happen. Moreover, there are public sector universities and colleges where you cannot raise your voice freely even sometimes one gets beaten or killed as well. What would be your advise to those parents who send their kids to these institutions?

    Your conclusion, calling parents not to send their kids to madrassahs, seems outrageous. This is because a large majority of parents who ‘want’ their kids to study Quran cannot have the luxury to afford a teacher at home, and they have to rely on these institutions. However, one can certainly make a point for reforming these types of institutions, and there are examples that could serve as the role model.Recommend

  • Mango Man

    What a pity! My comment had been removed. but I will repeat my words. 90s era, mobile phone and 10 year of age??? and qari sab also had a mobile phone..!! Amazing!!! this is a fake story. despite of the fact that such things happen in madrassaRecommend

  • http://none vikash

    can’t say anything about thisRecommend

  • Ahsan Atiq

    I am very sorry to hear this. U should consider yourself lucky as you didn’t fall in to the hands of those evil mullahs. For all those who trying to comfort themselves with lame justifications of very rare occurrences of these events, please look deeper. You will be surprised as sexual abuse not only in mudrassas but eveywhere else in our society is not rare by any definition of the word. And remember you have kids, little brothers/sisters/nephews/nieces too. It can easily be one them, even these events are rare.
    Kudos to the writer for having the courage to speak up.Recommend

  • Rx

    well tat may be true i m sure thy do and keep killing their sexual desires in such ways never trust a man who is always begging ‘dal roti’ on the doors… they r involved in such things ,but if u talked like tat u r not a muslim in this country than u r ‘Gumrah/munafiq/kafir’ thank you for sharing ur experience but it seems like u were so mature even those days and u did not tell abt ur cell phone did he returned ????? lolz Recommend

  • Ashzz

    With al due respect generalizing all ‘madarsas’ bcuz u had a bad experience in one if them is not fair.and secondly u say this happened 12 years ago.dude cell phones were rare species 12 years ago.no child were given ‘cell phones’.and your mualvi had a cell phone as well.lol.good joke!!calling rates were very high and the connection and mobile were weighed in gold.2 years ago, yes I would believe but sorry not 12.please stop writing baseless articles to misguide your readers and to prove you are ‘liberal’.and btw asalam o alikum is a prayer.and all muslims use it.not only burka families.no wonder we are suffering from so many natural disasters.we write things to please others and potray our selves as open minded and not Islamic.Recommend

  • http://www.pricemo.com Temp1

    What’s the idea behind rocking back and forth while reciting?Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Ok so here that catch every thing that has been bad in Madrassah happened at your Madrasah. and therefore every madrasah is a bad is it???Recommend

  • sceptic_ali

    Farhan Jaffri – That there still are brave & selfless men like you in Pakistan gives one hope that all is not lost.
    Thanks from the bottom of my heart for sharing what you saw as a child. Growing up in Kashmir, I, too, had witnessed a noted ulema from our neighborhood raping a child but, unlike you, i am a coward and have remained silent, even while i watched the victim of said rape spiral downward into depression which led victim to eventually commit suicide at age 17.

    That’s in the past, which can’t be changed but in future, I urge parents to eschew religious teaching until your child is in high teens; and if you absolutely must, please choose the teacher carefully – observe the other students, speak to them if you can, look for tell tale signs of abuse, which you research by speaking to a child psychologist or look up a reliable site online.

    An abused child, in most cases, becomes an abuser, and the best way to stop this vicious cycle is to educate society, which can not happen unless we have a frank and honest discussion among ourselves.
    If a large number of us speak with one voice these mullahs won’t have enough people to intimidate us.

    p.s. the abuse victim who committed suicide was my younger sibling. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @Ibrahim Sajid Malick:
    Oh very well said Mr. Malick.. I suppose you learnt or read your Quran at any Westbro church do you?? Recommend

  • Dr.A.K, Tewari

    I have sympathy with the author and appriciate him for his bold initiative ……..Recommend

  • ibrahim seleighvakoevic

    i don’t think sexual abuse occurs in deobani or ahl-e-hadith madaris as they r sexually very oppressive… Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Any teacher could be a buthcer or child molester. English medium school teachers are as bad as anyone else. Train your kids how to tackle these monsters. Don’t ever think that kids are just kids and do not know anything. Trust me, they are smarter than you. Tell them to keep distance from teachers and never let these teachers touch your kids. If you really love your kids, don’t leave them at the mercy of these butchers and child molesters. Education in Pakistan, relgious or secular is a huge business. A mafia is controlling these insitutions for money and power and combination of both is sex.Recommend

  • N. Z.

    @Farhan Jaffri, I commend you for being brave enough to come out with this. Keep talking to parents and start a campaign or something. The issue of child sexual abuse needs to be revealed so families can protect themselves. Unfortunately, conservative parents do not realize the dynamics of sexual abuse – like how you described in the article. Great job!

    Cell phone? Seriously this is the ONE thing you noticed out of the WHOLE story about physical and sexual abuse of children in madrassas? That’s very sad. Recommend

  • Mazhar.A.Khan

    Farhan; I heard lot of these kind of stories in which young innocent kids are harassed or abused but honestly never physically saw one!
    I believe what you wrote here in your Blog. I wish & pray that parents should hear & understand your plea thus avoiding in sending their loving kids to madrassa’s.Recommend

  • Nosheen Tariq

    you are quite a brave person hope other people get courage like you. Who doesnot know the real face of these molviez….All of this showz the coming of the end of the world.As prophet(saw) has identified such hypocrites of the society.Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    Extremely heartfelt blog, I could feel the pain of a young boy struggling to fight against the odds. Bravo !Recommend

  • know-it-all

    I went to a madressa when i was very young, perhaps 5 or 6. I learnt to read the Holy Quran, which still is a great blessing. It wasnt the kind of Madressa, mentioned in the article, but Mullah Akber bhai used to teach Quran as a part time job. I believe he was a milk seller. Yes, Akber bhai did keep with him a ‘netar ki dandi’– a long springy stick, sat crossed leg one on the other side and watched students as they parrated the Arabic script. He used that stick sparingly. I remember it was very painful, but one has to remember that physical punishments was in vogue even in the best of english schools in karachi, well until 1970, when i did matric and from one of the best schools in the city at the time. Perhaps Akberbhai was different; he had fear in his heart. He did beat to make students learn. But i still pray for him, for as i look back, my english medium school did not teach me the holy book and i think a Muslim ought to know how to read Quran–or Arabic. The madressas now are perhaps different and they i understand are in hundreds all over the country. Are not they to collect money in the name of donations by various political motivated parties and people?…And though Akberbhai never touched a student with such bad intent as far as i recall, you read more horrible stories of current practice in madressas. That molvi was only feeling the boys butt with his hand, the sitting molvies, may be not all of them, are more aggressive.Recommend

  • Sanan Hashmi

    Allama Iqbal says,

    Gala to ghont dia ahle madrasa ne tera,
    kahah se aye sada La ilaha ilallah.

    Agarche bodh hen jamat k astinon me,
    muje hai hukme azaan la ilaha ilallah.Recommend

  • Balaach Bangulzai

    A friend of mine and his brother went to a small residential madrassa in rural Balochistan. He was barely 10 when he was admitted there, tasked with memorizing the Qur’an. However, the Qaari Sahb in this madrassa tried to sodomize him. Being a residential madrassa, it was all that much easier for these holy men to misuse the boys. But my friend fled the Qari’s office and went home, all by himself, never to return again. He still carries a hurt heart and a distaste for madrassas and those who teach or manage them.Recommend

  • Sara

    Someone needs to set up a sting operation and catch these ppl red-handed! The ppl who did this, their faces should go viral on the internet. Obviously sending letters to stop this has not worked. They should be exposed in the media big time! Let’s use technology to stop this… will it be that difficult to sneak in and put a hidden camera or something? I dont know….but if these ppl are out there and we know who they are, then something needs to be done immediately!Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    I have myself been a victim of sexual abuse as a child and reading this made me relive the pain of my childhood trauma all over again. An appeal to all parents and other adults alike to be always alert to whom they children are exposed to and to trust their kids because they are most unlikely to make up stories about such things at a young adolescent age. Often people we trust the most,turn out to be the most likely offenders like relatives and teachers. I salute the blogger for starting this bold initiative!Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Man you Owned???? the author.Recommend

  • KD

    @ibrahim seleighvakoevic:
    wow dude! u made quite an absurd statement there… if u are made president u will be declaring shias as non muslims
    not all jafris are shias, not all syeds are shias, not all shia molvis are molesters…
    ehl – e hadith and sunnat and etc ‘s madrassas dont even have a good repo either.. ‘total ghalat fehmi’… oppressed ppl tend to do such inhumane activities more!Recommend

  • kamran

    i agree with whats going on in madrassas, but two things are ambigous in this article, in early 90s cell phones were not that accessible to 10 years olds and maulvis rather at that time cell phones used to be huge in size it wasnt untill 99 /2000 that cell phones got popular. also I agree with Ahsan’s comment that Jaffery’s dont go to madrassasRecommend

  • SZ

    My heart goes out to Sceptic Ali n all those poor innocent children. I simply dun understand what sort of parents can not bother or trust their children enuff so mych so that they r willing to blindly trust these inhuman devilish so-called pious men. I belive n know tht everyone in our country from every class knows or hv heard of such stories yet…… Its mind boggling. Also being a dr I knw tht the mere loud rambling noise if 100’s of students who recite the Quran without understanding it’s meaning also has a bad effect psychologically n physicallt. It impairs an individuall hearing ability n the ability to be aware or understand his/her surroundings.

    My parents NEVER let us go to such schools as kids. We had molvis come home to teach us & my Mom was so vigilant tht since the age of 5 she told us to report anything n everything to her n never ever allow any one to touch us. She used to sit across the room never leaving us alone. And now my sister n I are 10 steps ahead of our Mom. We sit down with our kids wen the Molvi comes to teach so in this wat we knw exactly wat is being taught n how mych is being taught. Children also feel secure n r more interested to leaen since someone is always watching over themRecommend

  • Jalal Awan

    ..stays in a Madrassa!Recommend

  • http://quratulaintejani.blogspot.com/ Quratulain Tejani

    Not the right forum brother. People who send their kids to madrassas don’t read Tribune blogs. Find a better forum to narrate your story. All the bestRecommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/farandk Farhan Jaffri

    I need also mention your reservations about a goddamn mobile phone. The mobile phone services were launched in 90’s which means that we are talking about the era from 1900 to 1999. That makes it ten years. The article NEVER said that this all happened in one day. For god’s sakes,stop being ridiculous. I went to that madrassa for almost 6 to 7 years,on and off. All i have tried to do is to combine the major parts into one post. And i did not only go there in the 90’s but i also went there for one year in 2001. And i certainly did NOT belong to a rich family. And please don’t go all “how come a conservative family give their child a cell phone”. Your mentality is sick. Mobile phone is a communication device. That is it.
    And if someone from above didn’t know about sexual abuse till they turned 17,i am certainly not to be a blamed. My 3 year old cousin recognizes porn when he sees it. Please don’t judge anyone just because you have been out of touch from technology before Apple came up with iPhone.
    Thank you.Recommend

  • asma tariq

    Agreed with you Lala, Appreciation :)Recommend

  • http://Peshawar Zarmeena Ikram Babar

    Thanks for sharing your story-

    There is a huge difference between what people say about madrassas and what a person like you has actually experienced over there -your story is an eye-opener and your message will serve the lives of people.

    It needs a lot of guts to tell about ones own stories/experiences since whist one is putting down his/her story, all the sufferings resurrect -yet at the same time it feels good that it was a past story and via its narrating, you have change millions of lives out there.

    I thank you again -it was an extremely emotional yet a moving story. I’m sure it’ll serve as a wake up call especially to the parents out there!Recommend

  • JG

    @mohammad ali leghari:
    Talking about the facts as they happened is not elaborating or veering from the truth, as you seem to be suggesting. And why use the example of churches and Western religion to cover up or sidetrack from the discussion at hand,,,the abuse in the madrassas? Don’t bury your head in the sand.Recommend

  • JG

    You must think all children are stupid and can’t tell what is abuse and what is not. Everyone has the ability to know what feels wrong. And some of us learn the definition of what “abuse” means much later in life (like you did), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t abuse or wrong.Recommend

  • waqar khan

    While not defending any one,let us see who goes to Madrassa for a free education and free boarding and lodging.What is the states responsibility to provide quality education to the children and do we all have the back ground to comment on these issues.99% of Madrassa students belong to the poor class,may be orphans and destitute whose parents(if alive) prefer to send their children to Madrassa because they cannot afford a descent piece of bread for them.1% may belong to a category of people who are well to do and want their children to get religious education.I think we will be cutting it too fine if we squarely blame Madrassa and their administration for that,there is however a definite need to reform these institutions and systems to make them compatible with modern times.Child and sexual abuse is definitely an issue which needs to be addressed,however we must also understand that sexual abuse is quite common in village life and the cities as well.Women and children need to be educated on their rights and Pakistan is still grappling with this problem.Let us ask ourselves(all of us offering comments here),have we never been subjected to sexual abuse or at least attempted sexual abuse,even I cannot answer it in definite terms.Recommend

  • 121Truth

    A delicious Piece of Cake for Desi Secular & Liberals !!!
    Actions Speak Louder Then Words .I will appreciate if my fellow commenter visit his facebook & twitter pages !!
    I am amused to read that he was 10 year old & use to carry 3 Kg Motorola handset.
    In these days every1 carry 2 to 3 mobile hand sets ,we will never see a single secret recorded video of a Qadri Saab beating his students But youtube is full of openly recorded video of pakistani girl on girl & boy kissing/dancing in their English medium schools !!!
    People are praising him for his courage for what ???
    If he got the courage he should mention Qari Saab,Nazim & Madrassa Name & Location !!!Recommend

  • sami

    This all happens in Pakistani government schools also. Why don’t you write the article about the schools instead of Madrassa? Pretty pitty.Recommend

  • Kamran Paracha

    @MirMajid: If a shop has a 100 products and 10 are expired, should we just ignore it!? I’m sure you’ve heard many stories of madrassas, so it’s really true. The “so called” carriers of Islam indeed are involved in shameful activities. Also, may God forbid something like happens to you or your child, what will you do? Be ok that at least he is learning the QURAN’PAK?Recommend

  • Ali-wali

    In certain sections of our ill educated society, sexually abusing children especially boys is considered macho thing,minor boys are still psychologically exploited and they are made to perform sexual acts by mentally sick, this did not change with time. As i come from a village, for education i used to goto nearby city, that time i used to make countless bus journeys on regular basis, on one of these journeys me and my cousin were travelling by bus, and a mulla from our neighbouring village was sitting next to my cousin, mulla touched my cousin who stood up and shouted at mulla at the top of his voice. That alerted everyone on the bus, however mulla pointing towards his beard, an obvious sign of ‘piety’, reassured people that touching was not intentional, and other passangers believed lying mulla. I have heard stories about a mulla who used to show minors x rated movies instead teaching Quran. I can not speculate how endemic the problem of sexual abuse in mulla culture is, still from anecdotal evidence it seems prevalent and also in sections of wider society this is like elephant in the room. As sex is a taboo subject in our culture, boys rape cases go unreported. I do not think there is any social safety net in our society against such abuse, which is shameful. I think parents should make their children aware of this issue, i know it will be difficult, we should do it for kids safety.Recommend

  • xzy

    @ All those saying it happens in schools, colleges, universities:
    These institutes DON’T claim to be places of reading QURAN and learning ISLAMIC knowledge. Madrassas do.
    And as such, any sexual abuses occurring in Madrassahs are to be condemned more than those in schools, colleges, uni’s, for it is sacrilegious.
    E.g. Will you tolerate explicit wall chalking on the walls of a madrassah/mosque and treat it as those written anywhere else?Recommend

  • rizvi

    @Farhan Jaffri:
    Yes very true. But this is not the place to publish this article. If your intentions are to make parents aware of this cruel injustice, then please translate this in Urdu, and publish it in Jang or some other Urdu newspaper. Also, you can tell your story to Dunya news and they will surely carry out a sting operation.


  • Naveed

    Thanks for sharing this experience. There are numerous stories like this in most of the madrassahs. However, there may be some, which are really good and do not have these factors present in. I hope so…Recommend

  • Omair Zia

    A poor display of work by the author of this article. Very biased essay and missing a lot of solid facts. I would advise everyone to be careful before reading this naive piece of writing and not to think what the writer has intended us to think of. I am disappointed in the tribuneRecommend

  • Mazer

    Thank you for the courage for writing this article. For those of you who criticize the author, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are in self-denial. Such sick and perverted activities are well known to happen in Madrassas. IF WE DO THIS TO THE YOUNGS WHAT WILL BECOME TO PAKSITAN. LOOK AT WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY WE REALLY ARE. WAKE UP !!! Recommend

  • Syed

    a very good piece trying to bring forward an aspect mostly (even consciously) neglected about the madrassahs… thanks for sharing it.Recommend

  • dastan

    the writer of this story belongs to a sect who don’t go to madrassas. and about 12 years ago no madrassa qari had the luxury of cell phones. and why would a kid have a cell phone. and in madrassas they don’t have guards outside the offices.not al least 12 years ago. and he used his mother for creating a very good effect and pity and fear in the story. once again he belongs to a sect who don’t send their children to madrassas. not even to their own madrassas. and still all readers can’t help but comment on what is utterly fake….Recommend

  • observer

    Media can play a handy rold in this regard.

    Illiteracy is the worst disease in this world!

    May God have mercy upon US.Recommend

  • alia agha

    I blame no one but mothers of these children,who have a bee in their bonnet to thinking their children will go straight to heaven once they come out of these cult institutions, or they will be holier than thou, it took someone 12 yrs to talk about something that should have been told much earlier, but then even if it out now, who will close down these horrible cult institutions, where in the name of GODS teachings our innocence are being stolen. Its been an old practice in Pakistan, and its the cheapest form of education, so if my brother wasnt sent to a cult institution he is less of a muslim today in this society, well id rather he was branded that than stolen of his innocence. Recommend

  • rabbahs

    yes I totally agree with the blogger. when I was young my friend told me similar stories about the Madarsa.
    thanks to my parents that they higher a person to home teach me the religious things.Recommend

  • Zafar Ahmed

    I highly doubt the Cell phone part. But no doubt that sexual abuses happens to children in many madersas across the country. Recommend

  • http://youtube.com/ubchishti Umair Babar Chishti

    @Mahwash Badar:
    what is wrong is wrong, these instances happen in MADRASSAS FOR MEMORISING THE HOLY QURAN, and NOT IN MADRASSAHS WHO ARE THERE TO TEACH THE 8 YEAR AALIM COURSE. so what is the difference betweent the two? one is just there for the memorisation of the quran, and the second is where you learn Quran and Hadees over the streach of 8 years. both are extremely differ, both are extremely different. and to be straight i study at LUMS, but trust me when i when to jamia ashrafia and further jamia banoria in Karachi i realised that they are much better then my universtiy or any top university in Pakistan. The know how to respect people, they are very clear about their lives what they want to do, why they are here, and on top of all they are the closest to the living of the holy prophet p.b.u.h life style. So as usual GENERALISING ALL MADRASSAHS, ONLY THOSE THAT ARE IN RURAL AREAS, SUCH THINGS HAPPEN BUT MEDIA ALWAYS DOES THIS THAT THEY PORTAY THE WORST PICTURE.
    it is these madrassah who have protected the ilm of deen. Hardly any of us know how the propher dressed or what was his sleeping patterns? and then we claim to be Prophet’s lovers when we dont even know his basic life let alone knowing how he married, how he dealt with people who he talked. It is these madrassahs who have preserved this Sunah.It is in these madrassahs that teacher teach for a meagre salary of 3000rs, most have such a low salary thay they cant even but medicine for cough and flue if it catches them. but still teach for more then there alotted time. and the madrassah’s for the Alim course have a proper board wafaq-ul-madaris where you can complaint such incidents.just visit a madrassah in a town yourself and you will realise how important they are in the spread of ilm. and rather then working on improving those that have gone stray WE GENRALISE AND USE THE GENERAL PHRASE, “YEAH MAULVI TU AISAY HI HOTAY HAIN” “YEAH SARAY MADRASSAY AISAY HAIN”.. and i can bet that no1 over here, no one at all know that cow was this termed maulana was coined, what is its meaning. khair.. coming to the point that maulana is a person who do an 8 year course of hadees and quran and can speak and write arabic and is definitely more educated then the major majority of this. because our institutions just give us knowledge, hardly any educationRecommend

  • Dr.A.K, Tewari

    A complete ban on maderssa schooling at tender age is urgetly required . Religious teaching should be given to a person when he or she becomes able torealize what is true or false . Maderssa is a site for propagation of distorted Islam resulting the breeding of jehadee and terrorists .Recommend

  • Rehan

    although this is a culture of maddrissas in small sities an villages….
    but the this is the duty of parents to have check on the QARIssss and staf of madrissa… if parents do not found it feasible .. they first they should complain.. if the problem nt solved. they should find for some good known madriisa… authentic for the islamic study and character bulding… so unless parents dont pay attentions, these problem will remian unresolved…. maddrissa culture shud be changed…Recommend

  • saad

    Person A: ideal muslim that prays 5 times a day, fasts every year, prays jumma namaz, teaches islam to young children for free, memorizes quran and interprets quran for large groups of people etc…

    Person B: drinks alcohol, has premarital sex, does not believe in god, donates blood, volunteers to help eradicate poverty, tries to do as much as possible to help those that are less fortunate.

    assuming that there is an actual afterlife, who goes to heaven in your opinion? who goes to hell and why? Recommend

  • zehra

    my parents always arranged for the molvi sb to come to our home rather than maderssa simply becoz of the tales, it is better to get someone come over and tach quran rather thna go in maderssa, there are lots of similiar stores, again it doesnt make all maderssa evil but it does raise a point especially in less prviligied colonies where the bachas are easliy abused and are trained that qari sb is revered as he teaches quran he can do no evil.Recommend

  • Pir Ali Raza

    i have a lot of negative things to say but ill keep my focus towards a solution here. All madarassas in Pakistan should come under an authorized body which makes the head Qazi or Nazim accountable for all that happens there. on top there should be a transparent structure and methods, which should be tought to these jahil teachers. one of the basic thing should be that a Nazim should have a masters degree in order to be a Nazim in the first place. no uneducated man should be running such placesRecommend

  • Noman mehmood mughal

    parents should take care of their children regularly , ask about Qaari’s behavior . And it is also duty of student , who goes Madrassas , to tell his /her parents about daily routine . & if he / she felt any kind of rubbish like that happened , he / she must tell his / her parents . And this kind of disgusting aren’t in every madrassa, hummanity is alive in pakistan right now .Recommend

  • Noran

    Thanks for initiating to reveal the fact. There is another fact that the orphan boys from that . . . . . are sent home by the qaries to take their steps from their step father to revenge.
    After recording their revenge the boys being given 2 option either to year a jacket or their video will be in market in which a brother is recorded . . . .
    and use open a new cool which tell them that she was his real not step. Either the boy should year a jacket or shall be stoned he and with whom he is in video. The heirs the gov and the global society is to respond. Why they allow such dens. The factories where the global peace is being fabricated to ruin freely. Recommend

  • http://thediaryofaliar.blogspot.com Javed

    Well, if the part about the sexual molestation is true, then I wld urge you to name the Madressa and the Naib Nazim concerned. This is way too serious to be kept hush hush. Recommend

  • Pakistani

    I aapreciate your courage to share. One could not and should not generalize this for all Madarsas, but all sorts of exploitation do exists in all the religion throughtout the world. I can easily feel what you are saying.Recommend

  • shameer ali

    I also went to a madrassa when i was a child. I’m very surprised to hear this sad news, because it used to happen with a friend of mine as well. he was subjected to extereme kinds of intercourses. He would also find it hard to walk, it hurt so much. Recommend

  • Muslim Lady

    I agree with Farhan on the situation of our Madrassas. and the maulvi’s.
    i have a toddler and i have already announced that i will not be sending him to any madrassa. Luckily, I can read and translate the Quran well, as i have studied in Saudi Arabia for atleast 10years, so i can teach him alhamdulilah.
    and yes, i do believe that whatever they say about these so called maulvis is 99% true.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    All parents please be careful and keep an eye on your children at all times … Servants and relatives are the most probable child molesters … Don’t trust anyone on this as statistics show that “known” people commit this crime more often … be open and frank to your children on this, educate them and they should be confident enough to come and immediately report such mishap …

    what happened to the author’s mobile phone ? did he get it back ?Recommend

  • Amir

    Person A. as its our belief that without having blind faith in the Almighty, one can’t be successful in the afterlife.
    And yes there is an afterlife.Recommend

  • Owais

    I commend you for writing about this issue. I know it takes guts to write about this. You have a very nice writing style also. A nicely written piece.Recommend

  • adsam

    wonderfully written and thank God that the boy in the room was not you.
    you must tell your mother what you saw so that she may not suggest anyone to send their child to the madrassRecommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/farandk Farhan Jaffri

    @Baba Ji:

    Yes. I got it back.Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @saad: Who can say, really? Why do we try to judge the beliefs of other people, when the true Judge of Mankind is the Almighty? Who knows what small act of kindness or goodness might catch God’s eye, and in His Infinte Mercy who can say that he won’t forgive a person the rest of his wrongs for some small act of goodness that Allah liked.Recommend

  • Basil

    This is a really serious issue so that madarasa should be reported to the police. Enough of this no action taking garbage. WE SHOULD TAKE DOWN THAT PLACE DOWN. And also why did you not mention the madarasas name? If you despise it so much mention its name and location.Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    Depends what kind of message person A is passing.

    Person B should quit alcohol and premartial affairs, and he would be fine too.

    @Farhan Jaffri

    There are good madrassahs and there are bad ones. I have been to madrassah where the maulvi was found out to be child-molester, and the madrassah fired him. But this is a problem with a lot of religious schools.

    Try writing a letter to Auqaf.Recommend

  • Lalla

    Why don’t you name the Madarsa & the name of the people you found abusing kids? Why hide their names if this is a real story?Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    most of the time I cannot hear anything against Islam and I condemn black propaganda, but experience and observation compels me to declare that Madrassas = Munitions factories.Recommend

  • Khalid Javaid

    No doubt that “bachabaazi” is not very uncommon in most of te town of Pakistan, As far as I have heard and observed. May be a little more in the Saraiki belt and KPK Province.

    Check this article for reference.