Stories about madrassa

Of drone strikes: “Did we just kill a kid?”

“Did we just kill a kid?” asked Bryant, a drone sensor operator. “Yes, I guess so!” replied the drone pilot. Brandon Bryant’s recent exposé of drone operations killing hundreds of innocent civilians during his service, which led to his post-traumatic stress and retirement, explains the dark side of the CIA led US drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Adding to Bryant’s shock and surprise, his peers believed that they had killed a dog and not a kid that day, and thus it was nothing to worry about. Bryant worked as a drone sensor operator for the USAF from 2006 to 2011, mainly operating from a dark container ...

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Another sad madrassa tale

The sun was shining down in all its glory on blossoming flowers which were ready to be plucked. Young children, not over the age of five, were seen laughing and giggling while birds flew and chirped overhead – creating a fusion that signified the beauty that this world holds. Three of those young children stepped forward to pull a few flowers for their teacher. However, fate had a sardonic way to disrupt the content that shone on their faces. This is not a movie script, nor is it an unraveling of a fictional story. This is a real life story ...

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You deserve 20 marks if you’re a Hafiz-e-Quran

I recently read a news story where I learnt about an incident of discrimination against a Pakistani Christian student named Haroon. Haroon couldn’t get into medical school because he was refused the 20 extra marks that Hafiz-e-Quran students are given on the exam. According to him, the practice was unjust since his Bible knowledge was just as good. I sympathise with Haroon; I am all for giving him the opportunity to study at a medical college, but not at the cost of demoralising people who memorise the Holy Quran and earn those 20 marks. Let me explain why. Twenty marks hardly make a two percent difference in ...

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Is religion the opium of Pakistani masses?

Institutionalized religion can have a major social impact on society, for good or for evil. This blog is not concerned with discussing the ‘dogmatic’ aspect of religion; rather it revolves around religion’s impact on society. Generally, it is the poorer societies that have the greatest proportion of the population following institutionalised religion. For this reason, religion tends to have a greater social impact in poorer societies, where it is supported more strongly by the majority. Either the religion controls the government or the government uses religion as an opiate in a majority-poverty society as influence. When Karl Marx stated that “religion ...

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What really happens inside a madrassa

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 ...

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Madness in the madrassa

It was a regular day, I had offered my prayers in the mosque next-door in Rawalpindi. But, as I was about to leave, someone called out to me: “Bhai, one minute, have you come from abroad? Yes, I said. A bearded 20-something guy, named Mujahid asked me with pleading eyes: “Kia aap humein angrezi sikhain ge?” (Would you teach us English?) Perplexed, I agreed. The word ‘madrassa’ to most of us is similar to the words ‘extremists,’ ‘terrorism’ and ‘fear.’ Every other documentary and report tries to prove that the people of madrassas are a threat to humanity. I had a similar belief about them too. Those who have read ...

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My teacher taught me how to hate

It is a myth that extremist Islamic ideology which is used to fuel conspiracy theories is only a threat to the desperately impoverished. The country’s tendency to believe in xenophobic conspiracy theories cuts across the classes, advocated by perfectly ‘normal’ middle-class actors. Underneath the western façade of designer denims and a sporting British education, there exists a generation confused, suspicious of democracy, resentful of the West, and guilty for their inability to dedicate themselves to Pakistan’s ascetic version of Islam. The ‘new’ Islam The country’s imagination is arrested by pointed fingers. Every problem has a foreign enemy and every solution bans the ...

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