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The Role of Madrassahs (Islamic Seminaries) in the Politics of Pakistan

Syed Akhtar Ali Shah

There is no denying the fact that religious educational institutions have played a remarkable
role in the development of human civilization. The role of Islamic religious institutions
(Madrassahs) in the socio-political history of Muslim societies has been crucial. The
political history of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent will remain incomplete unless a reference
is made to the significant contribution made by Madrassahs. This paper describes the role
played by Madrassahs in Pakistani politics through a discourse analysis research method.
The findings indicate that a lack of unanimity exists on the constructive role played by these
Madrassahs in the current political life of Pakistan. The views can be presented in the form of
a continuum. On the one extreme lie those who view such Madrassahs with great suspicion,
while at the other end sit those who see great merit in these religious institutions. The
middleman opines that the Madrassahs, despite their limitations, have continued to produce
scholars well versed in Islamic disciplines.

Keywords: Madrassahs, Madaris, Ulema, Religious Parties, Islamisation, Wifaq ul Madaris (Federation of Madaris), Politics of Pakistan