The Madrasa in Asia
Transnational Linkages and Real or Alleged Political Roles


For a large proportion of the Muslim population of Asia, the traditional institutions of Islamic learning, the madrasa, have long provided the only affordable type of education and prospect for a better future. Although frequently criticised for the backwardness of their teaching methods and the irrelevance of their curriculum to the needs of the modern world, the madrasa have been far from static and have responded to pressures from inside as well as outside. Existing madrasa have been undergoing reforms, and new types of madrasa have emerged besides them.

Since the rise of the Taliban, the reassertion of Islam in the former Soviet Union and China, and the War on Terrorism, many eyes have turned to the madrasa, which appeared to be a key institution in these developments. Most of the attention has been security-oriented and focused exclusively on alleged subversive teachings and dubious foreign connections. Press reporting on the madrasa was often biased or erroneous, obscuring rather than elucidating what goes on in these institutions.

This workshop brings together scholars with extensive and long-term research experience on the subject for a critical and dispassionate discussion of the madrasa and their educational and political roles in major Asian societies in the post 9/11 period.