- "Madrasa" and "Medrese" redirect here. For the place in Afghanistan, see Madraseh, Badakhshan. For the village or grape variety in Azerbaijan, see Mədrəsə and Madrasa, respectively.
Madrasa (Persian: مدرسة, madrasah, pl. مدارس, madāris, Turkish: Medrese) is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious (of any religion). Variously transliterated madrasah, madarasaa, medresa, madrassa, madraza, medrese, etc. In the West, the word usually refers to a specific type of religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion, though this may not be the only subject studied. Not all students in madrasas are Muslims; there is also a modern curriculum.
- Definition 1
Early history 2
Elementary education 2.1
- Primary education 2.1.1
- Secondary education 2.1.2
Higher education 2.2
- Law school 2.2.1
- Medical school 2.2.2
- Madrasa and university 2.2.3
- Female education 2.3
- Elementary education 2.1
Madrasas by region 3
Madrasas in the Ottoman Empire 3.1
- Curricula 3.1.1
- Social life and the medrese 3.1.2
Madrasas in South Asia 3.2
- Pakistan 3.2.1
- India 3.2.2
- Philippines 3.2.3
- Bangladesh 3.2.4
- Madrasas in Southeast Asia 3.3
- South Africa 3.4
- Canada 3.5
- United States 3.6
- Bosnia 3.7
- Madrasas in the Ottoman Empire 3.1
- Misuse of the word 4
- See also 5
- Notes 6
- Further reading 7
- External links 8
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The word madrasah derives from the triconsonantal Semitic root د-ر-س D-R-S 'to learn, study', through the wazn (form/stem) مفعل(ة); mafʻal(ah), meaning "a place where something is done". Therefore, madrasah literally means "a place where learning and studying take place". The word is also present as a loanword with the same innocuous meaning in many Arabic-influenced languages, such as: Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Azeri, Kurdish, Indonesian, Malay and Bosnian / Croatian. In the Arabic language, the word مدرسة madrasah simply means the same as school does in the English language, whether that is private, public or parochial school, as well as for any primary or secondary school whether Muslim, non-Muslim, or secular. Unlike the use of the word school in British English, the word madrasah more closely resembles the term school in American English, in that it can refer to a university-level or post-graduate school as well as to a primary or secondary school. For example, in the Ottoman Empire during the Early Modern Period, madrasas had lower schools and specialised schools where the students became known as danişmends. The usual Arabic word for a university, however, is جامعة (jāmiʻah). The Hebrew cognate midrasha also connotes the meaning of a place of learning; the related term midrash literally refers to study or learning, but has acquired mystical and religious connotations.
However, in English, the term madrasah usually refers to the specifically Islamic institutions. A typical Islamic school usually offers two courses of study: a ḥifẓ course teaching memorization of the Qur'an (the person who commits the entire Qurʼan to memory is called a ḥāfiẓ); and an ʻālim course leading the candidate to become an accepted scholar in the community. A regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, tafsir (Qur'anic interpretation), sharīʻah (Islamic law), hadiths (recorded sayings and deeds of Muhammad), mantiq (logic), and Muslim history. In the Ottoman Empire, during the Early Modern Period, the study of hadiths was introduced by Süleyman I. Depending on the educational demands, some madrasas also offer additional advanced courses in Arabic literature, English and other foreign languages, as well as science and world history. Ottoman madrasas along with religious teachings also taught "styles of writing, grammary, syntax, poetry, composition, natural sciences, political sciences, and etiquette."
People of all ages attend, and many often move on to becoming imams. The certificate of an ʻālim, for example, requires approximately twelve years of study. A good number of the ḥuffāẓ (plural of ḥāfiẓ) are the product of the madrasas. The madrasas also resemble colleges, where people take evening classes and reside in dormitories. An important function of the madrasas is to admit orphans and poor children in order to provide them with education and training. Madrasas may enroll female students; however, they study separately from the men.
The first institute of madrasa education was at the estate of Hazrat Zaid bin Arkam near a hill called Safa, where Hazrat Muhammad was the teacher and the students were some of his followers. After Hijrah (migration) the madrasa of "Suffa" was established in Madina on the east side of the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi mosque. Hazrat 'Ubada bin Samit was appointed there by Hazrat Muhammad as teacher and among the students. In the curriculum of the madrasa, there were teachings of The Qur'an,The Hadith, fara'iz, tajweed, genealogy, treatises of first aid, etc. There were also trainings of horse-riding, art of war, handwriting and calligraphy, athletics and martial arts. The first part of madrasa based education is estimated from the first day of "nabuwwat" to the first portion of the "Umaiya" caliphate.
Established in 859, Jāmiʻat al-Qarawīyīn (located in al-Qarawīyīn Mosque) in the city of Fas, Morocco, is considered the oldest university in the world by some scholars, though the existence of universities in the medieval Muslim world is debated. It was founded by Fāṭimah al-Fihrī, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Muḥammad al-Fihrī. This was later followed by the establishment of al-Azhar in 959 in Cairo, Egypt.
During the late ʻAbbāsid period, the Seljuk vizier Niẓām al-Mulk created one of the first major official academic institutions known in history as the Madrasah Niẓāmīyah, based on the informal majālis (sessions of the shaykhs). Niẓām al-Mulk, who would later be murdered by the Assassins (Ḥashshāshīn), created a system of state madrasas (in his time they were called the Niẓāmiyyahs, named after him) in various ʻAbbāsid cities at the end of the 11th century.
During the rule of the Fatimid and Mamluk dynasties and their successor states in the medieval Middle East, many of the ruling elite founded madrasas through a religious endowment known as the waqf. Not only was the madrasa a potent symbol of status but it was an effective means of transmitting wealth and status to their descendants. Especially during the Mamlūk period, when only former slaves could assume power, the sons of the ruling Mamlūk elite were unable to inherit. Guaranteed positions within the new madrasas thus allowed them to maintain status. Madrasas built in this period include the Mosque-Madrasah of Sultan Ḥasan in Cairo.
Dimitri Gutas and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy consider the period between the 11th and 14th centuries to be the "Golden Age" of Arabic and Islamic philosophy, initiated by al-Ghazali's successful integration of logic into the madrasah curriculum and the subsequent rise of Avicennism.
At the beginning of the Caliphate or Islamic Empire, the reliance on courts initially confined sponsorship and scholarly activities to major centres. Within several centuries, the development of Muslim educational institutions such as the madrasah and masjid eventually introduced such activities to provincial towns and dispersed them across the Islamic legal schools and Sufi orders. In addition to religious subjects, they also taught the "rational sciences," as varied as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, alchemy, philosophy, magic, and occultism, depending on the curriculum of the specific institution in question. The madrasas, however, were not centres of advanced scientific study; scientific advances in Islam were usually carried out by scholars working under the patronage of royal courts. During this time, the Caliphate experienced a growth in literacy, having the highest literacy rate of the Middle Ages, comparable to classical Athens' literacy in antiquity but on a much larger scale. The emergence of the maktab and madrasa institutions played a fundamental role in the relatively high literacy rates of the medieval Islamic world.
The following excerpt provides a brief synopsis of the historical origins and starting points for the teachings that took place in the Ottoman madrasas in the Early Modern Period:
"Taşköprülüzâde's concept of knowledge and his division of the sciences provides a starting point for a study of learning and medrese education in the Ottoman Empire. Taşköprülüzâde recognises four stages of knowledge—spiritual, intellectual, oral and written. Thus all the sciences fall into one of these seven categories: calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, intellectual sciences, spiritual sciences, theoretical rational sciences, and practical rational sciences. The first Ottoman medrese was created in İznik in 1331, when a converted Church building was assigned as a medrese to a famous scholar, Dâvûd of Kayseri. Suleyman made an important change in the hierarchy of Ottoman medreses. He established four general medreses and two more for specialised studies, one devoted to the ḥadīth and the other to medicine. He gave the highest ranking to these and thus established the hierarchy of the medreses which was to continue until the end of the empire."
In the medieval Islamic world, an elementary school was known as a maktab, which dates back to at least the 10th century. Like madrasas (which referred to higher education), a maktab was often attached to an endowed mosque. In the 11th century, the famous Persian Islamic philosopher and teacher Ibn Sīnā (known as Avicenna in the West), in one of his books, wrote a chapter about the maktab entitled "The Role of the Teacher in the Training and Upbringing of Children," as a guide to teachers working at maktab schools. He wrote that children can learn better if taught in Class (education)es instead of individual tuition from private tutors, and he gave a number of reasons for why this is the case, citing the value of competition and emulation among pupils, as well as the usefulness of group discussions and debates. Ibn Sīnā described the curriculum of a maktab school in some detail, describing the curricula for two stages of education in a maktab school.
Ibn Sīnā wrote that children should be sent to a maktab school from the age of 6 and be taught primary education until they reach the age of 14. During which time, he wrote, they should be taught the Qur'an, Islamic metaphysics, language, literature, Islamic ethics, and manual skills (which could refer to a variety of practical skills).
Ibn Sīnā refers to the secondary education stage of maktab schooling as a period of specialisation when pupils should begin to acquire manual skills, regardless of their social status. He writes that children after the age of 14 should be allowed to choose and specialise in subjects they have an interest in, whether it was reading, manual skills, literature, preaching, medicine, geometry, trade and commerce, craftsmanship, or any other subject or profession they would be interested in pursuing for a future career. He wrote that this was a transitional stage and that there needs to be flexibility regarding the age in which pupils graduate, as the student's emotional development and chosen subjects need to be taken into account.
During its formative period, the term madrasah referred to a higher education institution, whose curriculum initially included only the "religious sciences", whilst philosophy and the secular sciences were often excluded. The curriculum slowly began to diversify, with many later madrasas teaching both the religious and the "secular sciences", such as logic, mathematics and philosophy. Some madrasas further extended their curriculum to history, politics, ethics, music, metaphysics, medicine, astronomy and chemistry. The curriculum of a madrasah was usually set by its founder, but most generally taught both the religious sciences and the physical sciences. Madrasas were established throughout the Islamic world, examples being the 9th century University of al-Qarawiyyin, the 10th century al-Azhar University (the most famous), the 11th century Niẓāmīyah, as well as 75 madrasas in Cairo, 51 in Damascus and up to 44 in Aleppo between 1155 and 1260. Many more were also established in the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Granada (Madrasah of Granada), Murcia, Almería, Valencia and Cádiz during the Caliphate of Córdoba.
In the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period, "Madrasas were divided into lower and specialised levels, which reveals that there was a sense of elevation in school. Students who studied in the specialised schools after completing courses in the lower levels became known as danişmends."
While "madrasah" can now refer to any type of school, the term madrasah was originally used to refer more specifically to a medieval Islamic centre of learning, mainly teaching Islamic law and theology, usually affiliated with a mosque, and funded by an early charitable trust known as waqf.
Madrasas were largely centred on the study of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). The ijāzah to be the origin of the European doctorate. However, in an earlier article, he considered the ijāzah to be of "fundamental difference" to the medieval doctorate, since the former was awarded by an individual teacher-scholar not obliged to follow any formal criteria, whereas the latter was conferred on the student by the collective authority of the faculty. To obtain an ijāzah, a student "had to study in a guild school of law, usually four years for the basic undergraduate course" and ten or more years for a post-graduate course. The "doctorate was obtained after an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose." These were scholarly exercises practised throughout the student's "career as a graduate student of law." After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded ijazas giving them the status of faqīh 'scholar of jurisprudence', muftī 'scholar competent in issuing fatwās', and mudarris 'teacher'.
The Arabic term ijāzat al-tadrīs was awarded to Islamic scholars who were qualified to teach. According to Makdisi, the Latin title licentia docendi 'licence to teach' in the European university may have been a translation of the Arabic, but the underlying concept was very different. A significant difference between the ijāzat al-tadrīs and the licentia docendi was that the former was awarded by the individual scholar-teacher, while the latter was awarded by the chief official of the university, who represented the collective faculty, rather than the individual scholar-teacher.
Much of the study in the madrasah college centred on examining whether certain opinions of law were orthodox. This scholarly process of "determining orthodoxy began with a question which the Muslim layman, called in that capacity mustaftī, presented to a jurisconsult, called mufti, soliciting from him a response, called fatwa, a legal opinion (the religious law of Islam covers civil as well as religious matters). The mufti (professor of legal opinions) took this question, studied it, researched it intensively in the sacred scriptures, in order to find a solution to it. This process of scholarly research was called ijtihād, literally, the exertion of one's efforts to the utmost limit."
Though Islamic medicine was most often taught at the bimaristan teaching hospitals, there were also several medical madrasas dedicated to the teaching of medicine. For example, of the 155 madrasa colleges in 15th century Damascus, three of them were medical schools. No medical degrees were granted to students, as there was no faculty that could issue them. Therefore, no system of examination and certification ever developed in the Islamic tradition, in contrast with medieval Europe.
In the Early Modern Period in the Ottoman Empire, "Suleyman I added new curriculums ['sic'] to the Ottoman medreses of which one was medicine, which alongside studying of the ḥadīth was given highest rank."
Madrasa and university
- Note: The word jāmiʻah (Arabic: جامعة) simply means 'university'. For more information, see Islamic university (disambiguation).
There is disagreement whether madrasas ever became universities. Scholars like
- Ali, Saleem H. "Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan's Madrassas", Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-547672-9
- Evans, Alexander. "Understanding Madrasahs", Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2006.
- Rahman, Tariq. Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarization in Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004. Reprinted 2006. ISBN 978-0-19-597863-6. Chapter on "Madrassas".
- Tanweer, Bilal. "Revisiting the Madrasa Question". The News International, 6 May 2007. About a talk given by Dr. Nomanul Haq (University of Pennsylvania) at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan.
- Ziad, Waleed. "Madaris in Perspective" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009). Reprinted from The News, March 21, 2004.
- Madrasa Education in India
- Esplanada, Jerry E. (2009-07-20). Mainstreaming Madrasa. The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
- Madrasah ʻāmmah (Arabic: مدرسة عامة) translates as 'public school', madrasah khāṣṣah (Arabic: مدرسة خاصة) translates as 'private school', madrasah dīnīyah (Arabic: مدرسة دينية) translates as 'religious school', madrasah Islāmīyah (Arabic: مدرسة إسلامية) translates as 'Islamic school', and madrasah jāmiʻah (Arabic: مدرسة جامعة) translates as 'university'.
- İnalcık, Halil. 1973. "Learning, the Medrese, and the Ulema." In The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300–1600. New York: Praeger, pp. 165–178.
Several sources have claimed that the University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859, is the oldest university.
- Kettani, M. Ali. Engineering Education in the Arab World. Middle East Journal, 1974, 28(4):441.
- Jonathan Berkey, The Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Cairo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), passim
- Ira Lapidus, Muslim Cities in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), passim
- , pages 225-7
- Toby E. Huff (2003), The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, Cambridge University Press, pp. 77–8
- George Makdisi: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255-264 (260)
- Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science 2nd. ed. p. 78-79; 136, 155.
- Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, 2nd ed., Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-52994-8, p. 191-193
- Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, 2nd ed., Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-52994-8, p. 179-185
George Makdisi: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255-264 (264):
Thus the university, as a form of social organisation, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the middle ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere.Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, 2nd ed., Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-52994-8, p. 133-139, 149-159, 179-189; Encyclopaedia of Islam has an entry on the "madrasa" but lacks notably one for a medieval Muslim "university" (Pedersen, J.; Rahman, Munibur; Hillenbrand, R. "Madrasa." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010, retrieved 21 March 2010)
- Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. XIX–XX
- de Ridder-Symoens, Hilde: A History of the University in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. 47-55
- Kettani, M. Ali. Engineering Education in the Arab World. Middle East Journal, 1974, 28(4):441.
- Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson, Publisher: Allen Lane 2011 - ISBN 978-1-84614-273-4
- A European Civil Project of a Documentation Center on Islam
There was no other doctorate in any other field, no license to teach a field, except that of the religious law. To obtain a doctorate, one had to study in a guild school of law.
Pedersen, J.; Rahman, Munibur; Hillenbrand, R. "Madrasa." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010, retrieved 20/03/2010:
Madrasa,...in mediaeval usage, essentially a college of law in which the other Islamic sciences, including literary and philosophical ones, were ancillary subjects only.
Jomier, J. "al- Azhar (al-Ḏj̲āmiʿ al-Azhar)." Encyclopædia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010
There was no examination at the end of the course of study. Many of the students were well advanced in years. Those who left al-Azhar obtained an idjāza or licence to teach; this was a certificate given by the teacher under whom the student had followed courses, testifying to the student's diligence and proficiency.
George Makdisi: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255-264 (260):
Perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two systems is embodied in their systems of certification; namely, in medieval Europe, the licentia docendi, or license to teach; in medieval Islam, the ijāzah, or authorization. In Europe, the license to teach was a license to teach a certain field of knowledge. It was conferred by the licensed masters acting as a corporation, with the consent of a Church authority, in Paris, by the Chancellor of the Cathedral Chapter... Certification in the Muslim East remained a personal matter between the master and the student. The master conferred it on an individual for a particular work, or works. Qualification, in the strict sense of the word, was supposed to be a criterion, but it was at the full discretion of the master, since, if he chose, he could give an ijaza to children hardly able to read, or even to unborn children. This was surely an abuse of the system... but no official system was involved. The ijaza was a personal matter, the sole prerogative of the person bestowing it; no one could force him to give one.
- Toby Huff, Rise of early modern science 2nd ed.(Cambridge University, 2003) p. 149.
- Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2003, p. 133-139, 149-159, 179-189 (179)
- C. E. Bosworth: Untitled review of "The Rise of Colleges. Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West by George Makdisi", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 2 (1983), pp. 304-305
- Kevin Shillington: "Encyclopedia of African history", Vol. 1, New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2005, ISBN 1-57958-245-1, p. 1025
- Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. "al-Azhar, modern period. 1. From madrasa to university" Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Brill, 2010, retrieved 20/03/2010
- Riché, Pierre (1978): "Education and Culture in the Barbarian West: From the Sixth through the Eighth Century", Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 0-87249-376-8, pp. 126-7, 282-98
- Extensive bibliography in: Pedersen, J.; Rahman, Munibur; Hillenbrand, R. "Madrasa." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010, retrieved 20/03/2010
- George Makdisi: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255-264 (264)
- Cf. Lexikon des Mittelalters, J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart 1999, individual entries on: Baccalarius; Collegium; Disputatio; Grade, universitäre; Magister universitatis, Professor; Rector; Studia humanitatis; Universität
- Norman Daniel: Review of "The Rise of Colleges. Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West by George Makdisi", Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 104, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1984), pp. 586-588 (586f.)
- Norman Daniel: Review of "The Rise of Colleges. Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West by George Makdisi", Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 104, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1984), pp. 586-588 (587)
Hugh Kennedy: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1992), pp. 272-273 (272):
It is more likely that the undeniable similarities sprang from similar circumstances. Both cultural traditions had sacred writings which needed to be examined, both had systems of law that looked back to ancient precedent, neither culture knew printing (which meant that dictation and verbal communication were so important).
- Toby Huff, Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, 2nd ed., Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-52994-8, p. 155
- Reconsideration: A Secret History
- Doreen Insgrams (1983), The Awakened: Women in Iraq, p. 22, Third World Centre for Research and Publishing Ltd., Lebanon
- Doreen Insgrams (1983), The Awakened: Women in Iraq, p. 23, Third World Centre for Research and Publishing Ltd., Lebanon
- Anthony Nutting, The Arabs. (Hollis and Carter, 1964), p. 196
- Hamadeh, Shirine. "Ottoman Expressions of Early Modernity and the 'Inevitable' Question of Westernization". The Journal of Architectural Historians 63.1 (2004): 32–51.
- Wiesner-Hanks, E. Merry. Early Modern Europe 1450–1789. New York: U of Cambridge P, 2006.
- Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. United Kingdom: U of Cambridge P, 2002.
- Yoginder Sikand. Bastions of Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India. (Delhi: Penguin Books), 2005, pp. 122-125
- Yoginder Sikand. Bastions of Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India. (Delhi: Penguin Books), 2005, p. 126-128
- Yoginder Sikand. Bastions of Believers: Madrasas and Islamic Education in India. (Delhi: Penguin Books), 2005, p. 129
- Hossain, AKM Y. and Balal, M. "Madrasah". Banglapedia, 2006. Accessed 28 March 2010.
- "Qawmi madrasas under watch." The Daily Star. Tuesday, March 31, 2009
- Ahmed, Samina. Testimony of Samina Ahmed to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 19 Apr 2005.
"An article [...] about a pointed exchange [...] over a Web site report that said Senator Barack Obama had attended an Islamic school or madrassa in Indonesia as a child referred imprecisely to madrassas. While some [madrassas] teach a radical version of Islam, most historically have not."
Various American public figures have, in recent times, used the word in a negative context, including Newt Gingrich, Donald Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell. The New York Times published in January 2007 a correction for misusing the word "madrassa" in a way that assumed it meant a radical Islamic school. The correction stated:
"When articles mentioned 'madrassas,' readers were led to infer that all schools so-named are anti-American, anti-Western, pro-terrorist centres having less to do with teaching basic literacy and more to do with political indoctrination."
The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization examined bias in United States newspaper coverage of Pakistan since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and found the term has come to contain a loaded political meaning:
Western commentators post-9/11 often perceive madrasas as places of radical revivalism with a connotation of anti-Americanism and radical extremism, frequently associated in the Western press with Wahhabi attitudes toward non-Muslims. In Arabic the word madrasa simply means "school" and does not imply a political or religious affiliation, radical or otherwise. Madrasas have varied curricula, and are not all religious. Some madrasas in India, for example, have a secularised identity. Although early madrasas were founded primarily to gain "knowledge of God" they also taught subjects such as mathematics and poetry. For example, in the Ottoman Empire, "Madrasahs had seven categories of sciences that were taught, such as: styles of writing, oral sciences like the Arabic language, grammar, rhetoric, and history and intellectual sciences, such as logic." This is similar to the Western world, in which universities began as institutions of the Catholic church.
Misuse of the word
In Bosnia the term is written medresa, and means "Islamic high school".
On May 26, 2012, Congressman André Carson of Indiana called for additional Madrasas in the United States. There is a madrassa in Queens, NY called Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of New York. In Brooklyn, NY there is also a madrassa named Khalil Gibran International Academy. Presently, the Darul Uloom in New York City, an affiliate of Darul Uloom Haqqania in Pakistan, also serves as a madrassa.
The first Madressa established in North America, Al-Rashid Islamic Institute, was established in Cornwall, Ontario in 1983 and has graduates who are AlMaghrib Institute.
In South Africa, the madrasas also play a social and cultural role in giving after-school religious instruction to children of Muslims who attend government or private non-religious schools. However, increasing numbers of more affluent Muslims' children attend fully-fledged private Islamic schools, which combine secular and religious education. Among Muslims of Indian origin, madrasas also used to provide instruction in Urdu, although this is far less common today than it used to be.
In Singapore, madrasahs are private schools which are overseen by Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS, English: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore). There are six Madrasahs in Singapore, catering to students from Primary 1 to Secondary 4. Four Madrasahs are coeducational and two are for girls. Students take a range of Islamic Studies subjects in addition to mainstream MOE curriculum subjects and sit for the PSLE and GCE 'O' Levels like their peers. In 2009, MUIS introduced the "Joint Madrasah System" (JMS), a joint collaboration of Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah primary school and secondary schools Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah (offering the ukhrawi, or religious stream) and Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah (offering the academic stream). The JMS aims to introduce the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme into the Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah by 2019. Students attending a madrasah are required to wear the traditional Malay attire, including the songkok for boys and tudong for girls, in contrast to mainstream government schools which ban religious headgear as Singapore is officially a secular state. For students who wish to attend a mainstream school, they may opt to take classes on weekends at the madrasah instead of enrolling full-time.
In Southeast Asia, Muslim students have a choice of attending a secular government or an Islamic school. Madrasas or Islamic schools are known as Sekolah Agama (Malay: religious school) in Malaysia and Indonesia, โรงเรียนศาสนาอิสลาม (Thai: school of Islam) in Thailand and madaris in the Philippines. In countries where Islam is not the majority or state religion, Islamic schools are found in regions such as southern Thailand (near the Thai-Malaysian border) and the southern Philippines in Mindanao, where a significant Muslim population can be found.
Madrasas in Southeast Asia
In 2006 there there were 15,000 registered Qawmi madrasas with the Befaqul Mudarressin of Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasah Education Board, though the figure could be well over double that number if unregistered madrasas were counted.
There are three different madrasa education systems in Bangladesh: the original darse nizami system, the redesigned nizami system, and the higher syllabus alia nisab. The first two categories are commonly called Qawmi or non-government madrasas. Amongst them the most notable are Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam in Hathazari, Al-Jamiah Al-Islamiah Patiya, in Patiya and Jamia Tawakkulia Renga Madrasah in Sylhet.
Since 2005, the AusAID-funded DepEd project Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) has assisted a group of private madaris seeking a Permit To Operate from the government and implement the SMC. These private madaris are scattered throughout Regions XI, XII and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In 2004, madaris were mainstreamed in 16 Regions nationwide, primarily in Muslim-majority areas in Mindanao under the auspices of the Department of Education (DepEd). The DepEd adopted Department Order No. 51, which instituted Arabic-language and Islamic Values instruction for Muslim children in state schools, and authorised implementation of the Standard Madrasa Curriculum (SMC) in private-run madaris. While there are state-recognised Islamic schools, such as Ibn Siena Integrated School in the Islamic City of Marawi, Sarang Bangun LC in Zamboanga and SMIE in Jolo, their Islamic studies programmes initially varied in application and content.
With Malayam rather than Urdu as the lingua franca of Kerala Muslims, these madrasas and colleges are relatively unknown and unlinked from Urdu-based madrasas in the rest of India, due to the linguistic barrier.
The Arabic and Islamic educational system has also become a channel for employment in the Middle East in modern times in Kerala. Originating in 8th century madrasas for primary children, Arabic and Islamic schooling in Kerala was patronised and funded by the British colonial government.
- Madrasas and Arabic Colleges in Kerala
After the British occupation of India and the emergence of Darul Ulum Manazar-e Islam Bareilly Sharif, Indian Muslim Scholars left India to establish madrasas in other regions of the world. Some of the most notable of these madrasas are Darul Ulum Holocombe, which produced scholars such as Sheik Ibrahim Memon Madani, or Darul Uloom Al-Madania. These offshoot schools symbolise an emotional drive based upon both religion and patriotism that is not evident elsewhere.
In India the majority of these schools follow the Hanafi school of thought. The religious establishment forms part of the mainly two large divisions within the country, namely the Deobandis, who dominate in numbers (of whom the Darul Uloom Deoband constitutes one of the biggest madrasas) and the Barelvis, who also make up a sizeable portion (Sufi-oriented). Some notable establishments include: Al Jamiatul Ashrafia, Mubarakpur, Manzar Islam Bareilly, Jamia Nizamdina New Delhi, Jamia Nayeemia Muradabad which is one of the largest learning centres for the Barelvis. The HR ministry of the government of India has recently declared that a Central Madrasa Board would be set up. This will enhance the education system of madrasas in India. Though the madrasas impart Quranic education mainly, efforts are on to include Mathematics, Computers and science in the curriculum. In July 2015, the state government of Maharastra created a stir de-recognised madrasa education, receiving critisicm from several political parties with the NCP accusing the ruling BJP of creating Hindu-Muslim friction in the state, and Kamal Farooqui of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board saying it was "ill-designed" 
The madaris rose as colleges of learning in the Islamic world in the 11th century, though there were institutions of learning earlier. They catered not only to the religious establishment, though that was the dominant influence over them, but also the secular one. To the latter they supplied physicians, administrative officials, judges and teachers.
Madrasas in South Asia
As with any other country during the Early Modern Period, such as Italy and Spain in Europe, the Ottoman social life was interconnected with the medrese. Medreses were built in as part of a Mosque complex where many programmes, such as aid to the poor through soup kitchens, were held under the infrastructure of a mosque, which reveals the interconnectedness of religion and social life during this period. "The mosques to which medreses were attached, dominated the social life in Ottoman cities." Social life was not dominated by religion only in the Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire; it was also quite similar to the social life of Europe during this period. As Goffman says: "Just as mosques dominated social life for the Ottomans, churches and synagogues dominated life for the Christians and Jews as well." Hence, social life and the medrese were closely linked, since medreses taught many curricula, such as religion, which highly governed social life in terms of establishing orthodoxy. "They tried moving their developing state toward Islamic orthodoxy." Overall, the fact that mosques contained medreses comes to show the relevance of education to religion in the sense that education took place within the framework of religion and religion established social life by trying to create a common religious orthodoxy. Hence, medreses were simply part of the social life of society as students came to learn the fundamentals of their societal values and beliefs.
Social life and the medrese
The following is taken from İnalcık.
As is previously mentioned, religion dominated much of the knowledge and teachings that were endowed upon students. "Religious learning as the only true science, whose sole aim was the understanding of God's word." Thus, it is important to keep this impulse in mind when going over the curriculum that was taught.
Although Ottoman madrasas had a number of different branches of study, such as calligraphic sciences, oral sciences, and intellectual sciences, they primarily served the function of an Islamic centre for spiritual learning. "The goal of all knowledge and in particular, of the spiritual sciences is knowledge of God." Religion, for the most part, determines the significance and importance of each science. As İnalcık mentions: "Those which aid religion are good and sciences like astrology are bad." However, even though mathematics, or studies in logic were part of the madrasa's curriculum, they were all centred around religion. Even mathematics had a religious impulse behind its teachings. "The  Wiesner-Hanks also says that Protestants also wanted to teach "proper religious values." This shows that in the early modern period, Ottomans and Europeans were similar in their ideas about how schools should be managed and what they should be primarily focused on. Thus, Ottoman madrasas were very similar to present day schools in the sense that they offered a wide range of studies; however, these studies, in their ultimate objective, aimed to further solidify and consolidate Islamic practices and theories.
- Madrasas built by earlier sultans in Bursa.
- Madrasas endowed by great men of state.
This is the rank of madrasas in the Ottoman Empire from the highest ranking to the lowest: (From İnalcık, 167).
"The first Ottoman Medrese was created in İznik in 1331 and most Ottoman medreses followed the traditions of Sunni Islam." "When an Ottoman sultan established a new medrese, he would invite scholars from the Islamic world—for example, Murad II brought scholars from Persia, such as ʻAlāʼ al-Dīn and Fakhr al-Dīn who helped enhance the reputation of the Ottoman medrese". This reveals that the Islamic world was interconnected in the early modern period as they travelled around to other Islamic states exchanging knowledge. This sense that the Ottoman Empire was becoming modernised through globalization is also recognised by Hamadeh who says: "Change in the eighteenth century as the beginning of a long and unilinear march toward westernisation reflects the two centuries of reformation in sovereign identity." İnalcık also mentions that while scholars from for example Persia travelled to the Ottomans in order to share their knowledge, Ottomans travelled as well to receive education from scholars of these Islamic lands, such as Egypt, Persia and Turkestan. Hence, this reveals that similar to today's modern world, individuals from the early modern society travelled abroad to receive education and share knowledge and that the world was more interconnected than it seems. Also, it reveals how the system of "schooling" was also similar to today's modern world where students travel abroad to different countries for studies. Examples of Ottoman madrasas are the ones built by Mehmed the Conqueror. He built eight madrasas that were built "on either side of the mosque where there were eight higher madrasas for specialised studies and eight lower medreses, which prepared students for these." The fact that they were built around, or near mosques reveals the religious impulses behind madrasa building and it reveals the interconnectedness between institutions of learning and religion. The students who completed their education in the lower medreses became known as danismends. This reveals that similar to the education system today, the Ottomans' educational system involved different kinds of schools attached to different kinds of levels. For example, there were lower madrasas and specialised ones, and for one to get into the specialised area meant that he had to complete the classes in the lower one in order to adequately prepare himself for higher learning.
Madrasas in the Ottoman Empire
Madrasas by region
The term ʻawrah is often translated as 'that which is indecent', which usually meant the exposure of anything other than a woman's face and hands, although scholarly interpretations of the ʻawrah and ḥijāb have always tended to vary, with some more or less strict than others.
"[Consider] what some women do when people gather with a shaykh to hear [the recitation of] books. At that point women come, too, to hear the readings; the men sit in one place, the women facing them. It even happens at such times that some of the women are carried away by the situation; one will stand up, and sit down, and shout in a loud voice. [Moreover,] her 'awra will appear; in her house, their exposure would be forbidden — how can it be allowed in a mosque, in the presence of men?"
While it was not common for women to enroll as students in formal classes, it was common for women to attend informal lectures and study sessions at mosques, madrasas and other public places. While there were no legal restrictions on female education, some men did not approve of this practice, such as Muhammad ibn al-Hajj (d. 1336) who was appalled at the behaviour of some women who informally audited lectures in his time:
"How splendid were the women of the ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith."
According to the Sunni scholar Ibn ʻAsākir in the 12th century, there were opportunities for female education in the medieval Islamic world, writing that women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters. Ibn ʻAsakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers in his time. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives, such as Khadijah, a successful businesswoman. According to a hadith attributed to Muhammad, he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge:
Women played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasas were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.
From around 750, during the Abbasid Caliphate, women “became renowned for their brains as well as their beauty”. In particular, many well known women of the time were trained from childhood in music, dancing and poetry. Mahbuba was one of these. Another feminine figure to be remembered for her achievements was Tawaddud, "a slave girl who was said to have been bought at great cost by Hārūn al-Rashīd because she had passed her examinations by the most eminent scholars in astronomy, medicine, law, philosophy, music, history, Arabic grammar, literature, theology and chess". Moreover, among the most prominent feminine figures was Shuhda who was known as "the Scholar" or "the Pride of Women" during the 12th century in Baghdad. Despite the recognition of women's aptitudes during the Abbasid dynasty, all these came to an end in Iraq with the sack of Baghdad in 1258.
Prior to the 12th century, women accounted for less than one percent of the world’s Islamic scholars. However, al-Sakhawi and Mohammad Akram Nadwi have since found evidence of over 8,000 female scholars since the 15th century. al-Sakhawi devotes an entire volume of his 12-volume biographical dictionary al-Ḍawʾ al-lāmiʻ to female scholars, giving information on 1,075 of them. More recently, the scholar Mohammad Akram Nadwi, currently a researcher from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, has written 40 volumes on the muḥaddithāt (the women scholars of ḥadīth), and found at least 8,000 of them.
It remains the case that no equivalent of the bachelor's degree, the licentia docendi, or higher degrees ever emerged in the medieval or early modern Islamic madrasas.
Tony Huff, in a discussion of Makdisi's hypothesis, concludes:
However, all of these facets of medieval university life are considered by standard scholarship to be independent medieval European developments with no tracable Islamic influence. Generally, some reviewers have pointed out the strong inclination of Makdisi of overstating his case by simply resting on "the accumulation of close parallels", but all the while failing to point to convincing channels of transmission between the Muslim and Christian world. Norman Daniel points out that the Arab equivalent of the Latin disputation, the taliqa, was reserved for the ruler's court, not the madrasa, and that the actual differences between Islamic sic et non in motion. Daniel concludes that resemblances in method had more to with the two religions having "common problems: to reconcile the conflicting statements of their own authorities, and to safeguard the data of revelation from the impact of Greek philosophy"; thus Christian scholasticism and similar Arab concepts should be viewed in terms of a parallel occurrence, not of the transmission of ideas from one to the other, a view shared by Hugh Kennedy.
Nevertheless, Makdisi has asserted that the European university borrowed many of its features from the Islamic madrasa, including the concepts of a degree and doctorate. Makdisi and Hugh Goddard have also highlighted other terms and concepts now used in modern universities which most likely have Islamic origins, including "the fact that we still talk of professors holding the 'Chair' of their subject" being based on the "traditional Islamic pattern of teaching where the professor sits on a chair and the students sit around him", the term 'academic circles' being derived from the way in which Islamic students "sat in a circle around their professor", and terms such as "having 'fellows', 'reading' a subject, and obtaining 'degrees', can all be traced back" to the Islamic concepts of aṣḥāb ('companions, as of Muhammad'), qirāʼah ('reading aloud the Qur'an') and ijāzah ('licence [to teach]') respectively. Makdisi has listed eighteen such parallels in terminology which can be traced back to their roots in Islamic education. Some of the practices now common in modern universities which Makdisi and Goddard trace back to an Islamic root include "practices such as delivering inaugural lectures, wearing academic robes, obtaining doctorates by defending a thesis, and even the idea of academic freedom are also modelled on Islamic custom." The Islamic scholarly system of fatwá and ijmāʻ, meaning opinion and consensus respectively, formed the basis of the "scholarly system the West has practised in university scholarship from the Middle Ages down to the present day." According to Makdisi and Goddard, "the idea of academic freedom" in universities was also "modelled on Islamic custom" as practised in the medieval Madrasa system from the 9th century. Islamic influence was "certainly discernible in the foundation of the first deliberately planned university" in Europe, the University of Naples Federico II founded by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1224.
Thus the university, as a form of social organization, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the middle ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere.concludes in his comparison between the two institutions: As Muslim institutions of higher learning, the madrasa had the legal designation of
From a structural and legal point of view, the madrasa and the university were contrasting types. Whereas the madrasa was a pious endowment under the law of religious and charitable foundations (waqf), the universities of Europe were legally autonomous corporate entities that had many legal rights and privileges. These included the capacity to make their own internal rules and regulations, the right to buy and sell property, to have legal representation in various forums, to make contracts, to sue and be sued."in that it has most of the features of a university, but lacks the corporate element. Toby Huff summarises the difference as follows: university college to differentiate them from the legally autonomous corporations that the medieval European universities were. In a sense, the madrasa resembles a jāmiʻah Despite the many similarities, medieval specialists have coined the term "Islamic college" for madrasa and .jāmiʻah institution like the madrasa and waqf) was structurally different, being a legally autonomous corporation rather than a universitas (from Latin medieval universitys because the jāmi‘ah disagree with the term "university" for the Islamic madrasas and corporationMedievalist specialists who define the university as a legally autonomous
However, the classification of madrasas as "universities" is disputed on the question of understanding of each institution on its own terms. In madrasas, the ijāzahs were only issued in one field, the Islamic religious law of sharīʻah, and in no other field of learning. Other academic subjects, including the natural sciences, philosophy and literary studies, were only treated "ancillary" to the study of the Sharia. For example, a natural science like astronomy was only studied (if at all) to supply religious needs, like the time for prayer. This is why Ptolemaic astronomy was considered adequate, and is still taught in some modern day madrasas. The Islamic law undergraduate degree from al-Azhar, the most prestigious madrasa, was traditionally granted without final examinations, but on the basis of the students' attentive attendance to courses. In contrast to the medieval doctorate which was granted by the collective authority of the faculty, the Islamic degree was not granted by the teacher to the pupil based on any formal criteria, but remained a "personal matter, the sole prerogative of the person bestowing it; no one could force him to give one".
Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in 975 by the Ismaʻīlī Shīʻī Fatimid dynasty as a jāmiʻah, had individual faculties for a theological seminary, Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, early Islamic philosophy and logic in Islamic philosophy. The postgraduate doctorate in law was only obtained after "an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses", and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose." ‘Abd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī also delivered lectures on Islamic medicine at al-Azhar, while Maimonides delivered lectures on medicine and astronomy there during the time of Saladin. Another early jāmiʻah was the Niẓāmīyah of Baghdād (founded 1091), which has been called the "largest university of the Medieval world." Mustansiriya University, established by the ʻAbbāsid caliph al-Mustanṣir in 1233, in addition to teaching the religious subjects, offered courses dealing with philosophy, mathematics and the natural sciences.
al-Qarawīyīn University in Fez, Morocco is recognised by many historians as the oldest degree-granting university in the world, having been founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. While the madrasa college could also issue degrees at all levels, the jāmiʻahs (such as al-Qarawīyīn and al-Azhar University) differed in the sense that they were larger institutions, more universal in terms of their complete source of studies, had individual faculties for different subjects, and could house a number of mosques, madrasas, and other institutions within them. Such an institution has thus been described as an "Islamic university".
 Other scholars regard the university as uniquely European in origin and characteristics. Darleen Pryds questions this view, pointing out that madrasas and European universities in the Mediterranean region shared similar foundations by princely patrons and were intended to provide loyal administrators to further the rulers' agenda. however, argue that the European university has no parallel in the medieval Islamic world.