‘Madrasah is not a breeding ground for extremism’

Rambo Talabong

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‘Madrasah is not a breeding ground for extremism’

Gerard Carreon

'I studied Madrasah and I grew up in a Madrasah, but I am not a terrorist, I am not an extremist,' says Ustadz Alzad Sattar

MANILA, Philippines – Madrasah, or the Islamic school that Muslims attend on top of secular education is not a breeding ground for extremists and terrorists, a Department of Education (DepEd) official said on Sunday, September 9.

“We cannot agree, categorically, that Madrasah is the breeding ground for extremism, as some people say about it. I studied Madrasah and I grew up in a Madrasah, but I am not a terrorist, I am not an extremist,” DepEd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Undersecretary for Madrasah Education Ustadz Alzad Sattar said in a workshop against violent extremism.

According to Sattar, there is no “empirical evidence” recorded by the government to back allegations that Madrasahs are being hijacked by extremists to spread terrorist ideologies.

Sattar’s comment follows locals from Mindanao in the forum saying that they have heard of Madrasahs being used for recruitment into radical groups. These allegations, however, have yet to be verified.

More on Madrasah: Madrasah is usually an Islamic learning session for Muslims (or even interested non-Muslims) done regularly to learn Arabic and Islam on top of conventional schooling.

In the Phlippines, Sattar said there are 3 variations:

  1. DepEd Madrasah Program which teaches Arabic language and Islamic values
  2. Integrated Madrasah wherein Islamic studies are embedded into the English-style conventional education
  3. Traditional Madrasah usually taught on weekends which are taught purely in Arabic

“Education is very important, especially for the Muslims, for the Bangsamoro people. Education should not only focus on secular or western education, but what we need is Madrasah education,” Sattar said.

Madrasah remains vulnerable: Sattar admitted, however, that Madrasah learning centers are indeed vulnerable to being penetrated by ill-intentioned individuals, especially since entire communities remain vulnerable to extremism. (READ: Marawi rehab: ‘Build communities resilient to threat of extremism’)

What needs to be done, he said, is for a law to strengthen Madrasah education—for it to hand down “true teachings of Islam.”

According to Sattar, Madrasah should not be seen as a stepping stone towards extremism, but one of the most potent traditions against it given that one of the values championed by Islam is peace. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.