‘Madrasah is not a breeding ground for extremism’

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.

Ustadz Alzad Sattar, Department of Education Undersecretary for Madrasah Education speaking now on the state of conflicts in ARMM. pic.twitter.com/YlKm3CsGoN — Rambo Talabong (@rambotalabong) September 9, 2018

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:

“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

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.