Seminary boards still undecided about registration move
ISLAMABAD: Even a month after the government forwarded the new madressah registration form to five main seminary boards, a majority of them have not made any decision either to accept or reject it.
The ministry of religious affairs on March 13 forwarded the new madressah registration form to the collective body of all the five Wafaqul Madaris – the Itehad-i-Tanzeematul Madaris Deenya (Itehad).
Mufti Muneebur Rehman, the chairman of the Itehad, said the main issue was that there was no direction on the official side.
“When we want to discuss something, there is no response from anybody in the civil or military side. But then, all of a sudden, there is a rush to finish a serious matter such as the registration (of religious seminaries),” he said.
“The simple question is, what has happened to such madressahs that are not registered anywhere in Pakistan and operating openly even challenging the government policies or receiving funding from various sources.”
However, only Wafaqul Madaris al Shia discussed the matter at their supreme executive committee meeting on March 31 and rejected it.
Some of the senior clerics present at the meeting even termed it a piece of bureaucratic trash and forwarded their decision to the Itehad the same day.
“We deal with institutions and not individuals,” Maulana M. Afzal Haidari, the secretary general of Wafaqul Madaris al Shia, told Dawn. “A two-page form was agreed upon in 2006. Now the government should tell us what was wrong with that form and why did it fail.”
The new form was devised collectively by the ministries of religious affairs and the interior after a meeting with the five federations of the seminaries.
The form has 11 sections spread over six pages and many sections need attachments and detailed explanations on a separate sheet of paper.
The new form seeks wide-ranging information ranging from the housing facilities at the seminaries, details of teachers, ownership of the land and sources of funding, foreign funding and even details related to foreign students and teachers.
It also states that the government can act in accordance with the law in case a seminary was found involved in terrorism, sectarianism and extremism.
Mr Haidari said the registration of seminaries should be the same as that of a school.
“Now they want to seek scores of documents related to boarding facilities in a madressah but there is no official requirement or even a check on the establishment of an attached hostel with schools in Islamabad,” he added.
The other wafaq to hold a meeting on the new registration form is Wafaqul madaris al Salfia, the board representing the seminaries belonging to the Ahle Hadis school of thought.
The meeting of the Wafaq al Salfia was held on April 6 at its head office in Faisalabad. Some reservations were expressed by the participants on the form.
“We feel that the form is too complicated for most of the madressah administrations,” said Yaseen Zafar, the secretary general Wafaqul Madaris al Salfia.
He said some points in the form were not related to the registration of a seminary such as extremism.
He added that the reservations of Wafaq al Madaris al Salfia would be announced at the collective meeting of Itehad whenever it is held.
Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia (Deobandi), Tanzeemul Madaris Ahle Sunnat Pakistan (Barelvi) and Rabtatul Madarisul Islamia, the board of seminaries affiliated with Jamaat-i-Islami, have yet to convene a meeting to discuss the matter.
Published in Dawn