Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Afghan Government Should Regulate Religious Teaching Institutions and Places of Worship to Avoid Exploitation (Last Part)


Afghan Government Should Regulate Religious Teaching  Institutions and Places of Worship to Avoid Exploitation (Last Part)

Religious affair is a sensitive area which policy makers and politicians in third world countries avoid to handle.
But it is the one major area that should be regulated. Madrasas and Masjid have lost their intrinsic meaning in Pakistan. That fateful, country’s – Pakistan - intelligence agency has used these two most important pillars of Muslim society as tools at their hands. Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) has skillfully manipulated thousands of students they enrolled in these unofficial madrassas, and instilled them with heretic religious theologies.
They were kept in, and brought up in toxic environment where their so called teachers or preachers thought them who to kill. Afghanistan has no controlled border with Pakistan, and the same students who were trained, brought up and equipped with toxic mentality have been sent back in Afghanistan to work as Mollahs in villages, districts and communities in mostly ungoverned areas or where Government writ is hardly felt.
These areas are run by tribal system in Afghanistan who offers no opposition to people who purport themselves as Mollahs or religious leaders. This is how ISI exploited population in Afghanistan. These so called Mollahs have poisoned rural people’s mentality through speeches and Friday Sermons, and started recruitment of young rural people to fill up and buttress Taliban insurgents’ and other religious fanatic groups’ ranks.
The result, within six to eight years of complete evaporation of support to Taliban from Afghan society, their ranks started to fill up, their activities increase and now! They got hold of almost forty percent of the entire country’s geographic landmass! It is a shame for policy makers – both at national and international levels – to whose oblivion – all this happened. And now, both the Government of Afghanistan and international community – including the US and NATO member countries – are pleading for peace – due to urges at their home nations’ changes in policies and priorities – without paying serious heed to possible fallout of such careless engagement in peace process.
Things are not in black and white as the interlocutors of ongoing peace process seem to look at things. I hope they do understand all the undercurrents kept by neighboring Pakistan throughout these negotiations.
The Government of Afghanistan should put in place a viable and enforceable mechanism for complete evaluation and overview of the religious schools system in Afghanistan.
This should include complete vetting of the teachers and religious leaders both in Mosques and Madrassas, and validate their record by local community leaders, which should also include verification of reliable connection of these people to tribes or community of their kinship in the areas they dwell. In addition, educational background check, which should accompany with stringent test of the depth and scope of religious knowledge of the teachers and religious leaders, who are to be assigned for a job in Madrassas or Mosques in rural Afghan communities. Ministry of Religious Affairs and Hajj is the most viable Government institution to undertake such enterprise.
They should implement the whole program by using Mollahs and Mawlavis, who are already vetted and cleared by Government. Because of the passage of so many un-checked years, where existing religious leaders at Mosques and teachers at Madrassas might have entrenched themselves and found niche in communities, it is incumbent upon the Government to continue with its reform program in this sector in order to draw a safe net around the vulnerable population of Afghanistan in rural areas from the scourge of these mercenaries, who use religion  as soft power to turn the entire community to a deadly fighting force. Also, in order to pacify fears of hostility at communities, the Government should assign generous budgets for Mosques and Madrassas to update their curriculum, textbooks and include technological tools such as computers and other modern teaching and learning methods, including the use of social networks like Facebook. Examples of Khateebs or religious preachers in Saudi Arabia and UAE using social network applications such as Facebook etc to connect with their followers and communities to discuss and agree on topics for next Friday’s sermon are found in abundance.
This is a job, which the Government of Afghanistan should give the most and number one priority to. War against terrors is not only in hot battle fields. Breeding places for enemy should be eliminated at grass root level in communities as well.

Mohammed Gul Sahibbzada is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammed.g.sahibbzada@gmail.com

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