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The Madrasa: A Positive Partner for the Prevention of Violent Extremism in our City (Part II)

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“The Muslim community in Mindanao has the tradition of being tolerant. The Muslims welcome Christian settlers to their homeland. The war in Mindanao has not changed their attitude.”

-Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, Executive Director of the Institute of Bangsa Studies, in his paper: “Archives: Is the Muslim Community in the Philippines Radical?” (December 2006)

The Madrasa: The Pakistan Experience

In the issue of Bottomline dated October 29, 2018, one person was mentioned by the name of Adzhar Hussain, a Pakistani-American who was able to get the support of the Madrasa leaders in Pakistan in the prevention of extremism, using the Madrasa as the venue for the teachings of radicalization and extremism.

Azi, to his friends, formerly Vice President of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), headed the Madaris Enhancement Program in Pakistan. Grounded on the ICRD mission “to address identity-based conflict that exceeds traditional diplomacy”, he worked differently by engaging with Madrasa leaders and helping them develop skills to be agents of peacebuilding, reduced violence and provided improved opportunities for Pakistan youth (from Azi’s Profile Paper, 2017).

The following engagements Azi did as follows, may be considered his formula of engagement:

In behalf of ICRD, Azi worked in partnership with local Pakistan religious leaders and civic organizations. He also designed a system of comprehensive training programs for Madrasa leaders, equipped them with skills necessary to facilitate these changes and trained other Madrasa leaders to do the same.

From 2004, numerous trainings, workshops were conducted, with the bringing together of Madrasa leaders from each of Pakistan’s five Muslim’s sects, which was the first time in their lives.

Thus, grounded on the Islamic principles of peace, tolerance and reconciliation the groundwork for sectarian harmony within Pakistan, it eventually gained acceptance and reduction of global extremism.

Azi’s continued mission are as follows:

He did not impose reforms on Madrasa, as earlier attempts by the parties were met with suspicion and hostility. He also found success by engaging Madrasa leaders directly. Rather than criticizing the shortcomings of Madrasa education and attempting to impose foreign values, he encouraged the Madrasa leaders to reflect on their own values and goals. They were motivated to explore ways and work together to live up to the principles of Islam. Also, they were challenged to provide moral guidance for their students and communities.

Azi seeked to deepen the work of the ICRD to include trainings of Madrasa teachers and leaders while building on work with universities to develop certificate programs for Madrasa teachers.

Currently the Peace Education foundation, which is headed by Azi, works with five universities in Pakistan for writing of the curricula for indigenous peace education.

The work of Azi is with the belief of the “power of religion to heal, to motivate, and to empower people to bring about powerful social change within the societies and the world at large.”

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On the next Bottomline, Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr. OMI’s research, “The Resurgent Militant Islam”, we will study his findings on why there is such “thing” as militant Islam. ###




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