The word “Suffa” is known to us in the context of Islamic History. In Arabic, Suffa means “veranda, shed, and porch”. It was the first institution established by The Holy Prophet (PBUH) for the education of Muslims who migrated from Makah to Medina. The very concept of Madrasa was derived from the importance given to learning and education by ashab-e- Suffa. At present times, Madrasas in Pakistan are catering a large number of young population especially those children who are unable to join schools due to poor state of affairs.
The question, “are these madrassahs giving proper education to the children based on religious as well as worldly knowledge” confuses us more instead of explaining anything. Islam is not a religion giving emphasis only on religious education but equal importance is granted to the scientific, social and other aspects of knowledge. When we think of role of madrasas and Ulemas in social uplift of society, nothing seems well.
The impact of history is always far reaching. During the Afghan war (1979-1989), the proxy war fought by Pakistan seriously damaged the institution of madrasas and they were named as safe heavens and training centers of terrorists and extremists. Especially when we speak of Ulemas, their role for religious and social service have become diminutive. In fact, their part should be enormous in reforming and imparting true understanding of Islam but alas! Their role is reduced to mere a post from lamppost.
Every sensible and common man can define a religious leader. It is very simple to say that he should have exact and true knowledge of religion and has an ability to influence the mind of people to adopt the right path. He should illustrate all religious matters in the light of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. He should be a role model to set an example for others. He should not divide the religion into sects and instead he should preach his followers to follow only Islam irrespective of different sects. Whenever a matter of religious importance arises, he should be able to categorically find out the solution as per the teachings of The Holy Quran and the Sunnah. The path of Ijtehad is also open for Muslims to conform to the changing times but not all Muslims but only religious leaders are competent to elucidate the matter and give any Fatwa.
It is shocking to know that true Islam is wracked by pseudo intellectuals and so called religious leaders. They are unable to invoke the true spirit of Islam in the young and old minds equally. As a matter of fact, religion has been assimilated with politics. People like us are unable to distinguish between the actual religious leaders and the fake ones. After the prevalence of the concept of terrorism and extremism, all religious codes like beard and scarves are being termed as a symbol of terrorism by the non-Muslims. It’s actually very sorry state of affairs that we have lost our values and culture of an Islamic society.
In this era of materialism and survival of the fittest, everyone is pursuing his personal pursuit. Religious leaders are not an exception. The division of religion on the basis of sects is very detrimental. We have lost thousands of lives in the name of sectarianism, sectarian violence and terrorism. We are unable to identify the enemy roaming in between us. We are a poor nation who tries to exploit all resources to gain personal benefit and religion is the least. Religious leaders make hollow speeches without leaving an effect. The reason is only they are not role models.
After 9/11, the role of Ulemas became more important and extensive but we failed to realize that role. Resultantly, Islam is being termed as extremist religion and Islamic organizations as terrorist organizations. Our Madrasas are not like Deoband that produced great religious leaders. Our spiritual leaders are not akin to Shah Waliullah who imparted true spirit of Islam to Muslims? People like him were selfless working for the wellbeing of people without any discrimination and personal agenda and they made history. We are at a point where we actually don’t know we are right or wrong, so many things mixed up.
What we did with the concept for which this country was separated from Hindus. Is this the true laboratory of Islam where we are experimenting Islamic principles? We are a part of race and everyone is trying to excel leaving others behind. In this race we have forgotten even the principles of humanity. Islam says the murder of a human being is the murder of whole humanity. So how many people have been persecuted in sectarian strife, innocent children, women, men have been killed by the suicide bombers having the certificate of Jannah. Who issues them these certificates at the cost of innocent lives? All these questions are unanswered because there is a vacuum created by the religious leaders and thus filled by the fake reformists.
We have a critical time ahead because we have a large world to compete with but we have mired ourselves with bogus concepts of radicalism and extremism. These concepts have nothing to do with the development of Pakistan. The political leadership of Pakistan is right in reminding to all ulemas their active role in tackling the issue of terrorism and extremism because there is a strong relationship between the two. Ulemas need to weaken this relationship and spread the facts of Islam. They have to decide whether they want to retain the status of a post or to become a lamppost.