Madrassah or Islamic seminary is an institution for teaching and learning of Islamic theology and religious sciences.
It is an Islamic religious educational center. The Noble Qur’an, Hadith and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) are the basic sciences which are being taught in Madrassahs.
The seminaries –commonly in the Indian subcontinent and nearby regions including Iran- depend on public donations to afford their financial expenses.
Madrassahs have been built by public support. They have their own principles. They are not related and affiliated with governments. Throughout history, they were supported by the donations of common people.
Why seminaries are independent?
Seminaries carry out a divine task. They should not be affiliated to any state or particular party as they belong to all Muslims. These schools are supposed to not represent and give shoulder to any particular opinion; rather they should work hard to describe the brilliant teachings of Islam in all ages for all classes of the society.
Since Islam is a divine religion, it is impossible to administrate seminaries under the rule of governments. Seminaries have a duty to Allah, to perform Allah’s command.
Religions and state
There are different religions and sects in every state. Followers of each sect imitate their own rituals as they believe. Religions have freedom of thought and tenets. According to the international laws, ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic minorities should be protected by states.
Sunni Seminaries in Iran
There are several independent Sunni seminaries in Iran in different provinces. Most of them are in Sistan-Balochistan, Khorasan and the southern parts of Iran. Also there are some smaller seminaries in the Kurdish-dominated provinces. A considerable number of students learn Islamic sciences inside chambers in these regions, too. The rectors of seminaries in Balochistan, Iran, have established a union few months before the revolution of 1979. The union is called officially “Coordination Council of the Sunni Seminaries in Sistan-Balochistan”.
The biggest non-state seminaries of the Sunni community are the founders of the CCSS. The coordination council has a unified system of exams, vacations and curriculum. It began its work with only six seminaries; now there more than 60 seminaries work under the shadow of the Coordination Council of the Sunni Seminaries in Sistan-Balochistan.
Each year, the rectors gather twice or thrice gather and discuss different issues to develop their seminaries in all aspects. In their latest meeting they scrutinized the government proposals. As the biggest pressure is on the rectors of the Coordination Council, they have been discussing the matter of accepting the authority of a state-run office. After a long deliberation, the rectors in Sistan-Balochistan took the final decision and rejected the state proposal considering it contrary to the principles of seminaries.
Why seminaries should remain independent?
However, there are many overt advantages in accepting the state regulations for both students and teachers. But there is no any guarantee that the regulations will remain same forever.
Secondly, one of the main principles of the Islamic seminaries of the sub-continent is to be public and dependent on common people. If they accept grants of governments, people will not trust them longer. Such grants and aids will destroy the sincerity of seminaries and the strong link of them with masses will be cut.
Islamic seminaries should remain independent in order to play their basic role in any society; reformation and criticism of power-holders is possible only when they do not depend on their financial supports. Thus the rectors of the main seminaries in the eastern part of Iran have been rejecting the state plan.
Although the pressure on seminaries is not as it was during the government of Ahmadinejad. But the problem has not been solved yet. Students and teachers of seminaries are deprived of many services due to rejecting the plan. The current government should resolve this case forever as it has been supported by the Sunni community. Sunnis should have no fear regarding their religious freedoms and civil rights.
SunniOnline Editorial Board