The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan (Hardback)
  • The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan (Hardback)
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The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan (Hardback)

(author)
£35.00
Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 15/03/2012
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Islamic schools, or madrasas, have been accused of radicalizing Muslims and participating, either actively or passively, in terrorist networks since the events of 9/11. In Pakistan, the 2007 siege by government forces of Islamabad's Red Mosque and its madrasa complex, whose imam and students staged an armed resistance against the state for its support of the "war on terror," reinforced concerns about madrasas' role in regional and global jihad. By 2006 madrasas registered with Pakistan's five regulatory boards for religious schools enrolled over one million male and 200,000 female students. In The Rational Believer, Masooda Bano draws on rich interview, ethnographic, and survey data, as well as fieldwork conducted in madrasas throughout the country to explore the network of Pakistani madrasas. She maps the choices and decisions confronted by students, teachers, parents, and clerics and explains why available choices make participation in jihad appear at times a viable course of action.

Bano's work shows that beliefs are rational and that religious believers look to maximize utility in ways not captured by classical rational choice. She applies analytical tools from the New Institutional Economics to explain apparent contradictions in the madrasa system-for example, how thousands of young Pakistani women now demand the national adoption of traditional sharia law, despite its highly restrictive limits on female agency, and do so from their location in Islamic schools for girls that were founded only a generation ago.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801450440
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Bano . . . attempts to answer why Islamic religious schools, or madrasas, and the actors associated with them adopt what to most observers appear to be apparently irrational preferences . . . engaging in violent action against a more powerful state and rejecting modernity and liberal thought in favor of an Islamic Sharia system. Bano . . . argues that their decisions are actually the outcome of cost-benefit calculations intended to maximize utility, keeping in mind the historical and current context, and hence quite rational. Bano's work represents an important contribution to the field as it provides an insight into the preferences of these actors, which are not adequately explained by classical rational choice theories. It also helps readers understand some of the factors behind the mushrooming of madrasas across South Asia."--Choice (May 2013)


"Although Bano rightly acknowledges that perhaps two of the 7 July 2005 London bombers received religious training in Pakistan's madrasas--and no doubt other fundamentalists, as well as those who provided protection for Osama bin-Laden--the majority, she argues, are rational believers, keen to exploit the moral and practical benefits of religious education. . . . Bano sets out her position logically, drawing on a wealth of interviews and impressive fieldwork, including discussions with students and religious teachers at Islamabad's infamous Red Mosque. . . . For those with an interest in politics, social science, or simply an interest in Pakistan's madrasas, The Rational Believer will not disappoint."--Lt. Col. Andrew M. Roe, Military Review (May-June 2013)


"The author deserves merit for a creative analysis throughout the treatise that compares state-madrasa engagement in both neighboring India and Bangladesh, as well as a historical timeline dating back to the 12th century that compares the many similarities between the University of Oxford and madrasas in the subcontinent. . . . This book adds credence to the need for the state to engage with madrasas given that heretofore there has been no framework for setting standards or accountability in the opening or running of seminaries, and few strides have been made to address the limited employability of madrasas graduates."--R. Khan, Asian Affairs (July 2013)


"Masooda Bano's insightful and compelling book dispels many myths about madrasas in Pakistan and elsewhere. It explains the attraction and resilience of such institutions and shows why U.S. and Pakistani policies to target madrasas were both misdirected and ineffectual. The Rational Believer is essential reading for scholars and policymakers interested in education, educational reform, religion and political violence, gender issues in South Asia, and the future of Pakistan."--Abdulkader Sinno, Indiana University, author of Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond

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