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The Rational BelieverChoices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan$
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Masooda Bano

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450440

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450440.001.0001

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Organization of Religious Hierarchy

Organization of Religious Hierarchy

Competition or Cooperation?

(p.66) 4 Organization of Religious Hierarchy
The Rational Believer

Masooda Bano

Cornell University Press

This chapter develops a theory of religious hierarchy. Islam, unlike Christianity, does not provide for formal religious authority. The emphasis is on establishing a direct link to God. Yet closer examination of the madrasa system reveals the existence of a clear formal hierarchy, in which subsystems have some formal reporting requirements, as well as an informal hierarchy, in which they do not. The chapter draws on empirical data to provide a clear idea of the number of madrasas in Pakistan, their variations, and geographical spread. In doing so, it records the existence of both a formal and an informal religious hierarchy. It describes how madrasas in Pakistan are formally organized via five wafaqs, which are three-tiered hierarchical structures in which the authority to make decisions depends on the tier to which any given madrasa belongs. Wafaq membership is voluntary, yet most madrasas choose to join. The chapter explores what motivates madrasas from all three tiers to join the hierarchical structure. This is especially interesting in the case of the smaller madrasas which, due to their low rank, bind themselves to the decisions of the few big madrasas that control the top tier of the wafaq.

Keywords:   madrasa system, Islamic schools, madrasas, Islam, religious hierarchy, Pakistan, wafaqs

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