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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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Logic of Adaptive Preference

Logic of Adaptive Preference

Islam and Western Feminism

(p.125) 6 Logic of Adaptive Preference
The Rational Believer

Masooda Bano

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores the factors that help rational actors sustain religious conviction over time. It does so by studying the rapid growth of female madrasas in Pakistan. Until the late 1970s, the country had no provision for female madrasas. Today, however, the growth of female madrasas is outpacing those for men, and they are also attracting more affluent groups. Based on interviews with parents and group discussions with students, the popularity of Islamic principles and the demand for female madrasas are attributed to two features: their practical relevance (i.e. their usefulness for the believer in a day-to-day context) and their appeal to reason. Against a background of low quality secular education and weak links between education and formal employment, female madrasas are in high demand because they empower the students psychologically, socially, and economically. Further, the analysis shows that notions of well-being and modernity are relative ideas, such that rules that may appear confining to Western feminists can be seen as liberating and empowering by Muslim women. Thus, preference formation cannot be understood without recognizing the influence of history and culture, and the subjective nature of individual preference.

Keywords:   religious conviction, religion, religious actors, female madrasas, Islamic schools, Muslim women

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