Women in Gilgit-Baltistan, interior Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and rural Punjab - areas that have been left relatively excluded from the dars' (cyber) influence and emphasis on the Arab-styled hijab - still wear ensembles reflecting local ethnic roots that predate the advent of Islam and the creation of Pakistan. | Photo: © Wasiasuhail via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Dars and Madrassas: Remnants of a Lost Pedagogy that has advanced onto the Cyber Realm

Madrassas (school-like religious seminaries, mostly for young boys who train to become Islamic theologians) and dars (female-only institutional and/or home-based study circles and diploma courses) constitute an informal and unregulated religious education space in Pakistan. Dars, often taught by self-declared authorities on religion, are increasingly delivered online and could contribute to radicalisation; until now, there is no coherent strategy in Pakistan that takes the online element sufficiently into account. Tackling online radicalisation would require the Pakistani state to reflect deeply on its scholastic apparatus, the shortcomings of which often pave the way for digital Islam to serve as the alternative for a state-approved religious education.

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