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Title: Creating "Good Muslims": Qawmi Madrasa schooling in a rural town of Bangladesh
Authors: Bhuiyan, Md Nurul Momen
Advisors: Froerer, P
Keywords: Body;Islam;Education;Ethnography;Anthropology
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: School of Social Sciences Theses
Abstract: This thesis is about the processes and practices that underpin everyday life in a Bangladeshi qawmi madrasa, a rather contentious faith-based Islamic schooling system that is very popular among the rural poor. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork that took place in Biswanath, a rural town in northeastern Bangladesh, this thesis focuses specifically on the processes that are considered by the qawmi madrasa system to be crucial for the creation of a “good Muslim” persona. The thesis is, therefore, primarily about a particular form of (religious) schooling and (religious) identity formation processes in rural Bangladesh. This study describes a wide range of issues, traditions, and practices embedded within the qawmi madrasa system. The economic and social dynamics of the locality have also been observed closely, as these are directly linked with and influenced by the centrality of Islam in the life of the people. The protagonists of this system believe that every Muslim requires authentic Islamic schooling in order to become a “good Muslim”. Essential to the construction of the “good Muslim” within the qawmi madrasa system therefore lies the assumption that this type of schooling is transformative in nature. Hence, my analysis highlights the centrality of the believer’s body and suggests that for the successful construction of a Muslim persona it is the Islamic orthopraxy, rather than the orthodoxy, that they (learners) receive here most of their faith schoolings on. Central to such orthopraxy is Sunnah (ritual and non-ritual actions approved by the Prophet), which is reinforced and inculcated by the wider community of adults (parents, teachers) into learners by systematically addressing and synchronizing various qualities and expectations through the schooling process. Loyalty is one such quality that both the qawmi protagonists and the wider society believe is infusible. Loyalty towards the moral and social order is thought to be achievable through both moral and corporal discipline. Hence, accustoming one’s body and mind to the knowledge of adab (manner) constitutes the fundamental knowledge of all within this system. In other words, in this study I suggest that the qawmi madrasa system is a system of schooling where adab signifies not only the moral but also the political identity of a person. However, an ideal Muslim persona or an approved Muslim body’s construction within this context also rests on religious beliefs (iman) and deeds (amal). In Bangladesh the qawmi madrasa system is categorized as an ultra orthodox Islamic schooling system on the basis of its stance for authentic and scripture based Islam. However, as I will demonstrate, in reality, the system is sustained by both accommodating many secular expectations of the people and by compromising many of its stances.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Anthropology
Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Theses

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