In Reaching the Minds of Young Muslim Women, the author investigates traditional institutions of Islamic learning for Muslim girls. While a lot is known or thought to be known about madrasas for boys, similar Islamic schools for girls have up to now escaped public attention by and large. In the aftermath of 9/11, madrasas received and continue to receive much public attention, also in the media, mostly owing to the alleged link between madrasa education and forms of violence.
This study asks what is taught in madrasas for girls, how they emerged, whether they are different from madrasas for boys, and how the young women interpret Islam in the light of what they learn. Observations suggest that apart from what is taught officially, the informal curriculum plays an equally if not more important role. The aim of studying in the madrasa appears to reach beyond formal education, as life and learning in the madrasa serve to bring about an all-encompassing reform of the students.
â€˜This book, a revised version of the authorâ€™s doctoral thesis, submitted to the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden, The Netherlands, is probably the first published work on girlsâ€™ madrasas in India. In contrast to most other writings on madrasa education, the book is a detailed, empirically grounded study of a single madrasa, providing interesting ethnographic details and insights that are often missing in generalized accounts of madrasas. (â€¦) This pioneering work on girlsâ€™ madrasas is a welcome addition to the growing literature on madrasas in South Asia. The sense of balance and empathy that is evident throughout the text is remarkable, as the author seeks to provide an insight into the ways in which those associated with the madrasa themselves imagine their world.â€™
Economic and Political Weekly
2 September 2006