KABUL – Thousands of girls are enrolling in Islamic seminaries for education as regular high schools remain closed for them, amid fears that these Taliban-controlled religious schools could indoctrinate girls with extremist beliefs.
The Taliban’s tightening control over women’s rights has resulted in limited access to education and work since their takeover in August 2021. A vast majority of girls aged 12 and above find themselves confined at home, eagerly awaiting the reopening of schools and universities. Shockingly, a report by Care International highlights that a staggering 80 percent of school-aged Afghan girls and young women, totaling 2.5 million, are currently out of school. Many Afghan girls have been pushed to seek knowledge within religious schools.
Although the Taliban government hasn’t officially mandated religious education, some officials of high rank emphasize its importance. Seminary students primarily focus on memorizing the Quran in Arabic and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. Their studies also encompass Islamic jurisprudence, with occasional inclusion of subjects like geography and mathematics. However, these subjects are tailored to align with the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam.
While Islamic seminaries existed prior to the Taliban’s rule, their enrollment has significantly increased, particularly among girls, since the regime’s ascent. Concerns arise as scholars and experts worry about potential ideological indoctrination within these institutions. The fear is that the Taliban might be using seminaries to propagate their extremist beliefs while masking them as Islamic studies. This shift away from a more modern education raises important questions about the Taliban’s motives.