Contemporary Islam

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 393–397 | Cite as

Review of Masooda Bano, The Rational Believer. Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan

Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2012, xii+250 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-5044-0
  • Simon Wolfgang FuchsEmail author

Can a state buy its way into liberalizing Islam? Masooda Bano answers to the affirmative in her study which draws on insights from New Institutional Economics (NIE) to illuminate the continuing importance of madrasas in Pakistani society. Bano takes issue with existing explanations for the appeal of madrasa education, resistance to the reform of these institutions or support for jihad. In her view, pointing to ‘religious indoctrination’ or political and socioeconomic deprivation is by no means sufficient. Instead, she suggests that choices by ‘ulama, students and parents should first of all be considered as rational responses to Pakistan’s particular social and political environment. Bano argues that an essential condition for religious ideas to become influential is their moral and practical usefulness for the believer. While difficult material conditions can initially draw individuals to religion, convictions develop only ‘when the prescribed beliefs were repeatedly seen to help...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Near Eastern StudiesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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