This report was originally written by Febe Armanios. It has been updated by Christopher
Blanchard to include information relevant to the first session of the 110
Order Code RS21654
Updated January 23, 2007
Islamic Religious Schools,
Christopher M. Blanchard
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Islamic religious schools
s) in the Middle East, Central, and Southeast Asia
have been of increasing interest to U.S. policy makers.
Some allege ties between
madrasas and terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda, and assert that these religious
schools promote Islamic extremism and militancy.
Others maintain that most madrasas
have been blamed unfairly for fostering anti-Americanism and for producing terrorists.
provides an overview of madrasas, their role in the Muslim world, and
issues related to their alleged links to terrorism. The report also addresses the findings
of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the “9/11
Commission”) and issues relevant to the first session of the 110th Congress.
products include CRS Report RS22009, CRS Report RL33533, CRS Report RL32499,
CRS Report RS21695, CRS Report RS21457, CRS Report RL32259, and CRS Report
RS21432. This report will be updated periodically.
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Islamic schools known as
s have been of increasing interest to analysts and to officials involved in
formulating U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Madrasas drew added attention when it became known that several Taliban leaders and
Al Qaeda members had developed radical political views at madrasas in Pakistan, some
of which allegedly were built and partially financed by donors in the Persian Gulf states.
These revelations have led to accusations that madrasas promote Islamic extremism and
militancy, and are a recruiting ground for terrorism.
Others maintain that most of these
religious schools have been blamed unfairly for fostering anti-U.S. sentiments and argue