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A madrassa is an Arabic language word meaning "school." Typically it refers to an Islamic school for Muslims. It is similiar to a parochial school[?] or a yeshiva, where the purpose is to teach children about the religion of Islam.

Girls and boys go to the school and sit in separate classes to learn to read the Qur'an. The school teaches things in an Islamic context. A regular curriculum[?] includes learning Arabic, Qur'an memorization and interpretation, Islamic law, hadith, and Islamic history. Some teach additional courses like Arabic literature or English.

People as young as eight or as old as 35 attend, and many often move on to becoming imams and sheikhs. A mullah[?] typically requires more than 12 years of study. Many huffaz, or people who memorize the entire Qur'an, come from Madrassas.

There are an estimated 10,000 Madrassas in Pakistan. There are also a number in North America and Europe. The oldest ones still exist today in the Middle East. They take in orphans and poor children, and provide them with an education.

Recently, people have come to associate madrassas in a negative light, amid accusations that many indoctrinate students with extremist views. Some accused extremist madrassas and "Deobandi seminaries" of forming the Taliban's reactionary policies. In reality almost 65 percent of the Taliban officials and workers at lower level had never been to any religious school. Most of the faculty members at Kabul University[?] were graduates from US and other European countries with years of experience abroad.

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