Brainwashing is real and easier than you might expect it to be. Sadly, a majority of madrassas have notorious repute when it comes to brainwashing and producing the filth any rational being would detest, ‘religious extremists’.
To understand this easy phenomenon, we need to look at basic three ingredients needed to brainwash a then sentient being. Ensure below-discussed elements and a conditioned conformist is right at your disposal. The very first element for brainwashing is limiting the information. By doing so, you close all alternate windows for them to breath the information from. Only one selective hole becomes the only source of all of their intake. By controlling the kind of information and not having the alternate information to compare with, restricts the availability of ideas and does not let one do an honest rational comparison. Is it not what is happening at a majority of madrassas? Limited, selective (and many times cherry-picked) information is all they are exposed to. The ideology of hatred, revenge, domination, self-superiority, cruelty and animosity, to which they get showered with on regular basis. To consolidate this, the phenomenon of repetition shows its magic. Repeat a certain action or slogan and one starts dwelling more and more into the muck of its thoughts. Say a certain mantra day and night, weeks and months and not long before when one becomes adept to the spirit of it.
The second element is a controlled behavior. Telling someone what to do, what not to do, when to do what and how exactly to do it and assigning severe repercussions in the case otherwise gives you total control, not over their mind but on their bodies too. The fear of consequences triggers the development of compliance. Freedom of thought dies then and there. Physical torture and mental pressure help achieve the conditioning needed. Repetition again plays its role. Having the same routine for months and months already hands over your strings in the hands of a handful of trainers. Is it not what is happening at a majority of madrassas?
Lastly distracting a being from the impression that they are being conditioned or their thoughts are being controlled ensures avoiding any kind of opposition. Any attempt of resistance is met with physical beating and other forms of mental trauma. By assigning, what is known in the computational realm as, ‘if-then analogy’ furthers raises hopes for eternal rewards in vulnerable minds. If you do this, then you get that. This assigning of rewards to any desired actions results in a brainwashed mind which can be then exploited to the point of undertaking any nefarious outcome. Be that be sending for fighting the infidels, or merely requesting the execution of a suicide attack.
Once one is conditioned or brainwashed, that conditioning starts to appear the new ‘normal’. And all ‘abnormal’ begin to appear enemies, fully back by the ideology being followed, narrow-mindedly. To say to shut down all madrassas is not viable. Neither would it be possible considering their demand both culturally and socially. But declaring all of them innocent is equally unfair. There should be no doubt about them being the hubs of extremism for years now.
The viable step forward is to audit the syllabus being taught and making sure there is no un-approved infiltration into what is being taught. Introducing alternate educational pathways so that those being taught there can think in more than one dimensions and can develop the capabilities of analyzing rationally anything they are faced with. It goes without saying that they should all be regulated, registered and constantly monitored for money that flows into them and the yield flowing out of them. Those not meeting the set standards should be reformed and not exempted, which has been the case in the capital and around.
Unless we take a firm stand to shut down the factories producing toxic minds (aka madrassas), it is pointless to condemn events that are direct consequences of noxiousness of these madrassas. The most recent ones being the suicide and/or planted attacks in Lahore, Quetta Peshawar and Sehwan (on 13th, 13th, 15th, 16th February 2017 respectively ) costing a loss of hundreds of lives and injuring even more. Best time to start acting on it is NOW.
This article was also published in The Nation