Large Madrassa (ETW building)
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A madrassa is an Islamic place of learning, where Muslims can study not only their faith, but also the law, jurisprudence, science and history.
These schools are often attached to mosques, but they do not offer religious instruction alone. Those who wish to do so may study the Qur’an, and become honoured as a “hafiz” when they have memorised the whole text. Others may choose a wider syllabus and learn additional subjects such as history, logic, shari’ah law, the Hadith – the recorded sayings and deeds of the Prophet, peace be upon him – and correct interpretation of the Qur’an. Those who finish their studies will gain status as scholars and imams, and become leaders in the wider community expected to interpret the law and religion for their fellow Muslims. Historically, some madrassas offered their pupils an even wider choice of subjects, including Arabic literature, English, French, Dutch and other useful trade languages as well as science, mathematics and world history. The scholars produced were intellectually rounded individuals, often better prepared for later studies than the counterparts in Europe. There were even madrassas that specialised as medical schools.