As night falls on the tranquil city of Akora Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, the Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrassa comes alive. The serenity of the ancient building is interrupted by the voices of hundreds of young students deep in study and chanting Quranic verses. This is the oldest and most well-known Islamic religious seminary in Pakistan, popularly referred to as the “University of Jihad”. Since its inception in 1947, it has been propagating a hard-line interpretation of Islam that has given birth to many Taliban leaders who’ve ruled Afghanistan.
This is the subject of a gripping new documentary exploring the seminary’s history and influence in shaping modern-day Pakistan. The film takes us inside the hallowed halls of the madrassa, as we witness young students being molded by a rigid interpretation of Islam that seeks to create uncompromising hardliners. It also shows how the seminary has become a breeding ground for the Taliban and the terror they’ve unleashed in the region. The documentary is a stirring reminder of how religious institutions can be used to radicalize impressionable minds and the devastating consequences that follow.