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Stop Teaching Absurdities - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I was watching a Middle East-based satellite news channel recently that carried a report about several teachers in Medina who gave their students ridiculous questions during an examination. When I saw this, I praised God for the gift of reason.

One teacher asked his students about the names of soccer players, what colors the various soccer clubs used and other meaningless questions along these lines. I ask this question; is such a teacher qualified to give guidance to the members of a rising generation, educate our youth, and be entrusted with the task of imparting good morals and correcting mistaken ideas? Just think of how this teacher abandoned the subject he was supposed to be addressing and instead of making strenuous efforts to research and make his students understand it, he moved to the issue of soccer instead.

The educational curricula also includes absurdities that fill the students with fanatical and sectarian views, and in the process often neglects the proper study of the Koran and the prophet’s Sunnah and the art of making deductions based on proofs from scriptures.

Other examples of absurdity is reviewing with the students the faults of [early Arab poets] Jarir and Al-Farazdaq and teaching this to them as an allegedly important part of our literary heritage when in fact it is just a collection of verbal abuse, vilification, and debauchery. It is also absurd to teach our students about the dark side of our Islamic history like Abu Nuwas’s poems in praise of wine and the atheistic verses of Abu al-Ala al-Maari and Ibn al-Rawindi.

It is also absurd to occupy the students with stories of [Abbasid Caliph] Harun al-Rashid’s singers, Al-Amin’s handmaidens, the desert dwellers’ anecdotes, the origins of the Umayyads and the Abbasids, and the stories of the mercenary poets, each of whom would occasionally wait for the caliph’s shouted command “Attendant, give him a thousand dinars” after the said caliph became intoxicated with the poet’s words of praise.

It is also ridiculous to burden our students’ memories with the export and import figures of poor countries that are hard to locate on a map like Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Mozambique or ask them to learn how much rubber, pineapple, cacao, and copper each of these countries produces.

Meanwhile, they omit teaching the principles of useful knowledge, God’s cosmic laws, the origins of civilization, and the means of progress and development. It is absurd to involve the students in the intricate details of contemporary history while neglecting the world’s major issues. They teach the students about a coup in this or that country and that the military seized power in another although such events take place daily. Indeed some curricula teach the students about new fashions, national dishes in various countries, and tribal dances and songs.

It is absurd for middle-level students in Shariaa institutions to be taught the intricacies of algebra and geometry without attaining any degree of skill in them but fail to understand the subjects for which these institutions were originally founded, namely the Islamic creed, Koranic interpretation, hadith, and Islamic jurisprudence.

It is absurd to occupy first-year students with the names of Islamic schools and sects like Al-Qadariyah, Al-Jabriyah, Al-Jahmiyah, and the Mutazilites before they study and profoundly understand the correct creed first.

It is absurd for a teacher to disregard his primary subject if it is important and talk to his students about a secondary one. When we were little, some teachers, of the type that contributed to the June [1967] setback, used to abandon the Koran lesson and give us a sports class instead, as if physical exercises were more important than the Lord’s words.

Dr. Aaidh al-Qarni

Dr. Aaidh al-Qarni

Dr. al-Qarni is a Saudi-born Islamic preacher and scholar. His book, Don't Feel Sad (La Tahzan), has sold millions of copies worldwide.

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