Iniquitous paths

27 Oct, '03

The Bahraini parliamentary committee of legal and parliamentary affairs under the chairmanship of MP Abdullatif Ahmed Al-Shaikh discussed a motion to “encourage memorising the Holy Quran completely and treating those who do equivalent to university graduates in the workplace.” The committee approved the motion with minor changes (Al-Wasat Newspaper, October 22nd, 2003, page 6, parliament section, column 1, second paragraph.)

Memorising the Holy Book is a laudable feat which is not undertaken lightly. The Quran is truly a miracle of Allah. Consider this: the Quran is divided into thirty equal parts. One part takes only twenty-four reading minutes, and the whole Book requires twelve reading hours. There are 114 chapters (souras), and 6,226 verses, containing 99,464 words made up of 330,113 letters. It takes an immense level of patience, sincerity and concentration to memorise even a few souras, ergo, it takes a special person who can actually memorise to perfection the 99,464 words and recite them on-demand.

There is no doubt that memorising the Quran is an onerous yet laudable and very fulfilling task, but the question has to be asked: what does that offer the community or the workplace in practical terms? Other than working in specifically the vertical field of religious Quranic recitation, I do not see how a person who memorised the Quran can even remotely equate to a person who has spent at least four years of their life pursuing studies which directly benefit the community and advance it in the chosen field of study.

An engineer benefits the community with her logic and analytical abilities, solves problems and create work opportunities for people around her. A doctor saves lives and eases suffering. A business graduate brings in and practices international business ideas and practices which might encourage foreign investment into the country. Why put in a law that will rob professionals their rightful, constructive position in the workplace with someone who memorised the Quran? Can this person cure ills? Build bridges? Create foreign investment opportunities? What exactly are the parameters our parliamentarians used to pass such a law if indeed it has?

Rather than enacting such a law, wouldn’t it be better to discuss issues facing our archaic educational system so that we too can produce engineers, doctors and businessmen? Shouldn’t they work at finding ways to consolidate our varied and disparate educational institutions where a certificate from one is not accepted in another even in Bahrain?

Pray explain to me – in practical terms – what passing such a law will benefit Bahrain, its people and the tens of thousands of unemployed?

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  1. mahmood says:

    Iniquitous paths

    I wish these people would make up their minds. In today’s Al-Wasat’s parliamentary page, MP Jassim Al-Saidi – the gentleman who pushed through the law allowing veiled women to drive and running as an independent (read Asala) – is tabling a motion for the Ministry of Education to extend the free education to university level, unify the secondary schools’ education systems (the secondary schools in Bahrain are split into several traits: scientific, literature, technical/industrial, commercial, vocational, hotel and hospitality, agricultural and now even religious, but that can start from primary) thus allowing students to choose their discipline at university rather than on entering a secondary school. He further attests that secondary education is not enough to guarantee a job on graduation and a university degree is a necessity!

    Oh and he also suggested yet another national holiday – Youm Arafah (Arafah day), thus adding even more holidays to our very busy year of holidays – we have something like 18 days a year national holidays, add to that our weekend which falls on Thursdays and Fridays, the whole month of Ramadhan, and the weekend-disconnect between us and the rest of the world which results in us having just 3 working days a week and you wonder how any work actually gets done here! But I digress…

    Thank you Mr. Al-Saidi. Look at the British, American and other systems of education and then suggest something that we can work with. We need controlled diversity where a student can choose a minimum mandatory number of “O” levels to sit (note, number not subjects) and add to them whatever the student feels necessary for his/her further education. And no, please don’t include Arabic and Islamic studies in the mandatory category.

    So in one breath they (the Islamists in our parliament) want to equate memorising the Holy Quran with a university degree, and in the other they say that secondary education is not enough to get a job…

    Rock on dude!

    [edited to show you what Al-Saidi looks like]
    Jassim Al-Saidi

    [Modified by: Mahmood Al-Yousif (mahmood) on October 29, 2003 03:45 PM]

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