The Madrasah: A Dying Legacy
The difference between those who know and those who do not know is as glaring as those who can see as opposed to those who are blind. Knowledge gives us the vision to see right from wrong, good from bad; it helps us discharge our obligations; it assists us in understanding the primary purpose of our existence and enables us to act responsibly. It is an indispensable shield against the ploy of Shaytaan.
Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has said: “One Faqih (knowledgeable person) is more formidable against the Shaytaan than one thousand devoted worshippers.” (Ibn Majah)Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam made the seeking of knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim, and explained that the superiority of one who has knowledge over one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body.
We are beneficiaries of an invaluable legacy bequeathed by our forefathers who established Madrasahs in every locality with meagre resources and under very difficult circumstances. The Madrasah served as the backbone of the community; it gave learners an identity, a sense of belonging, and it schooled learners in the basics of their faith, and generally left a lasting impression on their hearts and minds. In South Africa, we have a Madrasah educational system that has evolved over the years to become a global trendsetter to the extent that the curriculum has been translated into several languages.
Despite the strides we have made, the Madrasah is a dying legacy… numbers are dwindling, learners leave Madrasah at the average of twelve citing reasons like sports, homework and extra-curricular activities. Children in their most impressionable years leave Madrasah, barely equipped to meet and face the ever-growing challenges in society. Their limited exposure to Islamic values leaves them wavering – unsure of their past and uncertain of their future!
As the Madrasah numbers dwindle we see a corresponding rise in immodesty, immorality and even apostasy. Nabi Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has said: “Hasten to perform good deeds before calamities appear, like stages of a dark night, (they will become darker in intensity and more consistent in frequency) to the extent that a man will wake up in the morning as a believer and by sunset he will become a disbeliever, or he will be Muslim in the evening and a disbeliever in the morning. He will sell his faith for some material of this world.” (Muslim) This hadith predicts that: The latitude that you enjoy to lead your life as a Muslim is going to become narrower and narrower. Religion will become a mundane issue, people will enter and leave Islam without any care or concern. The level of faith will become so low that people will barter their faith for some temporary gains
of this world.
We allow our children to prematurely leave Madrasah at our own peril; the consequences can be devastating… their allegiance to Islam maybe reduced to no more than cultural adherence; where they are Muslim only because they were born in Muslim homes, yet unable to identify with Islamic values and practices, unable to reconcile their beliefs with what they see, read and experience.
Their exposure to Islam gradually diminishes as they stop reading, attending lectures and even miss out on listening to the Jumu‘ah lecture. By depriving them of Madrasah education, we may be doing a great disservice to our children by depriving them of the unique opportunity to learn, properly understand and appreciate their faith.
The Noble Qur’an states: “Your wealth and your children are but a trial…” (64:15) The ease with which we become distracted by wealth and children, clearly demonstrates the nature of this test and trial. How we raise our children, what kind of morals we teach them, how much time we invest in educating them to become upright Muslims, to what extent we inculcate the love of Allah and the need to prepare for the everlasting life, are all indications of whether we are passing or failing the test as parents. Depriving them of basic Islamic education is a sure sign that we are failing the test!
If we are to hold on to our faith when it will be as painful as holding to a burning ember, we need to develop the capacity for such loyalty and commitment.