The ‘Islamic Madrassa’ Debate.

18 Oct

When I was a young girl, being half-Libyan I was sent to an Arabic school where I learnt how to speak, read and write Arabic as well as recite the Qur’an.

I attended on Saturdays. Ok, it was not something I relished doing at the time because of course, the last thing a child wants to do on a Saturday is go to school when all their friends are out playing games or hobbying. But in the long term, it has served me well. I can speak, read and write Arabic and whilst I personally am not a Muslim I am all the more educated for understanding what the Qur’an says and am able to translate and recite it.

It now appears that these Arabic schools or ‘Islamic Madrassas’ as they are now called are becoming a field for topical debate by those who attend, whose children attend, and even those who have no link to the schools at all.

Earlier this year, a teacher within an ‘Islamic Madrassa’ in the UK was imprisoned for a rape on a 12 year old boy. This case is now only just beginning and foregrounds the reasoning for ‘Islamic Madrassas’ coming to the forefront in debates as of recent.

With the already historic cases that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church it is now being debated as to whether there should be a clear regulation in place within Islamic Schools similar to those that are in the British schooling system. CRB checks are absent in these Islamic schools allowing previous offenders to teach, convicted paedophiles to work around children and giving employees the ability to abuse their positions without fear of consequence. Corporal punishment is also able to be employed in these schools with further risk of children being punished physically. So of course there is clear reason for this schooling system to be regulated.  However, surely such a law would place doubt in everything that the Islamic faith holds true? For, if these employees are true Muslims of the Islamic faith then there should be cause for concern? You would think…but then the same can be said for the Roman Catholic Church.

Of course, recent events of this year regarding the teacher in the Stoke-on-Trent ‘Madrassa’ has placed doubt upon this as well as those abusers who remained uncaught and are now convicted and there are now fresh calls to put these laws into place to govern these schools too.

I remember the days of attending ‘Arabic School’, as I always called it (I did attend about 3 or 4 different ones). I would be sat in a room of 12-15 people who were all of mixed abilities and ages. With a teacher who would more often than not get ridiculously impatient when questions were not answered correctly because we did not understand and would then proceed to bang on the whiteboard in frustration. Of course, this scared me and my parents sought to move me to another school. Two of of my most distinct memories though; one, being served a chocolate bar sandwiched between two slices of bread for lunch. How bizarre? And the second, being given bubblegum as a treat only for the teacher to find they had an ingredient in that was not ‘halal’ and being made to spit our gum into the teachers hand, even if some of us were too young to understand and started getting upset because our treat was being
revoked. I could hardly call this abuse, but it is definitely something that would not be present within British schools.

‘Islamic Madrassas’ have more than likely come a long way since my days of Arabic schooling (of course, it is also important to note that I was only there on Saturdays) and I’d hope that their teaching methods are not so amateur.

So is there any reason to prevent them from being governed by the same laws of those regulating our British schools?

In any case, we don’t find Roman Catholic schools or Church of England schools governing or regulating themselves. Whilst they are answerable to their faith they are still regulated by Parliament. They are able to teach their faiths own system of beliefs and values but are ultimately governed by parliament’s laws. Essentially there is no reason why ‘Islamic Madrassas’ (or schools) cannot do the same, especially in consideration of the fact that we now live in such a multi-cultural and multi-religious centred environment that it is controversial as to where this countries predominant faith lies.

Regardless of what faith, race, or culture you are I’m sure you will agree that it is always necessary to protect our children as they are naive, innocent and vulnerable paired with the fact that they our future too. Whilst abuse within child-orientated environments has always gone on, there can be no harm in implementing a law that regulates ‘Islamic Madrassas’ that will more than likely decrease the amount of abuse that goes on rather than make it worse.

See and hear the full debate at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015zpf1

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