Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following: “I can simply say that what has been recently circulated is no more than a fallacy and a baseless superstition. On what justification do they claim that Islamic education breeds terrorism?! It stands to reason that those whom they dub as terrorists are not the product of Islamic education. All what we hear recently about the Western cry that Islamic education should be modified is really nonsense. There are no logistic, modern, religious, moral or even secular backing to support it.
The question I’d like to ask here is: what is the aim behind this US call? Do they intend by Islamic education that kind of religious education taught to pupils in public schools with the aim of informing them about the tenets of their faith, creed and Islamic moral system?! Or by their claim they are referring to religious curriculum, which is known as Islamic culture, being taught to some students at universities?
Such Islamic subjects are taught with the aim of instilling in those students the essence of the Islamic message and its philosophy in general. Those university students are supposed to earn a reasonable and relative knowledge that best suit their mentalities in every stage they pass through. Such form of religious education is obligatory upon everyone who lives in a Muslim country regardless of whether he is a Muslim or not. We cannot describe a person to be cultured and highly educated while he is actually in the dark about the religion in which the overwhelming majority of his countrymen believe.
Also, we cannot rule out that such hue and cry widely circulated by the States is primarily directed towards religious institutions throughout the world. There are many prestigious Islamic universities and institutions such as Al-Azhar University in Egypt, Az-Zaytounah in Tunisia, Al-Qarawein in Morocco, the Islamic University in Madinah, the University of Imam Muhammad Ibn Su`ood, Umm Al-Qura Universitiy in Saudi Arabia, Nadwat Al-`Ulama’ in India etc. These universities as well as various specialized others in Pakistan and Malaysia are the targets of the coming American plan that tend to bend the religious curricula in those prestigious universities and institutions to the direction that suits America!
We must not ignore the fact that religion is the fountainhead of morals; it is the essence of life and the primary cause of existence. Without religion, life is, for sure, meaningless. Religion is the real incentive towards that which is good and the actual deterrent that keeps a person away from that which is bad.
When the religion is subjected to restriction, evil, cri
me, corruption and pornography become spread everywhere.
I wonder what is the aim behind the latest American demand?! Do they intend to restrict the role of Islamic education in way that makes it of a little or no effect on the life of a Muslim?! Such a procedure, when it garners its presumed fruits, will not bring terrorism to a halt. Rather, it will lead to the moral corruption of the Ummah and the matter will culminate in our Muslim identity being erased and our rock-solid bases being completely demolished. With such a state of affairs, the whole Ummah will be an easy prey for the enemy, and our deeply rooted noble values will be totally undermined.
With this demand, America also tends to interfere in basic elements of Islam, whereas these elements are capable of safeguarding true religious upbringing, altogether. Without such elements we will not be able to see a comprehensive Muslim personality which staunchly believes in that which is good, strives hard in promoting its cause, enjoins that which is right and forbids that which is evil, stands firm in facing evil, and strives hard to translate religious principles into real practice, whatever the calamity and dire consequences might be. What is being done by our Muslim brothers in Hamas, Islamic Jihad as well as other Jihad factions is a crystal clear example of that.
If those people tend to enhance mutual dialogue and understanding, then we should state here that we are the leaders in this respect. Tens of years ago, we have started calling Muslims to this latitudinarian and tolerant religion. Our call is not confined to non-Muslims, but it goes as far as encompassing those Muslims who are narrow-minded and backward in thinking. We call upon such category of people to forsake fanaticism and adopt tolerance, to turn from extremism to moderation, to forget about violence and animosity and follow gentleness and mercy. We want those people to abide by such religious ordinances because our religion (Islam) dictates doing so, not because it is an American demand!
The Necessity for a Religious-Based Education
Although we call for religious reform that is thoroughly drawn from Islam, we are in no need to receive such reform from the States or its alliances. We do call for pure Islamic education laid down and properly established from the early Muslim generations by the Prophetic Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, as well as their righteous successors. Those committed generations are the best people who understood the true essence of Islam. They applied its teachings to the letter. We are in need to call people to Islam while following in their footsteps. We are in no need for non-Muslims to teach us the tenets of our faith. The best way to learn our faith is to study its original sources thoroughly.
Re-evaluating our Curricula
Religious institutions in our Arab and Muslim countries, like many other institutions, need revampment. As we know, a conscious nation is the one that reconsiders itself, from time to time, without waiting for others to dictate for it.
It is worth mentioning here that America itself has changed its educational system by seeking the help of a Japanese team of consultants in the educational field.
We, as well as educationalists, call for re-evaluating our educational system especially our religious education. It is high time that we present Islamic education in a more pleasant way. We are need to inform those who seek religious knowledge to strike a balance between tradition and modernity. Every reasonable person is supposed to be aware of the state of affairs encompassing his life. We can not ignore that there are religious schools that does not know anything about modern applied sciences such as physics, geography etc..
Our scholars do stress the fact that it is necessary for the Mufti to understand the concept of reality in the same way as he understands the religious text, from which he derives the religious ruling. Without striking that hard balance we will not be able to issue proper Fatwas.
Islamic Education is Not a Cause of Terrorism
Unfortunately, Muslims, and only Muslims, are the ones asked to revise or modify their religious teachings. There is no single incident recording that the United States have ever requested Israel to revise its educational system or even to change its bloody policy against poor Palestinians. Why does the US fail to request from the Israel religious parties to change their policy that aims at nothing but to get rid of the Palestinians? Do the Americans find posing such demand on Israel unjustified? How come?
In addition, we wonder why the US has never demanded from the IRA or the Irish Republican Army who wage war against the Protestants in the UK to revise its religious teachings?! Why do we see Muslims-and only Muslims- so subservient in that humiliating manner?! They don’t have any choice but to say “yes”, let alone an emphatic “No”!!
Actually, what we are facing is a new form of imperialism, with its new techniques. It is high time for Arabs and Muslims to blatantly reject that form of intervention in our affairs! We are not to be subjugated by anyone, it’s only Almighty Allah we owe servitude and loyalty!