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Study Tour of Mrs. Shaheena Khatib
May/June 2005


Every religion preached and practiced in the world, has numerous faiths termed as sects and sub-sects, often at war with one another. In the first century of Hijrah calendar, we find a major break-up among the ranks and files of the Muslims into two major sects, later denominated as the Shias and Sunnis. Now each of the two has countless sub-sects having distinct traits and in some cases violent opposition to one another.

In my objective study of the Holy Qur’an and the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, I found no reference to the priesthood as ordained in the present age or any demarcation between general or religious education. A complete submission to Islam commands that every individual must be educated enough to discharge his religious obligations at his own, like daily prayers, paying Zakah the poor due, observing fast in a particular month, performing Hajj, and of course a social life in line with the Divine Injunctions. A person will not be able to fully perform these duties in its true sense if he remains ignorant to GOD’s Commandments as well as to modern acquaintances. Religious education in isolation with other branches of knowledge will create orthodoxy, fundamentalism and sectarianism.

I found in the Holy Scripture that it matters much how I deal with other human being. In dealing with fellow human being, I need to be more cautious. In fact, here lies the real test. I must pay the due I owe to the humanity, individually or collectively. On the Final Day of Judgment, I will be accounted for all my acts of omission or commission. Now who will inform me, the priest or the Revelations of GOD Almighty in the first place, and its practical demonstration I will get from the system of the Prophet.

The Holy Qur’an categorically states in Chapter 2 verse 177:

“Righteousness, piety and virtues are not that you turn your faces towards the east or the west, (or you follow some norms, customs and traditions of your own), but truly pious is he who believes in One and Only GOD, and is conscious of the accountability of the Doomsday, and accepts the existence of Angels, and the Books of Revelation and all the Prophets, and spends his wealth and belongings, in search of love of GOD Almighty, for the well being of nears, the deprived ones, the needy, the wayfarer, and to those who ask for help, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and constant in prayers and do charities, and keep-up the promises whenever promised, and keep patience in misfortunes and hardships and in times of adversity. It is they that have proved themselves truly pious, and it is they, who are conscious of their LORD.”

(From Holy Qur'an 2/177)

Now coming back to imparting religious education, I personally believe that an average study of the Holy Qur’an makes an individual well aware of his duties and responsibilities in personal as well as social life. A child or an individual if wishes to receive education in the fundamentals of Islam, should not receive in isolation from other branches of knowledge. It is a common experience that religious education in isolation is more often inclined to produce fanatics, ready to go to any extreme to justify or superimpose its faith.

Besides, educated women can serve the society in different capacities if required. According to one tradition as mentioned in the collections of Qadama Ibne Ja’far, Prophet Muhammad soon after he migrated to Madinah, appointed a lady, Shifa Binte Abdullah on an important post to look after the market affairs of Madinah as she happened to be a literate.

I strongly feel that while imparting knowledge in religious affairs, more stress must be laid on noble human values, logic and reasoning and a rational and scientific approach to various issues faced by the humanity at large. More so the total isolation with others also produces unhealthy environment.