The BBC is so stupid sometimes – so conformist and reactionary and authoritarian. There’s this piece on UK madrassas “modernizing” for example.
Most mosques have their own madrassa or religious school. Larger mosques can have a number of them, and they all form an integral part of the local community.
In close knit neighbourhoods most Muslim children regularly attend their local madrassa, in part due to peer pressure, as everyone living near the mosque does so.
See what they did there? (I say “they” even though the article has a byline, Sanjiv Buttoo, because the Beeb has a house style and this piece is typical.) See how they dressed up the situation by invoking “the local community” and “close knit neighbourhoods,” which sound cozy and loving rather than stifling and coercive? They did admit that there’s peer pressure, but they softened that blow by first tucking us into the arms of the local close knit community neighborhood.
There’s also a total failure to question the value of what is learned in madrassas.
Unlike older mosques, children sit at desks and chairs, instead of the floor,
and although everyone has to learn Arabic so they can read the Koran, classes are taught in English.
Mohammed Sarfaraz is one of the teachers who works here. He said: “It’s
different to when we grew up when we could not understand Urdu very well. In my class we all speak English as it is the mother tongue of all the students.
“The benefits are that they learn quicker and they remember more, and at the end of the day what they learn, they can put to use in their everyday lives.”
In other words they can learn The Rules as laid down by a guy who lived in the Arabian peninsula 14 centuries ago. Totes modern.
Git with the program. Don’t you know the “Islamic exception rule”? It’s okay to be against faith schools in general, but let’s not be against any in particular.
Seriously, props for the post. Go to youtube and look up Jeremy Paxman asking some questions about what get’s taught in these places.
It was less than a month ago that they reported on high levels of abuse at British madrassas, wasn’t it? In fact, I think you posted on it.
David Evans says
“There’s also a total failure to question the value of what is learned in madrassas.”
And that’s bad because?
The piece seemed to me to be sympathetic to the people it was describing, but not unduly so. Do we have to question the values of Muslim every time we report on their actions? That would be tedious, and lead Muslims to feel even more persecuted than they do already.
Ophelia Benson says
It’s bad because people don’t know unless they’re told. I vaguely assumed madrassas were much like the Sunday school I was briefly made to attend (hating every second of it) as a child, until I found out otherwise.
It’s not about being mean to Muslims. It’s about (among other things) offering them the view that memorizing the Koran in Arabic may not be a good use of their or their children’s time. It’s not being mean to Christians to offer them the view that some Christian rules and practices are not good.
Because, David Evans, we keep hearing stories like this:
Every so often we someone does the investigation and find out that this stuff is being taught to children, or that the regular preachers at the largest mosques in London are calling for the death of gays and Hindus and Jews and apostates – and the immediate response is “Nothing to see here! Just a lone outlier!”
Lovely. This will not end well.