Islamic schools in a modern world

In the past, Islamic schools in Morocco were the only place to get educated. At that time, just learning the Quran and having basic notions of religion entitled a person to be considered as educated and entitled to be an imam or a religious cleric. Until recently, many families sent their children to coranic schools where they learnt verses of the Quran and the Arabic alphabet before they joined public schools. Now such schools are facing extinctions. They can be found in very few areas. Families today want their children to have modern education. They send their children at the age of three to nurseries where they are introduced to modern education.

Following the terrorist attacks in Casablanca on May 16th, 2003, there has been a crackdown on many unauthorised mosques and building where religious sermons were given.

So while there are attempts in Western countries to build (more) Islamic schools, in Morocco the trend is that such schools are on the verge of extinction, as people here seek a modern education from which they can make a living.

But this doesn’t mean that educated people can’t further their studies about Islam. In Moroccan universities there are branches about Islamic studies. Also in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, there is an Islamic School called “Dar Al Hadith Al Hassania”. One of the conditions to get a diploma from this school is to be fluent in a foreign language, mainly English and French. And whose aim is to have a modern approach to daily affairs.

One difference is that current Islamic institutions and schools are directly directed by the state, unlike countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where Islamic schools are a political force. These countries still have difficulties controlling them or imposing on them guidelines to foster openness rather than extreme views of what doesn’t seem to them Islamic.

Religious schools in general become a danger when they teach archaic views leading to extremism. Inculcating students just with religious notions without preparing them to be open on the reality of their societies and adapt to it can lead to an isolated section of the population that will use whatever means to impose its views or to seclude itself from society totally.

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