“We would not go through the problems we are currently facing if we understood the Holy Qur’ān.” – Opposition senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi.
On Monday, the Senate of Pakistan voted to approve the Compulsory Teaching of the Arabic Language Bill 2020, which is aimed at introducing the study of the Arabic language into the schools of Pakistan’s capital, from grade 1 all the way through grade 12.
Senator Abbasi, sitting with the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League, originally introduced the bill in 2020, and on 1st February of this year it received near-unanimous endorsement from members of the Upper House.
His reasoning behind the bill’s proposal was that students from a very young age would be able to grasp the language of the Qur’ān and develop into well-versed Muslims in a way that previous generations have not been able to.
The bill is argued to enhance their future prospects, as possessing knowledge of the Arabic language would act as a pathway to employment and studies in countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Qatar.
The only senator to disapprove of the bill was senator Raza Rabbani, who argued that “the Arab culture is not mine, [the] Indus Valley [Civilisation] is my culture.” Senator Rabbani said he believes that the legislation was merely a ploy by the government to exploit “Islam for achieving a political agenda”. Senator Rabbani also suggested that the government was attempting to import “Arab culture”, thus eradicating Pakistan’s multicultural and multi-lingual multiplicity.
Ali Muhammad Khan, Member of the National Assembly and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, remarked that the bill was “categorically supported” by the government, and that Article 31 of the Constitution commands that “measures should be taken to spend our lives according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.” According to the minister, learning the Arabic language was vital to “become a good Muslim…and understand God’s message”.
So there were two direct quotes in the article regarding the reasons for why the Senate of Pakistan voted for this Bill. They were:
““We would not go through the problems we are currently facing if we understood the Holy Qur’ān.” – Opposition senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi.”
And, “Ali Muhammad Khan…remarked that the bill was “categorically supported” by the government, and that Article 31 of the Constitution commands that “measures should be taken to spend our lives according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.” According to the minister, learning the Arabic language was vital to “become a good Muslim…and understand God’s message”.”
It seems that the primary reason given is to understand the Qur’an and therefore Allah’s message better. I have high hopes that it will succeed. In a recent online Qur’anic Arabic class that I know about, by far the majority race of the tens of thousands of students seem to be young Pakistanis (in the West and abroad as well as other desi people) eager to connect with the Holy Qur’an. Even in my community here in the UK, I get approached for advice by Pakistanis who are not part of the practising community but who really want their small children to learn and understand Arabic. May Allah make this venture succeed and be a source of guidance and immense blessings for the people. Ameen.
” the bill’s proposal was that students from a very young age would be able to grasp the language of the Qur’ān and develop into well-versed Muslims in a way that previous generations have not been able to.”
Previous generations have had no problem holding strong – not to say murderous – opinions on what islam requires of them. Pakistan, with a literacy rate of less than 60%, would be better off opening more schools and teaching children to read and write in their native language.
Here in the UK, ‘at GCSE level [age 16], all disadvantaged ethnic groups outperform their disadvantaged white peers.’
Also, ‘by age five, white boys from disadvantaged backgrounds are already 13% behind disadvantaged black boys and 23% behind disadvantaged Asian [desi] girls in their phonics, for example; only around a third of white working-class boys pass their maths and English GCSEs.’
Furthermore, learning a foreign language is compulsory in UK schools from the ages of 7 to 14 so, by your logic, the UK government should stop making a foreign language like French or German compulsory for white boys from disadvantaged backgrounds as they are barely proficient in their own. However, common sense tells us that learning another language and being proficient in your own language are not mutually exclusive as many other factors could be at play here. For example, the boys may underperform for reasons such as there being a big difference between the expectations of the school and the expectations at home. For instance, if the parents of these boys do not ensure that they spend time after school going through their school work and completing their homework.
In the same way, Pakistan’s literacy rate could be due to many factors (not linked to the learning of an additional language like Arabic) such as poverty or having lots of multigenerational farmers who may not see the benefits of being literate.
This is a political gimmick. Governments that aren’t doing too well on the economy and other domestic issues always play the Islam card to deflect attention. You don’t learn a language in school. You learn it by speaking it at home and outside in everyday life. It has to have relevance to your life. This same Arab language policy was tried during General Zia’s dictatorship to try to Islamise society and failed. No reason it should succeed now.
As for jobs in the Middle East. as oil prices continue to drop, Gulf monarchies are wanting fewer South Asian workers. They want to give jobs to indiginous people to save their thrones. Besides, the UAE already banned Pakistani and other countries visas. In the long run, working in the Gulf will be less of an option. Learn English, Cantonese or other world language if you want better job prospects.