Shumaila Afridi

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a veiling ceremony at a seminary where Qari Sahib shared some profound thoughts about the importance of religious education for girls. While his words initially resonated with me, my heart sank when he made assertions about contemporary education negatively influencing girls, labeling it as immoral and causing them to neglect their religion. As a participant in this event and one who has received a contemporary education, I felt a personal connection to his words.

Qari Sahib’s comments sparked numerous questions in my mind. Is there no value in pursuing education in other fields to contribute to the development of our world? Do we not seek medical care from female doctors who have received modern education? Are all girls pursuing higher education in our country destined to become liberal and promiscuous? What about their achievements and contributions? Are university students devoid of respect and modesty? These questions swirled within me, yet I hesitated to voice them, fearing the societal backlash that might accompany challenging such beliefs.

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I pondered on the fact that when scholars in Madrasahs hold narrow views against girls receiving higher education, parents who aspire to educate their daughters face a dilemma. While I hold deep respect for schools, scholars, and Islamic teachings, and acknowledge their vital role in preserving our faith, the narrow perspectives of educated individuals are hindering our progress.

While I agree with many aspects of Qari Sahib’s discourse, I find it troubling to associate universities and colleges with immorality or wickedness. When parents provide their daughters with a solid upbringing, understanding their desires and preferences, they can confidently navigate any professional setting, including universities and colleges, without compromising their values.

It is essential to remember that individuals have agency over their choices, and universities and colleges do not inherently shape someone into being promiscuous; it is an individual’s personal decision.

Just as religious education holds importance, contemporary education is equally valuable. Our society needs not only religious scholars but also doctors, teachers, nurses, journalists, writers, and social workers. The challenges that cannot be resolved by scholars alone might find solutions through the expertise and dedication of these professionals.

Modern education is not inherently detrimental, and educational institutions are not breeding grounds for immorality. They play a vital role in societal development and do not force students into enlightenment.

It is unjust to impose indecency on girls studying in universities and colleges. Scholars should also emphasize the benefits of modern education and contribute ideas to improve the system. Both religious and contemporary education complement each other, and forsaking either is detrimental to society’s progress. There should be no dichotomy between religious and worldly knowledge; instead, we should acquire knowledge in both domains to serve our nation and our community.

In conclusion, let us embrace the importance of both religious and contemporary education for our girls. They deserve the opportunity to explore various fields and contribute to the development of our society. It is through their collective efforts and expertise that we can tackle the challenges we face, working towards a brighter future where faith and knowledge go hand in hand.

Note: Shamaila Afreedi is a graduate and she also blogs about gender and social issues.

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