News

November 3, 2019

Parents will account for their children before God — Sheikh Katsina

Parents will account for their children before God — Sheikh Katsina

By Bashir Bello, KATSINA

The Chairman, Jamaátu Izalatil Bidáh Wa Iqamatis Sunnah, JIBWIS, Katsina State, Sheikh Yakubu Musa Hassan Katsina, speaks on Islamic institutions-turned-rehab centres.

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The so-called ‘torture houses’ busted by security agents in Kaduna, Daura, Katsina and now Ilorin have brought Islamic schools into the front burner. How did you feel when news broke about the schools that ordinarily should be Islamic schools now turned into so-called torture centres?

I was shocked when I heard the news of the conditions in which the Islamic schools were found and circumstances surrounding how they were operated as torture centres. Islam does not condone excessiveness in upbringing. Islam teaches proper upbringing. There are situations where Islam accepts beating but not more than three lashes. Or if one is caught committing an offence that violates Shariah and he is to be punished, Islam allows strokes or lashes of cane but not to be caned or tortured like an animal.

Secondly, overcrowding of the children, over 40 in one room negates Islam. It doesn’t allow for grown up children (and adults) to be kept in one room. Even when they live with their parents, the ones that are of age are separated from the young ones. Islam makes it mandatory for parents and teachers to protect the rights of children especially in the aspects of well being and welfare which include feeding, healthcare and proper upbringing.

All those things done such as street begging under the disguise of seeking knowledge of the Holy Quran negate Islam. Seeking knowledge of Quran should be done with dignity and respect. So, it’s the responsibility of parents to ensure the enrolment of their children and provide their basic needs in Islamic school and not shift the responsibility to the teacher or allow the children to roam the street, begging for what to eat.

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What kind of knowledge should ordinarily be imparted at Islamic schools?

Memorization of the Holy Quran, understanding the teachings, and putting the teachings into practice, among others. There is a modern system of Islamiyya where minors can memorize the Holy Quran and understand the meaning. A boy at 10 years can memorize the Holy Quran. At three years, he has started learning how to read the Holy Quran, he goes back to the house and returns to the Islamiyya school the following day. He memorizes the Holy Quran and not like those children engaged in street begging and so on. Parents should desist from taking their children to the so-called ‘torture schools’. They should ask around the neighbourhood, there are schools ‘Tahfiz’ for the memorization of the Holy Quran. Parents will account for their children before God.

We saw images of victims of the so-called torture houses. Some were chained. Some spoke of being sexually abused. Sodomy was alleged there. The situation apparently put Islamic schools in very bad light. Do you share that perspective?

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Like I told you earlier, Islam does not encourage all these practices.

Some parents even defended their choice of the so-called torture houses for their children because the children were stubborn, obstinate. Are they right?

No, it is the responsibility of parents to give their children discipline and proper upbringing right from when they are small and growing up. The children should be brought up in a way that does not violate the laws of the land. Any parent whose children grew up stubborn and wayward should blame himself for not giving them proper upbringing and then contact the appropriate authorities for where to reform such unruly children. And not taking the children to the so called torture houses where they are chained, tortured and so on. That is not right.

So we the parents should accept blame for not giving our wards proper upbringing and foundation, leading to their waywardness. It is the fault of the parents for not keeping an eye on who are the peers of their children until they become drug addicts.

Some commentators have also blamed the situation on poor monitoring of the so-called torture schools by government and the Muslim community. What is your perspective?

Yes, I totally agree. It is weakness on the part of the authorities to carry out their job of monitoring and supervision particularly that these schools are being operated in the towns where you have traditional leaders. Government is supposed to be checking some of these things and how such schools are operated. Anybody cannot just set up schools and teach whatever he or she feels like. It is not acceptable for anybody to just open anyhow schools, assemble people from different places and do whatever he or she likes without anybody there to check them. No registration, no proper arrangements, bring in people from different places and nobody to check how the school operates. It is the responsibility of government to come up with the criteria and standard to meet before setting up a school.

In your honest opinion, do you think the operators of the so-called torture houses should be punished? If so, what form should the punishment take?

Yes, if government discovered that they are doing illegalities in these school, it is the government’s responsibility to suspend them. Then, come up with criteria which is in accordance with Shariah that whoever wants to establish an Islamic school must meet up with so and so standards or criterias set out. For instance, from the classes, to the accommodation for the teachers and students, government must certify that everything is in place and the environment is conducive for learning. It is the responsibility of the authorities or government particularly Northern Governors pay attention to these. Teaching of Islam and Holy Quran is one of the things, they must take very serious. They should set out criteria or requirements to meet up with before you operate an Islamic school. Therefore the system that was in place sometimes back where schools of learning the Holy Quran was under control of the government has to be revisited and brought back.

And it is a must for every parent to take responsibility of their children. If it is a boarding school that was established, government should give out rules guiding their operation. And should ensure timely supervision and monitoring of such schools to ensure that the laid down rules are followed. The syllabus,

But not stopping learning the Holy Quran, that would not be possible. But can be organized the way the western education is operated with the government responsible for recruitment of teachers, supervision of the schools – how they were taught, provision of books, furniture and accommodation. And whoever is interested should enrol his or her children. Our government particularly Northern governors must do these to address the menace.

What do you suggest as punishment for operators of the so-called torture schools?

They should assemble them and let them know what they did was against the law. If they want to continue to operate, this is the criteria they must meet up with. If you are caught operating below the criteria or standard, such person will be punish commensurate to the offence. They should be called to order and inform that what they are doing is bad or illegal. If they want to open a rehabilitation center, they should apply to the government to give them permit and that must be after they meet up with criteria set out by the government.

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How do we eradicate the so-called torture houses? What advice do you have for people looking for Islamic school for their children so that they don’t end putting the children in torture houses?

The parents in remote areas should be discouraged from taking their children to villages and schools not certified by government or without government permit or that are operating below standard and criteria set by the government.

They must be educated on the consequences and dangers of sending their children to learn far away from them.

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