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More mentors for teaching Al-Quran needed in SE Asia

Publication Date : 09-12-2013


More mentors are needed in Southeast Asian countries to develop religious education particularly in reciting the Quran, according to international participants of the sixth Southeast Asian Youth Al-Quran Reading Competition.

The second night of the contest saw seven qari and four qariah taking their turns displaying their Al-Quran reading skills on stage at the International Convention Centre.

Imam Mohamath Vina Ahmad, the chaperone for Laos’s contestant said that learning to read the Quran in his country is difficult because there are no religious schools that offer Al-Quran recitation lessons.

“So what we do is teach lessons in steps, at least twice a week and we have to call the students (to come to us) for schooling; we even go to their houses just to meet their religious education needs by helping them to enhance their readings,” he said.

“In my country, we lack capable teachers to mentor religious education to the people, but right now we are working towards it by inviting experts from overseas to show the ways and hopefully in two years’ time, there will be students who are competent enough to teach what he has learnt to our people,” he added.

Sharing the same sentiment, Ustaz Wahid Abdullah, the chaperone for Cambodian participants also stressed on the lack of capable experts to share the skills and knowledge needed for better recitals of the Quran.

“A lot of religious experts were persecuted during the reign of Pol Pot, and most of them ran away to neighbouring countries like Thailand and Malaysia so we now lack capable people to hand down that expertise,” Ustaz Wahid said.

“Although we did study religion ourselves, we think that what we have learnt is not enough since we do not have those who are really well-versed in the subject to teach us, so we depend a lot on international aid to move forward in terms of our religious education,” he added.

According to Ustaz Wahid, they are working on developing their country with a focus on religious education and the economy, “ as most Cambodians cannot afford to study overseas due to financial constraints”.

“Currently we have 30 branches of religious schools in our country but they cannot really accommodate students from 510 villages, so I am asking for our Muslim brothers to provide help to us in the form of time, idea and suggestion so we can develop Islam further in Cambodia.”

This opinion was also shared by Mohd Khairy Jaafar, the Cambodian qari who said that learning religious knowledge especially in reading the Quran is difficult in his country.

“Since we lack experts in Islamic knowledge, we had to seek help from teachers in other countries like Malaysia, so education is quite expensive for us,” he said.

“We also have to gather funds from the community to be able to make a passport to send people to study overseas, so opportunity for that education is also quite difficult,” he added.

Meanwhile, Singaporean qari Muhd Zul Fadhli Abdul Razak believed that Singapore needs more religious teachers who have the expertise to monitor the quality of Al-Quran recitation among Muslims there.

“Compared to Malaysia and Indonesia, real experts in such field in my country can be counted in numbers and most probably there are about less than 10,” he said.

“As a qari myself, I think peer encouragement is also important in spreading the learning to my colleagues – I believe in indirect propagation, for example when my friends tell ask me to join them for a social gathering, I would refuse and tell them I have this Quran reading class and such could instil an interest in them.”

“In a group of 10 people, there will always be one who would react that way, so I think that would really help to spread and develop Islamic expertise especially in Quran recitals among Singaporeans, especially my colleagues.”



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