Abdulrasheed Akere

In Nigeria, many Muslim students focus on secular studies, paying massive attention to Literature, Biology, Economics, et cetera, at the expense of Arabic and Islamic knowledge. While it is necessary to be versed in western knowledge, which we offer in English, the Nigerian Lingua Franca, we can not downplay the importance of Arabic education.

Many Muslim students can read and speak fluent English but find it difficult to recite Quran or speak Arabic. While it is inappropriate for a Muslim to lack basic Arabic literacy skills, it may be a consequence of the lack of its prominence in recent years.

Below are some facts to reveal its significance:

A prominent reason is for religious purpose, in the sense that the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, was revealed to the prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) in Arabic, and the same goes for the prophet’s sayings, (hadith) which originated in the same language. How then do we comprehend Islamic doctrines when we lack Arabic knowledge? Moreover, Islam is a religion that encourages worshippers to seek knowledge; even prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) learnt how to read when he attained prophethood.

Similarly. Allah (S.W.T) said in Hadith kudussy, “Know me before worshipping me because if you don’t know me, how can you worship me?” There is a myriad of information that a Muslim must have about Islam, which we can learn through Arabic education.

Another essence of Arabic education is to acquire the help it disseminates to the western education field. Muslim students in higher institutions need Arabic knowledge in one way or the other. Graduates and experts can attest that there are some general and compulsory Arabic courses that one can not evade.

Another justification for Arabic literacy is job opportunities. The western education sector enjoys overwhelming patronage such that jobs therein are competitive. The Arabic education sector has only a few people, opening up many vacancies.

Aspirants or newly admitted students into tertiary institutions should learn the basics of Arabic and Islamic studies as it will come in handy.

Learn from the experience I had relating to the discourse in 100 level second semester and first semester of the 200 level at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS).

The norm of course registration in UDUS is for freshers to register one of GST 105 — Communication in French and GST 106 — Communication in Arabic. While one can easily conclude that the former is for Christian students and the latter is for Muslim students, surprisingly, some Muslim students favoured GST 105 over GST 106 because they lack Arabic knowledge.

Then, some of my colleagues that registered GST 106 found it hard to pronounce most of the Arabic words in our course material. One of them mistakenly pronounced “Kuliyah” as “Abayah”. In my second year, we offered a general course, GST 212; Logic, philosophy and human existence. Islamic philosophy was a component of this two-unit course, which some of us found difficult. Seeing this, I made special prayers for those who sent me to Arabic school.

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