Boko Haram: Push for Education to Beat Illiteracy

Indira Satyanarayan for BeyondHeadlines

“Crime and other crimes committed by the likes of these (Boko Haram) extremist organizations contradicts all humanitarian principles and moral values and violates the provisions of the Quran and the Sunnah or teachings of the Prophet Muhammed”. – The Islamic Fiqh Academy based in Saudi Arabia

Even as the international outrage at Boko Haram kidnapping Cameroon’s Vice Prime Minister’s wife is still burning, there is a startling expose. DNA on July 31st carried the headline, “Intel left sleepless as Dawood hooks up with Boko Haram”.

The DNA news expose mentions the disturbing news that “According to confidential information Boko Haram will set up several drug cartels across the country with the help of the D-GANG, which will also be one of the suppliers.

Since Dawood and his gang members are under constant watch of Indian security agencies, it is difficult for them to directly smuggle drugs into the country. By tying up with Boko Haram, Dawood will not use his men, he will use Boko Haram members to smuggle drugs.

The Indian security agencies have a cause to worry. Dawood Ibrahim the most wanted global terrorist after his migration to Pakistan had developed close links with the radical elements in Islam.

According to an India Today report Al Qaeda uses D’s channels to transport Narcotics, money and terrorists from Afghanistan. In return Dawood provides finance to Lakshar -e -Toiba for its anti Indian activities. Since there is fear that Boko Haram’s tie up with Dawood could pose a grave danger to India it is wise not to ignore the current trends of Boko Haram as a preclude of things coming.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”, when Malala Yousafzai said this at the United Nations general Assembly she was stressing the need for empowerment through Education especially for Muslim women for which the Taliban shot her in the head.

Malala Yousafzai, the gutsy teenager, fought against the Taliban to prevent the closure of schools in the Swat valley. She has won international acclaim. And now there is international condemnation at the abduction of the 200 school girls in Nigeria by the Taliban styled extremists—the Boko Haram who don’t want the school girls to be exposed to “Western Education”.

Malala Yousafzai symbolizes the pragmatic wisdom of Islam which values Education and knowledge, the Boko Haram is representing a contorted version of Islam which even Muslims are condemning. It was recently said that Progressive Muslims would like to be seen with the Quran on one hand and the lap top on the other.

Bizarre incidents like the Boko Haram, which claims to be following the Sharia rule, kidnapping innocent school girls and threatening to sell them as sex slaves in the open market tarnishes the purity of Islam.

The Boko Haram is an Islamic group of militant and terrorist organization which seeks to establish a pure Islamic state ruled by the Sharia. After the death of its founder Mohammed Yusuf in 2009 Abubakar Shekau has taken control over the organization which attacks Christens, bombs Churches and kidnaps western tourists.

The Boko Haram has no qualms in killing members of its own Islamic establishment. Muslim clerics who have criticized the violent acts of Boko Haram have been killed brutally. According to Boko Haram western education is sinful as it corrupts Muslims. Abubakar the Boko Haram’s leader says, “I will marry off a girl at the age of nine’’ which means denying education to the girl child.

There is no gender discrimination in Islam when it comes to the right to Education. The Prophet – the visionary that he was, never said that girls should not be sent to school. The Prophet said, “If anyone travels on the road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise.”

It is only Muslim extremists like the Taliban and the Boko Haram who ban the education of women. The majority of the Muslim population doesn’t have any laws that prohibit women from seeking education. The Prophet’s wife, Khadijah was a business woman who used to actively travel on her camels and bargain and make deals with men.

Also Aisha, one of the Prophet’s wives, taught so many Muslims the laws of Islam during her life time. It is said that after the Prophet’s death Aisha led an army of 60,000 Muslim men in the battle called “the battle of the camel”.

I asked my friend Zaheer Memon his reaction to the Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the schoolgirls. Zaheer told me that Islam always stressed on upgrading ones knowledge. As for the kidnapping of the schoolgirls, it is most haram (prohibited) in Islam, Zaheer Memon noted.

The problem with Islamic extremists like the Taliban and the Boko Haram is that most of its top leaders are illiterate. It is said that some of them don’t know even to read and write the basics. Since these Islamic fundamentalists have not gone to school or college they do not value education. They think that the gun is mightier than the Pen.

Ask any educated, progressive Muslim and he will tell you that it is the reverse which is true. I asked Dr. AR Undre – the President of the Royal Education Society of schools in Raigad Maharashtra, for his opinion of the kidnapping of the school children. Dr. Undre says, “Girls should be given first preference when it comes to education, because when you educate a boy you educate the boy alone but when you educate the girl you educate the whole family. I totally condemn the whole tragic incident”.

The Prophet had said, “he who has a slave girl and teaches her good manners and improves her education and then marries her off …he will get double reward.” Note the Prophet has said improve her education and only then marry her off, whereas the Boko Haram leader says girls should get married at the age of nine. Just what sort of Islam is this Boko Haram leader preaching? I am not the only one asking this question, there are international voices too who are anguished at the girls plight asking the same question.

Dr. Minazu Babangida Aliyu, the state Governor of Nigeria, has criticized the Boko Haram group saying that, “Islam is known to be a religion of peace and does not accept crime and violence in any form. Boko Haram does not represent Islam’’, he says. One of the school girls who managed to escape says that the kidnapping was too terrifying to speak about and she is scared to go to school. The girls have been separated into groups to prevent their escape and rescue.

Amnesty International has said that Nigeria’s military ignored the warnings of the Boko Haram of an attack on the school. The Nigerian Government should immediately launch a military attack on the extremists who are holding innocent school girls as hostage. Nigeria must not allow itself to become like Pakistan which has failed to control the Taliban which has destroyed schools and educational l institutions.

Meanwhile in Mumbai, Nigerian students studying in the city colleges staged a demonstration outside Mumbai University’s Fort Campus to protest against the abduction of almost 300 school girls back in their country by Boko Haram. “Ours is a peaceful Nation and the Islamist groups should understand it and let peace reign”, said Ijeoma, a Nigerian student studying in Mumbai.

(The author is a Senior Correspondent at Hindu Voice.)


Most Popular

To Top

Enable BeyondHeadlines to raise the voice of marginalized


Donate now to support more ground reports and real journalism.

Donate Now

Subscribe to email alerts from BeyondHeadlines to recieve regular updates