Yes, Almajiri, a name that madam Patience, remember? The former first lady, insulted all northerners with. A name which eventually costed her husband, the former president Jonathan his presidential seat.
Today, I would like to write about this subject, a subject that I cannot say am too good at, simply because it is somehow a religious field, which is always delicate and most of the times being mischievously misunderstood. I am writing this, like I said, not because I am Sheik, but because as a muslim I would like to clear some misconceptions about my religion on the said issue.
The word ‘ALMAJIRI’ is derived from an Arabic word’ ALMUHAJIRIN’ which means IMMIGRANT. In Islam it refers to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who in the 622 AD migrated from Makkah to Madina. The word, however, in generic terms refers to THOSE WHO MIGRATED FROM THEIR HOMES TO OTHER PLACES TO SEEK RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE (ISLAM). Therefore anybody that leaves his place to another to seek for religious knowledge is called ALMUHAJIRIN. This word was adopted in Hausa language and corrupted to be used as ALMAJIRI.
The ALMAJIRI system of education primarily focuses on reading or reciting the Holy Qur’an and committing it to memory and most of the times subjecting the pupils to total obedience to their mallams. The pupils nowadays leave their parents house at a tender age of between 5 -7 years of age to far away towns, specifically in search of Qur’anic education. The teachers whom are mainly referred to as Mallams serve as foster parents to the children, while the pupils go out daily to either beg or work for food and give out part of whatever they get to the Mallams. Most of the times, they even go to the Mallam’s farm and work for him.
Hardly do you find in any of these schools where other Islamic subjects like Tauhid, Fiqh, Hadith, Tajweed, Tafsir or even morals instructions are taught beside the learning of how to read or memorize Qur’an and this is what constituted most of the problems of this system. This is because it makes the system incomplete and incapable of meeting the core values of the Islamic education. That was the root of the problems and that is what leads to the current situation.
Learning how to read the Qur’an is a cardinal principle of our religion, the Islam, but knowing the Tafsir, Tauhid, Fiqh and Hadith are a necessary compliment of learning the Qur’an, without which things like this are likely to happen.
You see BEGGING is never part of Islam. I can say this with confidence. There are so many Qur’anic Surahs and Hadith that frown at BEGGING in Islam as such the issue of Mallams sending their Pupils to beg is never part of Islam, it is alien to it, as such is never supported by Muslims, and it is unacceptable to us.
Before, the issue of ALMAJIRI going to beg is never a problem, because the number of ALMAJIRIs was not much and as Muslims, we all know and value the importance and rewards of feeding a soul, as such it was not seen as a problem and may be that was why it was never tackled and that is why now it became a problem and a big headache to the north to such extent that some people from the south use it in insulting us. Remember Dame Patience?
The problems are partly contributed by us and ballooned by others. The major problem of ALMAJIRI is the begging aspect which I CAN SAY CATEGORICALLY THAT IS NEVER ISLAMIC.
BEGGING IS UNISLAMIC, AND THIS MUST BE UNDERSTOOD.
Of course there is ALMAJIRI in the North which literally means student of Islamic school, BUT THE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE BEGGING ASPECT OF ALMAJIRI TO BE ISLAMIC MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AND CORRECTED.
BEGGING IS NOT AND NEVER PART OF ISLAM.
May almighty Allah always guide and direct Us all, Ameen.