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Friday, July 29, 2011

Short Essay 17. Qur'anic School in Mamou, Guinea

Qur'anic School in Mamou, Guinea
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde


These are my relevant observations about the picture in the email of some Qur'anic school in Mamou, Guinea-Conakry when I visited it last month:

1. The children are resident pupils, not almajiris. They do not have almajiris in Guinea. Children learn the Qur'an in their neighborhoods. We hope we in Nigeria will one day graduate to this. They go to their respective family farms after the morning lesson during the weekends. They go to modern schools on school days. Education is free and compulsory in Guinea, though there are many absentees.

2. Their teacher, Diallo, the boy standing, has a shop. It is his economic base. In fact, the school is in the space right in front of his shop. He would have held the lesson in his house. No. Money too is important and he has to earn it. He is not begging for charity. So he runs it at his shop. He is rendering a community service, you can say.

3. The teacher also has a sense of time. See him standing attending to a customer briefly before he returns to teaching the children. What a sensible use of time. Guinea is not blessed with Igbos. The Fulani are the Igbos there.

4. Diallo the teacher is wearing jeans. Can we be so liberal in Nigeria? Or would it be the Guinean piety that would one day also come to be measured by wearing the 3/4 trouser that has long become commonplace among us? I remember praying behind a Sheikh in Kano two years ago who always insist that every member of his congregation must wear a 3/4 trouser. He insisted that I fold my trouser well above my ankle. I complied simply because I didn't want to embarrass him by proving to him that his figh is really weird, very extreme. I have never read or heard where it is said a 3/4 trouser is a precondition to prayer. Diallo in his jeans and jacket is not only a Muslim in Guinea but also a scholar that renders valuable service to the community. His liberality reminds me of what I saw at their National Mosque - the King Faisal Mosque in Conakry. At the backyard premises of the mosque, I had the pleasure of watching three teams playing football one evening, each taking its turn after an hour. Come to think of it in Nigeria. Football in the premises of the National Mosque? Chineke! What? Are you crazy? Hakkun. Tafiya mabudar ilmi!

5. The girl with off-white cover behind the teacher that was 'giraffing' at the camera is about 16 years. I didn't find her reading the Qur'an but a small home written book on figh of women. The teacher was translating it to her in their native Fulani. You can see the logic: she is prepared for adulthood, equipped with the essential knowledge she needs. What a beautiful curriculum.

6. The boys and girls are mixed in their sitting. Taboo in Nigeria.

7. Can you see how neat and well-fed the children are? Can you see that they are all sitting on something, a mat or so, not on bare ground and those whose feet were touching the ground kept their slippers? Can you see that even the teacher wore his slippers for the few steps he took to attend to his customer? Have you seen any fly on any of the children or in the surrounding? The Guineans are not richer than us but they can afford to be very neat.

8. Have you also noticed the relaxed atmosphere of the class? Enlarge the picture and notice the light-complexioned girl sitting on the chair behind the teacher was laughing...with her slippers on.

9. These boys will grow up educated in French and many of them will be businessmen. We communicate with the teacher in French. The Fulani possess most of the shops in Guinea, big and small. They are into every business - men and women, boys and girls - and control the largest share of the Guinean economy. Is there a comparison with Nigerian Muslims, our Fulani in particular. As it is now only about 10% of us, mostly heads of families, are economically active - while the women and children remain to dependents - creating a conducive atmosphere for the spread and entrenchment of poverty. Can we please rise to the ocassion and try to change things in one or two generations to come? The world is a fast moving train. It doesn't wait for anyone, as Shata said in Ummarun Dandanduna.

10. Throughout the tour, I didn't feel at home anywhere as I did at that spot. I saw my past in the present Guinea. I saw the present Guinea that is just opening to the world - simple, humble and hardworking. And I could see its future too - prosperity, which I cannot see in our northern community here.

May God bless these children and their young teacher.

Guinea, I love you. I will return to you many times.

Fulbe Fouta, Jaaraama.

Please study the picture and write your own observations of the picture in the comments below.

29 July 2011

16 comments:

bnumar said...

Here also in China, the Chinese muslim have stake in business. they are not beggars. i am Proud to be Fulani when ever I meet my Guinean Brothers and sisters staying here in China mostly doing Business some have even married the chinese without leaving own religion.Fulbe Tourou Jaramma!

Hammadu Kakara said...

I had always stated that in Nigeria we adopt a holier than thou attitude in our religious duties.

Hammadu Kakara said...

a djaarama Dr Aliou!

Abdullah Musa Abdul said...

assalamu alaikum Dr and shaykh. nice essay, may Allah reward you. actually, ours in Nigeria is a pathetic situation. however, I have few observations if you wouldn't mind. 1-dress code in Islam: we all know that for men covering their awrah is the yardstick for measuring the acceptability of their outfit and not jeans or long garb (jallabiya). so jeans does not signify liberalism nay it shouldn't be worn as an imitation of the non-Muslims but just as an outfit.
2- 3/4 trousers: MashaaAllah! the Prophet (saw) was very emphatic when describing the length of men's lower garment (trouser). it was narrated in authentic hadith on the strength of Abu-Hurayrah (RA) that the Prophet (saw) said; "Whatever of the lower garment (trousers)is beneath the ankles is in the fire" Bukhari 5450. in another narration of Abu Dharr (RA), he said: "Allah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection and will not look at them or praise them, and theirs will be a painful torment." Muslim 106. so dressing according to the dictates of the Shari ah is a requisite for the acceptance of prayers.
3-Free mixing is never celebrated in Islam nay it is prohibited only preferable when stringent measures are taken. this is to preserve the honor of our female folk and prevent such feelings that will lead to fornication and adultery and indecency. Allah prohibits Zina through proxy. "Do not go near Zina" meaning Islam has closed all avenues that will lead to it. the Prophet(saw) said, " it is better for one to be pierced by a steel pin in his head than to touch the hand of a strange woman" (Ghayah al-Maram 403).
and finally, the issue of playing football within the premises of the Masjid is something that makes my hair to stand on its ends. masajid and not places of play nor is it encouraged to have playing fields around them. one is not suppose to be watching football from the Masjid but rather watching and reflecting over Allah's creation and that will benefit his soul more. may Allah expose us to the reality of what has been written. yours in Islam, Abdullah Musa Abdul (penabdul)

Yes said...

Abdullah Musa has said all. I am particularly shocked at the "3/4 trouser" Haba! Dr is like u are making mockery of the Deen. Pls stop this.ked at the "3/4 trouser" Haba! Dr is like u are making mockery of the Deen. Pls stop this.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

Before I could write a reply on the 3/4 trouser, I found someone on Nigerian Muslim online writing the following words:

I have read the comments of Abdullahi about the 3/4 trouser. I thing he missed the point Dr Aliyu is trying to make. The point is in Nigeria we adopt an attitude that we are more religious than any other set of people in the world. Nothing wrong with this attitude if it will reflect on on our attitudes to life generally. Why is that religion does not affect our sense of responsibility to our people, our environment and culture. We never question a corrupt public official who builds a gliterring edifice calling "a mosque". some of our scholars justify corruption, cheating, abuse of power and responsiblity to the family as ACTS OF GOD. Instead of adopting 3/4 trousers lets adopt just a quarter of Islamic principles and values of honesty, integrity, responsibity, modesty and righteousness. Hammadu

I subscribe to the observation of Hammadu 100%. We emphasize so much the physics of Islam unnecessarily at the expense of its chemistry which is what matters before God.

Hammadu Kakara said...

pardon the spelling errors in my post please. "....I think......" .

Thank you Dr for giving us a forum to debate on our great religion as it is practised in Nigeria. You will suffer great attacks and if care is not taken you may even be branded a heretic. But i think the bottom line of your messages is that the emphasis on RITUALS of ISLAM should matched with EMPHASIS ON ATTITUDES AND VALUES OF ISLAM. That was the practice of our Prophet Muhammadu (SAW) and other prophets of Islam. They abhored injustice, corruption, moral decadence, dishonesty, et all. They never justified oppression as ACTS of Allah. For if it were so ordained, Allahu (SWT) would not have condemned oppression, corruption etc. Indeed religion itself could not have survived if it were acts of Allah for the Makkan kaffir to oppress Muslims. And every Criminal could plead act of God to justify crime.

Imagine an Armed robber who kills, maims and rape going scot free because of his plea of ACT OF GOD.

My brothers and sisters, lets shine our eyes as we say they say in Nigeria. Lets match our rituals with our attitudes and acts. May Allah guide us.

Anonymous said...

hello Dr Tilde
i was also in conakry about two years ago with some friends of mine from lagos and i also observed the same things that you did. to be frank the guineans are a beutiful and graceful lot which i think is a combination of diets and the coastal area where they live. in fact we played a game among ourselves, competing on who will be the fist person to sight an 'ugly' guinean fula. no one won the game. i will also like to mention that in spite of being a poor country it is well run. electricity is constant 24/7 while the taps gush out with clean water.
at first for me the liberalism of the fulani in guinea was such a clture shock that i found it hard to beleive that they are the same fulani that i know in nigeria. but in no time i recoiled from the shock and started psycho analysing the situation. what i found so impressive is the fact that they run almost all the businesses in the country.name it telecom, business centres, internet cafes, banks, super markets, hospitals etc. they are unbelievably enterprising. but on the other hand, i attributed it to the fact hat they have been marginallized for so long in the power equation in the country in spite of the fact that they are in the majority. but being a very intelligent pple instead of fighting over government appointments they chose to be educated and enterprising the control the economy. in fact it is an analogy that i found revealing: perhaps if northerners in nigeria had not being so pampered and spoilt by the psyhcological power syndrome i beleive their fate would have been different today. what do you think will happen when the fulanis of guinea finally gain power in the country if true elections were conducted?
it will be a double gain for them. compare it with what is happening now in nigeria when northersners are now scrambling for what used to be given to them on a platter of gold. we chose power which is ephemeral, the fulanis of guinea chose education which is lasting.

one thing that i also find shocking dr, was when i went to restaurant to eat and one of my friends who is ibo ordered a bottle of beer. the waiters who was fulani came to him and politely apologized and told him that he does not take orders for alcohol (being a muslim) and informed the another waiter to serve him.

what one of the commentators see as mingling of women and men as outrageous is a result of cultural conditioning in northern nigeria. in guinea you cannot talk to their women anyhow. they are very confident of themselves as i observed as opposed to the over sexualisation of the female gender as we are conditioned in northern nigeria. in guinean mosques that i visited the women have their own section and are very active in the running of the mosques be it fund raising or proselytizing never as back benchers. compare it with the time of the prophet. women were not hidden from existence or hidden under burkhas, but very confident and were reported to challenge authority on what they deemed was their right.
the trouble with us is that we go by the letter not the spirit of the religion and concentrate on observing irrelevant and often ludicrous details like 3/4 legnth of trouser instead of using islam to better our lives and those around us.

Anonymous said...

well done Dr Aliyu, vry gud essay, but pls focus alwayz on what God n his (SWT) n his Mssnger SAW....said

Pendidam said...

Dr.my son. I really appreciate your stirring 'the hornet nest ' as it is usually said with regards to our beautiful religion Islam/culture. I do not entirely subscribe to all the points you made but generally it is a good article of discourse. To me this could be the key to open the door that will lead the fulbe and their co-travellers the Hausas in the northern part of my country to reinvent themselves.

Fulani Man said...

Dear Dr. This is the first time I will be commenting on your essays. I like your blog because it brings out the core issues that are incidentally the bane of the hausa/Fulani ( as the media coins it)in the Nigeiran project. Regarding this essay, I will like to observe that the fulani in nigeria can be broken into pure fulani (speaking) and mixed fulani (usually non speaking). The pure fulani can further be broken into fulanin gida such as those found in Adamawa, Mubi, Kaoje and Gombe, and Fulanin Daji (pastoralist) who are scattered all over the country and beyond. This group can still speak the fulfulde language and retain the fulani tradition including maintaining herds of cattle. There can be further subdivisions but we will leave it at this level. The mixed fulani are those who have inter married with especially the Hausas and live in urban centres such as Kano, Katsina, Azare, Sokoto etc The fulani language is not readily spoken in their everday life. In most cases the fulani language has been substituted by Hausa. In many instances they are identified as Hausas like in the case of the ruling families of kano, Katsina etc (who historically were fulanis). They are to a large extent politically vibrant. The term "hausa/Fulani" could to an extent apply to the Mixed Fulani.

In Nigeria, the pure Fulani especially the nomad are highly productive simply because they supply the bulk of the meat we eat. Infact from my cursory research, the nomadic fulani as a community are the richest and most industrious Nigerians. Take for instance every family of the pastoralist maintains a herd of cattle averaging 25 from which he can sell from time to time. The wives and daughters sell milk and fats from the cattle daily to generate more incomes. The elderly nomads engage in farming. And because their cattle produce a lot of manure they do not depend on government's fertilizer. I know that in plateau and Kaduna states a good number of pastoral fulani are also engaged in dry season Fadama farming (lambu)from which they make huge financial returns. These fulanis also rear local chicken, sheep and goats which they sell on market days. Further more their wives are also in hair weaving (kitso) and selling of local herbs ( geography mugun ciwo). So if you sum up all these business ventures you can have a good guess of how much income an average nomadic fulani family will make. This partly explains why there are fewer pure fulani almajiris.

In the light of the above, we need to make a distinction between the hard working fulani (pure/nomadic) and the lazi ones (Hausa/Fulani)whom you described in your essay. This will go along way in helping our expert design appropriate prescription for each of the groups.

I belong to the fulani tribe but did not have any interest in studying fulani until I was prompted by my Igala senior colleague who was facinated by nomadic fulani. Since then, I have done a bit of research on the fulanis both within and ourside Nigeria. With time i shall avail you with some of my findings.

N GWADABE said...

The Pictures did not appear in my email,i would ve love to see them for basic comparison b/w the one in Guinea and the one in Nigeria which iam fully conversant with.However i concer with ur write-off.These schs in Nigeria are in the sorry state and nothing to write home about.Iam not surprise bcos to me Nigeria is now the Ninth wonder of the world after Tajmahal.

Ashiru Hamza Mohammad said...

That's how it should be. I love the article. Too postoperative and direct. However, it will take time or impossible before all understand you. I know you Tilde. Keep up!.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the oversexualisation of females in Northern Nigeria. This 'protection' that the males are offering us is holding us in bondage unlike what sharia prescribed for us.

Bamanga said...

Dr tilde you spent much of your time castigating us but you didn't mention that we observe the ethics of pulaaku much more than them...do we have the likes of Nafissatou Diallo, Ramatoullai Diallo etc in Nigeria? certainly not especially in Adamawa.

Bamanga said...

the liberalism you and the gentleman from lagos emphasised is not something to celebrate but rather we should be ashamed of it. Allah suure I have many Pulaar friends and believe me most of their ladies wear dresses that are meant for Ngozis and Tabithas in Nigeria. Looking forward to more articles on your experience there. Lest I forget will appreciate it if you can write about their family values. a jaarama