KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 ― It is unIslamic for parents to send their children to study at tahfiz schools that have not adhered to safety standards, Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said.
Mohd Asri said the deadly Thursday fire at a Kuala Lumpur tahfiz school should cause emphasis to be placed on student safety, as it would both fulfill religious obligations and prevent misunderstanding towards Islam.
“Islam does not call its followers to be in destruction even for the sake of doing good. This is the same as sending your children to tahfiz centres, it is a good thing but if that school is at risk of fires, Islam does not ask to do. Islam prioritises lives and safety very much.
“So I say, if want to follow religion, have to also follow the rules of the authorities. Parents shouldn't become victims to those who use religion as a shield anymore,” he was quoted telling local daily Utusan Malaysia, adding that the expected enforcement by the government on tahfiz schools should not be politicised.
Tahfiz schools are where students learn and are trained to memorise the Muslims' holy book al-Quran.
In the same report, Dr Maza said attention should also be paid to the learning and teaching process at private tahfiz schools, noting that some were established despite not having sufficient infrastructure due to the high demand.
“If the teachers are untrained and there are also teachers who are not in the subject they should be teaching, then the objective of education will not be achieved. Worry that later these children will blame the government in the future,” he said.
In another report, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia's Prof Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Husin also corrected Muslim parents' wrong perception that the act of sending their children to tahfiz schools would guarantee them a place in heaven in their afterlife.
“Heaven is Allah's right and there is no guarantee because we can only work towards going to heaven. Don't sacrifice your children to tahfiz only for this purpose, instead parents have to understand and arrange for their children's education according to their capability.
“If their children are capable, parents have to first research on the background, tahfiz education system, teachers and safe and conducive infrastructure before sending their children to the school,” the distinguished fellow at the university was quoted telling local daily Berita Harian.
Abdul Shukor, who was formerly chair of the national fatwa-making body, further urged parents to ensure that their offspring at tahfiz schools are also taught academic knowledge.
“If parents want to send their children to tahfiz schools, make sure that school has academic streams. However, the problem is that many parents send their children to schools that only lean towards tahfiz education without learning Mathematics, Science and History,” he said.
He said the neglect of academic instruction for these children would cause difficulties for them in the future, stressing that a person who is a hafiz or has memorised the al-Quran should at the same time have academic knowledge to be more competitive in society.
The Thursday pre-dawn fire at Kuala Lumpur's Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah killed 21 students and two wardens at the Islamic religious boarding school's dormitory and is believed to be the worst fire involving a tahfiz school since 1989.