AS an important step to combat extremism and fanaticism ideology, and to counter the toxin being planted by fanatics in the minds of children in their early age, Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf, which is in charge of the mosques in Egypt, has decided to open Quranic schools in its mosques.
Last month, it announced the opening of 20 new Quranic schools. This was aimed at fortifying the minds of the youth from the chaos of strange fatwas and opinions. With this, the number of such schools has reached 1,170 so far.
This ministry affirmed that it is constantly striving to open more Quranic and academic schools in the mosques for the students from the intermediate level to pre-university level, and that religious university education takes place in Al-Azhar University.
It explained that the main objective of these schools is to secure the minds of the upcoming generations from destructive ideas, rectify skewed concepts, and build a national personality that is well-aware of the issues concerning the nation and keen to serve Islamic tolerance and the Holy Quran – the words of the Almighty Allah.
We were delighted by this news, and we congratulate our brothers in the Arab Republic of Egypt and the leadership of its “awqaf” (endowment) agencies headed by Ministry of Awqaf. We wish our well-guided government would emulate such course and demeanor.
Years ago, Kuwait’s Ministry of Awqaf fell in hands of two major religious extremist factions – the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood Group. We saw, and continue to see on a daily basis, the absence of the ideology of Islamic tolerance.
In addition to that, we continue witnessing widespread nepotism within our community including the governmental religious agencies such as Ministry of Awqaf, Kuwait’s general authority in charge of publishing the Holy Quran, the Zakat House, and Patients Helping Fund as well as hundreds of licensed and unlicensed funds that hide under the garb of Islamic religion while disseminating their ideology and literature among the upcoming youths. Unfortunately, our officials seem oblivious to the long-term danger in this regard.
Another news that delighted me occurred in the Arab Republic of Egypt. A Jewish synagogue “Eliahu Hanavi” in the center of the ancient capital city of Egypt, Alexandria was opened.
The cost of renovating this synagogue was about 65 million Egyptian Pounds and was paid by the Egyptian government. This synagogue is considered to be one of the oldest synagogues of Jews in Egypt. It was built by the Jewish community in 1354 but destroyed when France invaded Egypt under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. However, it was rebuilt in 1850 with contributions from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, the head of which is regarded as the founder of modern Egypt.
The synagogue was expanded to occupy an area of 4,200 square meters. It has the capacity of holding about 700 worshipers. The ground floor has been designated for men and the basement for women.
The synagogue collapsed in 2016, but it was renovated and opened last month.
I really wish and hope that we learn a lesson from this Egyptian tolerance towards all religions including Judaism. This is what Islam is built on.
For as long as I am alive, I will never forget how the government of Kuwait in the 1980s yielded to pressure imposed by extremist fanatics and moved to change Kuwait’s citizenship law to stipulate that only Muslims can be naturalized.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil