close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
April 20, 2021

Minority panel wants religious text shifted to Islamiyat subject

Top Story

April 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: A Minority Commission, set up by the SC for the implementation of the minority rights judgment 2014, has sought the exclusion of several overtly Islamic topics from the compulsory Urdu, English and General Knowledge syllabus for non-Muslim students as their inclusion violated Article 22 of the Constitution.

The content recommended for exclusion from compulsory subjects and inclusion in Islamiyat includes hamd, naat, topics on the Prophet (PBUH), the great caliphs of Islam, male and female role models from Islamic history and other religious references relating to Muslims.

The Commission, in its report submitted before the SC on March 30, suggested that all Islamic content (as mentioned above) from the Single National Curriculum (SNC) should be exclusively placed in the textbooks of Islamic Studies/Islamiyat, a subject compulsory only for Muslim students. “In the context of the SNC, Islamic content in English and Urdu textbooks amounts to ‘religious instruction’ which no non-Muslim student can be compelled to study,” the report said.

The Commission conveyed the concern expressed by several minority rights scholars and activists that Islamic religious content had been added to compulsory subjects like Urdu and English which was tantamount to compelling minority students to receive Islamic religious instruction.

The Education Ministry’s official, according to the report, disagreed with the Commission's concerns and argued that instruction had been given to teachers neither to compel students from the minority communities to learn the Islamic content nor assess them on such content.

“However, it was unclear to the Commission as to how minority students would be excluded from learning Islamic content especially when this had been added in the compulsory subjects and when primary schools consisted of either one teacher or one room or both,” reads the report. The Commission in its observations said: “Article 22(1) makes it clear that no student shall be required any ‘religious instruction’ if such instruction relates to a religion other than his own. In the context of the SNC, Islamic content in English and Urdu textbooks amounts to ‘religious instruction’ which no non-Muslim student can be compelled to study.”

In the English subject (Grade 1 to 5) the topic ‘Role Models’ covers Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), male/female personalities from Islamic history etc. The Commission suggested that though the Prophet (PBUH) is the highest and the most holy personality for all Muslims, non-Muslims are not required to follow Islamic teachings. Therefore, this topic should not be there in English textbooks which is required to be taught compulsorily to all students – both Muslim and non-Muslim. “It is suggested that this topic should be included in the dedicated subject of Islamiyat.”

From the English Model textbook Grade 3, the Commission suggested that the topics about the Prophet (PBUH)’s kindness to children should also be shifted to Islamiyat for the same reason that English is compulsory for both Muslims and non-Muslim students.

From the English Model textbook for grade 4, in the case of the topic ‘Great Caliphs of Islam’ the Commission stated: “In the context of Article 22, since after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the great caliphs of Islam are the most revered personalities for Muslims, this subject falls within Islamic teachings, (and) should not be compulsory/required reading for non-Muslim students.”

From English Model textbook for grade 5, the Commission suggested moving the topic ‘Patience’, which has references to Islamic historical personalities, to the Islamiyat subject.

From the subject of Urdu (grade 1 to 5), the Commission suggested that since hamd and naat are not related to the teaching of Urdu language or literature, therefore these should be included only in Islamiyat. Similar changes are recommended in the case of the Urdu model textbook under the SNC for grade 2, grade 3 and grade 4.

From General Knowledge (grade 1 to 3), referring to the case of the topic ‘Narration of incident relating to forgiveness,’ the Commission suggested that either references to forgiveness and kindness are inserted from the Prophets of the three major world religions or this topic be moved to the Islamiyat subject or stories of forgiveness by famous non-religious personalities, for example Queen Razia Sultana, are also included.

The Commission, however, appreciated that for the first time a separate curriculum for religious minorities had been devised. It also praised the education ministry’s efforts ensuring that there was no hate material or divisive content within the SNC that was offensive to the religious beliefs of the minority communities of Pakistan or painted them in a negative light.