Kano, Gombe and Bauchi — The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, at an event Tuesday, advised northern governors to use mosque facilities to offer primary education instead of constructing more classrooms, especially in view of current economic crunch.
Reacting to the suggestion yesterday, most scholars backed the idea, advising, however, that mosques are sacred places that must be treated as such.
Renowned Islamic Scholars in Sokoto State, Dr. Mansur Ibrahim and Dr. Muhammad Sani Jos spoke for right interpretation of the suggestion.
Citing examples with missionary schools owned by churches, Dr. Ibrahim said, "We have some parents who cannot afford to send their children even to public schools but if we can have these schools managed by our mosques, such parents would send their children there."
On his part, Dr. Sani said Emir Sanusi II could only have meant putting classrooms around the mosques or utilizing mosques' facilities for education delivery and not outright conversion of mosques for primary education.
In Jigawa State, the Chief Imam of Takur Adu'a Commercial Central Mosque in Dutse, Imam Aminu Baba Waziri, said there was no harm in using mosques for human development, as mosques had long been used not only for worship but for other useful purposes.
Similarly, an Islamic Scholar and Imam of Masjidurrahmah Mosque in Bauchi, Malam Ibrahim Adam Disina said the idea of using mosques to teach children was good as long as the etiquettes regarding the sanctity of the mosques were observed.
He said in the history of Islam, mosques had served as schools, as courts as well as places where Islamic affairs were discussed. "Mosques are centres of learning," he asserted, adding, "Most of the renowned Islamic universities like Al-Azhar and many of its contemporaries were mosques before. So, teaching children in mosques is not a new thing in Islam."
He cautioned, however that certain measures must be taken to avoid things that might jeopardize the sanctity of the mosque as a place of worship.
The Muslim Council of Nigeria in Adamawa State views the idea as workable. The Secretary of the Council, Ismaila Modibbo Umaru said classes could hold in the mosques as suggested by the emir.
He Muslim communities could do well to support the educational system. "During the time of the Prophet, mosques were centres of learning and scholarship, so our mosques can be used as classes so long as their sanctity will be respected as places of worship," he said.
In Gombe State, the Chief Imam of Miyetti Jumu'at Mosque in the state capital Gombe, Sheikh Adam Albani, said the first ever school during the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), was his mosque in Madina. He said leaving the mosques unkempt after the children close from school would be the problem, not using them as classrooms.
On his part, the Chief Imam of Gombe State University (GSU), Dr. Tahir Inuwa Ibrahim, expressed the view however that there could be a problem because fund would still be needed to add structures to regular mosque buildings.
In Kaduna State, the Chairman of the Council of Imams and Ulama, Shiekh Usman Babantune said using mosques to offer primary education instead of constructing more classrooms wwould not work in Nigeria.
He said, "There are certain categories of people that are expected to enter the mosques, including children who are disciplined and have good upbringing because it is a holy place. Maybe the Emir is comparing Nigeria with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries where children are taught inside the mosque. But in such countries, children are taught at an early age how to behave in the mosque and other holy places, so they grow up with that perception and have that discipline and they can easily receive education inside the mosque."
Yusha'u A. Ibrahim, Haruna Gimba Yaya, Balarabe Alkassim, Maryam Ahmadu-Suka