ISLAMABAD: The Senate Monday passed a bill providing for compulsory teaching of Arabic in all educational institutions. The proposed legislation, which aims at better understanding of the guidelines enshrined in the Holy Quran, was moved by PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi and was supported by the government benches. However, opposition to the bill came from the PPP, which contended that teaching of a language had nothing to do with religion. The bill says that besides having religious importance for the Muslims, Arabic is among the five largest spoken languages of the world. A large number of population from around the world seeks to do business and employment in the rich Arab states. This knowledge of Arabic language will not only enlighten the understanding of Islam and message of the Holy Quran, it will also broaden the employment and business opportunities for the citizens of Pakistan.
This bill will make teaching of Arabic compulsory to the students of all educational institutions, both in public and private sector in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), institutions owned and controlled by the federal government, wherever they may be, and all educational institutions affiliated with the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education.
“Moreover, it will help the students understand the divine message enshrined in the Holy Quran and also the Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), besides widening their employment and business opportunities in future”, the statement of objects and reasons of the bill reads.
Speaking after passage of the bill, Javed Abbasi said, “A foundation has been laid and hopefully it will shortly sail through the National Assembly as well”. Supporting the bill, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that one needs to understand Arabic to be a good Muslim. “You cannot understand the message of Allah, if you do not know Arabic,” he believed.
The minister referred to Article 31(1) of the Constitution, which reads, “Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.”
He said that the understanding of the Holy Quran will stamp out the scourge of terrorism as a true understanding of the divine message will frustrate the attempts of those who mislead youth to become suicide bombers.
The JI Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq said “We can only become Ummah if we understand Quran.” He criticised the PPP for opposing the bill, wondering as to why there was no objection over English being a compulsory subject.
Earlier, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani opposed the bill and said that it would tantamount to imposing the Arab culture on the local culture and alleged that the state wanted to further its political agenda through the proposed legislation.
He rejected the earlier remarks of Ali Muhammad Khan in support of the bill, and said that it was wrong to say that this was a matter of Islam. “It is the theory of the state for furthering political agenda,” he said, and added that an effort was underway since the creation of the country to suppress and oppress the multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural diversity of Pakistan by introducing an artificial culture.
“We belong to Indus valley civilization and Arab is not our culture. We are all Muslims and we need not to get a certificate of being a Muslim from anyone. The state has followed the course in the past to label the citizens of Pakistan as to who was a Muslim and who was a patriot,” he said. Referring to Article 251, Rabbani said that the Constitution has made it optional to adopt regional languages without any time limit, and not compulsory.