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15:54, 14 December 2017 Thursday
Update: 16:39, 16 April 2017 Sunday

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Islamic knowledge transferred by 'Mahzara' schools in Africa
Islamic knowledge transferred by 'Mahzara' schools in Africa

Centuries old tradition of the desert theology schools of Western Africa is being transferred to the new generation.

World Bulletin/News Desk

With international news agencies focusing on the political groups and operations in Africa, traditions of the Mahzara lives in Mali where centuries old Islamic knowledge transferred to the younger generation.

The mahzara in the vast West African desert are fulfilling an essential function in protecting the Islamic identity with their their activities.

Many countries in West Africa have various mazhara's fulfilling the same purpose, an example being that of Nouachott the capital city of Mauritania, where a mazhara 70km away opened the doors to the AA team.

With the youngest child being 5 years old, there are dozens of children taking Islamic lessons, memorising the Quran, Tabitha (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) and jurisprudence as well as other Islamic sciences.

Life long learning in the desert

Centuries ago African scholars  roamed the wide desert and taught the Islamic sciences  however with borders and countries now separate the Mazhara's have now come to life as a place of learning. In order to ensure that the learning stays focused, these theology schools are specifically set up far away from city centres.

With preference of mazhara's on the outskirts of the cities, where even paths to the desert are difficult to find, the students are away from the chaos and technology of the modern world and therefore are completely absorbed and focused on their studies.

Staying close to the classical training method that maintains the tradition of Islamic history and inheritance, rather than use modern educational methods of books and pens, wooden tablets are reed pens are used to study.

One of the main teachers at the school, Varo el-Yahya explained that there are close to 200 students at the school. He explained that “Students first learn how to read and then learn the 'outlet' of the letters. The first step takes close to 6 months. From there they learn how to read the Quran and they start with the shorter verses”. With the memorisation of the Quran taking nearly 5 years to complete, the entire programme takes close to 10 years.

With students coming from different countries, Yahya said that, “For Quran lessons we have students that come from Kenya and Morocco. Sometimes we cannot find accommodation for the students.  After completing their education and taking their permission certificate from their sheikh, the students return to their home countries and transfer this knowledge to others”

 



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