Here’s a brave piece from Aaidh Al-Qarni, Islamic scholar and author of Don’t Be Sad, published as an op-ed in Asharq Alawsat. Al-Qarni writes that Saudi education, wrapped as it is in rote memorization and an over-emphasis on religious texts, does a poor job preparing Saudis for any job, including that of Islamic jurist. Worth reading in full.
Our Religious Education: A Critical Look
Dr. Aaidh al-Qarni
Religious education in our country from a jurisprudence aspect has been unchanged for the last 1,000 years.
It consists of sectarian jurisprudence texts devoid of evidence, written centuries ago that our student have to memorizes verbatim, like the “Zad al-Mustanqi” in Hanbali jurisprudence, “Mukhtasar Khalil” in Maliki jurisprudence, “Al-Taqrib” by Abu-Shuja in Shafi’I jurisprudence, and “Al-Quduri” in Hanafi jurisprudence.
These texts are written with extreme brevity in words, puzzling sentences, and a reduction of meaning. The faults in theses texts can be divided into two parts:
First: They lack all Koran and Sunnah texts. This is because they are supposed to be used for deduction using Shariaa evidence, and not the other way around.
Second: Many people understand these jurisprudence opinions to be categorical, and anything else is false, and this has led to sectarian fanaticism, and the move away from evidence. For instance, when you read the beginning of Zad al-Mustanqi you will find the phrase “The water is of three categories,” which is wrong as there are only two. Then the book says: “If clean clothes are suspected of being mixed with dirty ones, then you perform a number of prayers equal to the number of the clothes plus one;” this means if you have 20 items of clothing, then when there is suspicion you perform 21 prayers, which is wrong, because you ought to investigate and ascertain.