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Mesmerised by the Qur'an

Mesmerised by the Qur'an

Issue 75 December 2010

Dawud Bone says farewell to one academic institution and salaams to another.


This has been a month of dramatic changes for me. I left my quiet job as an academic in Cambridge researching and theorising on issues of education and interfaith, to take up a position as the Head Teacher of a small Islamic School in East London. Many people thought I was crazy, and some even told me so to my face. But having spent the past ten years looking at education from a theoretical perspective, I felt it was time I returned to the real word to test, implement and refine my ideas.

The school I have joined is a humble establishment founded on a very strong tradition of Tahfiz (Qur’an memorisation), but until now lacking the same strength in the National Curriculum subjects where none of the low-paid staff are fully qualified.

Without doubt, some of the concerns expressed by my friends and colleagues were valid. There is a great deal to do to establish systems and procedures, rigorous assessment or planning, but what I have already enjoyed in this short time is being part of a team of individuals who all feel they are pursuing a vocation that is both valuable to the community and worthy in God’s eyes. Here, you do not find the puffed up pride of the career academic or the ruthless materialism of the businessman; only the quiet confidence that comes from a clear conscience and the gentle glow of satisfaction that you are playing a role in the development of a new generation of community leaders.

All the staff members are self-critical and conscious of their weaknesses and limitations. All of them crave the training and resources that would enable them to do a better job but, overwhelmingly, the attitude I meet is one of dedicated service to God and to the community.

But wait a minute I hear you cry, what has happened to my normally over-developed cynicism? What has happened to the disdain I have for the multitude of Muslim organisations that have been dominated and subverted by community politics and individual self-interest? The lesson I am learning is that the real world is rarely black and white. We all have complex motives and agendas whether or not we choose to admit it. But at the end of the day, for all our scheming God is the best of planners and He draws to Him and to His plans the best from amongst us. It is through this process that despotic rulers nevertheless built magnificent mosques and gardens that inspire us to this day; and it is through this process that regardless of how pure our intentions are, we see great good coming from projects that perhaps at one time seemed of little value.

The proof of the pudding in the case of Mazahirul Uloom became evident when I heard the boys reciting the Qur’an. So many of them did so with a beauty and a passion that one would think would only be possible by someone with a great mastery of the Arabic language and a deep understanding of God’s Book. Boys as young as 11 years old bring a tear to my eye, and through the mere recitation of God’s final message in a language I can barely comprehend, help me to find renewed faith and trust in our Creator.

Our elders set up the first Islamic schools for a multitude of reasons, some good and positive such as the desire to place the Qur’an in the hearts of our children and faith in the breasts of the next generation, and some negative and potentially damaging such as those who sought only to seclude our community and create insular islands of fearful isolationists that see no redeeming qualities in the majority agnostic society. Yet even these schools have in many cases drawn to them outstanding individuals who have been guided by God. They work to curb the extreme attitudes and refocus the minds of both educators and students on the noble goal of seeking closeness to God through which He is able to reveal to us His guiding hand in every aspect of creation and in every part of human society.

We have a long way to go to come anywhere near the ideal institutions that consistently generate inspired leaders of the future, and I welcome all the diverse efforts that are being made with this noble goal in mind. But I hope we do not lose sight of the great work that has already been done and the valuable institutions we already have. They need our support, and with it I believe they can truly flourish.


Dawud Bone is the new Head Teacher of Mazahirul Uloom. To read his previous work for us at emel, click here.

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1 Comment



8 Dec 10, 01:14

Mr. Dawud Bone has the cake within and the icing. The cake of comprehensive understanding of all theologies and philosophies and the icing of acceptance/settlement on a personal theological/truthful embracing (of Islam). The world needs more educated muslims... knowledge is free and we all have the responsibility to make time and facilitate ourselves to study and research. What we know should be embraced, explored and and be refreshed to better argue/explain/discover.

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