Proportion specifying desirable number of doctors to number of population was determined by health experts; meaning how many general practitioners, specialists and consultant doctors are needed. Also, proportion of advisable number of teachers to number of students, whether in the same class during tertiary education or in lectures’ podiums and labs during university education, was calculated by education experts. The same applies to agriculture extension; how many agronomists are needed per feddan. Likewise, how many bakeries are needed per thousand people.
Such proportions were calculated in many other fields except for one; the spiritual side and faiths humans believe in, since no one told us how many mosques or churches we need per thousand people. Consequently, how many people are needed to work as mosques’ servants, religious rituals’ practitioners, Imams, orators delivering religious sermons and others higher than them in the career ladder. On the side of Christian faith, no one told us how many deacons, monks, priests, archpriests, bishops and archbishops we need. And so, how many graduates awarded with the Azhari secondary school certificate, graduates of faculties of Usul ed-Din, Sharia, Dawaa, Arabic language, Islamic studies and graduates of faculties of Christian theology studies and monasteries are needed.
Before writing my article, I tried to know precisely – through my friends and colleague journalists specialized in Islamic affairs and following the news of Al-Azhar and endowments – the number of degree holders graduating annually from the faculties of Al-Azhar and institutions related to Dawaa and working in prayers’ houses. I wanted to know how many graduates got into the labour market during the last ten or twenty years. However, I was able to know only approximate numbers estimating that about hundred and sixty thousand graduates of those faculties graduated in the last ten years.
At this point, a question haunted me and I went looking for an answer to it. The question is: does it make sense that a country suffering economic problems like ours opens the door for hundreds of thousands of its youth, men and elderly ones only to hold prayers and perform rituals? Not to mention that only few of those thousands can tackle issues of Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh and Usul ed-Din. Moreover, there is even fewer numbers of those who can rack their minds and exert efforts to come up with Fiqh provisions or jurisprudence; meaning they are capable of delivering proper Fatwas.
I don’t want to go on in detailing over the unacceptable educational level of thousands holding university degrees from other faculties like Arts, Law, economy and commerce and others lest I use rude words in describing. However, if it’s likely that we may turn a blind eye to the religious, cultural and alphabetical illiteracy of those so-called educated people, it’s quite unlikely to accept such illiteracy from those supposed to shoulder the responsibility of interpreting the language and meanings of Quran. They are also responsible for establishing the strong connection between disciplines of the language and the rest of disciplines of such specialty in Tafsir, Hadith, Usul ed-Din and Fiqh.
Actually, I want to find an answer to the question asking: when will we all take an uncompromising stance to stop such deluge of graduates whom the country is definitely in no need of? In fact, they represent, in most times, seasonal, disguised or real unemployment.
It happened in other societies during past eras, the middle ages for example, that there were many monks and clergymen, the thing which the European Papacy depended on during the conflict between the Pope and the emperor regarding guardianship over the society. Resources and references about the European middles ages are rich in details of such long bloody conflict. Those societies paid heavy price to remedy such disorder; the Crusades represented a facet of this phenomenon. The Islamic orient, meanwhile, did not know such phenomenon. As we didn’t hear or read about thousands of educated men, or Muslim men in general, who spent their time talking about religion. Actually, the case was that one should have a profession to earn his living. Interest in gaining knowledge in Fiqh and reaching the level of providing provisions and establishing Madhhab or schools of thought was associated with having a profession.
For example, most prominent figures of Sahabah used to work in trade or other activities. Another example is the unique Faqih Imam Abu Hanifa as he was a merchant of cloth. Furthermore, prophet Muhammed himself was working. He also told us in his Hadith that “Prophet Dawud ate only out of that which he earned through his manual work”. In other words, there weren’t people like those we see today; those who have chunky bulky built with a paunch whose job is to go to the mosque every Friday to hold Friday Prayers and give a sermon in which they exert no distinguished mental effort. Sometimes, they hold some daytime prayers and give a small lecture from time to time. Then they receive a salary, rewards, incentives and maybe a considerable sum of the money coming from donations of religious vows.
Yes… we are in bad need of scholars specialized in Dawaa and experts in Tafsir, Hadith, Usul ed-Din, Fiqh and other disciplines and who are equipped with other knowledge in history, sociology, communication, social psychology and other fields of science related to the life of people. Let me give you an example some of us, including me, have witnessed in Europe. It’s when the clergyman in the church gives lectures about classical music and characteristics of musical instruments, then people listen to the church’s chorus and the musical instruments after liturgy is concluded. Moreover, there are clergymen specialists in other very important sciences. An example for such clergymen is the unique model of Father George Shehata Qanawati, chief of the convent of the Dominican Fathers in Cairo. He was a pharmacist, scientist in medical herbs, philosopher and novelist as he wrote tens of books about Averroes and other issues. In addition, the library he established in the convent is one of the greatest and most important libraries in Egypt and the world.
In conclusion, an acceptable practical proportion of those working in the field of Islamic Dawaa and institutions related to it to the number of people has to be set. Also, this thing of signing in the book of attendance and departure without actually doing anything, as there is nothing to do, has to come to an end, since Allah said “Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do”.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on November 23, 2017.
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