Tinjdad, Morocco - Many societies around the world, and certainly Morocco, are driven deeply by two fundamental institutions: the religious institution and the education system.
Tinjdad, Morocco – Many societies around the world, and certainly Morocco, are driven deeply by two fundamental institutions: the religious institution and the education system.
In Islamic societies, the mosque and the education system are the two most influential institutions that guide people’s lives. The mosque encourages the growth and development of the believer who respects and lives by Islam’s teachings. The education system, on the other hand, encourages the growth of the good citizen, who contributes to the social, economic and political development of the country.
The mosque still uses traditional ways of transmitting religious messages to its believers, while neither the method of transmission nor the content of the message changes in tune with society’s development.
Controversially, the current education system in Morocco is a modern institution that was borrowed from the French during colonization. This brings about a conflict between the techniques adapted by mosques and those adapted by schools. Both have different objectives, though both are, theoretically, working with the same individuals. Whereas the mosque preaches to believe, the school teaches to think. The problem is that both institutions are not entirely independent from each other because both work with the same individuals, teaching them different––and sometimes conflicting––approaches to life.
In the mosque, the imam appears to be the most knowledgeable and whose authority should not be questioned, as he is the transmitter of Allah’s messages. In order to reach his audience, the imam attempts to appeal to emotion by using discourse and stories of “righteous” and “evil” people to elicit certain behaviors or beliefs. He encourages people to do “good deeds” in order to reach Paradise and to stop “bad behaviors” so as to avoid Hell. The imam also adapts techniques of repetition and reinforcement. For example, the repetition thirty-three times of “there is no God but Allah” is common. The mosque teaches people to believe without questioning and to be followers.
In contrast, school is a space that teaches people to be critical thinkers. In this way, school becomes a great threat to lessons of the mosque. School teaches students to become critical agents who actively question and negotiate the relationships between individual matters and public issues. School teaches students several subjects that encourage their cognitive, physical and psychological development.
In the current education system, new methods of teaching are constantly being incorporated by schools. Additionally, schools use technology and games, which often help to motivate students to pay more attention in class. The school is a place of developing the good citizen who is creative, productive, and who uses his critical mind.
When analyzing these two institutions, we find a disconnect between the two. Students of the current education system may find many difficulties in following the imam when giving his khutba (sermon) perhaps as they are not as motivated to listen to him as they are in school, because of the delivery style of the lesson. Because of skills they learn in school, they may not take what the imam says seriously, as they may find his stories unconvincing.
To address this issue, Imams should bear in mind that society is increasingly knowledgeable and should consider adapting a more sophisticated preaching style so it lives up to the mosque attendees’ cognitive level. People need to feel that religion is still relevant to their lives, so a more adapted style would be beneficial to everyone.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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