Saturday, February 10, 2007

Why Chinese parents are against their kids learning Arabic

It has been reported that in Ipoh, a female teacher caned four Year Two non-Muslim pupils for coming late to Arabic language class. One of the boy’s mum made a police report.

Perak education deputy director Ahmat Arbu Hamzah said the school did not force any non-Muslim pupil to attend the Arabic language classes unless they wanted to. But they would have to attend Moral Studies held at the same time as the Arabic language classes. However, the boys were found playing in the classroom.

But the mum complained that the school had insisted the pupils attend the class because it was compulsory.

Make what you will of the case or who’s been lying. I don’t believe that’s important other than the teacher ought not to have caned the children because that’s against the rules.

Frankly, KTemoc has been disappointed with the attitude of some non-Muslim non-Malay parents who have made much ado about their children learning the Quran or Arabic.

What’s so wrong about learning Arabic language or even the Quran? Every piece of learning is a treasure, and as the Chinese would exclaim, a gift from Heaven. Learning an additional language can only be beneficial to the kids’ future career prospects.

I was educated in a Methodist school where I, from a devoted Buddhist family, did Bible studies (Scripture) for more than a decade. My sisters all went to the Convent where they were fed daily dosage of Catholic indoctrination. In our Christian schools there were thousands of other non-Christian and mainly Chinese students.

Did the teachers, especially the principals tried to convert us to Christianity? Yes! Did our parents complain? Nope!


Were we taught English? Yes! Did our parents object? No!

So why this behaviour and reluctance when it comes to the Arabic language and the Quran?

Okay, that was a rhetorical question because I do know the answer.

Chinese and, to a certain extent, Indian parents are pissed off with what they see as an oppressive Malay dominated Muslim government. Their natural instinct is to rebel against, object to, resist, even sabotage or reject anything that appears to be proselytising.

To them, Christian proselytising teaching is … ho hum … yawnnn .. not threatening (aiyah, hong kau mana ay siang sin*), but oh no, the Islamic lessons are. Then, the English language is useful but bugger Arabic.


* c'mon, don't expect me to believe those Christian teachings

And all these disparate perceptions/values have been because of their grievances against and suspicions about the UMNO-led government and their officials.

Of course in a few cases, where overzealous principals and teachers had attempted to shove those lessons down the kids’ throats, it sure as hell didn’t help the situation. Obviously those principals/teachers haven’t learn about positive motivation or they have just adopted the standard UMNO style of bulldozing threatening ketuanan methodology.

I urge the non-Malay non-Muslim parents to welcome such teachings (including Jawi) for their children with open arms and to encourage their kids to learn diligently.


Look, if your kids’ predecessors were able to master English and Mandarin, why then wouldn’t your kids master Arabic in like fashion? It’s a beautiful language, a language ideal for poetry and love, and one that's spoken by billions.

And don’t worry about Islamic teachings. Your kids will eventually pick up the good and discard what's not suitable for their non-Muslim life style, as I did with the Christian teachings I received.

If they can’t distinguish between those values, well, it’s just as well they have some religious guidance and what do I care whether it’s Islamic, Christian, Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu or Folk religion, so long as they are brought up not to hurt or harm people and to respect others.


Related:
Malaysians Split over Palestine & Lebanon - on the surface this may appear to be unrelated to the posting about Chinese parents being against their kids learning Arabic, but do read it to have an appreciation of what I am talking about

14 comments:

  1. Hi KT,
    I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn basic Arabic language - just 2 years - during my school days, as we had a teacher who was willing to teach it to interested non-Muslim students, no religous strings attached.

    I could never foresee that 20 years later, I would have many professional dealings with the Middle-East. Not being totally dependent on English translations or English-speaking Arabs HAS been very useful.

    Much has been written about China as a future economic superpower, and the growing importance of Mandarin as a international language. Very true, but I think many Chinese Malaysians, especially , don't realise that the Middle East is also a large and well-to-do market. It can be very profitable doing business there, but you need to learn to navigate the legal and cultural minefields.
    Even basic spoken (better still written) Arabic can help open doors and help you stay clear of the pitfalls. So my advise to Chinese Malaysian parents would be to keep an open mind about Arabic language lessons.
    I agree, of course, that there should not be compulsion in this matter.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LMAO reading at your poor reasonings dude! Ppl choose whatever they want, period.

    You put a "* c'mon, don't expect me to believe those Christian teachings"
    and you went on with your weirdo reasons and ended with this to contradict yourself?

    "And don’t worry about Islamic teachings. Your kids will eventually pick up the good and discard what's not suitable for their non-Muslim life style, as I did with the Christian teachings I received."

    10q for posting this crap, its best for a boring saturday night.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you've bothered to read you might have learnt something, but alas, you were too impatient to jump in to disagree; with an open mind, open eyes and a clear brain you might have noted whom I referred to when I quoted "* c'mon, don't expect me to believe those Christian teachings", but alas, when you're a wee too keen to disagree, and in a discourteous manner, well, it's your loss, not mine.

    You wish I had contradicted myself but sorry ;-) can't help you; don't know why you bother to come to my blog - you haven't learn a single thing and wasted your time

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  4. Probably by doing so...the mummy hopes some kind hearted opposition MP from the Ipoh area to take up the issue. U know lah sekarang apa saja dengan arab & islam all bad one!!

    When I was schooling in ACS,I was asked to attend Friday mass,though I told my teacher that I got to go for my Friday prayers.But my parents never make a police report.How I wish my parents did.

    Cheap publicity I suppose!!

    cheers.

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  5. ironically mystified4:24 am, February 11, 2007

    "LMAO reading at your poor reasonings dude! Ppl choose whatever they want, period.

    You put a "* c'mon, don't expect me to believe those Christian teachings"
    and you went on with your weirdo reasons and ended with this to contradict yourself?

    "And don’t worry about Islamic teachings. Your kids will eventually pick up the good and discard what's not suitable for their non-Muslim life style, as I did with the Christian teachings I received."

    10q for posting this crap, its best for a boring saturday night."



    ShadowFox, ffs stop hiding under the anonymous veil already. We all know who you are after posting that sorta crap in your blog. Be a man and please comment with your real nickname. It's futile making random cheapshots with such cowardice of yours.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If the Muslim students were also given equal chance to learn about other religions in our "kebangsaan" schools then I'm sure the objections would be less.

    Also, you're comparing National-type schools and church-funded Missionary schools here. By right, a government-funded National-type school that is for all Malaysians of race & religions should be neutral when coming to this issue, as well as providing equal opportunity for both Muslim & nonMuslim to learn about the other religions. But in religiously-affiliated schools like convents, ashrams, pesantren, & madrassas, then an education siding towards one religion would be expected.

    That being said, nonMuslims who wish to learn Arabic and Islam should do so not under compulsion by the school system... and Muslims should also be given unhindered opportunity to learn about the others too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. thanks brighteyes,
    you're right about the issue of 'national schools' versus 'missionary schools' - I was aware of that.

    However, my point was directed at parents who get agitated over and protest against something (the lessons, not the caning) that could actually benefit their kids due to, call it what you like, anger, prejudice, suspicion, fear, etc against the govt (not that the anger against the UMNO-led government is not well founded). But they should look at the bigger picture, namely the educational benefits for their children.

    & I don't think today's Chinese parents would be more willing even if Muslims were allowed to learn about other religions. They don't evaluate their own children's case by comparitive assessment. They are simply pissed off with our government, and they don't trust anything, especially educational curriculum, that comes from Putrajaya.

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  8. KTemoc,
    Perhaps the parents misunderstood the teacher for canning their children. I don't think the teacher or the school would force the kids to attend the Arabic class.

    U know, angry parents often become unreasonable and give lotsa excuses to prove teachers wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The problem with many Malaysians is that everything seems to be about racial/religious lines. Although there are admittedly many Malaysians who would prefer to move forward and create a distinctive Malaysian image (one that integrates and celebrates all the different cultures and heritage), there are still a lot of us out there who would rather stick to their own heritage and view others' with suspicion and contempt.

    The parents in question are a mirror image of the narrow minded Malays who are forever trying to impose Islamic rule and the mythical concept of ketuanan Melayu on others.

    Their (the Chinese parents and the extremist Malays) actions may be, as you say, a form of rebellion, a reactionary instinct even, but it is still unjustified.

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  10. I realised that people are too ignorant to realise a few important things.

    People keep talking about learning Mandarin because of China's emergence as an economic superpower, but nobody talks about learning Arabic even though a significantly huge chunk of the world's oil and gas reserves sit there.

    I totally agree with your sentiments that the non-Muslims are too Islamophobic to be open minded about anything.

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  11. I went to a convent school (Assunta Convent). And I took up scripture way back in the 60s on the insistence of my father.

    I am a Muslim.

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  12. KT - you asked, "So why this behaviour and reluctance when it comes to the Arabic language and the Quran?" The answer - it's the BN politics. In the 60s and perhaps, also the 70s, there were Malay students who took up Scripture studies (like Hani in the above posting) and no one from the authorities especially the religious departments made a hue and cry. Such liberal practice was good for all of us then. But today, we have degressed and laws are even passed that we are not supposed to propogate to Muslims. So the attitude adopted is, if you are not prepared to learn about our religion, then why should we learn yours? What is even worse, in the February 2007 issue of the Al Islam (a local Islamic magazine), there is an article entitled, "Dosa warisan agama Kristian" written by a Dr Nawi Jusof who claimed that certain parts of the scriptures are false. If something like this has been written about Islam, I'll bet you the entire Muslim world would have freaked out. No, I would not want my kids to learn the Quran nor the Arabic language but rather that they pick up Japanese and French which they are doing now.

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  13. billy, the choice is of course always yours, but would you then be denying your child the opportunity of learning Arabic, an additional language in school at no extra expenses, just because you aren't happy with an UMNO/Malay dominated government?

    Arabic doesn't belong to the Malays. It is an international laguage, one of the official 6 used by the UN (besides English, French, Russian, Chinese & Spanish) and spoken by billions throughout the world.

    It is also a highly cultured language, of mathematics, science, poetry and arts, if you don't want to consider religion, including Christianity (Arab Christians have their Bible in Arabic - al Kitab).

    Let's not cut our children's noses to spite our own faces.

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  14. I'd like to point out that language is culture. As long as social inequities - which are maintained - exist, we will continue to see vernacular schools and a strong opposition to learning a culturally-loaded like arabic.

    ReplyDelete