I just got off the phone after a live cross over on Radio Islam International whilst standing at the heart of it all…the I.D.P. camps of Somalia. The size of the tents, the difficulty that could be seen through the eyes of Somalia’s people and the intense heat under which they lived baffled me as I thought to myself “How do they do it?”. Just then one of the group members announced “Come, they wanna show us the Maktab (Madressa)” I was really excited at the idea of seeing a Maktab in these camps as I started walking towards it. I thought well obviously its not going to be a classroom like we have back home. I knew its not going to be made of bricks and cement but rather I was picturing the average tent made out of plastic with wooden sticks as support…maybe abit bigger to accommodate the kids. When I eventually got there I was wonderstruck and speechless. The Maktab was not made of bricks and cement, nor was it made of plastic and wooden sticks as I expected. It was simply built, structured and protected by the Noor of Allah that would descend upon a place where the Quraan is being taught. Towards the side, against the boundary wall of the camp sat a group of children aged between 4 and 12. One of the Ustaads started reciting Surah Fatiha in bits as the children repeated after him. No structure, no shelter, no carpet but the service to Quraan was being carried out. To add to my amazement, was the fact that the children didn’t possess Quraans or any Islamic literature for that matter. The verses of Quraan were written on long pieces of wood which the children held whilst they learnt.
There were not even enough pieces of wood for all the children Like many other times during my trip to Somalia, it made me ponder over what we have back home and how we neglect it. With the help of a translator, I managed to have a word with the Ustaad. He mentioned that the Maktab has 103 students and the reason for using wood is jointly.
A lack of Islamic literature in the country and the “Wooden system” is a part of Somalian tradition. Definitely a sight I would never forget. A sign that shows irrespective of the hard work and efforts from the enemy, the Quraan will always prevail.