Proposal to include religions in school textbooks

Manama, Bahrain - Teaching of major religions and Islamic schools of thought might be introduced at public schools in Bahrain if the Chamber of Deputies approves a proposal to enhance youngsters’ tolerance concepts and promote a society with peaceful coexistence.

The Islamic bloc will submit the proposal to the Chamber after the end of the summer recess in October as part of an effort to motivate students to learn more about their religion and respect other faiths. The proposed textbook may include information about Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam.

"Teaching youngsters different faiths will not affect their Islamic way of upbringing, but make them more open to the world," the head of the bloc, Shaikh Abdullah Al Aali, said. "We should teach our children to respect other religions by highlighting their missions and principles.

He said that the Muslims could fight terrorism by teaching the young generation to be more tolerant with people of different faiths.

Al Aali said that the religious textbooks would enhance the students' cultural knowledge. "There is no religion that has espoused violence and hatred. I hope the Chamber will approve the proposal.” The bloc also plans to propose the inclusion of Jaffary (Shia) syllabus in the Islamic studies curricula.

The Chamber had rejected a similar proposal in May. Twenty-one deputies rejected the proposal on the ground that it was against national unity.

“The curricula include Sunni teaching and neglect other sects and that is unfair to a large number of students,” Al Aali said.

Al Aali said that the current curricula could teach students hypocrisy and double standards. “The proposal aims to bring the various schools of thought closer, further unite Muslims and end any differences that might divide them.”

The Ministry of Education highlighted that the Islamic studies curricula include only basic information about Islam that was shared by all schools of thoughts.