Maliki Fiqh QA

Islamic Questions & Answers according to the Maliki School

Technology, Children, and the Importance of a Good Quran Teacher – Shaykh Salek and Nabila Hanson

by Nabila Hanson
Kinza Academy

Recently, a parent asked me whether it was better to postpone teaching an older child memorization of the Quran until a qualified teacher could be found or was it better to have the child taught using a computer program or a teacher via the internet instead.
Though I have researched the adverse affects of multi-media on the developing brains of children, and I have been troubled by the number of Muslim parents who are using the computer as a means of teaching their children Quran, I didn’t feel qualified to answer this question from an Islamic perspective. So, I decided to present the question to Sheikh Salek, a Mauritanian scholar who has a particular interest in the education of children. I explained to Sh. Salek that, according to studies in the west, it is known to be emotionally and intellectually damaging to children when they are repeatedly exposed to multi-media and that many Muslim parents are now resorting to multi-media programs and live teachers through the internet to teach their children Quran. He said that he agreed children should not be taught Quran using multi-media methods and that it is better to wait until a qualified teacher can be found, insha’Allah.
I asked Sh. Salek to explain his reasons for this opinion so that I could then share them with others. He emphasized that these were not his reasons — he was only repeating what the scholars have said. Below is a recollection of our conversation which took place through a translator.
I explained that there were many Muslim families in this country who live outside the cities and do not have access to a Quran teacher for their child. In this case, is it better to wait until the child is older and can travel to a teacher, or would it then be permissible to learn from a computer program or a live person using internet technology? First, Sh. Salek said that the computer had one part good and nine parts bad. The scholars agree that if in trying to obtain the benefit from a thing, we end up gaining more harm than good, then we leave it. Just like wine which has some good but much harm. Television has a little good too but also much harm like the computer.
He said that we must find a good Quran teacher, so it is better to wait. The reason is because there is a science to learning the Quran and, without the application of the science, one cannot learn the Quran. Part of the science includes having a teacher who can look at the student and watch how he forms his letters. A letter cannot be pronounced correctly unless the science to forming the letters is applied, so a teacher must look to see if the student is making the correct movements of the mouth and tongue. In reciting the Quran, a student cannot hear himself objectively, and a teacher is needed to listen carefully to his pronunciation and correct any errors he makes. These two points would invalidate learning to memorize the Quran through a computer program, and the former would invalidate learning to memorize the Quran through a live internet session. Sh. Salek did say, however, that it was fine to listen to CD recordings of the Quran and that this could be beneficial.

The essential quality of a good teacher is that he loves his subject and can transmit his love to his student. I asked Shaykh Salek if a child should study with a poor teacher given the absence of a “good” teacher or if students should just wait until they are older and could then travel to a good teacher. He said that if it was felt that the teacher would cause harm to the child’s character or hurt the child’s love of the Quran, then it was better to wait. After all, it is not obligatory to memorize the Quran. What point is there in learning to memorize the Quran from a poor teacher if, during the process, your child does not learn to love the Quran? He also mentioned that, according to the shariah, if a mother is bad, then the child is to be taken away from her, such as when a woman changes her religion. Preservation of the deen is the ultimate priority, so if a child has a poor Quran teacher, why then wouldn’t you take your child away from him?
I recommend that parents read some of the books we have in our bookstore about children and technology. Our society is now dependent upon technology and it does come with its disadvantages. It is important to know the effects technology is having upon your children so that you can make an informed decision about how much technology you will allow in your home.

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