KUCHING, Aug 30 — The teaching of Imam Al-Nawawi’s 40 Hadith appreciation module in public schools that have hit a nerve with non-Muslim groups in peninsular Malaysia, is not an issue in Sarawak.
State Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn said today that non-Muslim students in the state can study the module if they want to as an optional subject, but they must not be forced to learn it.
“If the non-Muslim students are forced to study it, then I will not agree,” he told reporters after closing a three-day digitial talents and innovation lab organised by the Sarawak Digital Economy Development Corporation for trainee teachers here.
He said Sarawak is very open when it comes to religious policies, adding that Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg gave funds to the churches and temples.
“There were a lot of Muslim students, many of whom are now state political leaders, studying Bible knowledge in mission schools in the past, and there was no issue then and they are still practising Muslims now,” he said.
But he noted that the issue could be exploited by the Opposition against the non-Muslim politicians in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) during the state or federal elections later.
“To me, I have no issue with hadith being introduced in schools,” Sagah said.
When launching the module on August 19, federal Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek previously said that the module allowed teachers and students to gain an appreciation for the collection of 40 hadith compiled by Imam Al-Nawawi, especially the values contained within them.
She said it aimed at fostering the values of the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings or ‘hadith’ at the school level. She said the module will first be implemented at National Religious Secondary Schools and Government Aided Religious Schools before being distributed to schools under the Ministry of Education next year.
Later, federal Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying clarified that the Imam Al-Nawawi’s 40 Hadith module will not involve non-Muslim students, saying that she understands the anxiousness of the non-Muslim community on the issue.
She said when the module is introduced to national schools as well as schools under the ministry, it will only be for Muslim students.