Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaching Religions in Lebanese Universities... Fighting Ignorance!

Below let me share with you samples of my university students' answers to questions I ask them at the beginning of my courses. I am sure you will understand why it is important for the sake of our nation to teach most young citizens (18-25) the ABC of Cultural Studies, History, Political Studies, Religions, etc.

1- Define Religion:
a) ' Faith and God'
b) 'Something like rules to organize people's life'
c) 'Something that gathers all sectarian communities together'
d) 'A method to know how to live in society'
e) 'People who think that the one who created the world is God'
f) 'A way to believe in someone or something'
g) 'A belief everybody has an idol'
h) 'A group of morals'
i) 'A sect whose goal is to adore God and whose ranks include priests and sheikhs'

2- Define Middle East:
a) 'The list that consists of five countries: Lebanon-Syria-Iraq-Israel-Palestine-Jordan'
b) 'The Arab countries'
c) 'Arabs'
d) 'A set of countries with common cultural points but i don't know where'
e) 'Countries who live in conflict'
f) ' An area in Asia that contains usually Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Iraq'
g) 'A blend of religions and identities'
h) 'A set of countries situated in the middle of the East'
i) ' A group of countries having different religions'
j) ' A region that contains Lebanon and many Arabic countries'
k) ' The group of countries situated near the Middle sea and between Africa and the Far East'
l) ' I don't know' (at least 50% of students)

3- What are the official sectarian communities in Lebanon?
a) 'Mennonite, Shiete, ...'
b) 'Sunni, Shia, and lots of Christian communities, I guess...'
c) 'Jews Catholics...'
d) 'I know Armenians but i don't know what is their religion'
e) 'Maronites, Catholics, Orthodox, Assyrian, Protestant and Evangelist. I don't think there are others'
f) 'Mardinians' and 'Islamics whom symbol is a banana and a star'
g) 'Islam in Iran, I think...'
h) 'Darouz, Arma, Islamik, ...'
i) 'Buddhists, Islamists, Jewz, Chihites,...'
j) 'Catholic Orthodox, Catholic Maronite, ...'
k) 'Sounna, Protestan, Coptan...'
l) ' I don't know' (at least 60% of students)

4- What is Zionism?
a) 'Jewish extremists who control the world'
b) 'The Zionist Enemy'
c) 'A Jewish movement founded in Israel. They are spies'
d) 'I heard about it but i don't know what it means. Is it maybe Massonniyye?'
e) 'The flag of Israel'
f) 'A group of Jews who believe that some current Arab states are Jewish territory and claim it back through wars'
g) 'I don't know exactly but I think it's against Christianity'
h) 'The war between Lebanon and Israel'
i) 'Jews who have their own vision of Israel'
j) 'Israelism'
k) 'I don't know' (at least 80 % of students)

5- What do you know about the Sunni-Shia split?
a) 'Because Hassan killed his cousin Hussein in a battle between them'
b) 'Sunni wanted someone, and Shia wanted someone else'
c) 'Sunni were friends with the Prophet Muhammad, Shia were linked by blood'
d) 'The murder of Hussein Ali'
e) 'No idea, but they certainly hate each other'
f) 'Hussein was killed by a Sunni Sheikh'
g) 'I don't know' (at least 90 % of students)

(Image source: motifake.com)

Any comments???