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???


Anonymous said...

No comment indeed... And a shame...

Anonymous said...

This is why it is urgent to deal with this issue! Thank you Dr. for this post!


Unknown said...

Why should they know if no one tought them in school ?
Schools in Lebanon doesn't raise curiosity in young people, and it also doesn't teach what should be tought.

And the obvious result is indeed ignorance.


Anonymous said...

I am one of your students and i think that this course really changed my"prejuges" about the other.

Anonymous said...

I am one of your students and i think that this course really changed my"prejuges" about the other.

Nour Al-Hassanieh said...

Omg.God help u Dr.with this fight.

roula said...

so sad... but i did laugh too...

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh said...

Thanks for your comments :) you and many students encourage me to pursue my fight/journey :)

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh said...

To Jad: Indeed, most schools in Lebanon follow the traditional conservative system based on memory not on criticism, analysis and general culture... Unfortunately...

Mohamed said...

Ne pensez-vous pas aussi que nous somme majoritairement influencée par le système éducatif français ou étranger qui ne mette pas en avant ces divers aspect que vous évoquez de plus qu'il impose leur vision du monde a travers leur histoire(sans doute biaisée sur certain aspects?

horoscope said...

Thank you so much for this post, it was very insightful!

Mazen said...

Dear Pamela (with all the respect DR :-) )
first, maybe you should send this post to the committe looking into our history book :-) (what a book it will be!)
second, what you see is the normal result of a traumatized community (IES) (generation after generation and not only youth) which never went through any truth and reconcilation and thus still in denial.
Unless we teach our children and youth at universities that there is nothing shameful in history accept denying it and refusing to learn from it we will always use ignorance a model for our strategic thinking towards re-inventic our sick identitieS.
Good luck and it is good to see some ppl are still struggling for change! of course, engaging those youth in changing themselves and giving them the motivation to be real participants in bringing that change may break the vicious circle

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh said...

A Muhammad, oui certainement! Il s'agit d'un des facteurs...

A horoscope, merci!

To M. I on U: thank you for your post! I really appreciate it. Doing my best. Still, a group work is needed. And honestly, appointed national commissions aren't doing anything or can't change things.

Allen Barrak said...

Your courses Dre. must be mandatory ones, not electives.

Lama Salameh said...


Dr. Pamela Chrabieh said...

Hopefully dear Allen! Also, one course isn't enough... It's a start :)

Thanks Lama !! kisses xx