Almajiranci, Begging and the Future of the North, By Adnan Mukhtar

NEWS DIGEST –  Writing on issues that bother the North are always on the fore of my mind as a young journalist, most especially the delicate Almajiri system which has continued to draw the region backward.

The Almajiri system of education has been a problem of this region for decades, a child would be sent from far away distance to a village or town in search for islamic education, the Qur’an in particular. His feeding, clothing and other responsibilities that are shouldered on his parents would cease; he is to do that for himself through begging.

This child will beg to feed and cloth himself all in the name of searching for Qur’anic education. The Almajiri’s cannot read the Qur’an better than those who are under the care of their parents, they would go to Qur’anic school and come back home to sleep, their parents have taken the full responsibilities of them.

People like me that studied the Quran did not do it through almajiranci, I know I can recite and have memorised chapters of the Noble Book more than a thousand almajiris.

Some parents are sending their children to Almajiranci for the fear of poverty, we are all aware about that some villages where the almajiri’s came from don’t have access to good water, food and other basic amenities. Many of the academics and researchers that went to these villages to carry out research can testify to my assertion, some parents from these villages have no option than to send their children to the urban area for sustenance and to handover their care to a Mallam. This is someone that has bilogical children to take care of but he is left with the care of a thousand of students. I don’t know how he can give them good training.

The abject povery our people are is terrible, inhumane, some leaders will not make it in the heaven looking when you look at the condition of people in rural areas.

My friend that’s in Jigawa for a research project have lamented such condition to me, she would tell me how the people of a community she is carrying a research would walk a long distance for an hour in search of water to drink and cook.

When i asked her about the type of food these people eat, she frowned and said “forget about eating rice and stew, they survive with kwadon gari, man gyada and kuli kuli”. That’s what they will eat in the morning, afternoon and in the evening. She told me this with her eyes full of tears.

This is why some parents sent their children to almajiranci, while to some parents, it is nothing other than greediness and irresponsibility of parenthood.

Begging and not taking the full responsibility of a child is unislamic, everyone of us will be questioned on how he trained his children, if you do good or bad to your child, God will certainly reward you accordingly.

Many of the Almajiri’s are under age, between the ages of four to seven, they can’t even bath themselves but these irresponsible parents would continue to sent them to the city because they cannot discharge their responsibilities as parents but will continue to give birth to many children as they wish. I don’t know how a parent will give his child good training when he cannot be able to feed that child.

Will the Prophet be proud of an irresponsible child?

Almajiranci here in the North is child abuse, it is the only place where it happens in the world, where a parent will neglect and abandon a child he gave birth to under the guise that he sent him to seek for Quranic education at a very young age that he needs his parent most.

Did this take place during the time of the Prophet? Would he allow it to happen under his watch or any of his companion?

So many of the reciters of Qur’an and memorizers we are blessed with were not sent to almajiranci by their parents, they schooled under their watch and learn the Qur’an, putting what they learned into practice.

Some of these Almajiri cannot recite suratul ikhlas or falaq correctly, they are not taught the basic obligations of religion, can’t pray as expected, the worst part of it is they are ignorant in Fiqh(Jurisprudence) and prophetic traditions of the prophet SAW (Hadith). I don’t know what kind of religion they are being taught.

The kind of almajiranci taking place in the North is unislamic, primitive thus barbaric. It stands to be condemned by any responsible person of the region.

Banning or reform?

The Almajiri system of education in Northern Nigeria cannot be reformed, we’ve heard of the Almajiri model schools of Goodluck Jonathan administration, the reforms of tsangaya schools in Kano. Despite all the efforts to reform the system, nothing have changed to this moment.

Parents should take full responsibility of their children, the Qur’anic education can best be taught to a child when he is under the care of his parents, when he is having enought time and food to eat not being distracted by the culture of begging.

Government before banning the system should consider going to the rural areas where the Almajiri’s came from by providing them with all the necessary basic amenities.That’s the essence of local government, it is nearer to the people.

When these are addressed, those parents that sent their children to almajiranci have no excuse of hiding under the umbrella of poverty to send their children to almajiranci.

The system should be banned by making a law with severe penalties to anybody found guilty of sending his child to almajiranci.

The future of this region will not and never be brighter with Almajiranci. The wiser we work against it, the better for the North.

Adnan Mukhtar Tudunwada is the State Leader of Ready To Lead Africa in Kano. He can be reached via [email protected]


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