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Thank you sixty-four and still learning for your thoughtful letter. I don’t deny the Britisher’s approach that thought us something new, like the song you mentioned. Our knowledge was widened, and new thinks were learned. I appreciate this from an educational view.

But they stopped at this – or rather the teachers of that period, did not go further. There was no attempt to play one religion against another, what the child practiced was his privilege. But the present day teacher, is unable to understand that. There is this compulsion that one religion is superlative and the others are not just correct. When the students repeated the Lord’s prayer, or made the sign of the cross, or sang hymns; in actual fact in my school, the ones practicing Islam, they did not have to attend chapel held normally once in a week, it was just knowing something new, but it was never emphasised that this is it and others are not. See the difference.

The present day teachers, not all of them, are propagating religion, something that should be left to the religious gurus, they should teach all about Islam, its history, the goodness of the practice, but never attempt to influence the students. Knowledge gained on religion is good, but it is left to the individual to practice what he wants and not definitely by compulsion.

Sixty-four And Still Learning | May 12, 08 4:32pm

I refer to the letter National schools turning into Islamic schools.

I am sad that children should be compelled to take part in ceremonies alien to their home culture and beliefs and also sad that parents should think that it is somehow not a worthwhile learning experience when a child is put in a position to experience something new.

I went to mission schools and convent schools when Malaya was a British colony. I remember the Lord’s Prayer today and can say it without missing a single word.

We Muslim children had to attend catechism. The Sisters looked kindly on us when we made the sign of the cross at assembly and said the Lord’s Prayer.

We sang hymns when the Pope died and carols at Christmas. ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ is my favourite hymn and ‘Drummer Boy’ my favourite carol.

I have remained a Muslim and am a strong believer in freedom of worship in spite of the experience (or because of it – I am not sure which). I think we have become too fragile.

We worry too much about what might damage us that we forget that learning is all about exposure and developing an understanding of our experiences.

‘The Lord is my shepherd’ is my favourite hymn

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