Warnings over hiring unofficial Quran teachers

Legal experts and Islamic tutors have warned parents not to hire private Quran teachers who do not have permission from the authorities to teach.

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ABU DHABI // Legal experts and Islamic tutors have warned parents not to hire private Quran teachers who do not have permission from the authorities.

Some parents, often to cut costs, have been tempted to hire unlicensed Islamic teachers to home tutor their children. But lawyers say this is illegal under UAE law.

Mushtaq Qazi, managing partner of Qazi and Qazi Legal Associates in Dubai, said that someone who is not officially under visa cannot be hired.

“This is a really wide definition that includes labourers, shop assistants, housemaids and, of course, private tutors, both for religious subjects and non-religious subjects.”

He said Article 11 of UAE Federal Law No 6 “imposed an obligation upon every foreign worker to work for a specific employer only who is approved by the relevant authority”.

If anyone is found guilty of breaking the law they could be liable for a fine of up to Dh10,000, a three-month prison term and deportation.

Islamic teachers also must have ijaza – Arabic for permission – from Awqaf, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

Durreshehwar Mirza, a licensed Islamic teacher who has been tutoring in Dubai for more than 20 years, said: “Awqaf is very strict on this matter. Awqaf gives a very strict test to teachers before giving them ijaza to teach the Quran.

“No one should teach the Quran to anyone unless they are authorised. Such people can be penalised and even deported as they are breaking the law.”

Ms Mirza said Awqaf has set up Quran centres that provide free religious education to both boys and girls. “These centres are authorised by Awqaf and so the teachers are registered, too. Hence it is easy to track the teacher’s performance,” she said.

As well as checking whether they are licensed, Ms Mirza said parents should consider a potential teacher’s educational qualifications and behaviour.

“We must not hire Quran teachers randomly. The Quran is a serious matter. Such people can influence our children in a manner which may not be right,” she said. “Why do we think anyone can teach Quran?”

Ms Mirza said some parents did not take Quran learning seriously enough.

“They don’t consider it as a priority. We should make more effort to make sure that whatever importance we give to school studies, we should give this to Quran too,” she said.

Zakariya Karaketty, a director of Al Manar Quran Study Centre in Dubai,said: “It is not allowed to hire illegal home tutors.

“If someone still hires them then the family is naturally at the risk of security issues and legal actions from authorities.”

Mr Karaketty said if parents cannot send their children to such authorised centres, they should approach an imam in a mosque to schedule classes or, teach children themselves.

He said more time should be allocated to Islamic studies in schools.

“There are more than 200,000 Muslim students in the UAE’s private schools. Schools give two periods per week for Islamic studies. This is very little.”

As well as official religious schools, there are also online Quran classes. Razia Syed, also Pakistani, took this option for her eight-year-old daughter.

“We were a bit reluctant as parents about having a male tutor coming to our house,” she said.

“Now, our daughter studies in the comfort of her home, at her choice of days and timings.”