Hefazat’s Shafi says he opposes coeducation, not women’s education

“We want women in the country to be educated because a child cannot be properly educated if the mother is not,” he said in a statement on Saturday, where he said that the co-education system ‘violates the Pardah.’

But he urged the creation of a separate education system for women which would allow them to maintain ‘Pardah’ through segregation.

“There all the officials will be women. We will urge our women to receive education in that kind of system,” he said.

Shafi, the director of Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa in Chattogram’s Hathazari urged Muslim devotees to make four-point promise during the 118th annual congregation of the madrasa on Friday, according to media reports.

The reports stated that Shafi had urged devotees to promise they would not send their daughters to school and college and not allow them to study above grade five if they do.

He drew flak from several quarters after the reports were published. Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Nowfel told journalists on Saturday morning that the statement was Shafi’s ‘personal opinion’ and was unacceptable and ‘discriminatory and inconsistent’ with the country’s policy.

Part of his statement has been ‘presented incorrectly’ by some media sources, which has created confusion, Shafi said in a statement.

“Different media have been spreading news on me being ‘misogynist’ which is really unfortunate. They have been disseminating an incorrect interpretation of my statement.”

“What I mainly wanted to say is that women should not study in such institutions where the basic law of Islam ‘Pardah’ or female seclusion is violated. We must remember that Islam is a full lifestyle. All aspects of life are mentioned in it, including the education and the running of the the country. Islam promotes the education for women. Everyone knows that Ummul Mumenin Hazrat Ayesha (Ra) had been a notable Muhaddis. The Muslim Ummah would have missed many Hadiths if she had not been educated,” Shafi explained his statement.

“But there is a basic law of Pardah in Islam. In my statement, I wanted to ensure that the Pardah is not violated during education. Most of the general education institutes in the country provide co-education; meaning men and women receive education together. I wanted to warn the people against that.”

Shah Ahmed Shafi mentioned his role as the chairman of Al Haiyatul Ulya Lil Jamiyatil Kawmiayah, an organisation coordinating the six Qawmi madrasa boards to show that he was in favour of women’s education.

Thousands of women have received the higher education certificates from the institute, he said. “The prime minister has announced our Dawraye Hadith is equal to a Masters degree, allowing millions of our students to get the Masters qualification,” he said.

“I don’t understand how I became someone against women’s education when the board I head is allowing thousands to women to receive higher education.”

The Hefazat-e-Islam amir said he wants to run women’s education institutes in a segregated way.

“We are not against women education, but we’re promoting safe education institution for women. We want our women to have higher education but in a safe environment that does not violate the law of Islam. It is important to have education but we can’t send our daughters to unsafe places for such education,” he said.

“The way we are providing the highest education for women in a safe environment should be followed.”

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