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Opinions of Saturday, 25 June 2011

Columnist: Jawando, Muhammed Suraj Sulley

Zongo Girls Cry For Education

As we are a few weeks away from the month of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, it is the bumper period of mass-marriage in most Zongo communities. This whole-sale liquidation of our innocent young girls, usually under-age, will continue on a large scale in Sabon Zongo, Nima, Mamobi, New-Town, Madina, Aboabu, Asawase, etc until the start of Ramadan. My bone of contention is not the deceptive extravagant riches being wasted, but the disruption of the education of these teenagers. Most of these parents have been brain-washed into liquidating their young girl by some of our Islamic scholars, while they strive for higher education for their children. We as Muslims do not dispute the relevance of marriage as the “Sunnah” of the Holy Prophet (SAW), but there was never a standardized age for marriage. Most Islamic scholars base the argument on the Prophet’s (SAW) marriage to Aisha (RA) at the age of 16yrs. But they hypocritically never mention his wife Khadijah (RA) who was 15yes older than him as an example. More so when research by some scholars have challenged the age of Aisha (RA) as not 16yrs, but 19yrs.
While they are preaching about marriage of teenagers, they are sending their daughters to universities home and abroad. Why not give other the chance to pursue their academic adventures and then marriage. Most are forced into these marriages, while others are coerced into it with the believe that they will further their education after the marriage. How many married men will feel secured to find their legally married wives in front of their schools with their male classmates, even if the intent is genuine. Or their male classmates calling their matrimonial home, when is course-related. About 95% of these premature and forced marriages do not last long and most of these young girls come home as divorcees in their teenage years. Our parents have never paused for a second to research the reasons for the high rate of teenage divorcees in our communities. It is because most of these teenage divorcees are mostly JSS and SSS drop-outs, inexperience domestically and economically. The only trade they could engage in is selling waakye and tuo zafi.
Research has proven that when educated women marry they tend be treat with care, RESPECT and the marriage last longer, than the drop-outs. Respect comes from education. Did the Holy Prophet (SAW) emphasized on the importance of education only? The following quotes by the Holy Prophet (SAW) will attest to the importance of education: “Seek knowledge even if it be in China. To seek knowledge is COMPULSARY on every Muslim male and FEMALE. Knowledge is a treasure house and its key is enquiry. So enquire and there are rewards thereafter for four persons, the enquirer, the learned, the audience and the LOVERS.” THE Holy Prophet was once asked; “Which action is best?” He said: “KNOWLEDGE”.
Our mothers take this preachers to the extreme to the point where they do not invest in the girl-child education, but their future marriages. They tend to invest their hard earned money into Future Marriage Funds instead of a Child Educational Funds that could cater for their children’s education in the event of their demise. They start purchasing jewelry, clothes and kitchen-ware right from birth. Some of these stuffs are outmoded by the time of the marriage, but had it been in a fund, it might have accrued more interest over the years. Mothers, we did witnessed this epidemic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when our sisters were hurriedly married on a whole-scale without any proposal from any man. Then shipped to Nigeria and advertised for men. How many of those marriages lasted? Today all of them are back home as divorcees and their education curtailed in the name of practicing Islam. On my last visit to Ghana, I was proud to see the likes of Shamima Muslim, Rahmatu Mahmud-Jawando, etc live on TV as newscasters. Can’t we as Zongo communities have more of them. YES, we can. With caution and PATIENT. We should always remember the saying of on of the Disciples of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Ali: “Knowledge is better than wealth. Knowledge guards you, but you are guarding wealth. Knowledge dispenses justice while wealth seeks justice. Wealth decreases with expenses, while knowledge increases with expenses.”

Alhaji Muhammed Suraj Sulley Jawando
NY Presbyterian Hospital, New York