When Muhammad Natsir became prime minister and K.H. Wahid Hashim became the religious affairs minister, there were decrees and regulations that incorporated religion into the curricula of the nation’s schools and universities.

Regulations also included subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and more general subjects in the curricula of the nation’s Islamic schools. I think this decision was appropriate and useful, regardless of the quality of the lessons given by teachers.

The House of Representatives and the government should consider incorporating Arabic language into the school curriculum as a new subject or into the study of religion. It is very important for Muslims to study Arabic, as it is the language of the Koran and the Hadith (the statements and actions of the Prophet Muhammad).

Before Muslim scientists of yore studied general knowledge, they first learned Arabic and memorized the Koran. Later, they learned about science, as in the case of Al-Ghazali, who studied philosophy, and Ibn Sina (Avicenna), the father of general medicine.

There are many more Muslim scientists such as Al Farabi, Al Kindi, Ibn Khaldun, among others. I am convinced that our country can create great and respected Muslim scientists in the future if students today are required to understand Arabic. They would be able to study more knowledge that is mentioned in the Koran.

Hopefully the authorities, and especially the National Education Ministry, can pay more attention to this idea for the sake of improving Indonesian Muslims, who comprise a majority of the Indonesian population.

Aries Musnandar
Malang, East Java

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