New project for religious reform in Morocco focuses on Hadith

The new project would provide a channel linking the scholarly class with the general public.
Sunday 25/11/2018
The courtyard of Al Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez. (AP)
A fresh perspective. The courtyard of Al Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez. (AP)

Moroccan King Mohammed VI has initiated a religious reform project focused on the Prophet Mohammad’s sayings — the Hadith — and aimed at protecting them from manipulation by extremists who would use distortions for dubious purposes or by those who doubt the Sunna.

Called Al-durus Al-hadithia (Lessons in the Hadith), the reforms come more than a decade after restructuring of the religious field initiative in Morocco. The project is overseen by the Higher Scientific Council and Dar Al-Hadeeth Al-Husayniyah, affiliated with Al Qarawiyyin University in Fez, and concerns all aspects of the Hadith.

The lessons, delivered by Hadith specialists, are to be broadcast on a weekly basis on variety of outlets, including the Mohammed VI television channel for the Holy Quran, the Mohammed VI radio station for the Holy Quran, the internet and social media. The lessons will be interactive, allowing the audience to ask questions.

The project is the continuation of a programme started in 2005 with the establishment of the Mohammed VI radio and television channels for the Holy Quran, an initiative seeking to ease access to proper religious awareness and to educate people about pressing religious issues.

Religious ignorance provides extremists the opportunity to distorted concepts, particularly among young people. The 2005 project is considered widely successful. The radio and TV stations have attracted large audiences in Morocco and other African countries.

For nearly two decades, Morocco has been engaged in a battle to eliminate religious extremism, from clerical sermons to education and general religious culture.

Ten years ago, as the Mohammed VI radio and television Quran channels commenced broadcasting, the state revived the scientific chairs, a tradition long held at the Al Qarawiyyin mosque. These teaching chairs were public lessons in which theology and religious practice were discussed. The lectures were broadcast by TV and radio stations, reaching millions of people.

If the new project represents an extension of what has been constructed in Morocco’s religious reform edifice, it would provide a channel linking the scholarly class with the general public.

In 2009, King Mohammed VI announced the Charter of Scholars, which was based on two pillars. The first concerned training imams and religious counsellors so they could communicate with lay people. The second pillar focused on providing proper religious education to all citizens.

Morocco’s theological traditions and practices provided the ideological framework for these initiatives, which were essential in combating religious extremism.