The honor of Abaarso School, its Owners, its Foreign Teachers, its Muslim Students and their Parents Should not be Violated and Deserves Protection by the Somaliland Government and its People!
A gentleman whose name I won’t bother to mention here, has been consistently spreading nasty rumors about the founder, the foreign teachers, and the students of Abaarso School. These accusations have been going on for some time now. They are made on the basis of some YouTube videos and pictures whereby some few girl graduates of the Abaarso School are seen not wearing proper hijab.
The reason that I have felt it necessary for me to come out and speak against these nasty accusations is that I myself, because of being somehow indirectly associated with the “Abaarso” brand name, I’ve been having questions thrown at me concerning these accusations.
My big disappointment is to see many of you Somalilanders not only accepting and believing these stories without bothering to check the facts, but also, not standing up against them! My guess is that the reason you believe these stories is that the person making them is using the name of Islam to make his accusations. And yet the accusations of this gentleman violate not only the honor of the founder and the foreign teachers of the school, but more so that of the Muslim students and their parents! In Islam the honor of a Muslim deserves protection and cannot be violated, especially so on the basis of what the eye sees or the ear hears through the media and electronic devices.
The Shari’ah has the highest standards of verification when it comes to making accusations. Everyone, including this gentleman is subject to these Shari’ah obligations.
Allah says: قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ “Qul hatu burhanakum in kuntum sadiqeen.” “Say: Give us your proof and demonstration if you speak truth!” (Q. 2:111).
A video or a photo does not constitute proof in the Shari’ah, you need to bring four eye-witnesses to prove your accusations. Otherwise, the person making accusations will be lashed or flogged for libel (qazf) and sent on his way and marked as a FASIQ. Spreading fitnah, character assassination and being a false witness (Shahadat az-zur) are part of the gravest sins (Kaba’ir) in Islam, next to shirk, murder and treachery.
Therefore, from an Islamic perspective, this gentleman has the obligation to produce for us four groups of witnesses to prove his accusations against the school, as follows:
- Witnesses from the Somaliland Ministry of Education inspectors, who always do checks on the school,
- Witnesses from the hundreds of parents who have enrolled their kids in this school ever since it started, telling us if they have ever noticed abnormal behavior from their kids who attend the school,
- Witnesses from the real, bonafide students of the school and not some dropouts, and finally
- Witnesses from the local community where the school is based, – concerning its impact etc.
- Historical Perspective
The owner and faculty of Abaarso School have moved thousands of kilometers from across the world to assist our Somali and Muslim children, and on top of that the owner had had to donate a half million dollars of his own money to start the school. One would think that Somalis would embrace them for all this effort and sacrifice or at least leave them alone to do their work.
Unfortunately, some unethical individuals instead have been consistently trying to undermine their efforts since the inception of the school. All kinds of hideous things continue to be said and written about them and the school, often from people who’ve never even met them and have only heard false rumors. The students of the school often go home and have people who know nothing but rumors tell them that the school is training them to be Jewish and Christian missionaries! I’ve even heard that at one time it got so bad that on one website someone wrote, “If we kill a few of them then the rest will go home.”
Notwithstanding all the above, we see the huge positive impact the school is making. At this point, and in a short span of less than 10 years, Abaarso students have earned scholarships to Harvard, MIT, Amherst, Georgetown, Carnegie Melon, and numerous other great universities. Harvard is perhaps the most famous university in the world, MIT is the top engineering school, Amherst is often ranked in the top few liberal arts colleges, Georgetown top for foreign service, and Carnegie Melon best in computers. Getting accepted to these schools is quite an achievement for Somali kids growing up in Somaliland without foreign citizenships. In total, the school now has approximately 100 students continuing their education internationally, the vast majority in the US. Other countries the school’s students are studying in include Japan, China, Germany, Qatar, S. Africa, Kenya, and Costa Rica.
Somalilanders must understand that Abaarso is doing a great service to their society and that those spreading these rumors are doing so for their own selfish motivations. You also need to understand that that the owner donated a half million dollars of his personal wealth, and to establish that school and get it running he had to work 90 hours each week without any pay, for nothing more than the good of the school and its students. You also need to understand that Abaarso teachers work long days and they only receive volunteer salaries. Most of all, you need to understand that Somali children are getting a world-class education, not only academically, but also in how to be good human beings. The values that Abaarso teaches are consistent with the Islamic religion and culture. Abaarso students volunteer to teach at the Hargeisa Orphanage 3 days per week and operate a school for the local children in Abaarso Village 5 days per week.
Around the world, for your child to get an education like the one at Abaarso you’d need to pay fees in the region of $20,000 or more per student per year. But Abaarso school offers this education at under 10% of that cost. This is because the teachers essentially donate their time and in a way, they are the largest donors to the school, because they bring in their donation not in form of money but rather in work.
Finally, many Somalis don’t know this, but Abaarso has students from every region of Somaliland as well as a number of students from Somalia. Students from Mogadishu and Puntland have been welcomed into the school and are treated with the respect they deserve.
So, instead of believing these kinds of stories, we should rather be asking those who spread them what is it of great impact have they contributed to Somali society and the Ummah so far?
Mwalim Juma Imran