A Facebook post of a picture of a Qur’anic verse hung on the door of a preschool nursery went viral and elicited harsh criticism because it included spelling and grammatical mistakes, and was taken out of context.
In response to the public furor, Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity has called upon preschool nurseries to refrain from displaying Qur’anic or Biblical verses. The Ministry declared that it made that request in its capacity as the official body responsible for developing early childhood and regulating work in nurseries for children less than four years old. It said that pictures of verses may include spelling or linguistic mistakes that may cause misunderstanding or confusion, and may also be taken out of context which may cause them to be misunderstood.
Moreover, the Ministry declared, “using religious topics in a social service may imply that this service is restricted to persons who belong to that religion, but the truth is that the homeland belongs to everyone.”
To allay public fears, the Ministry stressed that its decision was backed by a fatwa [Islamic legal opinion] from the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa’ [the authority concerned with issuing fatwas] that using Qur’anic verses in this way is not permissible because they are then being used in what they were not intended for.
The Ministry stressed as well that it was very important to implant moral and religious values among children and bring them up to exercise virtuous, positive behaviour in the community, but that “such values do not come as texts that may be taken out of their context, but as an educational message that we are keen to convey.”
5 September 2021