MP Iqbal seeks creation of Institute for Higher Islamic Studies

COTABATO CITY – Member of Parliament Mohagher Iqbal has filed a bill with the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament seeking to create the “Bangsamoro Regional Institute for Higher Islamic Studies.”
In his authorship speech that he delivered during the regular session of the BTA Parliament on Monday, Nov. 21, Iqbal said since the time he assumed as Minister of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in 2019, one of the many goals that he wanted to achieve “is to be able to integrate Islamic Education in developing an educational framework relevant and responsive to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, where no Bangsamoro child is left behind.”

“While we had existing institutions and structures in the former ARMM  (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), like the Regional Madrasah Graduate Academy or the REMACADEMY, its sustainability as a ‘special government higher institution of higher learning’ in the region hinged on availability of financial support, which was not always guaranteed based on experience.  It lacked permanency and stability, and its relevance was always put in question,” Iqbal said.

If enacted into law, the BTA Bill No. 31 authored by Iqbal will repeal the Muslim Mindanao Autonomy (MMA) Act No. 164 passed by the defunct Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) on March 11, 2004 that created the REMACADEMY.

Iqbal said the Bangsamoro Government is committed to improve the access to basic services of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and to provide, maintain, and ensure the delivery of basic and responsive quality education and appropriate services.

“This Bill embodies the essence of the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination to uphold its historical identity and honor the decades-long struggle that has culminated in the realization of today’s transition government.  Now is the time for the Bangsamoro Government to promote and institutionalize an educational institution capable of providing quality education at par with secular education which would be representative of our religion as Muslims,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal stressed that “education is not a privilege; it is a right” even as he averred protection of the rights of individuals as one of the most important aims of politics and governance.

“For us Muslims and in accordance with the teachings of Islam, every person or authority has to protect the rights of others, even if these people are unaware of their rights and do not claim them,” Iqbal added.

According to Iqbal, “Madaris education gives a unique flavor to our region as an autonomous region as it focuses on spiritual development of the students. One remarkable outcome is that it produces good citizens who live by moral principles and Islamic values, ensuring that in the end, the teachings of Islam are applied in all aspects of our lives.”

Iqbal expressed his belief that when the bill is passed into law, “the Bangsamoro will surely produce graduates who are competitive locally and globally by having a solid understanding of Islam and the modern world.”

“I may not stay long in office or in this lifetime to see this fully succeed, but if we are able to pass this bill into law, I could rest in certainty that I did not fail the Bangsamoro people; I did not fail my religion, and I did not fail my Ummah.  Truly, if the Qur’an is studied with a different perspective, it is clear that it places a high value to gaining knowledge and education,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal appealed to his fellow Members of the BTA Parliament “for the immediate passage of this bill” even as he said, “for triumph to be possible, the action for change must come from within.”