SANAA - Despite political and security unrest, Yemen is becoming a favorite destination for foreign students seeking to study Islam.
I feel home here, Abdel-Rahman, an Indonesian student who studies at the School of Thought in Hadramaut, told OnIslam.net.
I'm studying in Hadramaut because it is the source of knowledge which is spread all over Indonesia.
This is why most students prefer to come here to study, because we feel comfortable.
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The Indonesian student said he came to Yemen to study Islam despite warnings from his embassy about the political and security unrest in Yemen.
We share the same vision of Islam. We are amongst our brothers, he said.
Yemen is my adoptive country in a wayâ¦I cannot imagine ever leaving.
There are 1,800 registered Indonesian students in Yemen, according to the Indonesian embassy.
Foreign students seeking religious studies are spread all over Yemen in centers as Dar al-Hadeeth in the northern province of Sa'ada, which is run by Salafis, or Imam University in the capital Sanaa.
However, Hadramaut in southern Yemen is taking the lion's shares of overseas students, especially those coming from the Far East.
"The majority of our students are studying in Hadramaut, an Indonesian diplomat told OnIslam.net.
The place is calm. Students who were studying outside Hadramaut had been asked to leave the country during the crisis.
Yemeni officials say that foreign students are studying the true moderate teachings of Islam.
The Dar al Mustafa curriculum teaches moderation and the proper image of Islam that were distorted by some misinterpretations, Zaid bin Yahya, executive director of the Dar al Mustafa for Islamic Studies in Tarim, told OnIslam.net.
This is why all the preachers and graduates of Dar al Mustafa follow a path of moderation and reject all false practices and radical ideas."
Sheikh Hassan al-Sheikh, undersecretary of the ministry of endowments and guidance, agrees.
He told OnIslam.net that most educational courses, whether they were in Hadramaut or other provinces, were directly supervised by the ministry to spread the concepts of moderation, especially in the elementary classes.
Classes were teaching young students subjects "that were commensurate with their age so they would not be influenced by radical thinkers who only believed in violence when dealing with national affairs, he said.
They (radical thinkers) have damaged the reputation of Islam and Muslims.
Yemeni scholars dismiss Western worries that Islamic schools in Yemen were a breeding ground for extremism.
Yemen has been teaching Islam to the word for over millennia, Sheikh Mohamed Ali Iryani, an Imam in Mukalla, told OnIslam.net.
Our people were the first to receive the teachings of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him).
Our duties lie in spreading his message. It is our best weapon against those who try to pervert our religion and turn it into something violent and dark.
Hamoud al-Itar, the former Minister of Endowment and Preacher, echoes a similar opinion.
Yemen schools have moderate views, he said.We shouldn't be concerned over the radicalization of foreign students. Those who fight with Al-Qaeda have been recruited outside Yemen."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net