Parents in Revere, Massachusetts are understandably upset over the way Islam is being taught during a course in history.
Some parents in Revere were angry when they learned students were being taught about Islam and the Muslim religion.
“No religion should be taught at school. In their paper it says Allah is their only God. That’s insulting to me as a Christian who believes in just Jesus only,” said Anthony Giannino.
A section of the textbook describing the beliefs of Muslims says, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.”
Giannino immediately pulled his son out of the classroom.
“We don’t believe in Allah. I don’t believe in my son learning about this here,” he said. “If my son was from another country and came here, he would have been catered to. But where he’s not being catered to, they give him an F.”
Read the original story here.
History is no doubt a subject for academic pursuit, and no history lesson would be complete without mention of the various religious belief systems that have shaped history around the world. But when the subject matter deviates from history to theology, it crosses the line. In Massachusetts, the textbook being used deviates into indoctrination, as do many texts around the country. The text declared there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, the first step to becoming a Muslim. Herein is the danger: This phrase is known as the shahada, the Islamic confession of faith, by which one officially becomes a Muslim upon uttering the confession. School children, unbeknown to them, have confessed to be a Muslim simply by having their teacher recite the shahada aloud in class as part of a history or cultural studies program.
I wonder if Christianity is given the same treatment with the teacher having the students repeat the sinner’s prayer with her/him.
The problem is compounded by the fact that major textbook publishers have Muslim scholars on their editorial boards. This in itself should not be problematic, for who knows better about Islam than a Muslim scholar. The problem arises when such scholars go to great lengths to distort or gloss over the rather unsavory aspects of Islam’s past, Muhammad’s behavior, and a great number of verses in the Quran which paint Islam as a supremacist ideology bent on subjecting the world to it’s ideology. Such editorial boards have such a naive understanding of Islam, they will believe anything their Islamic representative tells them. This is not only unfortunate, but dangerous.
Mark Durie puts it well why non-Muslims must study Islam for themselves and not rely on Islamic scholars to tell us what they want us to know about Islam, all the while hiding the less palatable aspects of Islam. From his book “The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude, and Freedom”
Misinformation about Islam is a constant issue for non-Muslims. A report in the Herald Sun, a major Melbourne daily newspaper, was published on August 8, 2005 stating that the senior Muslim Imam of Victoria, Sheikh Fehmi (subsequently appointed as Australia’s mufti) reassured non-Muslims in Victoria that Muslims wish only to live in peace with their non-Muslim neighbours:
‘Muslims live cheerfully and happily with all denominations,’ Sheik Fehmi said. ‘This is what Islam is. The Prophet has lived among Jews and Christians. In many parts of the world Muslims, Jews and Christians are living happily.’
Who would not applaud Sheikh Fehmi’s desire for people of different faiths to live together in harmony?The problem arises when he appeals to Muhammad’s example as the basis for non-Muslims to have confidence, that Muslim neighbours represent no threat to peaceful co-existence. Although there was a time when Muhammad lived peacefully alongside non Muslims, large sections of Muhammad’s biographies deal with periods when he was embattled with his non-Muslim Jewish neighbours. Muhammad ordered assassinations of women and old men, oversaw a mass decapitation and enslavement of hundreds of his Jewish neighbours. This darker material Sheikh Fehmi could not fail to be familiar with, as these victories of Islam over the Jews of Arabia are as well-known to Muslim children as Joshua’s conquest of Jericho has been to Sunday School children.
How then are Fehmi’s non-Muslim, fellow Victorians to understand what he means by his reassurances that they can have nothing to worry about, because Islam takes Muhammad as its example? Should non-Muslims just regard this as propaganda, or is it to be understood as a threat?
If a non-Muslim were to have written in response to Sheikh Fehmi’s comment in the Herald Sun, pointing out Muhammad’s less than happy relationships with his non-Muslim neighbours, how could this be done without sounding like incitement of interfaith conflict and a rejection of Fehmi’s apparently moderate and peaceful stance? By relying on acceptance of the excellence of Muhammad’s example as a condition of interfaith harmony, Sheikh Fehmi’s words serve to lock up the truth about Muhammad even more tightly in the dark box of ignorance.
These are not easy subjects to deal with, but deal with them we must, and one of the keys to a free and frank conversation with Muslims about such matters of importance is that non-Muslims must study Islam for themselves. They cannot rely on Muslim spokespeople as their only source of information on Islam. The same can be said for Muslims: they also should not rely on secondary sources, not even on Islamic clerics, to understand their faith.