Islam: Schooling America

From the January 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Is radical Islam courting young Americans in public schools and universities? In many parts of the United States, that appears to be the case.

Some parents have been shocked by the assignments brought home by their children. In some public schools, students have been instructed to build models of a Muslim mosque, journal their thoughts about Islam as they imagine themselves marching off to fight in a holy war, or explain why people might be attracted to Islam.

These assignments were taken from a seventh-grade social studies textbook, Across the Centuries, published by Houghton Mifflin, which has substantial input from the Council on Islamic Education, and has aroused concern among other religious groups because of its blatant Islamic bias. While most textbooks carefully substitute references to “Jesus Christ” with “Jesus of Nazareth,” statements in this one convey Islamic religious beliefs as historical facts: For example, “The Quran is the final revelation, just as Muhammad is the final prophet” and “Ramadan is a holy time, because in this month Muhammad received his first message from Allah.” In general, Christianity is portrayed in a critical manner while Islam is emphasized positively. Jihad, the Muslim word for “sacred war,” is even defined in the book as a fight “to do one’s best to resist temptation and overcome evil.”

The Council on Islamic Education also provides its booklet Muslim Holidays to teachers. Four thousand nationwide have reportedly used it (Religion News Service; Oct. 6, 2004).

Nationwide, educators are using Muslim children to present public-school students with information and demonstrations on Islamic rites and beliefs surrounding Ramadan, Islam’s fall holy month. Ramadan is making more appearances in public schools “thanks to a series of new teacher training initiatives, an increased fascination with Islam and the assurance that schools, if careful, can educate impressionable children about religion without crossing a constitutional line” (Religion News Service, op. cit.).

The Arabic Language Institute Foundation advocates making Arabic as prevalent in North American high schools as Spanish, German or French. “Knowledge of Arabic can then help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay”—because it is the language of the Koran, its website states (www.hadi.org/ALIF).

The Koran places a responsibility on believers to spread the message of Islam, a concept called dawa. One Islamic network’s website (containing hundreds of dawa tips) points out, “Students are routinely exposed in their classroom to new information and opinions; hence they tend to be more receptive to new beliefs and ideas. Schools are therefore fertile grounds where the seeds of Islam can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students. Muslim students should take ample advantage of this opportunity and present to their schoolmates the beautiful beliefs of Islam” (www.dawanet.com).

“This is a total perversion of the American public space, a blatant effort to suborn it to serve Islamic missionary purposes,” said Daniel Pipes, commentator on Middle Eastern issues (FrontPageMagazine.com, Nov. 24, 2004).

Muslim individuals and organizations, by “educating” youths about Islam and describing it in positive terms, want to erase Islam’s association with terrorism and create a culture that cozies up to it.