Why is it unacceptable for an American seventh grader to learn about Islam?

Published: October 9, 2016
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Islam, generally in the West, conjures up images of negative connotations like terrorist attacks and indiscriminate killing.

I can sit at my computer and read the news about what is happening in a remote shipping village in Australia, or find out about the latest political gaffe in Brazil or discover the new ‘Pineapple Pen’ phenomenon sweeping Japan, all at the convenient click of a button. 

Globalisation and the overreaching powers of the internet have made all this possible and stuffed us with information overload. The ability to learn about new cultures, inventions and policies is boundless and never-ending. However, the ability to soak all this knowledge must be matched by a desire to learn. If ignorance, hatred and bigotry block the path to knowledge then globalisation and its benefits cease to exist at all.

Islam, generally in the West, conjures up images of negative connotations like terrorist attacks and indiscriminate killing. Thanks to a fiercely prejudiced media that plays on peoples fears and exacerbates them. Mentioning anything even remotely Islamic can get Muslims into a whole lot of trouble like being forcibly removed from a plane for speaking Arabic or even sent home from school for making a clock resembling a time bomb.

What is most worrying is when the war against Islam is against something as innocuous as a seventh grade school textbook. This week a Tennessee mother was outraged when her daughter started learning about Islam at her school. Although her daughter opted out of those lessons in which Islam was specifically taught, she received zero marks for refusing to do any of the work assigned to her.

The mother, Michelle Edmisten, then took her moral ‘crusade’ (as the Huffington Post put it) to the Board of Education where she rallied the masses to stand up and ‘take back our families, schools and country’.

My question to Miss Edmisten is: what exactly are you taking back? Diversity? Globalisation? Common sense? How does teaching Islam mean America is devoid of Christian values? People’s irrational fear and boneheadedness never fails to amuse.

The only way to dispel the misconceptions about Islam is to study the religion fervently and carry out a comparative analysis. Learning about it in depth removes preconceived notions about Islam’s predilection towards violence. It also shows that there is a link between all three Abrahamic religions, which cannot be ignored in favour of a purely Judeo-Christian alliance.

A civilised society that thrives on seeking knowledge cannot pick and choose which information it wants to deprive its citizens of. If we are living in this heavily interconnected world, then we will need to make greater efforts at promoting diversity, tolerance and a deeper understanding of people that goes beyond what someone is blaring out the television.

The same logic also applies to Muslim countries which refuse to teach about Christianity or Judaism in schools out of an irrational fear of conversion. The only way barriers can be broken down is by finding some common ground and mutual understanding. This world is increasingly becoming more populous and we will all rub shoulders with individuals from all kinds of backgrounds.

It is therefore imperative that we make the short time we have on this planet more amenable to everyone and not destroy our future generations understanding of this world.

Faiza Iqbal

Faiza Iqbal

A law graduate from King's College, London Nottingham Law School. Having worked at Mandviwalla & Zafar as an Associate, she now writes freelance articles and is trying to qualify as a barrister in Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • KlingOn2K

    Why doesn’t the Islamic world show up the rest of the world by teaching about other religions in their own nations? Wouldn’t that show the way for the rest of us? How did the author conclude that the world doesn’t know about Islam? Maybe it already does.Recommend

  • Abdurahaman

    Religious scriptures contain a lot of violence and hatred. It’s not a good thing to expose children with it. Brainwashing children with a diluted version of Islam is not going to foster tolerance either. Once old enough they can read the Quran, Hadith and Sira for themselves in stead of a few pre-selected texts on love and peace.Recommend

  • Milind A

    The mother was right… Why should religion be forced on others? Why doesn’t the writer start a moral crusade to include other religions in Islamic countries including Pakistan?

    And its not a prejudiced media that plays on people’s fear on Islam.Recommend

  • vinsin

    You forgot to mention other things about Islam in west – Jihad, demand for Sharia, opposition to human rights and secularism, demand for Sharia laws, welfare Jihad, homophobia, demand for slavery to made legal, ban on other religion and religions places, against freedom of religion, speech and expression, demand for apostasy, polygamy etc. People’s fear are never irrational.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I support the mother and her stand……….religion should be kept out of schools.
    Your argument that because Islam is seen in a negative light, it is necessary to teach it to correct the perception, is flawed. If the perception has to be corrected the ‘ negative aspect ‘ has to removed at its source.Recommend

  • Citizen

    I agree with the core message however any incident that happens in more secular and liberal countries and we start pointing fingers at them while in our home countries we do not even touch the surface of such values. In fact we accept the discrimination as the norm. The same people who will point fingers will be extremely insecure and protest against any studies of other religions for their children. More than that most of us very stupidly believe that our religion is superior when that thought itself undermines our religion!Recommend

  • Full force of KARMA

    A kids behaviour is a reflection of the teaching kid receives in home ans school.

    Irrespective of what Muslims say of Islam being a peaceful religion; the current world and the past of Muslims have only reflected Jihadi instincts; suicide bombers; killings; murderers; ill will against other religions; no respect to any other religion; no respect to diversity; non integration; forceful conversions by barbaric murderes like bin qasim aurangazeb and this forecful conversion business continues around the world even today with examples plentiful and muslims’ habitual task of increasing their population for religious propagation and then persecution of local people is all too common almost every where seen for example what muslims did with Kashmiri Pandits etc.

    Karma is returning back its due with interest to Muslims for their barbarisms using Islam as weapon. And the rule of nature is you will have to “suffer”. There are no short cuts when you are at receiving end of Karma. For subcontinent Muslims there is escape by returning back to the original roots of Sanatana Dharma or popularly known as Hinduism from where you got forcibly converted by some of the barbarians.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Here is why:

    For those who are not “the People of the Book,” such as Hindus and atheists, there is very little tolerance to be found once Islam establishes political superiority. The Quran tells Muslims to fight in the way of God until religion is only for God. The conquered populations face death if they do not establish regular prayer and charity in their tradition (ie. the pillars of Islam).

    If tolerance simply means discouraging the mass slaughter of those of a different faith, then today’s practice of Islam generally meets this standard more often than not. But, if tolerance means allowing people of other faiths the same religious liberties that Muslims enjoy, then Islam is fundamentally the most intolerant religion under the sun.Recommend

  • Rationalist

    What good will come to that child if she reads about islam?? Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    Your picture tells a million words. The way west sees Islam is through blind fold. They cannot say the truth out of fear being labelled islamopobe. West has been generous to muslims. They have been given free tickets to west in the guise of refugees. Stop cribbing. No rich Muslim nation has done for poor muslims a fraction of what west has done for you.Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    Sure, teach the kids
    Recommend

  • HZR

    This is all very nice to read and fulminate.Honestly how many Islamic nations teach about other religions before you can criticize.Zakir Naik under the guise of comparative religion was denigrating Hindus in their country!!Recommend

  • Sami

    As a Pakistani we have no moral values to talk about what Americans want. When the world ask us that why Blasphemy laws and Ordinance XX is practiced in Pakistan then we answer that it is our internal matter.
    So I think it is the internal matter of Americans. Let them be what they want to be.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Yes, it is time that children in Pakistan are taught about other religions!
    Courses dealing with the Christian, Hindu, Jewish and far eastern religions among others should be compulsory!Recommend

  • cheebz

    people who are comparing West with Pakistan or muslim countries.. firstly none-of the muslim countries claim to be champion or ideal countries to follow.. western countries claim to hold justice and morals… atleast they should stop claiming that, then we can stop arguing on topics. And no West has not been generous to muslims, they have looted muslims for over 2 centuries. Muslims have contributed to development of the west in the past 30-40 years, where as each time western country colonised any place, they ended up looting, destroying and shifting all their wealth. so we have nothing be upset when we challenge them at their own claims of being upright and just!Recommend

  • Clamdigger63

    When it’s acceptable for children in Islamic countries to learn about Christianity.Recommend

  • Zarqawi

    You are delusional.
    No one is afraid of being called an Islamophobe in the West. Trump openly abuses Muslims, Western media is maligning Islam all the time.
    West has not been generous to Muslims in any way. Invasions and Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc and millions brutally killed and economic exploitation that continues till now. West behaves like a devil to the Muslims.
    As far as refugees are concerned its the result of their imperialistic policies.

    West has brought destruction and misery to the Islamic world. Get your facts right.Recommend

  • Zarqawi

    what nonsense. Islam teaches peace.Recommend

  • Test Test

    The west have been very tolerant about muslims. Tell me one country where Islam is the majority religion that does 1/10th what the west does. They invite muslims and muslims go about bombing them. Take whats happening in Germany. Germany welcomed 1 million refugees and in return they are being bombed. On the other hand, not a single Islamic nation is welcoming these refugees. That says a million words of whats the difference.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Would Pakistanis in their curriculum incorporate Hinduism,Judaism and Christianity without propagating hate,look at your own country before playing victimRecommend

  • SuperNeo™

    Answer of question is in question itself.
    Why is it unacceptable for an Muslim any grader to learn about Christianity , Hinduism etc…?

    Faiza Iqbal i live in US .trust me Muslims use islam get monetary benefits here only.Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    Why they have to read Muslims books. Even when they grow up.
    Something tha doesn’t inspire there parent’s now will not inspire them in future too.

    They themselves will see while growing up parent’s were right.Recommend

  • Sane

    It was never demanded as you say. Stop lies and propaganda. This is in India that Hindus want all religious minorities to practice Hinduism.Recommend

  • Sane

    Every country has its laws. Nobody is saying to change. Religious practices is the right for everyone till laws of the country are not challenged. How you take this perception.Recommend

  • Sane

    In Islam we respect all religions. We respect Moses (Peace be upon him) and Jesus (Peace be upon him) also including all messengers and prophets of ALLAH.Recommend

  • Sane

    Why don’t you start from your own house (India). Recommend

  • Zarqawi

    Yes. These Western countries present themselves as ideals of justice and freedom etc. They are not what they want the public to believe. We should stop falling for their propaganda.Recommend

  • SamSal

    No, the west sees Islam through what muslims in the west do!Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    lol, I remember his comment. This person thought Arab pagans pre-Islamic were Hindus?Recommend

  • Junaid

    I don’t think I would trust especially when you’re making lewd generalizations. Being born somewhere amounts to something now?Recommend

  • Junaid

    That’s your opinion he was. What he was doing isn’t any different many seminars, lecturers on religion. He did make good points on validity of Hindu idol worship, it’s not there in the religion. Ironic.Recommend

  • Junaid

    No they don’t, it usually when you don’t explain to young children. There’s plenty of normal people, shocking to your hindu sentiments extremists don’t make sizeable population within muslims.Recommend

  • Josephine

    Tolerance and understanding of others, obviously with someone who lives his fundamentalist mindset isn’t quiet demeaning?Recommend

  • Josephine

    To remove racism, people should give up their culture? I don’t see the wisdom in this.Recommend

  • Josephine

    Funny how this logic doesn’t apply Hindus. So would Karma before then? Speak for yourself.Recommend

  • Noman Hastings

    It’s someone scapegoating his religion’s abuses. I have watched Zakir Naik’s video, being critic and being abuse aren’t the same. Plenty of muslims countries do teach about other religions, Morroco, Turkey, Jordan, UAE, Malaysia, here a few.Recommend

  • Norman Castings

    Ironically, they do teach Christianity in Islamic country.Recommend

  • Norman Castings

    How many Hindu commentators would bring up India in their comment? Passive aggressive attitude is pathetically sad.Recommend

  • Norman Castings

    Why don’t apply that India first?Recommend

  • Rationalist

    For tolerance and understanding of others the secular moral science lectures are sufficient.. Recommend

  • RSS

    India should be exempt like usual?Recommend

  • Richard Brandon

    An intolerant and bigoted person is telling others of intolerance. Your first paragraph makes no sense, either it’s intolerant to other religion outside Abrahamic faiths or intolerant entirely? It seems someone’s caught with their pants down.

    I disagree, it’s Hinduism. The most ignorant and intolerant religion, that has no places for people who aren’t Indian in the religions. Threats, harassment and violence on minorities and the need to place their religion above others, Babri Mosque is fine example of this.Recommend

  • Junaid

    Yes, because force conversion, violence on minorities aren’t noted on Hinduism? Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    First part makes no sense. Second, could apply to Hinduism. Shows what class some people have.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Really? How much of this applicable to India? You still child labour, poverty, Hindu terrorists and you’re telling rest of the world about muslims? If your kind had any shame, why are brown nosing themselves with Arabs in Dubai? HYPOCRITE!Recommend

  • Sulfer

    On your profile. You’re from Germany? How are you Pakistani? Your argument is stupid as your fake name. How is Pakistan similar to US? US is member of UNSC and a country yaps about human rights, so it wouldn’t make sense to do this. It shows be an example of super useless country it is.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Plenty of Muslim country do, try Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon. The kick is Hindu education is full fantasy about religious fanaticism.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Karma is blind, but Indians namely Hindus are still stuck in the pot roast.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Why do Hindus have mental obsessions about Islam and try to lie so badly to belittle and then talk about peace and tolerance? Well it is prejudicial when you making blind accusation, notice Hinduism is never mention and ignored.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Would Indians? Eat your own words, there’s plenty of hate coming from Hinduism. Look at this website. Notice you didn’t say thing about your own kin.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Killing in the name of religion…..is not the culture of Islam, it is the culture of terrorists and when Muslims indulge in this they sully the good name of Islam. It is ‘ terrorism ‘ done for various reasons that has to be dug out and destroyed. Talking about how good Islam is in school will only fall on deaf ears without this happening.Recommend

  • Dilliwaalaa

    So let me inform you then. CBSE Board of education, the largest of its kind in India that sets education standards, does not have any curriculum of teaching any religion in schools. I was not educated in any religion at school but learnt about different religions, and my own, Hinduism, through my parents. Recommend

  • Dilliwaalaa

    You yourself are an example of hate and extremism. You convey so much hatred for Hindus just in the way you speak. Recommend

  • Urvashi

    That is a fine way to respect religions. Very unique.Recommend

  • Agha

    Even religious practices that infringe on individual human rights (as in the apostasy punishment of death) and freedom of expression (as in the blasphemy laws that limit criticism)? These kind of “religious practices” have no place in a modern world just because they are religious. Someone’s religious beliefs to kill homosexuals and apostates are not to be respected just because its their “internal” matter (as it certainly affects other people). They should be challenged and criticized (without the fear of being labeled an islamophobe i must say). So no, not all religious practices are a “right” for everyone.Recommend

  • Urvashi

    Unacceptable censoring of my mainland distorting it completely. I asked why so many temples were razed in the name of religion if all religions were respected. This is not becoming of you, Tribune. Why are you so insecure?Recommend

  • Parvez

    – Keeping religion out of school is not racism….it’s common sense.

    Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    I believe he was talking about practicality of removing the source? But since you have issues with verbal reasoning and IQ, you shouldn’t be preaching anywhere. Derailing argument is common method used by Indian trolls.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Veiled arguments again? I assume the Hindu self-righteousness, barbaric attitude than hiding behind duplicity and downright dishonesty is normal for you.Recommend

  • Roberto Carling

    Obviously, he’s talking about removing negative aspect. How would that work when it comes to racism? It’s silly and stupid not to teach about religion in this day and age. We’re not like you: you can’t put two things togatherRecommend

  • Jessica Hurtz

    It’s called bigotry. But that’s not what he was saying, you’re illogical argument of removing sources and God knows what.Recommend

  • Jessica Hurtz

    Keeping religion out of school, would be silly especially when people have values and tradition. I guess Indians such yourself don’t much values these days despite their obsession with their cultureRecommend

  • abc

    Really? Since when? How do you remove negative source from racism then? Do dark people all go white now? I don’t see the wisdom in this either.Recommend

  • Jeff

    Erm, so basically US should lecture others on Human rights and equality but not follow through? Recommend

  • Jeff

    Seems to skim on facts on Hinduvta violence and intolerance. It’s funny how people like him say peace, then this all website is full hate, incitement to violence comment.Recommend

  • Jim

    So why only tolerance for Islam?
    Why do Muslims demand everything so especially exclusive for them.Recommend

  • Amar

    We do not have a separate subject about any religion in India.
    In the general knowledge about what we learn about religions, we learn a lot of religions OBJECTIVELY. ie we learn the names of the leaders, origin dates, population, etc of every religion. Not whether it is right or wrong.
    The fact that you want people to learn exclusively about Islam being tolerant tells that you yourself are insecure about it.
    Children should themselves have interest and learn about religion then decide if it’s good or not.Recommend

  • Parvez
  • Tarak Vaakil

    That is why as ex-muslim from Persian Kurdistan I dislike u more than the arabs,,,,why dont we teach them what happened to my Persian ancestors,,,,,,eh oh no that would be bad now wouldn’t it,,,,,we certainly ask them to teach about black slavery,,,, Recommend

  • Tarak Vaakil

    u say any1 who calls jesus son of god should be killed for he/she commits shirk,,,,,,also u dis-respect UR FOREFATHERS RELIGION HINDUISM in islam don’t u :)Recommend

  • Tarak Vaakil

    as a iraqi kurd I thank America for getting rid of Saddam,,,,,he had made our lives miserableRecommend

  • Tarak Vaakil

    no they do not,,,,,,they teach jesus is not the son of god,,,,,,this takes out basis of ChristianityRecommend

  • Tarak Vaakil

    only in western countries do people respect u ,,,,ur fellow ummah brothers see u for what u are forcibly converted hindus who are onlu fit to clean toiletsRecommend

  • Tarak Vaakil

    no they are not,,,ur own fhindu foremothers were forced by turkic soldiers into islamRecommend

  • Parvez

    I clearly explained my point of view in my comment…….but it was cut down to just one line.
    I stand by my first comment because I believe that the problem must be addressed at the source and not window-dressed further down the line. ( I hope you understand what I am getting at ) ……..ET kindly allow my comment to go through as I am trying to make a valid point.Recommend

  • Josephine

    Islamophobe? So your argument is specific on muslims? No mention on Hinduism.Recommend

  • Bob

    why specifically temples? You’re not respecting others then?Recommend

  • Josephine

    I disagree, it’s skewed.Recommend

  • Junaid

    Thank you, apparently the hate comments made by Hindus on here are non-existent to you, only muslims seem to hateful because you have cognitive bias to Hindus.Recommend

  • Norman Castings

    Sorry, they do teach tenets of Christian, trinity.Recommend

  • Josephine

    Yes but any accusation can fall into any groups not specifically to muslims, it’s silly not lament and have ignorant opinion of people being narrow minded.Recommend

  • James

    Amazing how this doesn’t apply to Hindus? No comment on their hateful behaviour. Just proves you’re hateful hindus, who’s attacking muslims.Recommend

  • Junaid

    It’s fine to be labeled as phobe of other religions? What? I don’t agree, they’re people like you who’ll use liberty to target specific group. Just look at your argument, no mention of Hinduism hostile conduct such as beef eating.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    But your comment is specifically on Islamophobia not other religions which have issues with western liberty, heck even atheist states such as Japan and China have issues here. Why? They’re not realistic and they don’t work out. Look at US, gender equality isn’t still there. If anything you’ve proven, that people will use excuse to defame and create issues, the ones on chopping block is muslims. So I don’t agree, sorry.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Vaakil isn’t persian name. If you’re going to lie, lie better.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    He didn’t even write about Islam, which saying a lot about you. Please go troll elsewhere, doing Tantric Yoga. Maybe in million years you might become Buddha.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    No, secular state are known to marginalise people/Recommend

  • Junaid

    Oh, someone who has Hindu name and calls himself both Persian and Kurdish is telling me about Islam. History disagree, no point further discussing with poor excuse of human being.Recommend

  • Junaid

    Haha, you don’t know the difference between Kurdish and Persian.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    There’s two topic, one says there is and other says there isn’t. First decide than talk.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Haha, OK. So India finally has toilets.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Funny, how you don’t lash out on fellow kin on the same alleged conduct. Your example of hate and extremism. I like Junaid’s comment. Go Junaid!Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    lol, Persian now Iraqi Kurd?Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    I don’t agree.Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Does anyone trust you?Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Skewed comment on muslims, just proves you have some intolerance against muslims.Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Religion is taught, it’s in the CBSE curriculum, you’re lying to save face.Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Haha, history refutes it. Islam was mostly spread by Arab merchants, TOI had an article on this. Shocked hindu insecure mindset, for sure.Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Yes, the same could apply to Black, Hispanic and Asians? I’m not sure what you’re asking, people don’t learn or find some connection to muslims?Recommend

  • Tony Melrose

    Why specifically state Islamophobia? Why are you only posting negative stereotypes on Islam? If anything you’ve proven, people like you will use laws to abuse another religion, with closet extremists and fundamentalist mindset. I think western countries need review India’s human rights and start ordaining sanctions. It’s far worse to be abusive like this.Recommend