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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • RSS

    India should be exempt like usual?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

  • Urvashi

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

  • Parvez

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

    Recommend

  • 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

  • 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

  • Rohan

    There isn’t hate coming from Hinduism,prove it if you canRecommend

  • Parvez

    The very first comment was mine….this one is not.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Sorry, Josephine….but I failed to follow or understand your view point.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Thank you for that…..when I said religion should be kept out of school, I should have followed up with what you have said to make my comment more understandable.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Reading the first few lines is too hard? Poor you. Haha, should we trust someone who can’t read?Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    Look in the mirror, you might go blind or you might learn something.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    The same logic should apply to Hindus firsts, they seem have ridden the train for free. If anything, you proven Islamophobia is real and should be labelled.Recommend

  • Josephine

    That’s unfortunate, I never understood your point either neither did many. When we asked same point on racism, you tried to either change context of the question or play ignorant. No doubt you didn’t have a point.Recommend

  • Josephine

    No, your point was illogical and ignorant. You state defeating negative perception at the source, which was illogical and impractical. Now you’re hiding behind secular science to runaway from this. Sad.Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    One minute it was useless to bring religion because it fall on deaf ears and now its secularism that’s important. Talk about dishonesty. I still didn’t get explanation on removing from the source when it came other minorities and ethnic groups negative perception? How would you remove racism?Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    No said this except youRecommend

  • Norman Castings

    Several posters here are defaming Islam, if you haven’t notice this. One really question your intelligence but then again you didn’t read his point.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    I didn’t realise you have know someone for them to lie?Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    You don’t need to know someone to say they are a liar Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    And so was he. Stop changing the subject.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Read my comments slowly ,they’re in English then come back with a legitimate argumentRecommend

  • Norman Castings

    So was he.Recommend

  • Mooki

    There’s goes your defense on Hinduism being peaceful. Religious fanaticism.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    Still waiting. Answer my question, do people only lie to people they know? Gosh, so much desperation to runaway.Recommend

  • Bingo

    And? Who said he’s counter question wasn’t legitimate? When did you become authority when you’re defending most stupid argument on lying.Recommend

  • Sulfer

    It’s legitimate question, why do you need to know someone for them to lie?Recommend

  • Bob Chan

    No elaboration then? Because you’re lying.Recommend

  • Norman Castings

    What’s illegitimate about it? BTW, it’s was counter question not argument. GO ON PROVE IT!Recommend

  • Vinsin

    Here comes the silly Hindu logic, now everyone can’t read except you. When you failed to even to read his QUESTION not argument.Recommend

  • Sunel

    How about you answer his point, instead of running away,Recommend

  • abhi

    You don’t have any answer to my questions though.Recommend

  • Borough

    You didn’t answer anyone’s point? Should really be saying this? If so, just proves what liar you are? And this coming from someone teaching religious ethics? What does prove about Hinduism if you read comments here?Recommend

  • Salmond

    No you make no sense, that’s why no one agree with you.Recommend

  • Monkey God

    Yes, but the point was does secular state celebrate anything? Running away from your argument, damage control perhaps?Recommend

  • Rationalist

    Everyone is special..Recommend

  • abhi

    You are making assumptions here about my religion dear and also revealing your mindset in the process. I think it is you who needs to read about other religions. Please leave america alone they are doing far better than you.Recommend

  • Michelle Edmisten

    What the Huffington Post didn’t state is the fact that I am upset about our First Amendment rights being trampled on. It’s that simple. A child of any religion should not have to sit through indoctrination of another religion in which we find offense. Period. Yes I feel as Christians our rights have been taken but on this issue with my daughter at school it went above and beyond History and became indoctrination. My Constitutional rights state I do have a say! The school, county and state have shoved this down the throats of these kids until it has become too much. And I will continue to stand for my religious rights as an American Christian! Recommend