An Islamic school in Virginia, the Islamic Saudi Academy, has been a concern for years because of its ties to the Saudi government. That is not the half of it: The school's textbooks are known to be intolerant and divisive, and a growing concern with Islam in the west has led to a revision of the textbooks.
The Northern Virginia school recently developed new Islamic studies textbooks, but there are still serious concerns.
Nearly 900 children from K to 12 attend this school, which teaches a controversial form of Islam,Wahhabism. After a 2008 congressional report called portions of the books troubling, the school worked on revisions that address women's head coverings and what Muslims should think about people who practice other religions.
School officials say the revisions are part of an overall school effort to promote "universal values of tolerance and kindness". Do they believe this or say this? Let's look at the facts.
In 2008, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report mentioning their school's textbooks and pointed out several troubling passages. One passage stated that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and people who change their religion from Islam to another one.
Students were also taught, up until last year, that "the Jews conspired against Islam and its people."
I know of not one Christian or Jewish school that teaches the murder of adulterers and converts in their textbooks for children, and if any school ever tried to do that, it would be on the news in a flash, people would be outraged, and the public outcry formidable.
Does anyone else almost feel like this is surreal, as if what you are reading is too outrageous to really be happening?
They had textbooks that said it was ok to kill adulterers and converts? In America? In 2008? In books for children? And they got away with this up until now, and have in fact been teaching this since the early eighties?
The academy's books now revise and delete certain words and passages that continue to exist in the books used in schools in Saudi Arabia. Yes, Saudi Arabia, the country we have such friendly relations with. The books used in Saudi Arabia say women must cover their face and body, now these US textbooks only insist women cover up their bodies. Words such as "kaffir," meaning "infidel," have been replaced with "non-Muslim."
Despite the desire to teach their new universal values of tolerance and kindness, other parts of the textbooks continue to be extremely disturbing. Christian and Jewish scholars are frowned upon for "rejecting the truth of Islam".
"Scholars of the People of the Book (i.e., Christians and Jews) know that Islam is the true path because they find it in their books. But they shy away out of ignorance and stubbornness. And God knows their deeds and will judge them."
The passage in the textbook is defended by the school's director. He says it isno different from the First Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me."
Oh, my. No, this is not the same thing. One of the women who contributes to this website went to Catholic school and now her nephew goes to a local Catholic high school. I asked her about this. Catholic school textbooks do not contain any passsages or teachings that suggest that "god knows their deeds and will judge them" (people who are not Catholic).
That passage is deeply disturbing, and I believe it is abusive to teach a lesson like that to a kid of any age. Teaching them that god will "know their deeds" and "will judge them" is inappropriate enough, allowing it to be taught to kids in an American classroom is almost beyond all comprehension.
Last year, the school's director, Abdalla al-Shabnan, failed to report a suspected case of child sexual abuse; he was convicted and is no longer the director. This is not a surprise, as many Muslims desire Sharia Court and do not believe they should air family problems, but should be allowed to address these concerns on their own, outside of US law. Abuse is seen as a family matter, as well as a religious matter, that should be taken up in their own community. While this is one incident, it shows the concerns surrounding the continued push, on behalf of many Muslims, to isolate their young–as well as their whole communities–from our overall culture.
In the name of cultural diversity, they argue their right to live apart from the overall society, to submit to their own authority and not the authority of our law, and believe the US is obligated to accept even the abusive and intolerant beliefs and practices of their religion-culture. This school, and its books, have been in existance for over a decade.
This should have been addressed years ago. The US should be well beyond something as backward as teaching the murder of adulterers in children's schools. We cannot say that we are making progress in human rights and societal standards in this country, when there are classrooms teaching kids that the murder of converts away from a religion is acceptable.
The murder of "immoral" people is not considered to be an appropriate value to be taught to children in the educational system.
When our country reaches a new standard for human rights, we expect that progress to be made across all groups and sub-cultures; it is expected to be codifed into law for all human beings, not some of them. That is how a civilization advances, and humanity is constantly caught up in that ever forward-moving evolution toward higher levels of awareness and understanding.
Humanity cannot evolve if large populations are excused from progress in the name of diversity.