An Indiana middle school is receiving backlash for a teacher's assignment that put Sharia law in a positive light. In a lesson for 7th-graders at Highland Hills Middle School, students received a lesson that featured a woman who felt "very fortunate" that she lived under Sharia law.
In the lesson, the Muslim woman, Ahlima, defends her being fully veiled, which Sharia law requires. She says, "I understand that some foreigners see our dress as a way of keeping women from being equal, but I find Western women's clothing to be horribly immodest."
The assignment has led to backlash from many parents, who see the lesson as propaganda and a failure to tell the whole truth about Sharia law in Muslim societies.
Jon Baker, father of one of the children who received the assignment, said, "That document by itself, it's almost propaganda. If you read that, you would think everything's wonderful in that world."
Dean Hohl, another concerned parent, remarked:
The way that the worksheet is left would be like describing how effective Hitler was at nationalizing Germany and creating patriotism but leaving out that he slaughtered 6 million Jews. I'm just not OK with my daughter — or any child that age — leaving class with the understanding that anything about Sharia law is OK.
Hohl further commented, "Let's tell the whole truth. Let's help people understand what's really happening and what the rest of the world is like so when they are interacting with the rest of their global peer group, we can reduce the likelihood of conflict and misunderstanding."
The worksheet the assignment used was produced by Sharon Coletti, head of InspirED Educators, who defended the assignment. She remarked, "If I can shape something so that kids have to decide for themselves, once I get them involved in the situation, they never forget it. I want (students) to be patriotic. I want them to be problem-solvers."
Sharia law is widespread throughout the Muslim world and carries harsh punishments for certain crimes.
For example, in many Muslim countries, the crime of theft carries the punishment of amputation.
This punishment comes directly from the Quran, as Islam's holy book states, "Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done — a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise."
Sharia also allows for domestic abuse, calling on men to hit their wives in certain situations. The Quran states, "If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great."
In May 2016, Muhammad Khan Sherani, head of the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan, said that men are allowed to beat their wives. "If you want her to mend her ways, you should first advise her," he said. "If she refuses, stop talking to her, stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict."
The Council's report officially states, "A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires."