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Monday, November 26, 2007

How to distinguish Islamist from non-Islamist schools

Progressive Muslim M. Zuhdi Jasser writes an article in Family Security Matters about the danger of Islamist schools in the United States, and he includes this guide to tell an Islamist school from a non-Islamist school:
1. How does the school teach American history and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? What is taught about the struggle of our founding fathers against theocracy? Is European Enlightenment ideology taught? Are students encouraged to learn from non-Muslim philosophers especially those who influenced our founding fathers and taught liberty and freedom?

2. Are students taught that sharia is only personal or that it also specifically guides governmental law? Does their answer change whether Muslims are a minority or a majority?

3. Do they view non-Islamic private and public schools as part of a culture of ‘immorality’ and decadence since they are not Islamicized or can non-Islamic schools be morally and equally virtuous?

4. Do they teach their children that ‘being American’ and being ‘free’ is about moral corruption or is being American and free about loving the nation in which they live and sharing equal status before the law regardless of faith tradition?

5. Is complete religious freedom a central part of faith and the practice of religion? In the Islamic school, how are children treated who refuse to participate in school faith practices?

6. Are the children taught Muslim exclusivism with regards to the attainment of paradise in the Hereafter? From that, are the children also taught that government and public institutions must thus be ‘Islamic’ in order for the community as a whole to be able to enter the gates of Heaven?

7. How are student discussions, debate, and intellectual discourses approached regarding American domestic and foreign policy? Do the teachers have a political agenda? Does that agenda demonstrate a dichotomy between Islamist interests and American interests?

8. Is the historical period of Muslim rule of Spain (Andalusia) taught in the context of the history of the world during the Middle Ages or is it looked upon as superior to current day American ideology even after the advances of the Enlightenment?

9. Is the pledge of allegiance administered every day at the beginning of the school day?
From what I can tell, many universities would score fairly poorly on these questions as well.