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

The only way to dispel the misconceptions about Islam is to study the religion fervently and do a comparative analysis

Faiza Iqbal October 09, 2016
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 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 necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Allah Rakha | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend The mutual understanding should be that education should remain secular, and no religion should be taught in schools. Whether convent, whether any Public/Private schools. Religion being taught in schools is same as bringing Banks to work in an Islamic way, Christian way and what not. Similarly, army should have separate Christian regiments, Muslim regiments, Sikhs regiments..etc. This is nuisance..Religion is a personal matter and a personal choice and it should be kept that way only. No need to profess it in schools, university etc. Everything in this world, be it nature, flora, fauna, economy, markets, banks, army, governments (except few), language, mountains, rivers, oceans.. every darn thing is secular in nature.. but we humans tend to find religion even in colors, clothing, cultures, places, communities and where ever we can try fit this 'Religion' word.
Michelle Edmisten | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend 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!
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