It is distressing to see that Tennessee school parents are getting involved in the current hate craze of Islamophobia. Not only are they cutting off our Constitution at the knees, they are horribly limiting what children can learn before the age of 18. – Let’s start with our numbering system. It is called Arabic numbers but actually arose from Hindu usage and gradually, through the Arabs, came west. Do we really want our children to go back to the clumsy Roman system and try to solve equations using numbers like MDCLIX?
And what are we to teach about our heroine Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for wanting to learn? Malala has inspired the world, but she remains a Muslim. Obviously, she does not believe the Taliban or any other violent group dictates behavior for all Muslims. Here is a letter to her from a seventh grade student in Cambridge, Maryland:
Justin: I would like to know how did you have the courage to stand to the United Nations? Also how far you are going to go for women’s rights in Pakistan? And if you had the chance to the Taliban’s leader would you try to show the good things that could come from women rights to learn? How would you help them make them make it right with the people of Pakistan?
Does Tennessee really want to discourage young people from thinking like that?
Those who fear their children will have a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ reaction to learning about Muslims and the Islamic faith should also realize how wide the knowledge is they are forbidding their children. – For one thing, the American colonies imported Islamic Africans as slaves and kept them in conditions we all consider cruel. Thus America has ALWAYS had Muslim citizens, even if they were counted as only 3/5ths of a person. Bits of Islam as well as bits of every other religion in Africa are right here.
Also, as embattled social studies teachers are trying to point out, you cannot understand the cultures of certain countries unless you include Islamic background. Say for instance, Spain – Spanish is commonly taught in schools, but it had Muslim rulers almost up to the time of Ferdinand and Isabella. Think about that! As a matter of fact, most European countries had Muslim contact from trading in the Levant. It is hard to find any country on the globe that does not have some kind of Muslim culture.
No nation, tribe, or cultural grouping can declare itself clean of tyrants, greed, wars, and just about every kind of infamy. Teaching tolerance is the only path to a peaceful future.