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American Madrassahs

Reader comment on item: A Madrassah in Bridgeview, Illinois

Submitted by Pat (United States), Jun 20, 2005 at 15:57

The word madrassah conjures up a vision of children learning Arabic and reciting the Koran and not much else. This article, while disturbing in some areas, was not totally hopeless.
As the product of a Catholic education, I found most of the restrictions on the students to be on a par with what I experienced in the 1960s and early 70s. We wore uniforms, attended daily religion classes, and had codes of conduct. More disturbing was the idea that other subjects were taught through an Islamic lens. If Romeo and Juliet was reduced to Islamic terms, then what about American history? Religion never entered even our world history classes, except as a footnote. How is world history taught in the madrassah, or is it taught at all?
The family that fled to the UAE after 9/11 stayed for about a year before returning to the US. They said the UAE was "not as Muslim as we thought". There were a lot of Western influences even in the UAE and they missed their American relatives. This left me wondering what, exactly, they were looking for. Do they want to be accepted or left alone? Are they willing to accept other Americans who are not Muslim? Are they willing to support America when it is under attack or are their sympathies with Islamists?
The problem is Muslims want to live in the West without becoming Westernized and that may prove impossible. Living in America requires a commitment to freedom for others as well as for yourself. When you fail to condemn those who perpetrate atrocities such as 9/11, you shouldn't feel hurt that others look at you with distrust. When jihadists set up shop in your mosque and you keep silent, who can help but question your commitment to this country? This leads to the final question: if you don't believe in human freedom then why are you here?
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