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Islamic Indoctrination in text

Reader comment on item: On New York's "Khalil Gibran International Academy"

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Jul 15, 2008 at 18:25

I looked up the text "Ahlan wa Sahlan" you linked to and was surprised to see how explicit the religious indoctrination aspect was in the book. The publisher has chapter 1 online so one can check it out directly. It ends with "an ornate caligraphic representation of the arabic phrase "In the name of God the Compassionate and Merciful".

Let's see a public primary school in the U.S. try get away with using a Christian or Jewish equivalent in their primary reader! The book includes explanations of what are ostensibly social conventions, which is probably a good thing. However, consider the following: "The second greeting below is one of the most common in the Arabic and Islamic worlds. It literally means 'peace be upon you' ... It is the obligation of one or more of the people present to respond audibly."

This seems innocent enough as an explanation of what is known as the "Islamic greeting" in Islamic literature (though it is used by all, not just muslims). But the word "obligation" stands out a bit. Is this the sort of description we would use in an English phrase book? Is it an OBLIGATION to respond when someone greets you? One might think -- yes, it is a social obligation of a sort, as it is considered rude not to reply, although one could think of many circumstances in which one would not.

But what might not occur is that this instruction is a specific Islamic religious obligation. The text is apparently slipping in sharia convention as if it were simple politeness. Here you'll find a discussion among muslims about the use of the greeting: http://muslimvillage.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t11745.html

Notice how its use and conventions are treated explicitly as religious in nature, and particularly the obligation to reply. In the course of this discussion these folks invoke at least three schools of jurisprudence (Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanafi), and one sharia manual (Reliance of the Traveller), three different Qur'anic texts, and several ahadith. The point is not that Muslims regard this as a religious greeting, but that the specific conventions being taught are religious conventions -- the pupil is being instructed to conform to religious obligations in the manner of reply.

Submitting....

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