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The teaching of Islam in California middle schools

Reader comment on item: Spreading Islam in American Public Schools

Submitted by Razly Miles (United States), Dec 22, 2004 at 16:30

My son who is 12 is attending the 7th grade in New West Charter Middle School in West Los Angeles (see: www.newwestcharter.org). One day he came home with a hand-out from his Language Arts teacher. The article is describing a personal experience of a young woman who converted to Islam from Christianity. I was shocked to read the article. Beside the fact that there are spelling and grammar mistakes, it is aimed to convince people that converting to Islam is the best thing for them. Here is a link to it:
http://www.islamicgarden.com/article1024.html (I also pasted the article below)

I asked my son in what connection this article was given to the class, and he told me that the class is learning how to write an autobiography in Language Arts, and this was the example the teacher gave them as to what format to use. I asked him if she told them why this particular article was chosen by her to be given as an example for autobiography. He told me that she just read it in class and told them to follow it as an example.

Due to the article's religious nature and the message it relates, I didn't feel it was appropriate to present it in a public school classroom. I am concerned that children can be influenced by an article like that. I thought that the teacher may had a hidden agenda.

I called the Principal and told her of my concerns. She asked me to give her a copy of the article.

I also spoke to the teacher who claimed that she didn't have any hidden agenda, and told me that the school correlates its Social Studies with the Language Arts studies. Since the kids are going to learn about Islam later on as part of the Social Studies curriculum, she didn't see any harm in using this particular article to teach them how to write autobiography. Any argument I had with her about the inappropriate nature of the article, didn't help. She just didn't see my point.

Later, I spoke to the Principal again. She told me that although she personally wouldn't choose an article like that to teach autobiography, she didn't see where the teacher erred. Her opinion was that the article is within the California Department of Education guidelines.

My Road To Al-Islam

I came from an average American home growing up. I was a normal child with a normal family life. I grew up in a Christian home, attended Sunday school, and when I was older, helped with needs around the church. When I was in the third grade and about six years old, I decided that I didn't want to go to church anymore. I explained my feelings to my mom who accepted my choice and allowed me to stop going to church. Even as a small child, the trinity and God having a biological son didn't sit right with me, or even sound right.

When I was in middle school, I decided that I needed a new relationship with God and started going to church with my best friend whose stepdad was the pastor of the church. Her church was not about religion, but about boys and how good you looked. But this seems to be the trend today amongst some sects of the Christian church. Women there dressed up like a show to get attention from men, not to worship the Creator. This made me upset and displeased so I left church again.

I still prayed and asked God to guide me to His truth, and to accept it when I found it or it found me. When I started high school, I decided to attend church again after falling in with the wrong group of friends who used to steal cars, etc. I questioned my local pastor on different chapters I read in the Bible and asked why certain things contradict others. I was left with more questions, and answers that were themselves questions.

A year later, I was home cooking dinner when my uncle come over and told me to get dressed because he was taking me somewhere. He took me to a place that I had never noticed before, a small building near a high school that some of my friends went to. Pointing to three women dressed in balck, he told me to go through some doors and downstairs where his wife would be waiting for me. So I did what he said and went down the stairs.

Once there, I began to look around and saw only seven women in the room. But there was a feeling that over took my body, a feeling of belonging and an awakining of my soul for the first time. I met my uncle's wife who handed me a white scarf and told me I would have to cover my head with it. So I remember giving her a funny look and putting it on. I asked her why I had to cover my head. And she gave me a simple answer: "This is the way Muslim women dress, and out of respect, you should do it also."

That night I met many women who were so very nice and answered many questions I might have thought of but didn't. About an hour after being there, I heard a man's voice come over the speakers. I could not make out what he was saying, but all the women where running to get in line. My aunt told me that they where forming a prayer line to pray the sunset prayer (called maghrib in Arabic.) I stood there in awe watching them; never had I seen any person pray in this manner. All these people from different backgrounds and different parts of the world were all praying together, falling on their faces in prayer.

When my uncle was taking me home, he asked me what I thought. I looked at him, not knowing anything about Islam, and said this is what I was searching for, what I want. I took my shahadah (testimony of faith) two weeks later. I have been Muslim for five years now, and it's the best thing I have ever done.

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