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Islam must adapt to Modernity

Reader comment on item: Troubles at Islamic Schools in the West
in response to reader comment: be careful, Tim...

Submitted by Monte Gardner (United States), Jun 11, 2007 at 17:00

I agree with Tim. Modern humanity, including the US has come a long way through much conflict and compromise to arrive at the point where many different types of people can live coexist peacefully. As part of this progression, we've had to leave behind some negative things that were not conducive to that peaceful coexistence. In some cases, this 'leaving behind' occured gradually and relatively peacefully as was the case with the Black Civil Rights movement of the 60's, the womens equality movement in the early 1900's, and the collapse of communism around 1990. In other cases, these ideas had to be defeated suddenly and violently. Naziism, Militant Japanese Shintoism, Facism, Slavery etc... were all ideas that by their very nature could never coexist in peace with Democracy.

In the case of Slavery, Abraham Lincoln summed it up well when he stated, roughly " A house divided against itself cannot stand. I do not believe our country can continue to exist half slave and half free. Either it must become all of one thing or all of the other.". Debby, we welcome the Muslim world to join with us in this progress I spoke of. However, you must realize that their are aspects of the Islamic political system that are just as dangerous and incompatible with Democracy as Slavery was in its day. Thus, the governments of the world cannot exist 'half democratic and half Islamic' they must become 'all of one thing or all of another'. If Islam wishes to be part of the modern world, then it must deeply reform itself. This reform must begin, as any solution must, by admitting there is a real problem. Muslim leaders, including school administrators, must then take serious steps to address these problems.

I think this situation with the books is a great example of the problem with Islamic reform. Based on the articles linked to here, it sounds as if the current administrator sincerely does not want to teach bigotry and Arab supremacism. However, this action of merely tearing out a few pages of a school textbook published by the Wahabi religious establishment is like putting a bandaid on a bleeding gun-shot wound. The leadership of this school has not faced up to the magnitude of the problem. They have convinced themselves that just a few minor adjustments will fix everything and that criticism of their obvious problems is merely "Islamophobic bigotry".

Here's what I suggest is needed in this case and in the case of other such schools:
1. An immediate end to any funding coming out of Saudi Arabia (government or private). There is simply too much hatred and intolerance in those institutions. Lets remember the phrase "He who pays the fiddler, calls the tune".
2. A comprehensive review of all textbooks with a reall willingness to remove those textbooks that teach arrogance, resentment, hate, bigotry, violent Jihad, racism or Arab historical revision (Mecca was always the center of the world etc.).
3. Thourough screening of potential employees (teachers or others) with a reall willingness to exclude those who teach any of the formerly mentioned problematic ideas.
4. More openness and integration. Rather then having children bunker down inside the protective walls of the Maddrassa, such schools should take children on frequent field trips to expose them to aspects of the culture around them, including the non-muslim culture. Muslim children in the DC area should be taken to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and told about the Civil War. Brittish children should learn the history of Brittain and be similarly exposed to its culture and landmarks.
5. A reduction in harsh literal Koranic interpretations. Children should be encouraged to think openly and even ask questions about the Koran. In particular, the practice of requiring children to spend long hours,months, sometimes even years, engaged in brute force memorization of large sections of the Koran as part of the curriculum needs to end.

Submitting....

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