Should We Be Teaching Our Kids to Stand in the Shoes of a Muslim Warrior?





Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

"Become a Muslim warrior during the crusades or during an ancient jihad." Thus read the instructions for seventh graders in Islam: A Simulation of Islamic History and Culture, 610-1100, a three-week curriculum produced by Interaction Publishers, Inc. In classrooms across the United States, students who follow its directions find themselves fighting mock battles of jihad against"Christian crusaders" and other assorted"infidels." Upon gaining victory, our mock-Muslim warriors"Praise Allah."

Is this a legal activity in American public schools? Interaction says it merely urges students to"respect Islamic culture" through identification with Islam. But the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm based in Michigan, disagrees and last week filed a federal lawsuit to prohibit one school district, in Byron, California, from further using the Interaction materials on Islam.

The Interaction unit contains many other controversial elements. It has students adopt a Muslim name ("Abdallah,""Karima," etc.). It has them wear Islamic clothing: For girls this means a long-sleeved dress and the head covered by a scarf. Students unwilling to wear Islamic clothes must sit mutely in the back of the class, seemingly punished for remaining Westerners.
Interaction calls for many Islamic activities: taking off shoes, washing hands, sitting on prayer rugs, and practicing Arabic calligraphy.

Students study the Koran, recite from it, design a title page for it, and write verses of it on a banner. They act out Islam's Five Pillars of Faith, including giving zakat (Islamic alms) and going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. They also build a replica of the"sacred Kaaba" in Mecca or another holy building.

It goes on. Seventh graders adopt the speech of pious believers, greeting each other with"assalam aleikoom, fellow Muslims" and using phrases such as"God willing" and"Allah has power over all things."

They pronounce the militant Islamic war-cry, Allahu akbar ("God is great.") They must even adopt Muslim mannerisms:"Try a typical Muslim gesture where the right hand moves solemnly... across the heart to express sincerity."

In the same pious spirit, the curriculum presents matters of Islamic faith as historical fact. The Kaaba,"originally built by Adam," it announces,"was later rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ismail." Really? That is Islamic belief, not verifiable history. In the year 610, Interaction goes on,"while Prophet Muhammad meditated in a cave ... the angel Gabriel visited him" and revealed to him God's Message" (yes, that's Message with a capital"M.") The curriculum sometimes lapses into referring to"we" Muslims and even prompts students to ask if they should"worship Prophet Muhammad, God, or both."

The Thomas More Law Center is absolutely correct: This simulation blatantly contradicts Supreme Court rulings which permit public schools to teach about religion on condition that they do not promote it. Interaction openly promotes the Islamic faith, contrary to what a public school should do. As Richard Thompson of the center notes, the Byron school district" crossed way over the constitutional line when it coerced impressionable 12-year-olds to engage in particular religious rituals and worship, simulated or not."

Islam: A Simulation serves as a recruitment tool for Islam, for children adopting a Muslim persona during several weeks amounts to an invitation to them to convert to Islam. (One can't but wonder did John Walker Lindh take this course?) The educational establishment permits this infraction due to an impulse to privilege non-Western cultures over Western ones. It never, for example, would permit Christianity to be promoted in like fashion ("Become a Christian warrior during the crusades," for example.)

Militant Islamic lobbying groups want Islam taught as the true religion, not as an academic subject. They take advantage of this indulgence, exerting pressure on school systems and on textbook writers. Not surprisingly, Interaction Publishers thanks two militant Islamic organizations by name (the Islamic Education and Information Center and the Council of Islamic Education) for their"many suggestions."

Americans and other Westerners face a choice: They can insist that Islam, like other religions, be taught in schools objectively. Or, as is increasingly the case, they can permit true believers to design instruction materials about Islam that serve as a mechanism for proselytizing. The answer will substantially affect the future course of militant Islam in the West.




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Sam Spade - 1/3/2004

Like a phoenix Islam will rise always from the ashes


TheGrace - 1/13/2003

Salvation pardon peace life certitude mercy in Jesus/خلاص غفران سلام حياة يقين رحمة في المسيح
Warm welcome to Alnemat (TheGrace) Arabic Christian Internet Magazine, We love you! Please visit us at:
http://www.TheGrace.com
http://www.TheGrace.net
نحييكم بمحبة الله ونتأمل زياراتكم الكريمة لموقع النعمة /
موقع مجلة النعمة يقدم كلمة الله الكتاب المقدس الإنجيل رسالة السيد يسوع المسيح مجاناّ وقراءات مختارة تأملات مصيرية قصص واقعية شهادات شخصية ترانيم وأشعار ردود مؤكدة كتب بنّاءة مواقع مهمة Bible Readings in Arabic Studies Stories Testimonies Hymns and Poems Answers Books Links/Alnemat Journal Arabe Chrétien ( La Gràce ) La Revue Arabe sur Internet offrande La Sainte Bible ( Al-Injil ) L'Evangile de Jésus Christ gratuit /


TheGrace / النع& - 1/13/2003

Salvation pardon peace life certitude mercy in Jesus/خلاص غفران سلام حياة يقين رحمة في المسيح
Warm welcome to Alnemat (TheGrace) Arabic Christian Internet Magazine, We love you! Please visit us at:
http://www.TheGrace.com
http://www.TheGrace.net
نحييكم بمحبة الله ونتأمل زياراتكم الكريمة لموقع النعمة /
موقع مجلة النعمة يقدم كلمة الله الكتاب المقدس الإنجيل رسالة السيد يسوع المسيح مجاناّ وقراءات مختارة تأملات مصيرية قصص واقعية شهادات شخصية ترانيم وأشعار ردود مؤكدة كتب بنّاءة مواقع مهمة Bible Readings in Arabic Studies Stories Testimonies Hymns and Poems Answers Books Links/Alnemat Journal Arabe Chrétien ( La Gràce ) La Revue Arabe sur Internet offrande La Sainte Bible ( Al-Injil ) L'Evangile de Jésus Christ gratuit /


nyob - 12/12/2002

misspelled words, but good information.


Nick Mallory - 10/10/2002

I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
and just for that one moment i could be you
i wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
you'd know what a drag it is to see you

so the incomparable Mr. Dylan sang in positively fourth street. I for one would not wish to stand in these particular shoes, as they might well be full of explosives, worn by a terrorist would be mass murderer on a jumbo jet full of women and children.


Craig Joseph - 8/2/2002

I've already posted a comment on this subject in a separate thread, but I think it's worth noting that the comments posted here approving of Pipes' article are very revealing. On the one hand are people with a very poor grasp of the English language and of basic principles of logic; on the other are people, like Mr. Cramer and Mr. Safranski, who appear to feel victimized by a conspiracy of Muslims, public schoolteachers, and the ACLU (Mr. Cramer's posting was especially bizarre). And, as I said in my other post, noone seems to be interested in getting the facts straight. Look at Interact's web site (http://www.interact-simulations.com), and you'll see how many different cultures, religions, historical events, inventions, and other things they have created simulations for. The claim that Interact or schools that use Interact's simulations are "promoting Islam" is one that could only appeal to the ignorant or to people whose fears of conspiracies make them rather unsuited to the demands of American citizenship.


Craig Joseph - 8/2/2002

Pipes does indeed seem to have become more and more anti-Muslim and anti-Islam in recent years, and I have to disagree with those who give him props as a scholar. He's not even in the same league as people like Bernard Lewis and Raphael Patai, both of whom have been accused of being hostile to Islam/Muslims but who are simply exercising a critical intellect. And in supporting this lawsuit (which, by the way, has been filed by a right-wing Christian legal foundation that usually spends its time filing lawsuits against abortion clinics), Pipes really seems to have gone off the deep end.

With respect to the Interact (not "Interaction"; tellingly, Pipes gets the name wrong) simulation, Professor Bernstein is completely correct that a simulation is a far cry from "promoting" the subject of the simulation. Pipes neglects to mention, for example, that Interact produces simulations on at least fifty topics, including "Christendom," "China," "Greeks," and "Patriots." Is it Mr. Pipes' (and the Thomas More Law Center's) contention that Interact is simultaneously "promoting" all of these cultures and points of view?

If you want to see a genuine analogue to this case, look up the decision in Mozert v. Hawkins. In that case, a bunch of fundamentalist Christian parents sought to have their children exempted from having to read a (non-religious) collection of stories for children, because, the parents said, the stories encouraged children to use their imaginations, which (they argued) contradicts the Christian faith.


Clayton E. Cramer - 7/29/2002

This is the sort of response I expect from Professor Bernstein.

It was December. My daughter was in fourth grade (in California, of course, the land where Political Correctness is King). The kids were singing Christmas songs. You know, the "acceptable" ones, because they were about snowmen, "Over the river and through the woods...." My daughter had the temerity to suggest that they sing "Silent Night." The teacher's response. "We can't sing that. That would be illegal!"

In pre-school, my daughter comes home at Thanksgiving and,
as children that age often do, was quite insistent that her
teacher was right, and we were wrong. "At Thanksgiving,
the Pilgrims had a feast to thank the Indians." My wife
went to find out what had happened to American history, and
the teacher explained that she knew what the first
Thanksgiving was about, but if she said that, she would get
in trouble for it, since this was a publicly funded program.

History is being falsified and children are being intimidated
in California schools to make the ACLU happy. Yet saying that
the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving to thank God for
their survival is something that a teacher has been intimidated
into altering, for fear that some ACLU lawyer will decided
that this statement of historical fact is proselytizing.
Where is the ACLU when a curriculum that is much closer to proselytzing than is a mandatory part of the program?

The days when the ACLU was concerned about separation of church
and state are over. They don't seem terribly concerned about
that principle (actually, a quote out of context from Jefferson's letter to the Danbury, Conn., Baptist Association)
if any other religion is involved besides Christianity.
The wag who retitled them as the Anti-Christian Litigation
Unit some years back turned out to be correct.


donald k. pickens - 7/19/2002

First it is California--- what do one expect. The tragic point is if one wants to see the future look at California now. Pipes is correct.


mark safranski - 7/18/2002

In my years of experience teaching at different levels of our educational system or conducting seminars I cannot possibly imagine a school district getting away with the outlined activities if the focus was Christianity instead of Islam. Even if the administration did not require modifications in such a program the ACLU would break land speed records getting to the local courthouse to file suit.

Dr. Pipes is correct that Islam, as a religion of " the oppressed " in academic-Left discourse is being priviliged, in this case by the textbook publisher and the district. From all I have read, media accounts indicate that the students are not being encouraged to analyze Islam critically in a way they might be asked to think about the impact of European colonization or race relations or the Vietnam war.

For the record, I have nothing against role-playing or historical reenactments either - they are valuable teaching tools. However the comprehensiveness of this program, the lack of balancing viewpoints and overt religiousity make it legally suspect


Richard Hennessey - 7/18/2002

(1) Islam, like Christianity, does aim to bring the world into the fold of believers. (2) As has been the case throughout its history, Islam, like Christianity, has seen some of its more hard-headed advocates prove willing to use horrific means to advance that aim, to the despair of those who accept the Quran's dictate that "There shall be no compulsion in religion." (3)It is not true that "any and all activities by Islamic [sic] should be viewed as [a] means to the distraction [sic] of our religion, western culture and system of government;" Muslims can, for example, worship the All-Merciful without any intention being directed to anyone else's religion, Western culture, or a Western or the American system of government. (4)Which religion is it that is "our religion"? (5) Read a good book on Islam, such as that of the Christian John Esposito, The Straight Path. Talk to the Imam of the nearest mosque about your issues.


Tony Lev - 7/18/2002

Islam's aims to convert the World to Islam. The Muslem act of conversion justifies the means; including killing chieldren, stealing, deception, war, extermination, suicide, giving charity, education, emigration to Western Countries, rearing large families, to name a few tools used to convert non believers. Therefore any and all activities by Islamic should be viewed as means to the distraction of our religion, western culture and system of government.


Arthur Goldschmidt - 7/18/2002

I have ample respect for Daniel Pipes as a scholar and think I can understand his concern, but he seems to have become openly hostile to Muslims and Arabs in recent years and finds a ready audience in the Jerusalem Post, which has moved in the same direction. My main objection to the exercise, which I assume is meant to build cultural empathy and not to recruit kids for the Taliban, is that it treats Islam as if it were (1) unchanging throughout its history and (2) hostile to Christianity. I too prefer teaching about other religions objectively, but student involvement in play-acting promotes learning.


Richard B. Bernstein - 7/18/2002

In recent years, we have heard those who would restrict the people's access to the courts cite frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit -- often distorting the facts or flat-out lying about them. But this lawsuit, described by someone who supports it, is one of the most frivolous and nonsensical lawsuits I've ever seen.

Confusing a role-playing exercise in a historical curriculum with indoctrination is a mistake that would be laughable if it weren't so serious.

(I am a law professor at New York Law School, so I've seen my share of real and phony frivolous lawsuits.)

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