The Daily News Tribune (Massachusetts) reports on a teacher workshop on Islam that sounds as if it was a full-blown course in dhimmitude. I am trying to get hold of the curriculum now, so as to take a closer look. (Thanks to Andy for the link.)
FRAMINGHAM — The history of Islam was a dusty subject until Sept. 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks on the United States had students asking a lot of tough questions.
Nearly three years later, knowledge of the history of Islam and the cultures of the dozens of predominantly Muslim nations remains minimal.
In an effort to reverse the trend, a week-long workshop for Bay State teachers was held at Cameron Middle School in Framingham this past week to send educators back into the classrooms armed with answers.
According to the participants, the workshop worked.
“When I teach this year I want to actually help kids understand the Middle East,” said Framingham history teacher Steve Manning, who teaches at Cameron Middle School. “How can they understand Iraq if they don’t know the history of the people?”
Primary Source, the group that organized the workshop, called “The Genesis and Genius of Islam,” began offering the course three years ago, said Deborah Cunningham, senior program director for the group. The workshop is sponsored by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Mosaic Foundation out of Virginia….
Professors from Boston College, College of the Holy Cross and Harvard and Bridgewater State College took part. Lectures ranged from the birth of Islam, to Islamic art to women’s role in early Islam. Even the lunch breaks were filled with learning opportunities, with screenings of movies and documentaries covering various aspects of Islam….
Robert Dunn, a history teacher at Shrewsbury Middle School, will teach world history to his eighth-graders for the first time this year, after the state changed the order of how history is taught. In past years Dunn taught U.S. history in eighth grade.
“A huge chunk (of world history) will be on Islam,” Dunn said. “I’m trying to catch up. (The workshop) has been great.”
When school starts in a few weeks, Dunn said he must be prepared for some pretty frank questions about Islam.
“Everything we’re thinking, kids will be saying these things,” Dunn said.
Many student’s perspective on Muslims comes from what they see on the news and from movies and television shows. Dunn hoped to find an Islamic nation he could use as an example of where women have rights more like those in the United States, to dispel some misconceptions.
“Students come in with preconceived notions about things,” Dunn said. “I’m looking for a country to choose that has progressive Islam.”
Great, Mr. Dunn! Please let us know when you find one! But — well, if not for this fall, maybe for the ’05-’06 school year, eh?
Much of the confusion Americans have about Islam comes from looking at the action of Muslims, often the most extreme groups, and what is written in the Muslim holy book, The Koran.
Wiser heads have said that you can’t understand Islam by reading the Qur’an. I respectfully disagree. Read on:
During the workshop, Barbara Petzen, outreach coordinator of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said anyone studying or discussing Muslims must keep in mind the difference between what the Koran says and what is actually practiced.
That’s true of many Muslims, but the problem with Islamic radicalism is that it presents us with an aggregate of Muslims who ARE doing what the Qur’an says. I am confident that the workshop did not address that phenomenon.
One of the West’s biggest criticisms about the Muslim world is the treatment of women. In the beginning, however, they had a large role in the religion.
“Realize, women didn’t have the same access to the written ,” Petzen said. “And the sections they did have access later may have been edited out.”
This is just wishful thinking. There is no actual evidence that women fared better in Islam and that their equality, or whatever it was, was later edited out. And anyway, even if it were true, why was this material edited out? Why would these faceless editors want to put material negative toward women into the Qur’an? What can be done about it now?
The group spent quite a lot of time discussing a subject that fascinates and perplexes many non-Muslims — veiling.
Unlike the stereotype, not all Islamic countries require women to wear veils, and the vast majority do not insist on women covering head to toe.
Some Muslims see the veil as a sign of prosperity, rather than something oppressive.
“The veil is a symbol of high class,” Petzen said. “(It shows) the ability of a husband to keep his wife out of the work force, as well as being a sign of sexual honor and purity.”
Westerners hear Osama Bin Laden’s anti-technology message and assume that Islamic cultures are backward. Muslims, however, have a strong tradition in math and science, said Ibrahim Kalin, an assistant professor of religious studies at Holy Cross. Alexandria, Egypt and Baghdad in the Ninth Century were the learning centers of the world. Scholars — Muslims, Christians and Jews alike — came to those cities to study and debate, as well as translate scientific works, Kalin said.
Mm-hmm. Were were were. Where is the ARE?
Islamic sailors were the best seamen of the day, Kalin said, who noted that even Christopher Columbus had several Muslim sailors on his voyage that wound up in the New World.
This is just radical Muslim fantasy. It appears in no genuine history of Columbus’s voyages.
I see that the Massachusetts teachers will be quite prepared for this school year.
Manning, a history teacher at Framingham’s Cameron Middle School, has found his students often have a warped image of Islam.
“People look at Islam and see a group people that are all terrorists,” Manning said. “It’s not true, and in education I think we have the obligation to present the truth.”
That is undoubtably true. Muslims are not all terrorists. It would be refreshing, however, if Manning looked closely at why some are. I am not holding my breath.
Islamic influences may date back to the very beginning of American history. It is likely that Christopher Columbus, who discovered America in 1492, charted his way across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of an Arab navigator.
Find this in one reputable historical source.