The textbook victory in Scottsdale is most welcome, but this whitewash, “What is Islam?” by Semya Hakim in St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN, from Rethinking Schools Online (thanks to Tom), is still more common in schools:
The recent attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon have brought to the surface a lot of ignorant beliefs and stereotypes about Islam. Clearly, it is past time for teachers to educate themselves and their students about what is the second largest religion in the world.
One way to start discussions is to ask students to: 1. List stereotypes about Islam and/or Muslims; 2. List everything they know about Islam and/or Muslims….
One common misconception is that Jihad can be easily translated as “holy war.” Jihad actually translates as “to strive in the way of God.” So a person who studies Islam, preaches Islam, or defends an Islamic country is jihad. It is not someone who initiates violence in the name of Islam. In fact, the literal translation of the word “Islam” is “peace.”
This misunderstanding stems, in part, from the fact that many non-Muslim Americans do not understand that Islam is a way of life.
Of course. It is Americans who have misunderstood Islam and conjured up the idea that jihad means warfare. Maybe it was that little matter of those collapsing, burning towers.
At the end of the piece comes a rogue’s gallery of groups from which unsuspecting teachers are directed to get more information about Islam:
While this article does not begin to make other teachers “experts,” hopefully it can give you some confidence in starting a dialogue in your own classrooms. Here are some websites for further information:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), www.adc.org
Arab American Institute (AAI), www.aaiusa.org
American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), www.acj.org
American Muslim Alliance (AMA), www.amaweb.org
American Muslim Council (AMC), www.amconline.org
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), www.cair-net.org
Islamic Institute, www.islamicinstitute.org.
And, when you want the straight story rather than deception, don’t forget Jihad Watch, www.jihadwatch.org.