Islam should be taught in schools

Islam should be taught in schools

The calligraphic representation of the Arabic word ‘Allah,’ or ‘God,’ in English.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nakia Moore

Recently in the news, controversy ensued in the Tennessee Public School System over a proposal to cut Islam from school curriculums. The thought of students “forced” to learn Islamic culture and history troubled some parents across the state. In reality, these courses aren’t complex enough to heavily “indoctrinate” religion into students. Parents shouldn’t have the right to erase parts of history from children’s education and if so, then religion shouldn’t be taught at all to avoid such double standards and violations of the Separation between the Church and the State.

When in was in seventh grade social studies, my teacher only briefly talked about the basic tenets of Islam along with many other religions and what their core beliefs. There’s nothing about the Five Pillars of Islam that you couldn’t find in any other religion or faith, besides the pilgrimage to Mecca or maybe believing in one God. I don’t understand what’s so controversial about students learning about donating to charity, praying five times a day or fasting. 

Islam has always been taught in my public school curriculum and saw no negative backlash until now. In my small town back home, streets are lined up with churches and Christian private schools (as is Tuscaloosa), yet parents will be surprised when they find out their children are learning of other religions in public schools. While my friends were granted lengthy academic breaks for Christmas and Hanukkah already approved by the state, I was lucky if I could get the day off from school or make up a test to go celebrate Eid, as more than likely, my own teachers didn’t know about Islamic holidays.

Public schools shouldn’t have the choice of erasing certain parts of history and intentionally leaving students ignorant of how 1.6 billion people live their lives. Texas pulled a similar stunt last year by changing textbooks to exclude parts of U.S. slavery even going so far to call slaves that came from Africa “immigrant workers”. In South Carolina and Colorado, concerned parents aimed to change AP U.S. History courses to exclude parts of history that they felt put America in a bad light, leaving out important American figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and even the Founding Fathers.

I can understand how parents could get upset when they read articles about teachers making students practice Islamic calligraphy or going into too much details about religions in general, but it’s hypocritical to preach that “God and prayer should be put back into the classroom” and commend coaches of leading team prayers before a little league game …as long as it’s only through Christian-based values and not of any other religion. This double standard exists, and non-Christians can smell it from miles away. 

I personally believe that it is the parents responsibility to teach their own children about religion as the outside world is what will eventually influence their choices anyways. For me, that seventh social studies course was a nice introductory lesson that allowed do go and do my own personal research and come to my own conclusions.

Religious tolerance is the foundation of our country, and religious differences are something we should not be afraid of. Schools should be teaching in unbiased manner. If they can’t find a way to teach all religions with the same respect, they should then refer to the Separation of Church and State and leave all religions out of their curriculums. Parents around the country are banning together to erase history and leave the next generations of children ignorant and unprepared for the real-world. 

Nakia Moore is a senior majoring in general business. Her column runs biweekly.