Former students, help me out here. Not just my former students, any former student. Do you remember being taught anything about Islam during “World History before the Renaissance” or Comparative Religion courses? I keep seeing such an outcry against teaching anything about Islam. Do we not need to know our enemy? Wait, I do not want to be misunderstood…I don’t think Islam is our enemy any more than I believe Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism or Judaism are our enemies. I probably should have mentioned Animism and Jainism to because I mentioned them when I taught comparative religion. Okay Confucius taught a way of life based upon mutual respect and technically is not a religion, I guess, but I taught it just like I did the others. It would appear I might have failed with the concept of respect. I also did a unit on modern terrorism. Daesh or ISIS weren’t our enemies then but Al Qaida was, along with several dozen (or more) other terrorist groups running the gambit of all religions along with people who claim to be atheist.
All terrorist are not Muslim nor are all Muslims terrorist. According to multiple sources, all biased I am sure, Muslim terrorism caused less than ten percent of the deaths due to terrorism recorded on US soil since 9/11. One source, http://www.washingtonsblog.com, siting the START Global Terrorism Database, states that since 1970, only 2.5 percent of terrorist acts carried out on US soil were Muslim. But, I digress.
Why would we not teach comparative religions or for that matter comparative cultures? Do we just ignore what we don’t want to understand and refuse to recognize the contributions made by Africans, Asians, Muslims, Catholics, and Mormons…etc.? During the Middle Ages “Western Civilization” was somewhat stagnate and backward…until Christian knights went off to fight the barbarians who called them infidels. Despite losing the “Holy Land” and actually killing more Jews and Christians than Muslims, Crusading knights brought back more than they left with. In addition to unknown foods and spices, they brought back a real concept of medicine based upon science rather than superstition, algebra, clocks, water wheels, and the modern acoustic guitar. Okay I have digressed again but am sure thankful they brought home the guitar and got one into BB King’s hands. They could have left algebra behind.
I’m not a fan of the Common Core and certainly am against lesson plans trying to convert our children to Islam…or any religion which I doubt Common Core does. As a teacher of social studies, conversion was not my function and in my part of the world is not allowed in public schools. However, teaching all religions from a cultural or historical standpoint is…and should remain so. Not teaching Islam would be akin to Nazi’s burning Jewish books, ignoring Protestantism if one were a Catholic or maybe ignoring the contributions of Mormons in our own West. As I have been told repeatedly from certain flag wavers, its history and we can’t ignore it…nor should we. We should also practice what we preach.