If you have paid attention to the news lately, I’m sure you’ve heard the uproar from many parents about their children learning about Islam in school.
Recently Maury County, Tennessee parents complained that their children were being taught Islam in school. Parents reported that 7th grade children were instructed to recite or write the pillars of Islam including: “Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet.” Some parents were outraged that children were required to write or say such a thing.
Another parent in California had a Facebook post go viral where she complained that her child was required to write the 5 pillars of Islam and watch a video about a call to prayer. She refused to let her 7th grade child complete the assignment. This Facebook post was shared over 100,000 times so her perspective is shared by many.
Is learning about a religion really the same as proselytizing? If I recite the Shahada (Allah is the only god….), am I expressing faith or am I simply stating a pillar of Islam? Is seems as though many in our culture are confusing proselytizing with learning about another religion. If a child has difficulty writing the Shahada statement, it could be simply prefaced by the words “Pillar of Islam:” or “Muslims believe:”.
I am a Christian, as are my children. Let me share a “secret” with you. We have learned about the 5 pillars of Islam in our homeschool and we sure didn’t wait until 7th grade. We have spent time learning about Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism too. My kids have also put forth effort into learning Arabic and Mandarin to better understand and communicate with a good portion of the world.
I think Christians should learn about Islam. We live in a world full of diversity. It is easy to take on the role of judgement about people who are unlike us. Wisdom requires understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 says “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.“
It is easy to fear what we do not understand. As Christians we are called to love. This love is not just for the people we agree with, but for all. I think very few Christians have really spent much time learning about what Muslims believe and because of that there is fear of the unknown. When we fear, it is more difficult to act in love toward those who are not like us. Let us seek to understand so we can better demonstrate the love of Christ. One way to do this is to learn about what others believe.
So when I hear of a school that is teaching children about Islam, I’m happy. We all need a bit more wisdom and understanding.