Muslims of America
Shortly after September 11, 2001, the American Muslim community was stunned when it was reported by the New York Times and other high-profile newspapers that textbooks in Islamic schools were promoting anti-American and anti-Semitic views. Americans began asking whether Islamic schools in America could be breeding grounds for homegrown terrorists, like the so-called madrassas (Arabic for “schools”) of Pakistan that received much post-9/11 media coverage.
Since that tragic day, there continues to be considerable media coverage and insistence by some policy-makers that Islamic schools are part of a “fifth column” and thus should be placed under surveillance. This heightened attention reflects an effort by some to link Islamic schools to extremism, thus suggesting that they may be a growing threat to national security. In the post-9/11 environment Muslims are under increasing scrutiny, particularly by those who fear that Islamic schools are producing radical youth.
Meanwhile, many American Muslim parents have started asking whether it would be safer to send their children to Islamic schools so as to avoid an anti-Muslim backlash in public and parochial school systems. As a result of 9/11 Muslim parents have been challenged to reflect on their own family identities. Those who want to reinforce the Islamic values of their families may decide to place their children in Islamic schools.
As attention on Islamic education intensifies in the media, the need to examine the state of Islamic education in North America . . .