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Muslims of America

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Muslims of America

As the Muslim population in the United States continues to grow, Islamic schools are springing up across the nation’s landscape. Education, both secular and religious, has always been of the greatest importance to the Muslim community in America. Muslims have made it clear that they want their children to have the best education possible at the same time that they are learning the essentials of their faith.LEspecially since the events of September 11th, many Americans have become concerned about the teaching going on behind the walls of these schools. The essays collected in this volume look behind those walls and discover both efforts to provide excellent instruction following national educational standards and attempts to inculcate Islamic values while protecting students from what are seen as the dangers of secularism and the compromising values of American culture. L Muslim parents may choose to send their children to public schools and provide afternoon or weekend religious education. In public schools, however, children often encounter prejudice or take part in the study of subjects not considered appropriate by Muslim parents. Some parents may decide on Islamic schools. However they are still relatively few in number and are often under-supported both financially and administratively. A small but slowly growing number of parents elect home schooling for their children, and gradually resources on the internet and elsewhere are being developed to help them. Islamic schooling and home schooling, it is argued, provide the opportunity to guide children in all aspects of their work while remaining in an Islamic environment. LThis volume of collected essays deals with a wide range of issues challenging Muslim Americans as they seek a well-rounded religious education from adolescence to adulthood. Also explored are college-level education, the kinds of training being offered by Muslim chaplains in universities, hospitals, and prisons, and the ways in which Muslims are educating the American public in the face of hostility and prejudice. This timely volume is the first dedicated entirely to the neglected topic of Islamic education in the United States.

Excerpt

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 . . .

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