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Salat and Zakat in Summerville, South Carolina
Recently, parents in Summerville, South Carolina became aware that their sixth-grade children were being taught about Islam in school. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with learning something of value about Islam. It was what, and how, they were being taught that some found objectionable. Part of what the students were required to do was, unsurprisingly, fill-in-the-blank parroting of propaganda. To wit: “Islam is a religion of (peace). If I believe in Islam, I am called a (Muslim). In the Islamic religion, we call God (Allah). I may dress differently than other kids. I feel (bad) that a few people of my religion committed terrorist acts. I (do not) believe in terrorists’ idea of a ‘holy war.’”
Those objecting to this were reported in the press as if they — parents and non-parents alike — were merely Islamophobic know-nothings. School officials pointed out that this teaching had been going on since 2011 without complaint, and they suavely assured reporters that most of those now complaining about the curriculum in South Carolina were “right-wing activists” from Texas and Oklahoma, and thus, as both out-of-state people and as “right-wing activists,” they could not possibly have a point. Who could be against teaching our children about the Five Pillars of Islam?
Well, you could, and I could, for several reasons. The first is that the children are not being fully informed even about the Five Pillars. Take, for example, Salat, the five daily prayers. The children do not learn, and it is most doubtful that their teachers themselves know, what is contained in those prayers
In the course of praying the requisite five prayers a day, an observant Muslim will recite the Fatihah, the first surah of the Qur’an and the most common prayer in Islam, seventeen times. The final two verses of the Fatihah ask Allah: “Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.” The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path. The path of those who have earned Allah’s anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians.
In other words, every dutiful Muslim, saying the five prayers every day, is also cursing the kuffar seventeen times a day. Do you think these sixth-graders learning about the duty of Salat have any idea? Do you think they should be given that information? Or should they be offered only a sanitized version of Salat? Of course, even if their teachers knew what was contained in the Fatihah, and understood that it is recited as part of those daily prayers – perhaps by having done a little study on their own, outside the politically-correct Lesson Plan — would they dare to tell their pupils? Wouldn’t they worry, and with reason, that they might be reported on, and accused of bigotry by someone – a school administrator, a representative of CAIR, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New York Times, the Washington Post — and likely suffer consequences to their careers, perhaps even lose their jobs, unless they cravenly apologized for this act of “Islamophobia” and “racism”? The textual evidence they might adduce in their own defense – the Fatihah itself — would be to no avail. For they would find, in the present hysterical atmosphere (“We are all Muslims now”), that the truth is no defense; you must say nothing ill about Islam.