Monday, 9 June 2014

Trojan horse plot—what should Muslims do.

Some are not only questioning the facts behind the Trojan horse report, they are blaming it as a smear campaign against those members of the Muslim community of Birmingham, who want their children to be educated so as to be better informed about knowledge of Islam.

The extremist character of the schools originated because there was a demand for a system of education that is to make children well aware of a certain Islamic character which can sometimes conflict with the secular curriculum. To make a clear definition of what exactly constitute as a conflict between secular education and religious Islamic education I found the answer in the bloghtt:// conclusive. The author of the blog is a Muslim mother who gives home-schooling to her five children because she believes this method of teaching ‘freely interlink’ secular education with religious beliefs. Among other preferences for giving home schooling, she also highlights the freedom to choose not to study Evolution Theory or teach it in light of ‘our religious belief.’ She goes on to explain that she has set aside a dedicated amount of work for Islamic Studies which includes reading Quran, its commentary (tafsir), books of hadith and explanations from scholars as part of the lesson plans for her children. The blog has all the relevant information for anyone interested in starting home-schooling with emphasis on Islamic educationfrom Muslim home-school planners to Home Education UK and necessary text book to teach children maths, literacy, religion the web-links are there. What I find distressing is the mother’s preference for English Grammar pages where worksheets of nouns, verbs, articles, conjunctions, syllables, suffixes, prefixes, prepositions have images of characters with no physical features and some showed little girls wearing head coverings. The strict interpretation of Islam forbids drawing images of human beings and animals and many families readily accept material for children where drawing of physical features is omitted. Surely a child who is given to accept this belief will find it hard to assimilate with the secular world around him or her later in life. The division between the world confined to religious interpretation and the outside world will lead to extremist thoughts and sense of seclusion since no interplay between cultural influences from the society have been allowed to penetrate.

I doubt the reasons would be any different for some of the parents, governors or teachers who allowed the schools to overly adopt the local Muslim culture in the schools involved in the inspection which led to the Trojan horse report in Birmingham. ‘Localism’ cannot be confused with religiosity and schools should not be allowed to nurture young minds on the ideas which only lead them to the understanding that an identity based on belief and faith is what essentially matters.

In secular societies faith is a personal matter and Britain’s secular outlook has never been a challenge to Muslim communities all over the country. The debate culminating from the  ‘Trojan horse’ plot is not about immigration, Islamophobia or education secretary’s insistence that institutions should be under a centralist control. It is time for Muslim community to rise above ethos and sensibilities which create division with the secular world.      

Worksheets with faces without expressions and little girls in head scarves.

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