Thursday, August 18, 2016

A brief FAQ for those "concerned" about Bonkers' enrollment in an Islamic school

So, I already wrote the polite version of this.

This is for the people who should damned well know better.
This is for the people who want to talk shit about myself, my son, and my parenting without having the ovaries to say it to my face.

Most of you won't bother to read it, because education is hard, yo.
See.... I'm pissed. I'm furious at your racist and xenophobic questions, and the fact that you know so little about Islam that you're actually asking them.
So here's a little FAQ for you:

But why send him to an Islamic school? If you're okay with him in a religious setting, why not send him to a Christian school?

  1. Islam won't tell him he's going to hell for not attending the right church. (Islam believes that those of Abrahamic faiths are treated for the most part the same after death as Muslims. Non-believers are treated according to their faith and acts.)
  2. Islam respects science, and doesn't teach Young-Earth bullshit. While evolution is still a source of some debate among Muslim adults, Islamic schools teach science the same way that it is taught in secular school systems, with a reference that concerns about how faith & science interact should be discussed with one's imam other other religious educator. (It is worth noting that the Qu'ran has a number of verses that are often read as support for evolutionary biology.)
  3. Christian (and many secular) schools are often hotbeds of bullying, whereas Islam teaches that one of the principles of the faith is Zakat, which translates specifically to mandatory alms-giving (think tithing, only to the less fortunate rather than necessarily the church/mosque) but is broadened by most Muslims to mean an obligation to be kind and helpful to others. 

Aren't you afraid that they'll convert him?

I couldn't care less if they do. It is my firm belief that he will choose his own faith (or lack thereof) in time, and he will do it with as much accurate information about as many faiths as I can manage. If he chooses Islam, I will be just as pleased as if he chooses Judaism, Wicca, or decides that 'God,' doesn't make sense and ends up an Atheist. 

Aren't you afraid that they'll turn him into a terrorist?

This question pisses me off to no end. Yeah, Islam has extremists who do awful things. So does Christianity, or have you forgotten about Westboro Baptist Church? (And before you say, "Oh, but they're not really Christians, let me remind you that the 99.97% of American Muslims will tell you in a heartbeat that the extremists are not really Muslims, either)
I am no more worried about Sr. Rima turning my kid into a terrorist than I am about him stowing away onto a plane and skydiving without a parachute. One's about as likely as another. 
I am  mildly worried about some 'Christian' asshat shooting up or bombing his school, though. 

So why send him to a school you're worried about being bombed?

Because in case you haven't noticed, secular schools aren't super-safe these days, either. And if you're going to fly the false flag of this concern, "ZOMG but you shouldn't send him there in case someone bombs the school," then maybe you should discourage anyone from bombing any school full of kids instead of acting like this Islamic school is somehow an okay target.

But what are they teaching him about Islam?

I have a copy of his Islamic Studies curriculum, and it amounts to, "God is Good, Listen to your Parents, Take off your shoes indoors." 
If you're really interested, week by week the basic lessons are:
  • Muslim Greeting (Asaalamu-Alaykum, which means, "Peace be with you,")
  • Who is Allah/God?
  • Allah loves me
  • Saying a thank you prayer
  • Saying grace before eating
  • Who is the Prophet Muhammed
  • Why Muslims read the Quran
  • Islamic Character: Honesty
  • Islamic Character: Kindness
  • Islamic Character: Patience
  • Islamic Character: Bravery
  • Islamic Manners: Greeting people politely
  • Muslim prayers
  • Islamic Manners: Cleanliness
  • Islamic Manners: Listen to your parents/elders
  • Islamic Manners: Sharing and caring
  • Islamic Manners: Thankfulness
  • Islamic Manners: Respecting others
Dangerous stuff, yo! 

Aren't you worried he'll be bullied for being different?

See, this is where Islam is awesome- that 'good manners, zakat, caring for others,' thing? Well, it means that bullying is a major no-no, and in fact many of the parents are so excited to have us there, they've been encouraging their kids to make friends with him.
(And it's worth noting that we're late into week 2, and he complains about leaving school because he loves playing with his friends there.)

Aren't you worried they'll try and make you wear a veil?

I discussed with the Vice Principal appropriate clothing for me to spend time in the school in, and what I wear to work is perfectly acceptable- jeans, flats, a flowy tank top, and a cardigan or blazer. They'd get fussy if I wore shorts & a crop top, I'm sure, every Muslimah (Muslim woman) interprets strictures about 'modesty' individually, and I've seen a number of Muslimah parents there showing more skin than I do. 
That said, I do wear a hijab when I visit the masjid (mosque) because it's courteous- I also wore pants and long sleeves when I visited the Vatican. 

What about the gender dynamics in Islam? I thought you were a feminist?

I am. And part of my feminism is the recognition that every woman has the right to choose her own life and femininity. Eventually, I will move him to a secular school, I'm sure- partly logistics, and partly because I'd rather not fight an uphill battle about girls and boys not being confined to gender roles. However, I want to make damn sure I say here that he will also see that bullshit in secular schools, and at least in this setting he's being told that there's a reason behind it that both genders choose, versus "it's just the way things are," A choice to abide by gender roles comes with the corollary implication that he can choose otherwise- not an option given in secular schools. 
But at age 4? Dude, the only things they're teaching him about 'boys v. girls,' is to stay out of the bathroom while someone else is peeing- I checked. 

So, TL;DR version? 
Thanks much for your thinly veiled Islamophobia disguised as worry for my kid, but we're good. 

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