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Civics Class Asks: What Would Muhammad Do?

From those defenders of the faith at the New York Times:

Idris Watts, teaching at a mosque in Bradford, applies the words of the Koran to questions of daily life and citizenship in Britain.

British Civics Class Asks, What Would Muhammad Do?


Published: August 21, 2007

BRADFORD, England — At the Jamia Mosque on Victor Street in this racially and religiously tense town, Idris Watts, a teacher and convert to Islam, tackled a seemingly mundane subject with a dozen teenage boys: why it is better to have a job than to be unemployed.

“The prophet said you should learn a trade,” Mr. Watts told the students arrayed in a semicircle before him. “What do you think he means by that?”

“If you get a trade it’s good because then you can pass it on,” said Safraan Mahmood, 15.

“You feel better when you’re standing on your own feet,” offered Ossama Hussain, 14.

The back and forth represented something new in Britain’s mosques: a government-financed effort to teach basic citizenship issues in a special curriculum intended to reach students who might be vulnerable to Islamic extremism.

In the long haul, the British government hopes that such civics classes, which use the Koran to answer questions about daily life, will replace the often tedious and sometimes hard-core religious lessons taught in many mosques across the land. Often, these lessons emphasize rote learning of the Koran and are taught by imams who were born in Pakistan and speak little English and have little contact with British society.

Written by a Bradford teacher, Sajid Hussain, 34, who holds a degree from Oxford, the new curriculum is being taught in some religious classes here in a city that is increasingly segregated between South Asians and whites.

The pilot effort in Bradford has the backing and the financing from the Labor government as part of a hearts-and-minds campaign that it hopes will eventually spread to other cities and help better integrate the country’s mainstream Muslims into British culture…

An estimated 100,000 school-age Muslim children attend religious classes held at mosques in Britain daily, generally after regular school hours, said Jane Houghton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government. “The impact this teaching could have is quite considerable,” she said.

But as much as the government likes the curriculum, it has faced opposition from some Muslims.

Why, asked Nuzhat Ali, the women’s coordinator of the Islamic Society of Britain in Bradford, should Muslim children be singled out for civics lessons? …

Why indeed?

Of course the real problem lies in the truthful answer to the question, “what would Muhammad do?”

For Muhammad would do what he always did: he would kill anyone who did not do things the way he wanted them to be done.

And that is what too many of his followers do, too. Which is why they are such a scourge everywhere in the world to this day.

So it is difficult to see how these “civics classes” are going to change that, since it is the core of the Islamic creed.

But at least the British government recognizes that they have a problem.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 21st, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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