Written Fall 2003
Throughout the 1990s prescient Cassandras warned of the dangers of madrasahs in Pakistan and the West Bank teaching hatred of disbelievers to children and teenagers, and of their Saudi Arabian fountainhead of philosophy and money. They were screaming into the wind to an audience of the willfully deaf. It is thus deeply disturbing to read what is being taught now in America.
It is poignant that Islamic fundamentalist indoctrination is deeprooted in New York City, where Islamic schools use hate-filled textbooks to brainwash schoolchildren. Fifth and 6th graders at the Ideal Islamic School in Queens learn “Jews killed their own prophets and disobeyed Allah.” The Muslim Center Elementary School uses, “What Islam is All About.” Some of its pearls: “Jews subscribe to a belief in racial superiority…their religion teaches to curses worship places of non-Jews! They arrogantly refer to non-Jews as gentiles, equating them with sin….The Christians worship statues…Many Jews and Christians lead such decadent lives that lying, alcohol, nudity, pornography, racism, foul language, premarital sex, homosexuality, and everything else are accepted in their society, churches, and synagogues.” Another textbook, “The Messenger of Allah”, teaches “The reasons for Jewish hostility lies in their general characteristics described in the Koran…You will ever find them deceitful…You will find the most implacable of enemies to the faithful are the Jews and pagans.” “Mercy to Mankind”, used by Ideal Islamic School, teaches “Allah revealed to Muhammed that the Jews had changed the Torah, killed their prophets, and disobeyed Allah. And the Jews did not want the Arabs to know about these shameful things.” One of the books’ publishers, Yahya Emerick, head of Islamic Foundation of North America, defends these hate manuals, “Islam believes its program is better than others. I don’t feel embarrassed to say that” and writes guidelines for Muslims on “how to make America an Islamic country.”
Elsewhere, the Muslim Students Association of University of Washingon defines jihad on its website as “8 stages followed by armed conflict when there is enough strength to do so for the establishment of the domination of Islam over all other systems of life, all over the world.” The Islamic Education Center in Potomac has a banner in its school teaching over 1,000 Muslim-American children that “those who struggle against the US will be rewarded by God”, and its officials praise suicide bombers and claim “Muslims will deal the death blow to Jews.” At the al-Qalam All-Girls School in Virginia, 7th graders learn that Osama bin Laden may not be a villain but a victim of Americans’ prejudice against Muslims and Islamic leaders.
Some maintain their version of “true” Islam holds the key to solving problems, and want to see it conquer America, e.g., the chairman of the Council on American-Islamic relations, Omar Ahmad, told a California audience in 1998 that “The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” The American Muslim Council’s executive director proclaimed “I support Hamas and Hezbollah” in front of the White House. Imam Mohammad Asi of the Islamic Education Center in Potomac praising 9/11 as a “grand strike against New York and Washington” at the National Press Club soon after 9/11. The Toronto Khalid bin Al-walid mosque crystallized the attitude of Islamic fundamentalists: “wishing someone a Merry Christmas is like congratulating someone for murdering someone or having illicit sexual relations.”
It is clear the cancer of Islamic fundamentalist imperialism has spread to US shores as well not only in terrorist action but in noxious ideas. It is imperative to acknowledge and fight this menace not only with military and police actions but on an intellectual level. Those who constantly say Islam is peace must match words with actions, delegitimizing the inciteful imams, hateful textbooks, and embryonic madrasahs in the Muslim-American community and removing them from any role in manipulating beliefs or propagating hatred; till then, silent indifference equals complicit assent.
But too many “liberals” and “moderate” Muslims equate criticism of Islamic fundamentalism with attacks on Islam. Irresponsible allegations often reveal the true nature of the accuser. It is unacceptable to blur lines between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism, for obfuscation provides cover for terrorists and makes upstanding Muslims targets for suspicion; both further religious colonialism of Islamic fundamentalists, who usurp public discourse and purge moderates on their way to conquest.