Cutting Study of Islam a Mistake

News Sentinel, October 2, 2016 | Go to article overview

Cutting Study of Islam a Mistake


Do you daily use soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, coffee, a clock, a camera, a fountain pen? Did you study algebra, chemistry or the scientific method at a university? Do you own a guitar or magnifying glasses in your home?

If your answer is yes to any of these, you have Islamic civilization to thank, from which all of these inventions and scientific disciplines, plus many more, were developed during the medieval period.

Islamic civilization shaped our ideas of modern education (the first university was founded in Fez, Morocco, in 859 AD, over 200 years before the first university appeared in Europe); modern medicine (public hospitals structured around wards with trained staff physicians and surgeons using precise surgical instrumentation and science as the basis of their practice originated in Baghdad in the 9th century); and philosophy (Ancient Greek philosophy was revived and interpreted by Islamic philosophers in Muslim-ruled Spain).

The access to Islamic technology, scientific advancements, literature and philosophy, such as that of ancient Greece lost to Europe at the time, in many ways laid the foundation for the European Renaissance, which has influenced how we think, act and organize our societies to this day.

Did you know any of this? Most people don't. This is, in part, because of the limited attention American schools already pay to the important contributions Islamic civilization has made in world history.

Yet, the Tennessee State Board of Education is going in the wrong direction and further limiting students' introduction to this topic. It has recently released for public comment a revised 7th grade social science curriculum that removes the study of the history of Islam, a section that is already restricted to only a week's instruction.

This has been an ongoing issue for the past year, when various interest groups, school board members and parents accused Tennessee schools of "indoctrinating" students by teaching about the Islamic religion, alongside other world faiths, and its history. It even provoked the passage of a February 2016 bill in the Tennessee State Legislature banning religious "proselytization" in schools.

In this heightened political environment, this is a trend that has affected schools in Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina.

Is the Board of Education right to further limit Tennessee students' exposure to Islamic history and civilization? …

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