Islamic Schools Following Left's Template

By: Rachel Marsden

While eyes and battles are currently focused on the Islamic center proposed for the Ground Zero neighborhood, an Islamic school—Zaytuna College in California—has quietly applied for university accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Granted, the member directory for WASC includes various theological seminaries and religious institutes, including Jewish, Catholic, and others. But unlike Zaytuna, these schools aren’t making the centerpiece of their education the study of a form of law (Sharia, in this case) that isn’t recognized, or in many cases compatible, with U.S. courts.

Under Sharia Islamic law, women face death by stoning and lashings—as recently highlighted in Iran with the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, convicted of adultery.
Until men can also be similarly punished for adultery, I’ll be withholding my enthusiasm.

Private religious high schools and universities have always been around: schools for Jews, Catholics, etc. Personally, I always figured that religion was something to learn on your own time—outside of math, sciences, and languages.

As a child, I went to school during the day, then to the local Catholic church one night per week to learn about my religion. Anyone I knew who went to a Catholic high school or university was still learning the same curriculum, but the difference was that they had perhaps one religion class thrown in as a substitute for one of the more silly elective courses.

Catholic school didn’t mean that they were immersed in Catholicism all day. But you had to wonder if the “curriculum with a dash of religion” might ultimately be inversed at some point, with the main course becoming a side-dish, if only because the controls on such a move were so slippery.

Brooklyn’s Khalil Gibran publicly funded Islamic school chewed through the bridle when it opened in 2007—a middle school focused on teaching Arabic language and culture.

At the university/college level, full-ideological immersion under the guise of “education” has long been fully embraced. Courses in Islamic law are already taught at various universities—UCLA, University of Washington, Harvard, Emory University, University of Toronto, and many others—as part of perhaps a religious studies, law or arts degree program.

University curricula have long been oriented towards the indoctrination of one’s choosing, with the possibility of graduating with a degree in spectacularly lesbionic “women’s studies” or the likelihood of graduating from any given college with little knowledge of any other worldview than that sanctioned by Noam Chomsky.

A glance at the Zaytuna College four-year program shows that out of the 43 courses, 25% at most appear to have the potential to be unrelated to Islam—although there’s no way to tell if subjects like “astronomy,” “cosmology,” “introduction to rhetoric,” “English Composition,” and “American History” won’t actually feature Islamic teachings, much in the same way that “critical thinking” courses at your average college almost always mean emerging with the requisite leftist brainwashing.

But we really have to ask ourselves, is the ideological full-meal deal offered by Zaytuna College really any different from the leftist indoctrination allowed—and indeed encouraged—by the many state-funded colleges across America beyond the very few “core courses” mandated in every curriculum?

Can we really say that we have anything left to salvage with respect to the integrity and objectivity of our post-secondary institutions? And is Zaytuna really any different from the rest of them beyond being more up-front, open, and honest about their goals?

Zaytuna’s mission is to “educate and prepare morally committed professional, intellectual and spiritual leaders, who are grounded in the Islamic scholarly tradition and conversant with the cultural currents and critical ideas shaping modern society.”

It really sounds no different than the average American or Western university mission, if replaced by “grounded in the LEFTIST scholarly tradition.”

Segregationist? Perhaps in effect—because of its open dedication to a single theology. But this isn’t a new or unique phenomenon.

One can’t even evoke fear of Islamic extremists, given the number of identifiable extremists currently in reputable tenured positions at American colleges. University of Colorado professor, Ward Churchill, who toured North America promoting anarchy and hatred for America and held a faculty position for 17 years, comes to mind.

America has defined itself in part by religious freedom. It’s what sets the nation apart from Islamic theocracies. It’s either a strength of democracy, or an exploitable weakness, depending on how one looks at it.

Are we then going to debate whether it should be selectively suppressed against certain religions? Or perhaps it’s just a better idea to acknowledge the inherently non-objective nature that has long been prevalent in the American educational system, and realize that this is but an extension of it.

These special interest groups aren’t throwing punches—they’re just capitalizing on what already exists in practice and principle, and fighting to make sure those freedoms are defended to the hilt and that we keep going in that direction.