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Salat and Zakat in Summerville, South Carolina
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Recently, parents in Summerville, South Carolina became aware that their sixth-grade children were being taught about Islam in school. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with learning something of value about Islam. It was what, and how, they were being taught that some found objectionable. Part of what the students were required to do was, unsurprisingly, fill-in-the-blank parroting of propaganda. To wit: “Islam is a religion of (peace). If I believe in Islam, I am called a (Muslim). In the Islamic religion, we call God (Allah). I may dress differently than other kids. I feel (bad) that a few people of my religion committed terrorist acts. I (do not) believe in terrorists’ idea of a ‘holy war.’”
Then the children were dutifully taught to memorize the Five Pillars: the Shahada, or recital of the Muslim profession of faith; Salat, the ritual prayers said five times each day; Zakat, the alms given to help the needy; Sawm, or the fasting during the month of Ramadan; and the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that a Believer should try to make once in his lifetime.
Those objecting to this were reported in the press as if they — parents and non-parents alike — were merely Islamophobic know-nothings. School officials pointed out that this teaching had been going on since 2011 without complaint, and they suavely assured reporters that most of those now complaining about the curriculum in South Carolina were “right-wing activists” from Texas and Oklahoma, and thus, as both out-of-state people and as “right-wing activists,” they could not possibly have a point. Who could be against teaching our children about the Five Pillars of Islam?
Well, you could, and I could, for several reasons. The first is that the children are not being fully informed even about the Five Pillars. Take, for example, Salat, the five daily prayers. The children do not learn, and it is most doubtful that their teachers themselves know, what is contained in those prayers. As Robert Spencer repeatedly has pointed out:
In the course of praying the requisite five prayers a day, an observant Muslim will recite the Fatihah, the first surah of the Qur’an and the most common prayer in Islam, seventeen times. The final two verses of the Fatihah ask Allah: “Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.” The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam — cf. Islamic apologist John Esposito’s book Islam: The Straight Path. The path of those who have earned Allah’s anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians.
In other words, every dutiful Muslim, saying the five prayers every day, is also cursing the kuffar seventeen times a day. Do you think these sixth-graders learning about the duty of Salat have any idea? Do you think they should be given that information? Or should they be offered only a sanitized version of Salat? Of course, even if their teachers knew what was contained in the Fatihah, and understood that it is recited as part of those daily prayers – perhaps by having done a little study on their own, outside the politically-correct Lesson Plan — would they dare to tell their pupils? Wouldn’t they worry, and with reason, that they might be reported on, and accused of bigotry by someone – a school administrator, a representative of CAIR, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New York Times, the Washington Post — and likely suffer consequences to their careers, perhaps even lose their jobs, unless they cravenly apologized for this act of “Islamophobia” and “racism”? The textual evidence they might adduce in their own defense – the Fatihah itself — would be to no avail. For they would find, in the present hysterical atmosphere (“We are all Muslims now”), that the truth is no defense; you must say nothing ill about Islam.
And when these 12-year-olds are taught about another of the Five Pillars, Zakat, they are told that it is duty, incumbent upon Muslims, to “give alms to the needy.” Well, yes and no. Zakat is, it’s true, a tax levied to benefit the poor and needy. This of course sounds good, and not just to sixth-graders. What the children will not be told, and what one suspects that their teachers do not know, is that Zakat is meant to benefit only fellow Muslims. This is quite different from the Christian conception of charity, made available to all. The only non-Muslims to whom Zakat might, in rare instances, be given, are those who show signs of wanting to convert, if the giving of that Zakat encourages them to embrace Islam. And one other piquant detail: what teacher would know that one of the purposes for which Zakat can be given is not just to help the needy, but to support the mujahideen, the Jihad warriors of Islam? And if he knew, would he dare to tell his pupils?
So even if the Lesson Plan on Islam is already limited to the most outwardly anodyne part of the faith, the Five Pillars, it is made more anodyne still by leaving out the most disturbing aspects of Salat and Zakat. And the most objectionable part of this parody of pedagogy is that the children are not being taught anything of real significance about the ideology of Islam. What do they learn about Jihad? What do they learn about the status of non-Muslims as dhimmis under Muslim rule? What do they find out about the Jizyah? What do they discover about the hatred and hostility that Islam inculcates toward all non-Muslims? What do they learn of how Islam purports to regulate every area of a Believer’s life? Or of how Islam constricts the possibilities of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience? Of course, none of this can be taught in our classrooms today, not to sixth-graders, and not even to college students. This is now the third rail of the American curriculum, at every level – truthful discussion of what Islam is all about.
If you are a parent, and your child is being subjected to classes on Islam similar to what the children in Summerville, South Carolina have been subjected, what ought you to do? Make an appointment to discuss your objections. It may be with the teacher, or school principal, or members of the School Board. Keep your complaints simple and specific, related only to the Five Pillars. Explain that of course you have nothing against your child learning about them. But you do have a problem with what has been left out. “What’s that?” the teacher, the principal, the members of the School Board, will ask. Then, as calmly and sweet-reasonably as you can, tell them about the sura that is recited seventeen times a day by Muslims as part of their prayers, and hand them a printed copy of the Fatihah so they can study it for themselves. Read out the final two verses: “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.” Make sure to include on the same sheet summaries of, or excerpts from Qur’anic commentators (stick to those who are Muslims themselves) that explain why those who are the “people who have gone astray” is a reference to Christians and why those who “have earned Allah’s anger are the Jews.” Here is one such example:
Some of the commentators believe that / dallin / ‘those gone astray’ refers to the misguided of the Christians; and / maqdubi ‘alayhim / ‘those inflicted with His Wrath’ refers to the misguided of the Jews.
This idea was formed because of the particular responses that these two groups showed in reply to the invitation to Islam. For, as the Qur’an has clearly pointed out in different verses, the misguided Jews used to show a special grudge and enmity against the invitation of Islam, though, at the beginning, their scholars and learned men were the bearers of the glad tidings of Islam.
Very soon, though, under the effect of deviation of thought, belief and notion, and, also, because their financial gains were being endangered, they became the most obstinate enemies of Islam and they did whatever evil they could against the progression of lslam and Muslims.
(Even today, Zionism and Zionists hold the same position regarding the manner in which they treat Islam and Muslims.)
Therefore, to render these people as ‘those inflicted with His Wrath’ seems very correct.
But, the misguided of the Christians, who upon encountering with Islam were not so grudging, but were misled because of their misperception of the Divine religion and therefore refusing the Truth, were rendered into / dallin / ‘ those gone astray’.
They believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost instead of clinging to true Monotheism, the worship of Allah. This is, in itself, one of the greatest examples of ‘astray’ and ‘aberration’.
In the Islamic traditions, too, / maqdubi ‘alayhim / ‘ those inflicted with His Wrath’ are interpreted as the Jews, and / dallin / ‘ those gone astray’ as the misguided of the Christians. The foundation of this interpretation is the same as was mentioned in the above.’
Bring with you a second sheet, on which you have printed the Zakat – the “duty to help the poor and needy.” Under that, provide excerpts, again from Muslim commentators, that state that zakat is ordinarily meant to be given only to Muslims, or (rarely) to those who are on the way to embracing Islam. And then, underneath, offer a few more excerpts from Muslim commentators, explaining that Zakat is also meant to support Jihad against the Infidels. Yusef al-Qaradawi, the favored cleric of the Muslim Brotherhood with a vast following, could head the list with his published remarks on zakat: “Today Muslim land is occupied in Palestine, Kashmir, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad, Somalia, Cyprus, Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Albania and several other occupied countries. Declaring holy war to save these Muslim lands is an Islamic duty, and fighting for such purposes in those occupied territories is the Way of Allah for which zakat must be spent.
Then ask that teacher, that principal, those members of the School Board, what they think should be made of this information? Anything? Nothing? What do they think of the imprecations against the kuffars in the Fatihah? Of the zakat that is meant for Muslims only, and that when needed “must (also) be spent” to pay for fighting against the Infidels? Of course, they won’t ever agree to include this information in the sixth-grade lessons on Islam. It’s not the kind of thing they think the children should be exposed to, and besides, it would spoil the whole why-can’t-we-all-get-along purpose of the classroom undertaking. But they will take home those pages on Salat and Zakat you’ve provided, look into the matter on the Internet, as nowadays we all must, and discover you were telling the disturbing truth. Perhaps the unease and doubt you have provoked, throwing that spanner in their mental works, will lead them to decide to pull the unit on Islam altogether. This is the most, at this point, you can expect.
And these days, that counts as a victory.
First published in Jihad Watch.