What are Muslim-American children being taught in private Islamic schools? We can learn about some of it by looking at the I Love Islam series used to teach elementary-level Muslim-American children about Islam. This series consists of five textbooks, each with a corresponding workbook and teacher/parent guide. It is published by the Islamic Services Foundation (ISF). According to the introduction to the series, its purpose is to gradually introduce Muslim students “to the essentials of their faith” by bringing “to light the historic and cultural aspects of Islam.” And according to the ISF website, the I Love Islam series “is one of the best-selling Islamic curriculums in the US and Canada.”
So what does this series teach?
It’s Palestine, not Israel
When it comes to showing the State of Israel, this series takes two approaches in depicting maps of the Middle East.
In the first approach, the geographical boundaries of the State of Israel are shown, but Israel is not named. The first example of this is on p. B7 of I Love Islam 1. Here states such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt are named; but there is no such mention of Israel. An interesting addition is found when this same map is used again on p. B2 of I Love Islam 2. On this map, the geographical boundaries of the State of Israel are now labeled “Palestine.” On p. A24 of I Love Islam 4, there is another map titled “Map of Palestine”; it includes the geographical boundaries of the State of Israel. This map shows the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, which is labeled “Occupied by Israel”; this is the only mention of Israel on that map.
With the second approach, Israel is mentioned on other maps used in this series. However, these maps are noticeably different from the maps mentioned above, in that these latter maps have more details and the print can be much smaller. The nature of these maps is so different from the ones used in the first approach that they appear to have been taken from some type of geography book. So if one looks closely (a magnifying glass helps), the name “Israel” can be found on the following three maps: I Love Islam 2, p. D13 (a map focusing on Egypt); and I Love Islam 4, pp. F8 and F24 (maps focusing on the African continent). But the small print and the extensive details on these maps would most likely deter the average elementary school-age student from examining them closely.
So in reality the Muslim-American children are being taught that the State of Israel does not exist. And, correspondingly, throughout this series the location for the city of Jerusalem is repeatedly stated as being in “Palestine”.[i]
Christians are in the “lowest status”
The Muslim-American children are taught this about Christians:
Many Christians believe that God has three parts:
In Christianity this is known as the Trinity. It says that the one God consists of three people. AstaghfiruAllah![[ii]] This is also a major form of shirk. As Muslims we know that God is the only Creator of the Universe. God or Allah does not have a father or a son and cannot be divided into two or three parts.
I Love Islam 5, p. A41
Shirk is the worst sin in Islam. The Muslim-American children learn that those who commit Shirk fall “from a very high status to the lowest one,” and are “forbidden” to enter Heaven.[iii] So Christians have fallen to “the lowest status” and are forbidden from entering Heaven.
The Muslim-American children learn that a person who commits Shirk is called a Mushrik.[iv] And the plural form of Mushrik is Mushrikun, so Christians are Mushrikun.
But why does it matter if Muslim-American children are being taught that Christians are Mushrikun? Because they are also being taught to learn and practice the teachings of the Koran.[v] So what does the Koran say about Mushrikun?
Here are some verses dealing with Mushrikun from a popular, authoritative translation of the Koran: Interpretation of The Meanings of the Noble Qur’an:[vi]
9:5 – Muslims are commanded to kill Christians unless the Christians convert to Islam:
Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salat (the prayers), and give Zakat (obligatory charity), then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
9:28 – Christians are impure and forbidden from entering Mecca:
O you who believe (in Allah’s Oneness and in His Messenger Muhammad)! Verily, the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and in the Message of Muhammad) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah) after this year…
9:33 – Islam will be superior to Christianity, even though the Christians don’t like it.
It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).
9:113 – Muslims are forbidden from asking Allah to forgive Christians who die as Christians:
It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah’s forgiveness for the Mushrikun ((polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).
15:94 – Muslims are to shun Christians.
Therefore proclaim openly (Allah’s Message – Islamic Monotheism) that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, and disbelievers).
98:6 – Christians are among the worst of creatures (there is a double-tap here).
Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun, will abide in the fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
So the I Love Islam series ultimately teaches that Christians commit the worst sin in Islam; they are impure and forbidden from entering Mecca; Muslims are to shun them and not pray for them, but rather are to fight against them; that Christians are among the “worst of creatures”; and Islam is to be superior to Christianity.
The Example of Muhammad
Rasoolullah [Muhammad] was the best Muslim ever, and his job was to show all the Muslims the best way to do things. If we follow him, we will have a better understanding of how to practice Islam.
I Love Islam 4, p. C19
Throughout this series Muhammad is continuously lauded as the perfect role model to be followed if one wants to become an excellent Muslim. And it is specifically mentioned that the Sira (Seerah) of Muhammad “is there for us to learn lessons from.”[vii] The Sira is the authoritative biography of Muhammad, titled The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah).[viii] Here are some of the examples of Muhammad found in the Sira that “show all the Muslims the best way to do things”:
Children, try your best to be like the Prophet, to think and act like him. This is why it is so important for us to learn the Seerah!
I Love Islam 2, p. B46
Elementary school is where children really start learning about the world around them. Beliefs and attitudes can be formed that may be difficult or impossible to later change. This brief overview of the I Love Islam series gives us an insight into what many Muslim-American children are being taught about Israel, Christians, and proper conduct in their lives. These “essentials” of Islam should not be comforting to non-Muslims.
[i] I Love Islam 1, p. D47; I Love Islam 1, Teacher/Parent Guide, p. 115; I Love Islam 2, p. D28; I Love Islam 3, p. D63; I Love Islam 3, Workbook, Unit D, Chapter 6, Exercise 2; I Love Islam 4, pp. A21 and A24; and I Love Islam 4, Teacher/Parent Guide, p. 24.
[ii] I seek forgiveness from Allah! – An expression of shame or disapproval.
[iii] I Love Islam 5, pp. A46 and A48.
[iv] I Love Islam 5, p. A39.
[v] I Love Islam 2, p. C7.
[vi] Interpretation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur’an, trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan and Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali (Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 2007).
[vii] I Love Islam 2, Teacher/Parent Guide, p. 57.
[viii] Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), trans. Alfred Guillaume (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2007).