Friday, June 30, 2006

The sad state of Muslim-American religious education

This is an important reflection on popular "sunday school" religious education found in Muslim communities across the U.S. Before going any further, however, I must include the caveat that there are countless teachers at Muslim education centers in the U.S. that strive and struggle day-in and day-out to impart the Islamic tradition's illuminous legacy of scholarship and spirituality.

It's from the blog From Clay

Essentially, we were taught a cardboard version of Islam, an arid pietism, that made ritual worship—a door to free spirituality—seem oppressive and mechanical. The things that we were taught had such a function to them that ironically made them seem too worldly. There was nothing about the “art of knocking,” a phrase I read from Martin Lings, knocking, that is, on doors to the Divine Presence. We were forced to memorize passages of the Quran in Arabic without understanding any of the transcendence that goes on with such a practice—as much transcendence that we were capable of as youth. But the real problem was this: the teachers of the classes were not committed to anything higher than their heads, and so, they weren’t convincing. They were not knockers. Even if the information they imparted was factual, there was no Truth. No soul.

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