While sensitivities are up to religious freedom around the world, some Muslims are trying to make sure that Allah and their religion are portrayed in a more than favorable light.
Textbooks Proselytize for Allah
By Kalavai Venkat
Muslim organizations have not only used California schools and textbooks to proselytize for Allah, but they now seek to portray other religions through an Islamic prism, claim the modern Jews do not have an historical connection to the nation of Israel , and reintroduce the charge of deicide to American textbooks. At least three major publishers whose textbooks are under consideration for adoption by the State of California Ballard & Tighe, Houghton-Mifflin, and McDougal Littell have enlisted Shabbir Mansuri, Founding Director of Council on Islamic Education (CIE), as content consultant. Publishers shared their pre-print edition of textbooks with CIE, thereby facilitating the sanitizing of Islam before the textbooks made it to the public domain. But that was apparently not enough for CIE; they have submitted an additional set of edits that would help seventh grade Californians understand their respective religions from an Islamic perspective.
Just Call Allah God
The would-be textbook editors insist the deity of Islam not be identified as Allah, but rather God. One proposed CIE edit reads:
In describing the beliefs, the authors insistence on leaving the word Allah un-translated in some instances creates the impression that Allah is the distinct god of the Arabs, rather than the One God worshipped by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. [CIEAP 3; ML 80-138, 350-354, 498-499]
In effect, this would have the State of California certify that the Muslim deity is the true God. At the same time, if this proposed edit is accepted, not only Peoples of the Book, but even idolaters can take comfort in the fact that Allah is their God. Since textbooks portray Islam as a replacement of other Abrahamic religions, supplanting God for Allah will help impressionable children internalize their portrayal of Islam as the final revelation to mankind.
CIE also insists that the word God should replace all names given to God in Judaism:
The Hebrew name for God is never pronounced by Jews, as it is considered too holy. God is represented by the Hebrew letters YHWH. As indicated, the references to Yahweh should be changed to God, just as the Arabic word Allah should be introduced and then all subsequent references should be to God. [CIEAP 6; HRW Item 12, SE 232]
One is curious why CIE did not propose words such as Adonai or Ha-Shem, which the Jews use to refer to God or when it became a Muslim concern.
Perhaps textbooks should teach the fact that Allah was one of the presiding deities of the pre-Islamic Pagan Arabs, who worshipped Allah (then addressed Al-ilah) as the Moon God. It would ensure that children practicing other religions are not misled into thinking that God is synonymous with Allah. But that would work against CIEs apparent agenda of using school textbooks to proselytize.
CIE seems to be a little upset over the usage of the word Israel in textbooks, too:
It is important to avoid treating the name Israel as the normative designation for territory whose boundaries and claimants have shifted throughout human history. Of course, through proper attribution of their perspectives, textbooks can discuss the importance of this region to various groups in time. Interest groups may seek to advance nationalistic or ideological claims about natural or de facto ownership of land, but the state must ensure that educational materials do not do so. [CIEAP 4, B&T General comment]
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