The presentation to students from Metro Nashville Meigs Middle Magnet School at the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) on October 17th was misleading when compared to corresponding information in a popular Islamic school textbook.
ICN’s Director of Operations Dina Sirois claimed that her talk to the students was not about “trying to win you over,” presumably a disclaimer of proselytizing Islam to the students which would otherwise violate federal and state law.
However, her comparisons between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, especially when considered in light of her incomplete explanations on topics such as the resurrection of Jesus and jihad, suggests that her talk was more in line with the Islamic mandate of dawa and designed to be “the seeds of Islam [that] can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students.”
But a school textbook included in a video about Annoor Academy, a private Islamic school in Knoxville, shows that Sirois’s explanation of Muslims’ belief in the resurrection of Jesus is incomplete making it appear the intention was to have students think that Christian and Muslim beliefs are more alike than different.
A 2013 promo YouTube video for Annoor Academy shows a row of textbooks titled What Islam Is All About. (See at the 1:04 mark of the video, shown below at the bottom of this article.)
The Tennessee Star contacted the school for confirmation that the textbook, which The Star saw in the promo YouTube video on the school’s web site, was being used, but received no response. The following day the video was no longer available on YouTube. The Star, however, downloaded the video, while it was available on YouTube, as it was not protected under copyright laws, and has made it available to readers of The Star.
According to the textbook’s author Yahiya Emerick, What Islam Is All About, was written for “new Muslims, non-Muslims and born Muslims.” His website Islamic Foundation of North America includes a complete line of Emerick’s books including school textbooks, and links to his collected articles such as “How to Make America an Islamic Nation” and his newest blog.
What Islam Is All About, says that while the Jews believed they had killed or had Jesus crucified, he in fact, did not die, but was taken by Allah into Paradise to “remain until the end times” and cites to the sections of the Quran that reminds students that when Jesus is resurrected, he will “be against them [Christians and Jews] a witness [for believing in his death].”
As to the issue of “jihad,” Sirois said:
And talking about struggle what I talk about is that inner struggle of selfishness and selflessness like can I help my little brother with his homework or go play video games? That happens at my house with my four boys, right? That is called jihad, that’s an inner struggle.
So this word jihad has been hijacked by the media and sounds really scary but it’s really something within yourself, its choosing selflessness over selfishness. Doing good deeds for others whether that’s in your immediate family or your friends being a good friend being a good role model for younger siblings or being selfish and doing something just for yourself which doesn’t benefit anybody around you or mankind.
That’s all jihad is.
Emerick’s textbook tracks the sharia (Islamic law) as written in the English language version of The Reliance of the Traveller, A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. This compilation has been authenticated by The Fiqh Council of North America and Al-Ahzar University in Cairo, the preeminent teaching center of sharia law.
His textbook does not shy away from jihad either explaining that it does not mean “war” because jihad is much broader than that:
This is important to know, because making Jihad is any action which is done to further the cause of Allah. Even giving da’wah in a tough place, going to learn knowledge or donating money when it’s a hardship can be a type of Jihad.
However, the word jihad is most often associated with the act of physically confronting evil and wrong-doing hence it can be applied to the act of fighting as well. But the goal of physical Jihad is not to have a big war, gain riches or kill people, it is to further the cause of Allah and to create justice on Earth…
A physical Jihad may only be initiated for three reasons: 1) to defend the Muslim community against aggression. 2) To eliminate an evil force which is oppressing people. And 3) to remove any barrier to the free flow of Islamic da’wah…
If Muslims are being oppressed or victimized, then we can fight back. If anyone dies in a Jihad they automatically will go to Paradise.
Sirois took multiple opportunities throughout her slide presentation to highlight perceived commonalities among Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Students in Islamic schools using Emerick’s textbook, however, are taught a supremacist version of comparative religion. Threaded throughout Emerick’s book are negative and denigrating references to Christian and Jewish religions and beliefs. For example:
So, although the Christians and Jews may make a big noise about following Prophet Ibrahim, in fact, neither of them do. Prophet Ibrahim fulfilled Allah’s commands, the Jews don’t even follow half of what their corrupted books say. The Christians don’t follow anything except what their philosophers and priests make up from time to time…
Prophet Ibrahim called all people to Allah’s way of life. The ‘Jews’ don’t call anybody to anything. They subscribe to a belief in racial superiority calling themselves the ‘chosen’ ones and excluding non-Jews as much as possible. Their religion even teaches them to call down curses upon the worship places of non-Jews whenever they pass by them! They arrogantly refer to anyone who is not Jewish as ‘Gentiles,’ equating them with sin.
Prophet Ibrahim told people to do good and he forbade the wrong. Many ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’ Jews and Christians lead such decadent and immoral lives that lying, alcohol, nudity, pornography, racism, foul language, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and everything else are accepted in their society, churches and synagogues. Just turn on the television in any Jewish or Christian community and see what’s ‘normal…
They [the Jews] follow laws and practices that no Prophet or Messenger ever taught. They earned the wrath of Allah for their disobedience and as Allah said: there will be enemies who will attack them until the Day of Judgment unless they repent and return to the path.
These references are reflected in The Reliance of the Traveller sharia manual that labels Christianity and Judaism, “cults”:
Previously revealed religions were valid in their own eras, as is attested to by many verses of the Holy Koran, but were abrogated by the universal message of Islam, as is equally attested to by many verses of the Koran. Both points are worthy of attention from English-speaking Muslims, who are occasionally exposed to erroneous theories advanced by some teachers and Koran translators affirming these religions’ validity but denying or not mentioning their abrogation, or that it is unbelief (kufr) to hold that the remnant cults now bearing the names of formerly valid religions, such as “Christianity” or “Judaism,” are acceptable to Allah Most High after He has sent the final Messenger (Allah bless him give him peace) to the entire world.
Emerick’s book reminds Muslim students that there are conditions to having non-Muslim friends, one of which is that they “must try [their] best to give them Islamic da’wah.”