Last month, students from Nashville’s Meigs Middle Magnet School received a presentation about Islam during a field trip to the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN). The mosque’s Director of Operations, Dina Sirois, told the students that they would “talk about beliefs and practices in Islam” and that “another little piece of your brain that has some new little storage compartment” would get “filled with Islam stuff.”
Anna Shepherd, Chairman of the Metro Nashville School Board, defended the ICN presentation when questioned by The Tennessee Star, saying that “[Sirois] was addressing any misconceptions the students/parents might have had in the context of the [social studies] standards.”
U.S.-based Islamist organizations proselytize Islam to public school students through presentations alleged to “correct misconceptions,” “supplement the curriculum in the context of social studies standards” or “correct inadequate and biased” teaching resources.
Rashed Fakhruddin, president of the ICN is also a founding member of the Tennessee American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC), which in 2012 became a formal affiliate of the Islamic Networks Group (ING) and established an Islamic speaker’s bureau with training using ING’s prepared presentations.
ING claims that its outreach to middle and high schools will correct “inadequate and biased” teaching resources, supplement the curriculum in the context of the standards and “[p]rovid[e] accurate information about Islam and Muslims directly to the students.”
SoundVision, is a Chicago-based non-profit established by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) that encourages Muslims to meet their religious obligation of dawa by proselytizing Islam in public schools:
Schools students are routinely exposed in their classroom to new information and opinions, hence they tend to be more receptive to new beliefs and ideas. Schools are therefore fertile grounds where the seeds of Islam can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students. Muslim students should take ample advantage of this opportunity and expose their school mates to the beautiful beliefs of Islam…
We should use every opportunity presented or created to sensitize non-Muslim peers and school staff with Islam and establish an environment in which every where a non-Muslim turns he notices Islam portrayed in a positive way and get influenced by it and eventually accept Islam with Allah”s guidance, insha Allah. Sharing Islam (Dawa) in public schools
ICNA is one of the leading dawah – proselytizing Islam – organizations in the U.S. It was also named in a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document, An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of destroying America from within and turning it into a Muslim nation “so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
ICNA’s former president, Abdul Malik Muhjahid, was the founding president of SoundVision when it was launched in 1988.
Shamin Siddiqi who served as ICNA’s Director of the Dawah and Publications Department, in 1989, authored The Methodology of Dawah Il Allah in American Perspective focused on both the religious duty of dawah and promoting Islam as a political system. His text includes specific instructions about how to conduct dawah, (with specific instructions about approaching Christians “to make them understand their misguided concept about Jesus”):
- Conduct Dawah in open meetings and get togethers where the Da’ee (proselytizer) will ‘clarify a lot of misgivings in the minds of the participants and induce them to study more about Islam…the Da’ee will have a very convenient atmosphere to talk out each issue coolly and calmly and continue implanting the message of Islam subconsciously in the minds of the participants.’
[Sirois told the students that “another little piece of your brain that has some new little storage compartment” would get “filled with Islam stuff.”]
- Start the Dawah with a common denominator, i.e. from the point where there is no dispute or with commonly agreed upon points.
[Sirois threaded her talk with examples of canned interfaith commonalities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity even if the information provided was incomplete like her example of Islamic belief in the resurrection of Jesus]
- Neither force nor any coercive method is to be applied while presenting Dawah to non-Muslims.
[Sirois began by telling the students that “[w]e’re all on a learning journey and on a faith journey and today’s talk is to expand your critical thinking skills. We’re not trying to win you over. We’re trying to give you information so you can leave here today with yet another little piece of your brain that has some new little storage compartment that has been filled with Islam stuff…”
- Always be ready to excuse/pardon others’ shortcomings and ignore the Jahiliyah (ignorance).
[Sirois’ first statement was “[e]very time I come to the center I meet someone from a place I’ve never been to and probably don’t know a whole lot about. So don’t feel that because you don’t know something about me or about Islam that you’re the only one.]
- Service to humanity (to the common folk of the society) is perhaps one of the most effective means of communicating and delivering the message of Islam to the people.
[Sirois spent the last part of her talking about the mosque president’s volunteer activities and how mosque members help at the homeless shelter, help with Habitat for Humanity, marching against an alleged hate rally and working with the Mayor to advocate for her transit plan]
ICNA’s “877-Why-Islam Project” which includes TV ads, bus ads, telephone and email contacts and billboards, is another outreach effort designed “to better convey the true understanding of Islam as well as clarify many of the misconceptions about it.”
ICNA is upfront in admitting that speaking to public school students under the guise of “sharing knowledge of Islam as an attempt to correct the misrepresentations” is dawah – proselytizing Islam:
DAWAH IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Reaching the youth has not always been an area explored by those in the Dawah field. Our representatives visit public schools sharing knowledge of Islam as an attempt to correct the misrepresentations often found in secular reading materials. Alhamdulillah, 877-Why-Islam can provide powerpoint presentations for school children.