The president of the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) spoke about his religion during a Metro Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) social studies in-service event held on August 2nd for middle and high school teachers preparing for the start of the 2017-2018 academic school year. According to the ICN’s website, its president, Rashed Fakhruddin, “has been coordinating and providing presentations on Islam to universities, schools, leadership groups and churches” over the past fifteen years in an effort to influence how his religion is received in the wider community.
In a Facebook post dated August 2 captured in a screen shot, the owner of an account identified as Rashed Fakhruddin said, “Today, I got to present during MNPS’s social studies in service on Islam in context to the social studies curriculum, ending the presentation with the question, ‘Is Islam compatible with the West?’. There were parallel sessions going on, but there was a great turnout!”
That post apparently is no longer available on Mr. Fakhruddin’s Facebook page.
The Tennessee Star asked MNPS about this in-service presentation.
“On August 2 and 3, MNPS facilitated district-wide Professional Development for teachers in all tiers (elementary, middle and high school) and in all grade levels and content areas (i.e., art, music, physical education, health, English Language, literacy/reading/English language arts, math, science, and social studies),” MNPS Director of Communications Olivia H. Brown told The Star in an email. Two subsequent questions from The Star in that email correspondence, along with Ms. Brown’s responses, are included below:
The Star: Does MNPS hold subject in-services every year and if not, why was one convened for social studies this year?
Brown: Prior to this training August 2 and 3, district-wide professional learning for all teachers in all tiers and content areas/grade levels had not been held for several years in the district. There was professional learning on August 2 and 3 for all the different content areas. Each content met at different locations on those days.
The Star: What was the agenda for the social studies in-service, who were the speakers and was it open only to teachers? Which grades?
Brown: Social Studies professional development was provided primarily to teachers in middle and high school as the majority of elementary teachers were participating in training for literacy and math. The first day started with a keynote addressing the purpose for social studies and how to address social studies practices. This was followed by a number of breakout session that teachers were able to choose from based on the grade and or content standards they were responsible for. There were 15 or more choices per breakout session. The sessions were conducted by MNPS teachers, as well as social studies educators from local and state museums, text book vendors, who were able to share resources and ideas as they connected to the state standards. On the final half day, teachers met with other teachers of the same grade and/or course they teach to collaborate and plan.
The Star subsequently asked MNPS Director of Communications Brown whether representatives of other world religions were invited to speak at the social studies in-service, but has not received a response.
The Star also emailed Mr. Fakhruddin and asked him about his August 2 presentation, but did not receive a response.
The ICN has also made a focused outreach effort to work with non-professional Teach For America employees by inviting them to visit the mosque and learn about Islam.
On August 1, Fakhruddin gave his annual “college and career readiness” presentation at Nashville’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School, where a Muslim Student Association (MSA) was started in 2013.
High school MSAs in other states have been able to congregate for prayer and at the same time, proselytize to non-Muslim students:
Many students are signed out by parents to attend Jumu’ah at nearby Prince George’s County Muslim Association (PGMA) or Dar-us-Salaam.
The students who get left behind are the ones who embrace Islam in high school unknown to their parents, many who are devout followers of other faiths.’ A brother who was a taxi driver used to come and pick the convert brothers and take them to Friday prayer, but then the principal found out and she was very upset,’ says Hayat. (emphasis added)
At the last MSA meeting at Parkdale High, there were at least three students who raised their hand when asked if they were the only Muslims in their families. Some of these students are as young as 14.
School districts across the country have been criticized for over-accommodating demands made by Muslim advocacy organizations or caving to lawfare threatened by the Council on American Islamic Relations, another named unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land prosecution.
Parents in a San Diego school district have sued the district over the anti-Islamophobia campaign that they view as “favor[ing] Islam over other religions and grants special protections to Muslim students.”
In Tennessee, the ACLU has sued the Sumner County school district over alleged Christian-centric activities. The settlement agreement entered into by the Sumner County Board of Education prohibited Sumner County schools from taking field trips to religious sites. No action was taken by the ACLU, however, when Sumner County violated the settlement agreement by taking students to a Hindu temple and a mosque where they received free Qurans.