The Bill Muehlenberg Trophy: Iftikhar Ahmad

29 05 2008

Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics has (it appears) been spamming blogs and discussion boards with an essay arguing for the state-funding of Islamic schools in the UK as a way of improving the academic lot of British Muslim children. He prophesies that “A day will come when all Muslim children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role model [sic].”

I want to begin by acknowledging the least objectionable, and in some cases semi-reasonable elements of his argument. Islamic schools are not just faith schools, he contends: they are also bilingual schools.

Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity.

Agreed. And I would add the obvious point that proficiency in English will enable these children to function as productive citizens and workers in Anglophone societies like the UK.

They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the Holy Quran.

Hmmm . . . OK. If a knowledge of Arabic affords one an enriched understanding of Islam and the Koran, and facilitates a critical/heuristic approach to the religion, then by all means should these kids learn Arabic. If the aim is to inculcate a submissive, dogmatic approach, whereby the main objective is for the kids to learn the text by rote, then I can’t see why the UK Government should embrace that as a funding priority.

They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

Again, that seems valid to me, but there seem to be cognitive advantages to multilingualism that are (in my view) even more important than keeping immigrant children in touch with their cultural roots (not that the latter isn’t a valuable objective). Moreover, as Ahmad rightly points out: “A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village.” (Underline the words “global” and “village” here. They will become important later on.)

So far, so good. Ahmad then goes on to claim that the “British school system has been failing large number of Muslims children [sic] for the last 60 years.” Over a third of British Muslims, he notes, have no qualifications. Most of the half-a-million or so school-aged Muslim children in England and Wales, he says, are educated in state schools by “non-Muslim monolingual teachers.” Connecting dot X with dot Y, Ahmad argues that the “Majority of them are underachievers because they are at a wrong place at a wrong time [sic].”

The solution?

Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. As far as higher education is concerned, Muslim students can be educated with others. Let Muslim community educate its own children so that they can develop their own Islamic, cultural and linguistic identities and become usefull members of the British society rather than becoming a buden. [sic]

Bzzzzzzzzt. Wrong. Bruce made this point in his reply to you on his own blog, but it bears repeating. What was that you were saying before about Muslims being citizens of “this tiny global village”? Being a good Muslim citizen of the global village entails learning to accept non-Muslim citizens of said global village. It entails accepting non-Muslims as fellow pupils. It entails accepting non-Muslims as the teachers of your children. I’m happy to go along with the proposition that teachers and schools should endeavour to establish links with their local communities and be (within reason) attuned to the cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds of their students. That’s not political correctness gone mad–it’s just common sense. What makes absolutely no sense whatsoever is the notion that locking children away in gated communities will somehow develop them into useful members of a multicultural liberal democracy like the UK–much less the global village.

As for the notion that it is in the public interest for governments to finance these gated communities; to endorse with the taxpayer’s largess the idea that “There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school;” to expect non-Muslim taxpayers to foot the bill for state institutions that will discriminate against non-Muslims as employees, and non-Muslim children as pupils, purely by virtue of the fact that they are not Muslims–something no other state institution would be allowed to do . . . well, that’s not just wrong. That’s fractally wrong.

You, Mr Ahmad, are guilty of precisely the same kind of cultural chauvinism you condemn in the British state education system. Your proposal is based on the premise that non-Muslim Britain is a poisonous society full of nefarious influences that threaten to infect your pristine religious community and corrupt your children, were they not wrapped up in the cotton-wool of a Muslim-only education. Furthermore, you are proposing that British education authorities adopt a funding policy (not to mention a policy of granting your schools special exemption from anti-discrimination laws that other state institutions must abide by) founded on exactly this premise. Good luck selling that!

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11 responses

29 05 2008
Bruce

Good luck selling that!

Actually, with this “faith schools” initiative in the UK, I think that it’s already been bought.

29 05 2008
AV

You’re right, and it’s tragic. It’s tragic how eager the UK government has been to drop its drawers and bend over the bonnet in the face of sectarianism disguised as “parental choice.”

And lest I be accused of Muslim-bashing, what I have said in this post applies equally to other apologists for religious discrimination in wholly-taxpayer-funded educational institutions. Like the Catholic school, identified in a 2006 ombudsman’s report, which had the following enrolment policy:

“The governors viewed the admission criteria as a competition between families, deciding which families had presented the most evidence of their religious commitment.

“So the families had no way of knowing how decisions were made, or why they had been unsuccessful.”

The faith schools programme is the UK Government’s way of saying to the citizenry: “You’re evil*, and your culture is evil, and your society is evil. Therefore, your taxes should be spent protecting the pure and the virtuous–ESPECIALLY TEH CHILDREN–from your evilness.”

(*”If you’re religious, you’re evil relative to other religious people. Jews, relative to Muslims, you’re evil. Muslims, relative to Catholics, you’re evil. And so on ad infinitum. Secularists and atheists? Fractally evil.)

29 05 2008
29 05 2008
Bruce

The title of his book is misleading. A secular society doesn’t necessarily need religion to be kept out of public life, just as long as there is no sectarian bias. “Interfaith*” (and you use the word with caution) cultural exchanges and comparative religion can be supported by the public purse without church-state violation.

“Interfaith*” cultural events are about the social bindings between religious communities, the state wouldn’t be involved in proselytising for or empowering any particular church over any outgroup. As for comparative religion, that’s kind of obvious.

This all makes the supposed benefits of closed-sectarian communities redundant, can keep representaion proportional if student centered and without the apartheid.

* I prefer the term “Interbelief”, even if it is still a bit of a misnomer for weak atheists who don’t have a comparable belief as such.

22 07 2008
blah blah

who cares? blah blah….. live and let live. hard enough getting by in life without all the tension made by the media stirring sh*t up!

7 02 2011
newsextra1962

Iftikhar has been spouting his rubbish on my blog but I enjoy reading his rubbish, love your site I shall include it in my blogroll….

8 05 2011
edward called enoch by the Christ

London School of Islamics has written to me and I answered back. First let me inform everyone the time is coming you will wish you had Osama Bin Laden alive and in prison. He would be far kinder than the real live Christ will be to those who call themselves “Christians” Bin laden would let you live as long as you obeyed his political goals he was trained in western schools and never believed in the true submission to God. Osama believed in using toys to fight the New Roman Empire just as Barabbas was useless against the Roman Empire.

Islam has twice as many people wanting Christ to return than the entire Christians world wide, and they kill men who use the Mosque to rape boys or girls they don’t elect them supreme leader.

Islam has done the most to serve the Christ returning (Both in writing and communicating) just so the “Christians” {who are pagans too ignorant to know they worship a cardboard cutout of Christ the Roman Empire hides behind} understand it will be the Christ who promised half of life will be dead before he returns because the Roman Empire will kill as many people as they can before being destroyed.

DEATH IS JUST THE BEGINNING. WE SERVE A GOD OF THE LIVING NOT THE DEAD. OSAMA WAS FEARED WHEN HE WAS ALIVE BY THE NEW ROMAN EMPIRE THEY WERE TOO STUPID TO KNOW THEY SHOULD HAVE KEPT HIM ALIVE NOW THEY WILL HAVE TEN TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE STRAPPING BOMBS ON TO WALK INTO CROWDS.

DO THEY THINK THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS THE ONLY GROUP TO WANT TO MAKE DEMI GODS?

Killed bin Laden you just made him ten times more destructive.

The ancient Greeks taught that a “thought” was a product made in a machine called a mind existing beyond life of the machine. This is demons beings {bodies & souls stripped by God} permitted to exist on the membrane of the spirit and soul in a human body.

They telepathically communicate strange “demented thoughts” into men lacking spiritual illumination men do what these demons transmit we have hell on earth.

You was fearful of Osama because one billion pagan Christians worshipped blood of a dead Polish man as a new demi-god in Rome made demi-god by a Nazi Pope which complained the problem was not priest raping boys it was the press reporting it.

No wonder you had to dump his body at sea you really are stupid. It was his thoughts you needed to change now they will live forever creating suicide bombers by the hundreds and toppling governments by the dozen.

They put up vials of Blood in Rome of a dead Pope for believers to “Adore” dump Osama at sea to make sure no one will remember some one who dared raise his hand against the “HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE” with a new “holy of holies” of Usury in the New Jerusalem. Come quickly Lord Christ this world is too evil to live.

God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee; Omega Chapter written in 2002 {before} Nazi Pope Pius XII being made a demi-God in the Roman Empire. Nazi Pope Benedict XVI did so while claiming diplomatic immunity from Germany wanted him under arrest for protecting rapist bishops, priests, demanding oath of silence from those raped or suffer excommunication when Vatican highest authority “investigating” sexual abuse in the Roman Church.

8 05 2011
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4 08 2011
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4 08 2011
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