ISLAM IN AMERICA A: Imam al-Qazwini: We need to reach out ... and educate them. Q: Shias and Sunnis both believe in the coming of the Mahdi .... How can we make this a greater focus in our community? A: Sayyid M. Syeed: The U.S. Constitution is similar to the Madina Constitution, which was a fundamental part of Islam that has been lost by Muslim-majority countries. The model of Madina was pluralistic and allowed for differences. The U.S. has provided Muslims a new haven in which we can have religious freedom, and we need to unite and work together to have the same rights and to promote freedom for the underserved.
THE U.S. HAS PROVIDED MUSLIMS A NEW HAVEN IN WHICH WE CAN HAVE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, AND WE NEED TO UNITE AND WORK TOGETHER TO HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE FREEDOM FOR THE UNDERSERVED. — Sayyid Muhammad Syeed Q: What is the plan to bring Sunni and Shia together in order to move forward in America? A: Najeeba Syeed: People come from places of pain, and we need to recognize that our tradition has caused pain to others and be humble, apologize and ask for forgiveness ... without being apologetic of who we are. ... Who is benefitting from this conflict? Who is human? What is most sacred? Anytime there is a conflict, one group has to be dehumanized in order to justify violence against the other. We must outdo the propaganda by celebrating the peacemakers and amplifying the peace stories through social media or any other avenue. A: Imam al-Qazwini: We have different types of Islam. I believe we have a new type of American Islam ... religious pluralism. We need to learn from and share with each other, reach out to each other, respect each other and allow each other to practice the way that allows us to be different and celebrate the differences. We must allow our children to intermarry and promote relationships with intra-faith marriages. ih Adita Arya, who founded AIM Academy (2013), created and proposed a weekend school model for the Islamic Center of Irvine, is president and co-founder of Afghan Literacy Foundation and former director of the Pillars Academy Islamic School.
36 ISLAMIC HORIZONS JULY/AUGUST 2018
We Still Have a Long Way to Go How can we improve our Islamic schools? BY MAHA ELGENAIDI
he U.S. has a network of at least 270 full-time Islamic schools, 85 percent of which are 10 years old or less. Furthermore, at least 90 percent of their graduates go to college, according to a recent study (Sabith Khan and Shariq Siddiqui, Feb. 1, 2018, Cato Institute). Muslim educators can take pride in this achievement, especially because it’s vital to Islam’s survival here. The descendants of previous waves of Muslim immigrants were not so lucky, which speaks directly to the value and importance of setting up full-time Islamic schools and other institutions. Contrary to the Islamophobes’ claims, Islamic schools don’t make their students foreigners in their own land. A Boston University research team (“Inside US Islamic Schools”, 4.26.2016) that studied Islamic high schools found that their students were solidly confident of their identities both as Muslims and as Americans. As one student put it, “America is kind of like a melting pot. And to be able to blend in, you have to stand out, in a way. And I think faith gives you that edge.” In other words, Islam makes them not less but more American. Interestingly, this sentiment agrees with that of Will Herberg (1901-77), the sociologist of religion: “Today, unlike fifty years ago, not only Protestants, but increasingly Catholics and Jews… feel themselves to be Americans not apart from, or in spite of, their religion, but in and through it, and because of it” (“Protestant-Catholic-Jew,” 1955). Islamic schools are solidifying their students’ Muslim identity, but only 2 percent of our community’s children attend them. The Islamic Networks Group (ING; https://ing.org; est. 1993) and our affiliates around the country deliver thousands of presentations a year in public schools on Islam and Muslims. We supplement social studies curriculum related to the study of religion via our trained and certified adult Muslim speakers. More recently, we have been training middle and high school Muslims to take on this role as well. However, Islamic schooling as a whole should lead the way in producing