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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

California Text books and Islam

California Text books and Islam

Every group has a right to defend their heritage,  and we all should support each other in putting the history aside and look forward to a new beginning where we don’t sow hatred and ill-will in the hearts of our children.

Within a decade,  there will not be a school, playground, college, restaurant, theater or a work place where people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and national origins work, interact, play, live and marry together.

Given that possibility, we need to coach the next generation to respect the otherness of others 'as they are' and not 'as their ancestors were'.  These kids will be working together in teams and co-workers, if we poison their minds towards each other, they will have difficult times enjoying their life, and perhaps go home bitching about their fellow workers. That is not the life we want to advance.   

History is an important part of every one's heritage, however if that history creates and causes bias towards others, as a responsible society, we need to consider its value in education.

I was in two conferences about education recently, and if I get the time, I may, or you may come up with the recommendation to the United Nations to form a commission to study school books around the world. It is a shame what the kids are taught - the Kids around the world are subtly taught to look down upon others. 

A study conducted by Lantos foundation showed that some Pakistani text books subtly denigrate Indians and Hindus, and as of now, I don't know if Indian text books teach the same to Indian kids.  How do you expect those kids to behave towards each other when they grow up as adults? Respecting each other?

The California School text books controversy came to my mind, which more or less does the same. The fellow American kids may look down upon their school mates with Indian origins. I was in Israel, the story is same - the Palestinians and Israelis poison their kids against each other, and blame their religions for it, instead of blaming themselves for uploading ill-will in the hearts and minds of their innocent children.  I did meet with an Israeli educator who was going to study the text books and see if she can do something about it.

I am proud of the curriculum of my Middle school's social studies book in the mid fifties; the medium of instruction was in the Urdu language. My social studies book had two pages dedicated to each one of the religious leaders; Krishna, Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus, Moses, Nanak, Muhammad that I can remember. My nephew told me a month ago, that the same books are taught in Urdu schools even today, and I said thank God for that. We also studied a bit about each religion. I am sure the curriculum was similar in Kannada and other language schools in my state Karnataka.  Almost all of my Hindus friends are like me; respectful of other people.

Next time I visit India; I will go to the RSS Schools and the Madrasas and see what they teach to produce hateful men and women. We don't need to poison our kids, and we cannot leave a legacy of apprehension to the next generation, let them enjoy their lives working together without apprehension of each other.  

I am for scraping any teaching that creates bias towards fellow beings, what the fallible men did in the past should not be dumped on you and me and our kids.

We must support what the Hindus groups are doing in California and I have written about it year ago. No child should face embarrassing moments.

I posted the above note at my group Dallas Indians group this afternoon, and in the evening I received the following shocker from Khalid Azam.

The Hindu America Foundation should defend their heritage, but not denigrate others.  Promoting hatred towards others does not gain them any brownie points or even make them look good. Of course the Moderate Hindus may not support such ventures.  

The next round of fixing the text books happens in the next five or six years, and I urge the Muslims in the next round to work for the common goodness of all Americans. Let’s stand up against any education that builds ill-will towards another human being.

Here is a note from Khalid Azam, and I commit today, God willing to work on the next revision cycle and I welcome all the volunteers from all faiths. We cannot let any faith be denigrated.

# # #

Last year, IAMC, IMRC and other Indian Muslim leaders in SF Bay Area tried to bring awareness to the dangers of supporting the efforts of a Hindu nationalist group called the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). HAF was seeking support from Muslim groups for their agenda of changing California School Textbooks under the pretext that "Hindu kids have low self esteem due to the characterization of Hinduism" which according to them was not at parity with Abrahamic religions. Despite the note of caution from Indian Muslims on the nefarious intentions of HAF, some Muslim organizations and individuals went ahead and endorsed the HAF petition.

Now the results are in. Not only have the HAF and its affiliated "Hindu coalition" organizations (Uberoi Foundation from which HAF received $30,000 for lobbying on the textbooks and Hindu Education Foundation, a long term ally of HAF)  managed to push for an upper caste, elitist version of Hinduism in the textbooks, but they have also pushed more Islamophobia into these school texts that our kids in California will be studying for the next 6-7 years. From the hundreds of edits that were submitted, below is a sampling of Islamophobic edits that HAF and allies attempted to push into the history school syllabus.

Besides these HAF led edits, numerous other organizations and individuals had a field day in submitting Islamophobic edits to the middle school history syllabus and unfortunately, not a single Muslim organization or individual was part of this review process to vouch for an accurate and decent representation of Islam and Muslims [at least as per the submission of 2,000+ edits I was able to review for the South Asian history]. Hopefully, six years down the line when the next review is scheduled, the community will be better organized and there will be a robust representation from the Muslim community during the review process.


Uberoi Foundation suggested change:
"Page 256, lines 511-516:

 Current text: “These were the foundation for the Shariah, the religious laws governing moral, social, and economic life. Islamic law, for example, rejected the older Arabian view of women as “family property,” declaring that all women and men are entitled to respect and moral self-governance, even though Muslim society, like all agrarian societies of that era, remained patriarchal, that is, dominated politically, socially, and culturally by men.”

 Suggested change: add the following, “Muslim people were divided into social groups based on power and wealth. At the top were government leaders, landowners, and traders. Below them were artisans, farmers, and workers. The lowest group were enslaved people. As in other civilizations, slavery was widespread. Because Muslims could not be enslaved, traders brought enslaved people from non-Muslim areas. Many of these people were prisoners of war.”"

 "Page 257, lines 525-527:

 Current text: “Muslims did not force Christians or Jews, “people of the book,” to convert, but people of other religions were sometimes forced to convert.”

 Suggested change: “Muslims did not force Christians or Jews, “people of the book,” to convert, but people of other religions were forced to convert most of the time in India as well as in other countries such as in central Asia.”"

 Hindu Education Foundation suggested changes:
 "Page 267, lines 750-753:

 Current text: “Islam became firmly established politically in the north as well as in some coastal towns and parts of the Deccan Plateau, although the majority of the population of South Asia remained Hindu.”

 Suggested change: add the following: “In southern India, the Hindu Vijayanagara empire dominated the scene for about 250 years and ushered in a period of cultural revival, the highlights of which were classic literature in the Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada languages. Its prosperous capital, Hampi (which was described by many European and Middle Eastern chroniclers), was the site of magnificent temples before being plundered by armies of the neighboring sultanates. Its ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site.”"

 "Page 307, lines 1560-1562:

 Current text: “Other Mughal rulers, most notably Akbar, encouraged and accelerated the blending of Hindu and Islamic beliefs as well as architectural and artistic forms.”

 Suggested change: add the following, “During this period, the Central and Southern parts of India saw the emergence of native empires that offered resistance to the hegemony and persecution of the Mughal rulers. Prominent among them was the Maratha empire established in 1618 CE by Shivaji Maharaj, which saw a resurgence of Hindu culture and traditions.”"

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) at www.TheGhousediary.com

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