Boreal

Teach Your Children Well

Afterword

For Adults Only

The practice of teaching children to accept a doctrine uncritically, a definition of indoctrination, is the primary vocation of religious schools in general, and madrassas in particular.

Of course, most religious schools, with the exception of Islamic schools on the Wahhabi model, don't set out to teach children to hate those who don't practice their brand of religion; quite the opposite.

Yet, that is very much the outcome if we look at the wars, both declared and undeclared, that are being fought today by so-called "holy" warriors who feel morally justified in slaughtering those Allah holds in such contempt, along with their children, and being rewarded with Paradise for doing so.

What could be more right, doing what Allah would do if He was here, ridding the world of those who will not submit to His Will.

Conscientious and informed adults from every mainstream religion can be counted upon to find a quote from their god where he expresses tolerance, love and respect for those who follow the wrong religion.

Adults can interpret the words of their god to show Him (or Her) as being a charitable, accepting deity, even towards those who don’t acknowledge His or Her existence or omnipotence. But what about a child in a madrassa for instance, who is compelled to memorize passages which sanction the most horrible and pitiless treatment of those who don't believe what his teachers tell him is the word of the MAN Himself.

The Koran does not deal in shades of grey and neither does a child’s imagination. What is a child to make of the violent, horrific and downright sadistic verses where Allah takes obvious pleasure in describing in excruciating detail the pain he will inflict on sinners and unbelievers once they have crossed over into His Dominion?

Add to the Koran's horrific vision of Hell and the people on fire therein His equally nightmarish revelations about Judgement Day (which those who die killing the unbelievers on His behalf will avoid);

• His constant, merciless condemnation of unbelievers;

• His recommendation that those who oppose Islam are “to be killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on opposite sides, or to be banished from the land (5:33)”;

• His deprecating remarks about women and girls;

• His condoning of spousal abuse and sexual battery and the confinement and close surveillance of wives and young women;

• His views on justice which favour retaliation in kind, the payment of blood money and mutilation over forgiveness and rehabilitation;

• His approval of slavery, the keeping of concubines and polygamy;

• His salacious description of heaven as a place where Muslim men will be popping hymens for an eternity while laughing at the unbelievers roasting in His Hell below;

and you have a book that, in my opinion, should have For Adults Only written all over it.

Children cannot appreciate that omnipotent beings are somewhat insecure in their omnipotence and are prone to exaggeration and hyperbole, and that their words cannot always be taken literally.

This is especially true of the Koran which the believers are expected to attempt to memorize in its entirety. Repetition is the key i.e. learning by rote, and this is the usual  method used in madrassas to make an indelible impression of the Word of Allah on a child's mind.

Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, ex-Muslim, former member of the Dutch parliament, friend and collaborator of the regretted Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, author of Infidel and The Caged Virgin (books mainly about Islam’s treatment of women), argues that if the West is to have a chance of defeating Islamic fundamentalism it must outlaw madrassas.

Religion is part of our history, all our histories, and should be part of a school's curriculum and that includes non-denomination schools, but not during what we refer to in Canada as the elementary and junior high school years.

The Old Testament in the original is not a children's book; even less so the Koran. Also, unlike the Koran, the Bible is meant to be studied and reflected upon, not memorized by rote and acted upon, which means a Bible teacher can chose passages from a book that is approximately ten times the size of the Koran in words (the 791,328 words or so King James version) that are appropriate for the age of his or her audience.

The long term effects of children being exposed to the raw hate and violence of the Koran that is part of a typical madrassa's curriculum is something with which we should all be concerned, believers and unbelievers alike.