American Muslim Day Schools are Growing

February 25, 2002

Source: The Washington Post

On February 25, 2002, The Washington Post reported that "tensions within the walls of Muslim day schools are in many ways emblematic of the U.S. Muslim community's political concerns, fears, biases and hopes, all brought into sharp focus since the events of Sept. 11... The fall attacks could serve as the catalyst in determining whether these schools and their students focus on the culture and politics of faraway Muslim lands or find within Islamic tradition those ideals consistent with U.S. democracy and religious liberty... The growth of the Muslim population in the United States in the past two decades has prompted a proliferation of day schools... Nationally, there are estimated to be 200 to 600 of these schools, with at least 30,000 students. Thousands of others attend Islamic weekend schools... There is a growing desire for more day schools... Some Muslim educators are writing a new curriculum that infuses tenets of the religion in every lesson while providing a broad-minded worldview. Textbooks, often from overseas and rife with anti-American rhetoric, are being replaced in some schools. Some parents are forming PTAs and seeking a curriculum that teaches the civic virtues of tolerance and pluralism... 'I wouldn't be surprised if some teachers are sometimes anti-American or anti-Semitic,' said Abdulwahab Alkebsi, whose 12-year-old daughter attends the Islamic Saudi Academy [in Northern Virginia]. 'But I don't want it to be that way... I choose the school because of the same reason why all American parents choose private schools -- it's a better environment and no peer pressure of drugs and being a sex symbol at too young an age. But there are other American values -- like freedom of speech and assembly -- that we should be teaching our kids to respect.'"