Profile of a Model Muslim School in Bridgeview

June 11, 2005

Source: TIME Magazine,8599,1071185,00.html

On June 11, 2005 TIME Magazine reported, "the boys, with some affection, call their school 'the box.' It is an acknowledgment that their modern, gray concrete building with 36 classrooms and a basketball court is both protection and containment. Outside the box, says senior Ali Fadhli, there are 'problems.' He means temptation — and bigotry. The temptation is sex and the way the culture outside the box is saturated with it... The place that's preparing these young Americans for life in their own country, 'from crayons to college,' as its slogan promises, is the Universal School, an Islamic institution teaching 638 students in pre-K through 12th grades in Bridgeview, Ill. The suburb, 16 miles southwest of Chicago's downtown Loop, lies in the heart of one of the U.S.'s largest Arab communities, where an estimated 25,000 Islamic residents pursue an uneasy assimilation into secular, suburban life. The school's goal is to give its students such a solid grounding in their religion and education that they will be able to go forth and succeed in mainstream American life without compromising their values. 'Proud to be Muslim, proud to be American,' says Safaa Zarzour, vice chairman of the school's board and its former principal. Universal takes pride in the fact that it is a model Islamic school. 'Being a Muslim is synonymous with excellence in every area,' its parent-and-student handbook says."