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Learning about other's beliefs

(183 Posts)
Craftycat Tue 22-Nov-16 16:29:42

I have been thinking about this for the last 2 days & cannot make up my mind if I am being unreasonable.

On Sunday over dinner my DS was telling us that they had had a letter from GC's school to say that an Iman from local Muslim community had been invited to come to the school (village primary school - no Muslim pupils) to talk to them about Islam.

My son & DiL have decided that they will exclude the children from school that day as they do not want them hearing 'propaganda from a religion that treats women so badly'.

I was really shocked as I thought any coming together of communities to promote mutual understanding could only be a good thing.
They live in a small village but the nearest town is not far away & as far as I am aware there is not a big Muslim community there.

I told him I thought it was a crazy idea & the children (10 & 8) should know about all other religions & learn to respect them as I hope they would ours ( we are not a religious family to be fair).
They are adamant that the children will miss a day's school rather than hear this man talk.

I am sure it will be appropriate for the Primary school age he will be talking to.

Am I wrong? I know it is their decision as they are their children but I would have liked my GC to have heard what the man has to say- teachers will be present.
I was really shocked to hear him say this & I have been thinking about it ever since.
I know he will not change his mind because of what I say but I think he is wrong.
What do others think?

Luckygirl Tue 22-Nov-16 16:39:48

I think it is their decision to make, as you clearly recognise.

Learning about a diversity of religions can only be good, but I guess it is important to know as parents what this person is going to say and which version of Islam they hear. Many Muslims will tell you that women are respected and honored; others regard them as second class and want them to walk behind them and be covered up. I can understand that your son and DIL are not keen for the children to get a message that downgrades women, so, although learning about others and their beliefs is in principle good, I can understand their anxieties.

Frankly I too have no idea what the "real" Islam thinks about the place of women - who is to decide what is "real"?

nanaK54 Tue 22-Nov-16 16:49:37

Oh dear will the children know why they are not in school that day?

Christinefrance Tue 22-Nov-16 17:10:44

I think the Imam would have been asked about the content of his talk to the children before it happened.
As I understand the rank and file Muslims hold respectful views of women and hate the extremist views that have taken hold. However it is the parents decision to make, did they talk to the head teacher about their concerns?

Anniebach Tue 22-Nov-16 17:14:01

It's a pity, the Iman is reaching out to the community

dbDB77 Tue 22-Nov-16 17:31:25

I agree with Luckygirl that the decision is for your son and d-i-l to make. On a personal level I would be uncomfortable if an Imam were to speak to young children unless there were adults (grandparents and parents perhaps?) present who would challenge - really effectively challenge - any religious dogma that flies in the face of our society's values, such as equality for women. On a practical level the school could always ensure that the Imam is endorsed by the Quilliam Foundation which promotes integration and a moderate and inclusive Islam.

Anniebach Tue 22-Nov-16 19:26:08

I am sure staff would be with the children

Deedaa Tue 22-Nov-16 20:34:52

After the atrocities in Paris a pair of pleasant muslim men came to the door offering to leave me a couple of booklets about Islam to try and counteract the anti Islam publicity. I found the literature very interesting (nothing derogatory about women at all) but I did wonder what sort of welcome they would get from some of the neighbours.

Jalima Tue 22-Nov-16 21:00:33

They would get the same reaction from me that Jehovah's Witnesses get, or anyone coming to the door unsolicited.

A smile and a polite 'no thank you'.
However, that doesn't always work with JW who can be quite persistent so when I tell them that I am RC they usually go.

Ana Tue 22-Nov-16 21:04:37

I would hope this school is going to invite representatives of other religions to speak the its pupils too! hmm

Ana Tue 22-Nov-16 21:04:56


paddyann Tue 22-Nov-16 21:16:40

I think its very good for kids to learn about other religions ,takes the mystique out of them and the fear that seems to follow islam these days.All the moslems I know are hard working,family orientated members of the community ,with small businesses to run and they emply local people .No different to the christians ,the sikhs ,the jews etc ..its in all our interests that children understand that .Its fear that causes the problems ...

Hilltopgran Tue 22-Nov-16 22:19:01

Crafty cat I agree with you and I would expect a school to be certain that someone invited to talk was able to relate to children and give a balanced view. What a pity your DS and DIL do not feel able to trust the school to manage the talk appropriately.

It is fear and misunderstanding that is creating so much that is wrong at present. How much better it would be if people could respect and learn about differences rather than be judgemental. My DD and family live in a Muslim country and my daughter often comments how much she is treated with respect, not something that happens very often now than when in the UK.

Anya Tue 22-Nov-16 22:47:13

I think that's a disgraceful thing to do. Presumably this Imam's talk will only last a short time and these children will miss out on other curriculum subjects for the rest of the day.

GS1 attends a catholic primary school. They have children of all faiths there and have had visits from leaders of other religions who come in to speak and explain their religion. These religious leaders are accompanied and introduced by the school priest. That's what tolerance and acceptance of others views is all about.

And besides, Islam is changing in this country at least. More and more Muslim women are challenging dress codes and their place in society and their role within the family. I know several very strong, westernised Muslim women personally.

Hilltopgran Wed 23-Nov-16 01:34:46

I think you are right Anya, my GC attend an International school in a Muslim country where they learn about many faiths and cultures, they are learning tolerance and understanding and how to communicate with people from different cultures.

absent Wed 23-Nov-16 05:22:53

I don't think parents should be in a position to withdraw their children from any school-day activities and lessons, whether sex education, evolution theory, comparative religion or mathematics. I cannot for a second believe that any head teacher would be stupid enough to ask a politically extremist imam to speak to the children. I am sure that he or she has also made it clear that any bid for conversion is a no-no. The more we learn about and understand other cultures and belief systems, especially those whose lives and countries are closely interwoven with our own, the better it is for all of society.

rubylady Wed 23-Nov-16 06:09:05

It's not just religion, how would he react towards gays and lesbians, for instance? Take the children away from those too? They are going to get a huge shock when they move away from the protection of their parents and move into the big wide world.

In my opinion, we all need to learn to accept each other, with the exception, obviously, of people hurting us. I brought mine up with acceptance of different cultures, religions, sexuality, ages etc. Now my son is in university, like millions of others, with people of all nationalities, and he is enjoying getting to learn about them even more.

f77ms Wed 23-Nov-16 07:05:47

I have mixed feelings about this . luckygirl has a point in saying which brand of Islam will the children hear and will leaders of other `faiths ` be invited to speak . I would prefer religion to be left out of schools altogether as I feel it is a form of indoctrination and has no part in education especially when it is taught as fact .

Anya Wed 23-Nov-16 07:08:24

Ignorance is bliss then?

Anya Wed 23-Nov-16 07:12:01

Absent is correct in saying that no HT would be stupid enough to invite extremist views. While some people seem to find it hard to believe most Muslims are kind, hard working and peaceful people.

Anya Wed 23-Nov-16 07:24:03

Though I'd abolish faith schools entirely f77ms if I had my way.

f77ms Wed 23-Nov-16 07:33:55

Most Muslims are kind ,hardworking people but the Iman is there to talk about Islam. I wouldn`t personally keep my children away but maybe have a discussion with them after about religion in a general way ie that people of different cultures believe different things and leave it at that !

f77ms Wed 23-Nov-16 07:34:25

anya me too

thatbags Wed 23-Nov-16 07:44:15

We withdrew Minibags (at primary school) from religious observances, which are (ridiculously) still required in British schools. We'd no problem with her being taught about various world religions but we did not want her to be forced to pray or 'worship' in any.

Her secondary school has had days led by evangelical christians. I object to those too but she's of an age now where she can generate her own scepticism.

thatbags Wed 23-Nov-16 07:46:10

Other people can believe what the hell they like. I don't feel I need to know what their personal beliefs are. History of religions and their influence on society is another matter altogether.