>Help, My Daughter Goes to a Madrassa!

>You know, this is one of those things that really annoys me about Americans. We’re REALLY bad about this. I mean really, really bad. I’m sitting her watching the debate between Biden and Palin (good job Biden!) and my guy just said something SO stupid… And, it’s not necessarily his fault, but the media’s. Somehow we Americans get lost in the idea that a foreign word may have the same meaning as an English word. Okay, I know that sounds stupid and self-evident, but… if the shoe fits.

I have gotten so tired of hearing about these “madrassas” that are in Afghanistan. Hello! You idiots, madrassa means school in Arabic. How stupid do we sound? Now, if what you mean is a school of radical Islam, then say that. Don’t say madrassa. Because, in fact my daughter attends a madrassa (a school). And so do my nieces and nephews in the US. They all attend school. So, let’s drop the stupid attempt to use foreign words to sound scary.

It calls to mind Americans saying about Muslims, “they pray to Allah” in that tone of voice that is saved for horrifying whispers about serial killers. And I always answer, yes and so do Arab Christians. Allah means God. It’s just the Arabic word… How stupid can we sound? And I blame the media in great part. They do a good job of brainwashing us… And, they do it because it makes better news if it’s sensational.

So, while I’m on the topic of misleading and outright lying, I wanted to go back to a post by Ali. I know he thought I missed his comment, but this is one of those conversations that requires thought and mulling over. Ali’s post was on the mailing of 28 million copies of an inflammatory movie called Obsession to voters in swing states in the US. Now, long ago in my life, I learned not to comment on something about which I have no personal knowledge. So, I went out to youtube and watched the movie. It’s divided into 10 six (ish) minute segments. So, now I’ve mulled and fermented my ideas and have some thoughts.

First, I am disgusted each time the elections roll around by the tactics Americans will use to win (or cause to win) an office. The movie is clearly designed to scare people and push a political agenda. Within the movie there are misstatements, poor translations, and outright falsehoods. Some of my favorites are:

  1. The equating of the Palestinians and the intifada with radical Islam (ignore those Christians over there with crosses, won’t you?)
  2. The statement that Yasser Arafat hated America for its religious freedom and hated Christianity (You know, his wife was Christian, right? And he was on TV each year in church on Christmas. Funny demonstration of hatred for Christians, that.)
  3. Even I, with my pitiful Arabic, noticed that they translated the same word from Arabic into English multiple ways (some of which were outright wrong) to make their point. One example is when they translated deen as law. That was blatant enough that I caught it (since ButterBean takes deen in school and I’m fairly certain they aren’t starting law in the 1st grade).
  4. The obvious pro-Israeli slant that has no actual place in a piece on radical Islam.
  5. The horror with which they presented the idea in Islam that every non-believer would not be saved. Far be it from me to point out that this is a central belief in every faith. We Christians believe that only those who know Christ as their personal saviour will be saved. Hello. Every faith has the same fundamental principle…

But, (and here’s where I’ll get into trouble) the movie had some valid points that moderate Muslims everywhere need to hear. Therein lies the challenge. Here are the points I walked away with that I think bear some thought:

  • One fundamental message that followers of Islam would do well to heed is that Americans, average Americans, are scared of you. No, not just the radical Muslims -all Muslims. This is normal, it’s natural. We’re almost always scared of anything that’s different. And, you look different. Sadly, both non-Muslims and Muslims alike get drawn into the trap of focusing on differences. Instead of pointing out the similarities between Ramadan and Lent to help bridge the understanding gap, the message delivered is that Christians wouldn’t understand fasting (which says more about a lack of understanding of Christianity than anything). Islam and Christianity may vary widely, but they also share similarities. If you can help Americans (and Westerners in general) see that, you will be doing all of us favor. Each of you can play a role as an ambassador of your faith.
  • Moderate Muslims have a role to play in stopping the spread of radical Islam. Over and over again, we hear about the “silent” majority. You know what? The time for silence is done. Now is the time to raise your voices. Get angry about the fact that a fringe element who does not even represent Islam faithfully has hijacked your faith for their political purpose. Osama bin Laden doesn’t represent Islam. He’s not out there fighting for your rights (or those of the Palestinians). He’s out there fighting for his own agenda (whatever that might be). But until Americans hear the voices of good Muslims everywhere standing against what is being done in their name, they have no choice but to believe that you agree with it. The reality I face is that outsiders will not be able to stop this zealousness and twisting of Islam. Only Muslims can. Just as only Christians could stand against those who bombed clinics and killed in the name of our faith. It was wrong during the Crusades, it was wrong during the abortion clinic bombings, and it’s wrong now. Murder is never justified, but only we can ensure that that element doesn’t represent us. As an American, I have a role to play in ensuring that another bad advertisement for Christianity like George Bush doesn’t end up in office. He doesn’t represent my faith. I take that responsibility very seriously. So now is your time to take a stand. Don’t have sympathy for these people who pervert your beliefs to their own ends. Don’t sit idly by and let them continue. Speak against them, work to bring them back into the right faith. Do whatever you can to reclaim your religion.
  • All that it takes for evil to flourish is for good mean to do nothing. And this is true in every society in the world. Take it to heart and resolve to do SOMETHING. The movie tries to use this as a scare tactic, but it should be a call to do what’s right, what’s just, and what’s religiously based.

The reality about Americans is that while we may not be the most aware people in the world (nor are we the least, by the way), it’s mostly a country of good people. They get up every morning and eat breakfast. They work hard to provide for their families. They love their children and want the best for them. The more things are different, the more they are the same. Americans are just like Jordanians. They’re people who try their best to live life and ensure the well-being of their families. Understanding that whatever differences in tradition are just that – differences in tradition – may help bridge this gap. Remember that while you may even agree that American women are immoral, in the same way Americans agree that Arab women are subjugated and without rights. Neither picture is either wholly true or accurate. I think if we all try to understand each other better (not necessarily become like each other), our conversation will be richer and we may be able to leave fear behind and move forward with understanding and respect.

Happy Education!

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39 thoughts on “>Help, My Daughter Goes to a Madrassa!

  1. >Well said!! Can you change the title to include “Obsession” so people won’t miss these nuggets?Now I have to go watch that, too. If the production of Obsession was an evangelical conspiracy, I didn’t get any fund-raising emails: that is my first clue someone wants to swing something somewhere?One note about ‘madrassehs’. In saying ‘school’ it may give the perception that those kids in Indonesia are learning stuff like Barney. It’s all about what curriculum was used…but fat chance finding that out. Wait until you have to ‘unlearn’ your kids from what they are given in Jo curriculum.

  2. >Now that I’m back in the States, I am constantly having to debunk misconceptions about the Middle East. Most people just don’t know enough about the subject and are just making speculations based on what they’ve heard through the grapevine or what they’ve seen on TV. Ironically, I dealt with the same issue on the opposite end. Most Middle Easterners are guilty of the same misconceptions about the West.Fortunately on both sides, people are willing to listen and modify their opinions.

  3. >The sad thing is that even some of those who live amongst us are more ignorant in those matters than those don’t.And for kinzi, Does learning about barney make you “moderate”, or are you against teaching relegion in schools in general? And last time I checked indonesian radicalism only floursihed after the financial crisis in the 90’s where the west and the US stood looking without helping, where hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, thousands committed suicide coz they couldn’t feed their families(and all of this was due to “reforms” pushed by the neocons and friedmaniates,you know the drill: free market, sell your assets, open your markets, abolish unions ,etc…And Remember that Suharto was beloved by the west until he did things that they didn’t like and began diverging from the plan..So PUHLEASE stop using the relegion argument. I suggest you read some history before claiming that indonesian “madrasas” produce terrorists-even the catholic Madrassas based on your logic. And by the way when Obama was in indonesia at a time where secularism was in power,there was no terrorism, and indonesia has the most moderate muslim population.AMAZING!And back to suharto and indonesia, those extremists were supported by the regime and the west turned a blind eye on them, because you know, just like the “freedom fighters” in afghanistan-to borrow mccain’s terms- were a defense line against those commies-whom according to mccain brother are now occupying northern virginia.BTW, some in Mccain crowd are now shouting kill obama.

  4. >mammabean, you have went str8 to the point, I loved your comment and that you put the effort to check the DVD, you represent most of the Anmericans who are moderate and are thirsty for Information about Islam, Middle East and Women in Islam. It is true, we Arabs especialy the ones in the Middle East lack the correct media venue to show the real image of Islams and Arabs in General. I have to say that Middle Easterns living in America have put alot of effort to get closer to Americans and to make them understand our differences and similarities. That’s what I used to do at school at work, with my friends in Florida. My sister has published a new book in America called “Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts”, its currently sold in Jordan @ Books@cafe and in America in Amazon, Barnes and noble and Borders.As for Christianity and Islam and I include Judaisim, the similarities are more than the differences. I believe God has given us relgion to make our life easier but its the Man who started screwing it and creating all these differences.Agian you are right, we Arabs should be more vocal but I met many here in Jordan who are negative and would say “what difference would it make” but I believe it would.

  5. >Kinzi, here you are forcing me to admit that the whole discussion of Obsession was sort of a related tangent :). That’s rather why it didn’t make it into the title. Oh, and the point about madrassa is exactly the one I’m trying to make. While some madrassas may be teaching radical Islam, some are teaching Christianity. The term madrassa MEANS school. Give it another name if you want to refer to the radical-Islam-breeding type :).Dave, been there (wait I’m there every single time I visit the US). Keep up the good work spreading the news that Jordanians are people too. Some of the best people in the world…Mohaned, quite a tangent there, but fitting into my point nicely. The point is that you can’t simply use the foreign word for school and equate it with terrorist training ground. They may be ONE type of madrassa, but they’re far from the only type…

  6. >There is a film I show my students called Inside Islam–it is by far the best teaching documentary on explaining Islam to an American audience. I always ask my Muslim students if they see any bias, and they don’t. One told me yesterday that it was nice to see a film that actually explained the religion and the history, the meaning of the word Islam, the 5 pillars of the faith, the greater and the lesser jihad. It gets American students to ask tough questions: How can a religion be based on peace and cause so much hate? I counter the question substituting Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism—I cannot speak for all religions as I don’t know much about Taoism and Shinto. It creates real dialog; many of my students don’t know about the Crusades, nor do they understand colonialism in Egypt, Algeria–what the Shah of Iran actually did. This film addresses much of that.I came to your blog from Ali. I have not seen the film in question, but many of my students have and they are questioning the source.

  7. >Well, not really a tangent-if you mean me talking about indonesia, because kinzi was aiming at Obama spending some of his early years in indonesia–>being taught islam–>he can't be trusted. We had short debate somewhere else :)But, I admit that reform is needed in eduaction especially relegion-wise, that being said I hate it when somepeople use causation to explain their atttitude toward someone else, knowing that there are many variables that come to play when radicalism is the outcomes. Simply saying that being taught islam makes you unfit to lead, or that knowing someone who you don't agree with makes you risky is not something I appreciate or respect.

  8. >MommaBean, hey, you have FIVE stars on your post at Q-Planet! And PROOF of greater than 3 readership. Point taken madrassah.Mohanned, heh-heh, you found me! Now, MommaBean and I are practically BFF, and different sides of the election thus far, and look how nice we can be and still love each other while not liking each other’s candidate? We don’t even use bad words describing the other candidate.Remember, I conceded on Indonesia as I can’t find info on curriculum. Hey, it wasn’t that long ago…I was alive!more later….

  9. >Two thumps WAAAAY UP!! WAAAAAAAY UP … Wait till my friends hear about this .. (emails sent …)I couldn’t have said it better, and coming from someone who actually KNOWS what they’re talking about.You should be an advisor for Ridley Scott on his movies!

  10. >Kinzi,HAHA, I am always watching like a hawk, nah just kidding. My “problem” with you started with the first comment you left at secratea’s And I explained why I felt that you were biased and prejudicial.Now, as for candidates, I am surprised that an evangelical like you would support someone like McCain, but it is understandable, because he represents the McDonalds of politics, that is, you will know what you will get in advance(And I don’t think that picture is beautiful), but Obama, has a “muslim”-as if muslim and arabic are now synonomous- middle name, he sounds “defeatest” because he wants to talk with the “enemies” I get all that, but what I don’t get is the amplification and manifistation of so much bias and prejudice in the form of just opposing for the sake of opposing. What I also hate is when people don’t look beyong their nose, they think that electing a US president is something local and that anything outside the US borders is peripheral and irrelevant as long as I have my gun and support “life” even If some girl was raped by her father. What I hate is when people just judge based on the ends, not on the means, for example: lets look at abortion, obama says that life is precious and that we should eliminate abortions by education, relegion teachings, protected sex,etc…While the other part simple says: I am for life Period.You see what I mean, the difference is not between left and right, it is between approaches, it between someone who actually thinks before he acts and someone who acts then begins the attribution process.I talked alot, and I won’t be able to change your mind, but what I like to do is read and research before you judge, and the indonesia thing is an example, you ignored the history of the country just to reassure yourself that you made the right decision, but what you didn’t know, that it is not as simple as that, you didn’t ask yourself why do we have indonesian maids, you didn’t look at the financial melt down in asia, you didn’t look at the US support for the dictatorship in indonesia..Thanks!

  11. >The McDonald’s of politics…hmm. Is the Cheezburglar running for President, too? Maybe I’ll fill him in on my absentee ballot. Momma, great post. Great post! With the words “madrasah” and “madraasah,” however, there is a slight difference on the “aa,” with the definition of the latter being a school for teaching Quran/Sunnah/Islamic jurisprudence to the youngsters. Yes, your kids go to a madrasah, as do mine, whereas those kids in camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan or wherever, or even in Bangladesh or Mauritania, attend a “madraasah” system. I know this because my old Principal-employer was a product of a Bengali “madraasah” where virtually no ‘secular’ subjects were taught. He was very much against this system of education and it does NOT (in its definition)denote a school used for training Islamic militant wannabes, but rather a school for training kids whose lives will take a more religious path, will memorize Quran completely, become Imams, etc. Does that make sense? However, once again the media spin has taken that word, (as it has done with other words) and hooked it up nicely with negativity. I am in no way denying that these radicals have started training the young ones (i.e. Taliban) in these schools, in certain places, but as a whole, the madraasah system is not a bad thing.As for we Muslims standing up, YES, we must, I am, in my small ways, and I encourage others to, all the time. I also second your take on the reality of Americans. Truly, really, good people, and everyone who goes there and comes back will say that. May Allah guide us all to the truth and to the best way to be myth busters.

  12. >Americans are very kind and uninformed people. I Wish more Arabs and Muslims would find the time to chat with them. Belive me when i say that it takes me a map and an hour to make most Americans become supportive of Arabs and Muslims!

  13. >Mohanned, mu-haha!! I’m glad you aren’t mad I took my toys and went home (I had to pick up kid toys in real-life). It is also a little lonely to be the only non-Obama enthusiast in the whole darn blogosphere. :(In my mind, my main objection was not his upbringing but his Illinois record and associations. I’m sorry you don’t respect that, but I get stuck with Illinois. Now that I googled the topic, I can see where you thought I was parroting Fox. I hadn’t read this stuff, but lol, it sure must’ve sounded like I had. I was busy hoping Obama would beat Hillary back when this was news. I had heard he lived in Indonesia and went to public school there. That, for me, raised a red flag, due both to the situation for Christians there and to my run-ins with Jordanian curriculum of which you are well aware from some post in the past. You look for dictators, I look for curriculum. I am a curriculum freak :). some of O’s school reform scares me bad.The Jordanian curriculum HAS made me both biased and prejudicial. I am not happy about some of the US curriculum I don’t like either. Some Christian curriculum I detest. I like Singaporean math, tho. Did the US support a dictator in Singapore? :)Now I like the values of Barney, sort-of, although I get nauseated from the older songs I listened to pregnant. I feel detailed religious education should be a parental responsibility; although public schools should teach ABOUT all world religions, as the commentor above does. I had tons of people in the US ask me about Senator Obama’s faith, if his name meant he was a Muslim. I said his name doesn’t mean he is a Muslim, he goes to a church, he claims to be a Christian. There are Christian pastors in Sudan named Mohammed and Ahmad. Nothing to it.I used to have people email us about God’s name Allah (the ‘moon god’, yabayay ridiculous). I told them what MommaBean did, Christians were using Allah for His name from the time of Christ. I almost got thrown off a Christian blog for losing my temper with someone about this silly tangent.SO…now I am getting long too, you actually pretty much got it about McDonalds. I want change, but not as much as I am afraid Senator Obama wants to bring. I am afraid of who he would appoint over judges and Supreme Court as much as that Diddy guy is afraid of Gov. Palin.MommaBean’s hubby told mine that Sen. Obama is going to cut the foreign earned income tax credit, which means we’ll be moving back to the US if he wins. Flippin’ burgers.(MB, is that really what El 3atal said?)I’m not excited about Sen. McCain, I’m just much less excited about Sen. Obama. I know Evangelical Rep who are voting Obama, I know Atheist Dems who are voting McCain.Sen, Obama will probably win, but God is still on the throne.I’m sorry to be a disappointment, and I thank you for being so kind this time. 🙂

  14. >Kinzi,Just a note to let you know that you aren’t alone in the blogsphere as I’m both fellow Illinoian and non Obama supporter. I’m on your side in that regard. I’m in full solidarity with you.UmFarrouq,Thank you for your timely reply, you hit the nail perfectly.

  15. >”The Jordanian curriculum HAS made me both biased and prejudicial. I am not happy about some of the US curriculum I don’t like either. Some Christian curriculum I detest. I like Singaporean math, tho. Did the US support a dictator in Singapore?” I agree with you with regards to some aspects of the curriculum, but to just hate without knowing the reason is just like Plain saying it doesn’t matter who caused global warming;). Now in the 50’s and 60’s the marxists, and leftists in all the arab world were on the rise, and the only way to confront them was through islamists, for example, in jordan the muslim brotherhood gripped the ministry of education and all of this was approved by the regime which was at the time supported by the US government, you may ask why? Because at that time, the danger was communism and islamists, the regime, and the US had a common enemy..It all played well until them “freedom fighters”-again to borrow mccain’s words-looked around and said “it is your turn babe”. While I don’t buy into conspiracy theories, but the facts on the ground are obvious.”Now I like the values of Barney,”I also like barney, and my daughter has tones of his DVDs:)”I am afraid of who he would appoint over judges and Supreme Court as much as that Diddy guy is afraid of Gov. Palin.”HAHAHA, you are comparing yourself to diddy, I wouldn’t go there if I were you:), but with all seriousness, this is one thing I talked about, you simply care fot stuff that impact you and only you, you ignore the impact that electing McCain might have on millions of people around the world, which will eventually come back and bite you, just like al-qaeda did. I hope you understand what I mean. This election is not about abortion and it shouldn’t be, it is about the world, and the lives of billions of people. Do you care about darfur? Do you care about Iraqi children? Do you care about gazan mothers? etc….

  16. >”The McDonald’s of politics…hmm. Is the Cheezburglar running for President, too? Maybe I’ll fill him in on my absentee ballot. “I love it when an argument just flies on the top of some peoples’ heads :)Hatem, is your position ideologically driven? I would assume so, knowing your enthusiasm about the neolibral economic policy:)

  17. >Great post.My wife and I have talked about how we hate the use of that word as a description of extremist schools rather than what it really means. I cracked up watching the news one morning when it declared that the Muslim holiday of “Eed” was about to begin. Uh… the Muslim holiday of holiday? Well that is the usage here… holiday. It’s like the table-mesas in Arizona… the table tables? Whatever.I agree that it is disgusting that they have to use the Arabic word to scare the public… just call them extremist schools… and if you won’t then at least learn to pronounce the stupid misused word correctly.I have been renting a car for a while now so I have not had my daily dose of political discussion with taxi drivers. Often they tell me about how Clinton and Carter are the best presidents ever! I usually give them a little whammy to shake up their thinking. I just tell them that one of the democratic party’s hallmarks is the right to abort a baby and that one of the hallmarks of the republicans is the right for that baby to live. Real Muslims (yanni… aktar men kalam) disagree with abortion and agree with me when I say it is Haram. They are usually pretty shocked when I tell them that their hero of American politics, Bill Clinton, was all about protecting that “right” to destroy a life. It’s all about re-education… on both sides of the pond.

  18. >Every civilisation and culture is unigue and irreplaceable,aware that all cultures and civilisations are part of the common legacy of humankind,respect of other cultures are prerequisites.Convinced that dialogue among different cultures and civilisations-within states as well as between states can contribute to making their common values.Convinced that education can contribute to a better understanding of other cultures.

  19. >Come on hatem, you are the big words guy 🙂 I meant economic ideology. You know the university of chicago and milton friedman stuff, it is more like a relegion for the conservative movement.

  20. >mohanned,Honestly, and in light of the current financial melt down, I don’t know what to beieve in any more. I’m worried that my retirement money will evaporate along with all the other derivatives.I may even end up polishing shoes infront of the Husseini mosque in downtown Amman

  21. >Hi MommaBean, great post! I watched “Obsession” and somehow I missed some of the more biased points it made (though I noticed the pro-Israel slant). But the main messages I got were that the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people; only a few are violent terrorists; they’re using religion as an excuse to kill people, including fellow Muslims; and that the moderate Muslim majority needs to stand up and face down the violent minority in their midst. I thought it was a good message. A fair number of Muslims read my blog, and I read several Muslim blogs. My horizons have been expanded, just as I hope I helped expand theirs.

  22. >Hatem, thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. I discovered Marvin the Martian does, too. :)Mohanned, I see your point, really I do (and I want to tell you, unlike another Evang. Female, I can tell you right off the bat I read NYT, WSJ, BBC WaPo and many others. Just so you think I don’t sit with my head in the sand).I do care about Gazan mothers, which is why Gaza girl spent weekends at our house last year. I do care about Darfur, which is why we support a farming project there started by Sudanese friends of ours. I do care about Iraqis, which was the reason we came to Jordan and the reason my hubby goes regularly and has a publishing project (FOR EDUCATION!). What is Sen. Obama going to do, move into these areas and take over like Bush did with big guns? With the amount of taxes he will increase, we don’t have the money to give to Sudan and Iraq like we did.

  23. >Wow, girl! You really hit some nerves with this one. I haven’t seen Obsession and I plan not to see it. I think the use of Obama’s past and history with Islam are just tools for the Republicans and Right-wingers to play with since they know they can’t win with any economy talk. I agree that more Muslims need to make the effort to show themselves as ‘normal’ to the American public but it is hard to break a lot of the stereotypes. The best place to start is with neighbors and school colleagues, etc. I wouldn’t tag myself as a Moderate Muslim, though and those kinds of labels are a dangerous mine field. What one person thinks is conservative, might be liberal to others, etc. So, I try not to go there. The wonderful thing I have seen knowing you and Kinzi, is that practicing people of either faith really do have much in common. I think the key though is ‘practicing.’ As you have family who are not in that category who cannot understand you and they are Christian as well. So, the level of faith has a lot to do with our commonality. A person who doesn’t believe in God would have a hard time understanding the dedication of a Muslim to prayer, fasting, etc. while a devout Christian would understand. I think that is key.

  24. >That is so true American Arab Muslim, I have seen Americans in tears when they heard how my Parents were kicked out from Palestine and how we live in Diaspora, and with a simple map of the Arab World and Palestine/Israel, they understand the middle east peace process the issue of settelments, Jerusalem, Gaza, Iraq….etc.. But Arabs in the Middle East are too busy watching Bab el Harrah, Nour and other silly crap things to actualy put the effort to interact with Americans in the Middle East or on the internet or when they travel. I have met visting foreigners and tourists in Jordan who never interacted with the locals here. They just come to Jordan with the Travel guide, visit petra and deadsea and then leave the country.

  25. >Mohanned,Your joke/argument re: Kinzi prefering McD’s politics did not go over (or on, as you said) my head, I promise. I’m just being my zany, sarcastic self. 🙂 We’ve had a Ronald for President once before, anyway…

  26. >I was thinking the same thing when I was watching Fox News last month, one news reporter said (about Obama) she was like “he attended a Madrassa” with a weird face like she just took whif out of some smelly cheese!! I was like do you even know what “Madrassa” actually means, I don’t blame the public I blame the media for overdramatizing!!

  27. >First, welcome everyone! I’m glad a post of mine could spur such great discussion and get more than my usual 3 readers :). I actualy wrote and posted responses to most comments, but blogger ate it :(, grrr. Sorry, but I can’t do it all again. Suffice to say, thanks for your interesting points, and those of you who forwarded the post, I am most honored!

  28. >”I have gotten so tired of hearing about these “madrassas” that are in Afghanistan.”A lot of the words that have entered the English language, though ARE originally Arabic, have not done so as a result of being in contact with Arabs. Urdu and Persian use a LOT of Arabic but with a slight change in meaning. And when westerns come in contact with these people (mainly moslem Indians and Pakistanis) they adopt THEIR definition NOT the original Arabic meaning of these word.The word Madrassa in ARABIC means school but in Pakistan when a person says they attend a Madrassa, they mean a religious school. So the western media is using the urdu meaning of madrasa not the original arabic meaning of it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrassas_in_Pakistan

  29. >Anonymous, thanks. In fact, Umm Farouq pointed this out and even in Arabic it means the same thing with a slightly different spelling and pronounciation. Yet, the point remains valid. While some of these schools may be turning out terrorists, so are public schools, and homeschooling… Even in Pakistan the term does NOT refer to breeding grounds of radical Islam, but a place of study of Quran. So, turning a foreign word into a scary sound-bite simply breeds fear and misunderstanding. If the press means a radical school of learning, then they should either say that or make up their own word (which they’re great at, witness the American trend toward stay-cations). Maybe they could call them radi-slam schools…

  30. >Radi-slam. Sounds like the Muslim hotel chain. 🙂 I always get bothered when people call the huge chain “the LIFE HOTEL” (Hi-yatt) instead of what we know it to be: the Hi-et. :)OK enough little smiley faces. Gosh this post got a lot of comments, and deservedly so.

  31. >I’m an American living in Morocco and I agree with everything you said 100 percent. One reason why some Muslims are silent against extremists is fear and ostracism. I feel that that the fundmentalists have hijacked Christianity in the United States (which is one reason I am so fed up now with the Republicans) but I’m normally silent about it to others. I used to talk about politics and religion, but now don’t bother except to two or three close friends.The people who need to be listening to all you said aren’t interested. The people who are interested aren’t the ones who need to be listening.Good post.Eileen

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