Middle East studies in the News
California School District Takes Sweeping Action After Mom Complains About Controversial 'Rise of Islam' Assignment [incl. Akbar Ahmed]
by Billy Hallowell
A California school district has banned the drawing of all religious figures following controversy over a middle school class assignment in which students doodled pictures of Muhammad, Islam's most revered prophet.
The drama began after a worksheet titled, "Vocabulary Pictures: The Rise of Islam" reportedly instructed 7th grade students in a class at High Desert School in Action, California, to draw pictures of various words pertaining to the Muslim faith.
The problem? One of those words was "Muhammad," the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Pictures and drawings of Muhammad are not permitted under Islam, as TheBlaze has extensively covered.
A parent complained and the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District Superintendent got involved, with superintendent Brent Woodard saying that he would not allow any more depictions of religious figures.
"I have directed all staff to permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depiction of any religious leader," Woodard reportedly told the outlet. "I am certain this teacher did not intend to offend anyone and in fact was simply teaching respect and tolerance for all cultures."
The complaint reportedly came from mother Melinda Van Stone, a chiropractor whose 12-year-old son is in the class. She told the Los Angeles Daily News that she did not find it "appropriate to have our children go to school and learn how to insult a religious group."
As TheBlaze previously reported, Dr. Akbar Ahmed, chair of the Islamic Studies department at American University in Washington, D.C., told CNN earlier this year that bans against picturing Muhammad are intended to prevent prophet worship.
Unlike Christianity, in which Jesus is considered God's son and, thus, worthy of worship, Muhammad is considered a mere man and is not entitled to that level of adoration, he said.
"It's all rooted in the notion of idol worship. In Islam, the notion of God versus any depiction of God or any sacred figure is very strong," Ahmed explained. "The prophet himself was aware that if people saw his face portrayed by people, they would soon start worshiping him. So he himself spoke against such images, saying 'I'm just a man.'"
Read more about issues surrounding images of Muhammad here.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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