Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Koran and Reading Incomprehension

From Ann Althouse:

The NYT has what seems meant to read as a charming human interest piece about "children" -- really, boys -- who are sent to school in New York City for 9 hours a day to work exclusively on the task of memorizing the Koran.
But this level of devotion to Islam has a way of causing suspicion these days. While parents whose children are in the schools said they were proud of them, they also worry about how they will be perceived.
How they will be perceived? This isn't a matter of stimulating the supposed ethnic prejudice of Americans, it's blatantly violating the laws of compulsory schooling!

The young boys are taught that if they memorize the entire Koran, they will gain admittance to heaven and the right to choose 10 persons to bring along with them. If believed, this is a powerful incentive. There is a sense that the entire family is relying on him. Meanwhile, these boys -- who must be quite smart to have a shot at memorizing the 6,200 verses -- are deprived of all other education, including instruction in Arabic, the language of the text they are memorizing phonetically. (Nor are they provided with a translation: they are learning only to pronounce sounds.)
I'm out of town right now, but at home I have a copy of Robert Spencer's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), where he writes about the significant number of Muslims who do not know what the Koran actually says.

I don't recall if he had more than annecdotal evidence for this claim, but this would seem to add credence to what he wrote.

Certainly knowing--and discussing--the text is part of learning, and memorizing Shas. The Baal Koreh's I know do more than just blindly memorize the Torah.

Then again, I suppose that blindly memorizing the Koran without having a clue as to what they are reading would be an essential tool to creating equally blind followers.

Except that this should not be happening on US soil.

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