Some Virginia high school students’ parents were outraged after a class assignment involved writing the Muslim statement of faith. Charisma News reports a geography assignment at Riverheads High School in Staunton asked students to practice calligraphy by writing, “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” in Arabic.
The message was not translated to English.
Students were also shown a quran and female students were also invited to try on a headscarf while learning about the modest dress of Islamic cultures.
The school district has defended the lessons, arguing that they are in accordance with the state’s curriculum on world religions. The students will study Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity later in the unit.
The district said in a statement, "Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief.”
They also said that students were not asked to pronounce the Islamic statement of faith as their personal belief.
"They were simply asked to attempt to artistically render written Arabic in order to understand its artistic complexity," the district stated.
As for the scarf, the district said that it was not a real Islamic hijab, just an opportunity to participate in a hands-on activity.
Interactive learning experiences are intended to give students “a better objective understanding of the region and its culture,” according to the school district.
Publication date: December 17, 2015