The Times claims that Muslim students are taught to despise unbelievers as filth
I always thought that news had to consist of two main elements – something that was “new” and therefore “new-sworthy”, and something that had at least a kernel of truth and interest. Except for our friends at the tabloids, who mostly dispensed with such nonsense. And create their own. And so, a once respected broadsheet is dabbling in tabloid sensationalism with their latest piece by Sean O’Neill “Muslim students ‘being taught to despise unbelievers as filth”. His piece is designed to stir up misunderstanding and hatred from something that does not exist
The article focuses on a piece of legal text which lays out rules on ritual impurity (mistranslated as filth) and claims that because this text teaches that Muslims should wash if they have contact with those of other faiths, this leads to Muslims despising them. Wow. One plus one really does equal five!
If you read the piece, his whole story is based on the teaching of a thirteenth century text about Islamic jurisprudence to help students improve their understanding of classical Arabic language, and to give them some context of how Islamic law has developed. Somehow, he wraps this up into a story of “indoctrination” and brainwashing.
How little credit the newspaper gives Muslim students in being able to create a distinction between what they are taught academically and what they believe and practise! I feel patronised that somehow poor little Muslims can’t tell the difference.
And how poor is the writer’s context of the teachings. According to the response issued by the institution in question, he did not even bother to turn up to see things for himself. He did not bother to check the translations of the text about ritual impurity (not filth as is described in the article), which has strong resonance within the Jewish faith as well. The Times nor the writer have no concept either of what academic study is – reviewing of material that you may or may not agree with in order to learn history, context and critical analysis skills. Where would we be if we refused to study texts we disagreed with?
The Times should be deeply ashamed of publishing this article. They didn’t even bother to publish the response from the institution that they trashed. And at the very least they should open up a debate section so that responses can be posted. The fact that they have not, signals their cowardliness and the fact that their aim is just to create trouble, not to move the agenda forward in any kind of constructive way.