Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from a flyer distributed by The Islamic Society of North America to public school administrators. Our purpose in publishing it is to show the difficulty, if not impossibility, of meeting the needs of diverse religious and other groups within a "common" (government) school system. We invite Muslims (and all others) to embrace Separation as the only sure means to see that their children are educated according to their values and beliefs. (Thanks to Arnold Burron, Professor of Education, University of Northern Colorado, for bringing this to our attention.)
I would like to bring to your attention some of the most serious problems faced by Muslim students in public schools. We seek your urgent cooperation in solving these problems in order to guarantee religious freedom and non-discrimination.
... [I]n view of the ... teachings of Islam, Muslim students in your school system should not be required to:
(1) sit next to the opposite sex in the classroom,
(2) participate in physical education, swimming or dancing classes. Alternate meaningful educational activities should be arranged for them. We urge you to organize physical education and swimming classes separately for boys and girls in accordance with the following guidelines:a) Separate classes should be held for boys and girls in a fully covered area (no glass doors or windows without curtains).
b) Only male/female instructors for the respective group.
c) Special swimming suits which will cover all the private parts of the body down to the knee.
d) Separate and covered shower facilities for each student.
(3) participate in plays, proms, social parties, picnics, dating, etc. which require free mixing of the two sexes.
(4) participate in any event or activity related to Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or Valentine. All such occasions have religious and social connotations contrary to Islamic faith and teachings.
We also urge you to ensure that the following facilities are available to Muslim students in your school:
(1) They are excused from their classes to attend off-campus special prayers on Fridays (approximately 1 to 2:00 p.m.).
(2) They are excused for 15 minutes in the afternoon to offer a special prayer in a designated area on the campus. This prayer is mandatory for all Muslims and often cannot be offered after the school hours.
(3) All food items containing meat of a pig ... in any form and shape (including animal shortening, monogliceride or any other related ingredient) as well as alcohol should be clearly labeled in the cafeteria. Food prepared by vegetable shortening with non-alcohol and pork-free ingredients should be available ... .
(4) At least one properly covered toilet should be available in each men's and women's room. The availability of a water pipe in that toilet will also be highly desirable.
(5) Muslim students are excused (without penalty of absence) for the two most important festivals of Islam: Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha in accordance with the lunar calendar.
I hope your school system will do its utmost to honor and respect the religious requirements of your Muslim students....
The address for the Islamic Society of North America is:
P.O. Box 38,
Plainfield, IN 46164,
Phone: (317) 839-8157.