Tracing the shahada

If I understand correctly, it’s a class on religions of the world. What do you suggest they study?

I’m an atheist and I’d be pleased my kids were learning about other cultures. If some parents disagreed, I’d talk to them about taking mention of god off of our currency.

There is, quite literally, no justification that exists in this universe that any person gets to have my kid declare a belief in any god. I don’t even get to make my kid make any declarative statement about belief or disbelief in god. That’s for them to decide on their own.

Listen, there are a sufficient number of parents saying that it is offensive to have their kid required to make a declarative statement about god. That, in and of itself, is sufficient justification to have them write: “The stick is blue and the dog barks at midnight” in Arabic calligraphy rather than any statement having to do with god. You can try to turn this into a xenophobic thing if you want, but any statement from any religion from any group of people declaring any belief in god is not to be put into another person’s mouth by assignment.

If I understand correctly, it’s a class on world geography.

Regardless, if someone told me to write that phrase out, I probably wouldn’t. Nor would I write the lord’s prayer, or a wiccan chant, or hindu verse or whatever.

Would you feel any differently if the students were assigned to learn how to say that phrase in Arabic and had to recite it in class?

I wouldn’t care if MY son did it. Still though, it irritates me that the educators involved in this matter were so insensitive towards the parents that DO care.

If I were a Christian, I might well be pissed too.

(I’m Atheist)

Et voila, informations

it is interesting to see the supposed greater rationalism melt away when exposed to only a bit of stress about the other.

Wouldn’t bother me at all. I have some Arabic calligraphy around the house, and I assume it’s some statement of faith or another.

That’s nice. And admittedly, it is very pretty writing. But, you don’t get to hang those pictures in someone else’s house.

Would they be tracing the letters in the old-style incomprehensible Fraktur script?

It seems to me, that it’s a glaring inexcusable omission on the part of the textbook, that it has the Arabic calligraphy, and says that it’s the Islamic profession of their faith, yet without giving the English translation of it. What the hell good is that, in a textbook?

If I showed any non-Jew the text of the Sh’ma in Hebrew and said it was “the Watchword of our Faith”, without saying what it actually means, what educational value is that? It seems like a seriously thoughtless blunder to make in a textbook of all places.

I don’t know what you mean by this, because it WAS a World Geography class. And quoting an incorrect summation by another poster seems to serve no purpose other than to show your ignorance of the matter.

I’d tell her to really look at it, and take care to draw it carefully. If I thought she was blowing it off, I’d work with her some, and have her redo it. I’d point out some Arabic calligraphy in photos of real things and places, for a more contextual understanding.

That’s an extremely weak metaphor for tracing a work of calligraphy as part of a lesson. And the question in the OP is would I object. I wouldn’t. I’m not religious, but I find expressions of faith to be generally beautiful, not threatening. Different faiths are a part of the fascinating range of human cultures.

The way that religion affects art is a totally appropriate and relevant thing to include in a World Religions class. And one of the salient features of Islamic Art is the creativity inspired by the taboo on representational art.

This particular exercise seems to be about conveying how not using representation inspired a different type of complexity than you’d find in representational art. And any good teacher knows that the best learning happens though experiencing something, not just being told about it. I can understand where this lesson comes from.

In hindsight, it provably wasn’t a great idea to use that particular phrase. But I do think Arabic calligraphy is an appropriate topic, and Arabic calligraphy is generally religious in nature (which, of course, brings us back to why it’s relevant to the study of world religions.)

People (even here) seem to be getting stuck on the word “geography”. Geography is more than just cartography. Geography covers the inhabitants of different regions of the world, too, including their culture and religion. I’m not at all surprised to find comparative religions being discussed in a geography class. It’s not just “Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania”.

What is specifically incorrect in his summation?

I have already seen you are incapable of understanding the concept of art, of calligraphy… and of the idea of subject matters in classwork that are broad. It is hard to trust an assertion by a person who is not capable of such basic understandings, so please be specific.

Human geography teacher here. I teach a Workd Culture Regions course to non-geography-majors, mainly students who were in high school as recently as three months previously. I also happen to use language (including writing systems like alphabets) as one means of conveying the geography of cultures. And, we also spend some time on the geography of religions.

While I’ve never assigned an exercise quite like the one we’re discussing here, I could picture myself doing so. I wouldn’t use “see Spot run” in Arabic, because religious expressions are generally a deep part of the culture surrounding this particular written language – in a geographically interesting way (extending well beyond places where Arabic is spoken as a mother tongue – e.g., into Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and Indonesia).

BUT, I would be careful to emphasize to the students that we are doing this as objective social scientists – no one is pushing any belief system on anyone else. I say similar kinds of caveats almost every day in that class, usually when I lecture on “politicized” material (US incarceration rates compared to other developed countries; anthropogenic causes of climate change; European socialized medicine…).

Not sure. Would it matter?

And this is all anyone here seems to be saying. There was no reason to choose this particular phrase. Arabic calligraphy is generally religious in nature doesn’t mean that they couldn’t substitute a different phrase.

The way this should have gone:

Parent: Hey, I don’t think it’s a good idea that the kids are writing out an overt declaration of belief in any god.
Teacher: Egads, this was an ill advised phrase. We can certainly achieve the same lesson with a different phrase. Thanks for the heads up.
Parent: Wow, it sure is good that it isn’t necessary to call in the national news on this.

Why should I feel differently if I (or my kid) was asked to learn an inoffensive phrase in a foreign language? What exactly are you threatened by with regards to this lesson/exercise?

I’d be more annoyed by the pointless assignment of having someone use a pencil to try to recreate calligraphy.

I certainly wouldn’t pitch a hissy fit over it though.