7th Graders Forced to Write, “Allah is the Only God”-Truth!

7th Graders Forced to Write, “Allah is the Only God”-Mostly Truth!

Summary of eRumor:
Seventh grade students in Tennessee were forced to write, “Allah is the Only God,” as part of a social studies lesson.
The Truth:
This one is mostly true.
As part of a social studies lesson on Islam, seventh graders at Spring Hill Middle School in Tennessee learned about the Shanada, the first of five pillars of Muslim of Faith. The mother of one of the students protested when she saw that her daughter had been instructed to write, “Allah is the only God,” the Spring Hill Home Page reports:

(The mother) said her daughter’s teacher “was not happy about it,” but told the parent she must teach to the standards.

“She said this will be on TCAPs. Both her teacher and Principal Shanda Sparrow said students would not have to write the Shahada again.

“The teacher approached my daughter before class and was very understanding. My daughter told her she would not recite or write the Shahada or anything saying ‘Allah is the only God.’ The teacher said she wouldn’t have to.”

Maury County Director of Schools Chris Marczak said in a statement that the Tennessee State Board of Education had included the curriculum in its curriculum standards, so the school had no choice but to include the lesson:

In middle school, the standards have us address early American History, world history early civilizations to the Roman Empire, middle ages through exploration of the Americas, and colonization to reconstruction of the Americas. Our teachers work together to make sure that our students are learning what is expected through the Tennessee academic standards. For this last section on the Islamic World this past week, our educators had students complete an assignment that had an emphasis on Islamic Faith. The assignment covered some sensitive topics that are of importance to Islamic religion and caused some confusion around whether we are asking students to believe in or simply understand the religion. It is our job as a public school system to educate our students on world history in order to be ready to compete in a global society, not to endorse one religion over another or indoctrinate.

That section of the state’s social study curriculum is labeled “Islamic World, 400 A.D./C.E. — 1500s.” The section summary says, “Students analyze the geographical, political, economic, social and religious structures of the civilizations.” The Shahada isn’t listed in the curriculum, which focuses on historical, geographical and cultural aspects of the religion:

7.3 Identify the physical location and features and the climate of the Arabian Peninsula, its relationship to surrounding bodies of land and water, including Northern Africa, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Nile River. (G) 7.4 Describe the expansion of Muslim rule through conquests and the spread of cultural diffusion of Islam and the Arabic language. (C, E, G, H) 7.5 Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad, including Islam’s historical connections to Judaism and Christianity. (C, H) 7.6 Explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law and their influence in Muslims’ daily life. (C, H, P) 7.7 Analyze the origins and impact of different sects within Islam, Sunnis and Shi’ites. (C, H) 7.8 Examine and summarize the contributions Muslim scholars made to later civilizations in the areas of science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, art, and literature. (C, G, H) 7.9 Describe the establishment of trade routes among Asia, Africa, and Europe and the role of merchants in Arab society. (E, G, H) 7.10 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources to examine the art and architecture, including the Taj Mahal during the Mughal period. (C, H) 7.11 Explain the importance of Mehmed II the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent. (H, P) 7.12 Write an explanatory text to describe the Shah Abbas and how his policies of cultural blending led to the Golden Age and the rise of the Safavid Empire. (C, H, P) Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from The Hadith, Muhammad; excerpts from The Book of Golden Meadows, Masoudi.

The Shahada conveys two fundamental beliefs of Muslims: There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah:

In Islam, the first of the five pillars is the shahada. Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith, expressing the two simple, fundamental beliefs that make one a Muslim: La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah. There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. Sincere recitation of this confession of faith before of two Muslims is the sole requirement for those who wish to join the Muslim community. It represents acceptance not only of Allah and his prophet, but of the entirety of Islam. As one of the Pillars, the shahada must be recited correctly aloud with full understanding and internal assent at least once in every Muslim’s lifetime.

So, we’re calling this one mostly true for the simple fact that students weren’t forced to write or recite the Shahada if the chose not to, according to reports, but everything else is true.