All schools shut down in Augusta County, Virginia, over Islam homework


After a teacher at a Virginia school handed out a standard homework assignment on Islam, such an angry backlash flooded in that it prompted officials to close every single school in the county as a safety precaution.

“While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015,” Augusta County Schools said. Extracurricular activities were shut down Thursday afternoon.

And social media exploded over the school lesson – a simple drawing assignment – into a caustic discussion about religion and education.

When the world geography class at Riverheads High School in Staunton rolled around to the subject of major world religions, homework on Islam asked students to copy religious calligraphy.

It read:

“Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying it by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.”

The illustrative classical Arabic phrase was the basic statement in Islam. It translated to: “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”


would the teacher ask to write a Christian statement of faith? Jewish? Mormon? Buddhist?


Dumb assignment, dumb parental reaction to dumb assignment, and dumb administrator reaction to dumb parental reaction to dumb assignment.


the key piece of information that is missing, and one that is critical to a comprehensive analysis, is this: did the student have to perform a similar task for the other religions (i.e. included a religious phrase)?

we are certainly very sensitive to anything Islamic in our govt schools, but if the lessons are conducted evenly and fairly and consistently then there may not be an issue.



Parents Question Choice To Sing ‘Allahu Akbar’ At Holiday Concert

I would protest this.

There are many Hindu and Buddhist Temples in the US, I’ve never heard of these communities being placated in some way.


Considering the class was on world geography, I imagine that they get around to Hinduism and Shintoism…but lacking the syllabus, I think it’s irresponsible to make any such complaints as to what and was not covered.




The assignment was part of a world religions class. We might assume, then, that statements of other faiths would be explored.


Part of me thinks they’re overreacting a bit much…

But then part of me totally agrees that it was inappropriate for her to have them write the Shaddah. I mean it is the Islamic statement of faith and everyone including the ACLU would have been in an uproar if she’d had them write “Jesus is Lord” or something along those lines. Plus in the current climate it probably was a doubly bad idea when you’re talking about a statement of faith that is very prominently displayed on the flags of several terrorist organizations including Daesh as well as the flag of the most repressive country on Earth (Saudi Arabia).


Considering the Muslims worship the same God as the Christians and Jews (whose hymns were also sung per the article), I imagine it was easier to adapt the central theme of the concert than it would for a polytheistic or nontheistic religion.


maybe it is best to find out and not assume.


:thumbsup: well said.


Well, it was for a World Geography class. In that sense, it *is *a reality of world geography, being on the flag of Saudi Arabia, and being a driving force of many countries in the region. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist; if they did, what kind of geography class would they be?

Frankly, I think a lot of people are making a lot of huge judgements and engaging in a lot of hand-wringing over an insufficient amount of data, that is, a single homework sheet.


What’s next? Shouting death to Israel, death to America like they do in the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world (Iran)?


I read another article that said that the teacher had taken the lesson from a world religion educational resource that covered Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Also, the Virginia state standards apparently included a requirement to teach students about Islamic calligraphy.

Maybe it would be best if the calligraphy sample wasn’t a profession of faith, but mostly I just feel really sorry for the teacher (who seems to have walked into this innocently, and now is getting death threats).


maybe it is best to find out and not assume.

I agree, just because there is a world history class, I don’t see a valid exercise as to break out some salutes we have seen in the history of the world, Roman or other.

I doubt if state classes should okay professing allegiances to Holy figures like the Buddha for example.


This wasn’t just a religious phrase, however. It is an affirmation of belief. In order to be “evenly and fairly” consistent, one would expect the students to be instructed to write phrases such as “the fullness of truth can be found in the Catholic Church” and “the Torah is the divinely inspired word of G-d” “Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent” (LDS) etc.

What we usually see for faiths such as Christians and Jews are distanced learning statements such as “Catholics believe that …” rather than first-person affirmations. That is not even or consistent.


Actually you can learn pretty much everything about Saudi Arabia and the geography of the Middle East (and learn pretty much everything that they’d need to generally know about Islam) without having the students write down the Islamic statement of faith. :thumbsup:


why would a teacher do this in the wake of the wars going on in the world right now. It doesn’t make any sense to me. And geography has nothing to do with that. I’d completely understand if it was a world religions class, but a geography class? Shouldn’t they be learning about cloud patterns, how to read maps and so on.

It’s not about hating on religions either, its just common sense.

Also if I were Muslim, I would have a problem with students being assigned this for homework, obviously this is a very important aspect of the religion and having teenagers treating something important like that as busy work would be an insult. If they had them write down something else in Arabic, it would be good, but a profession of faith? come on. It’s like having the Apostles Creed being assigned to be written in Latin just to show the complexity of Latin. My point : the teacher needs to develop respect for all religions


The article said it was a world geography class, not world religions. I took a comparative religions course at a Catholic college and we were never required to do something like this.

I think this kind of thing is particularly problematic in a public high school where students are forced to attend and are not educated in what their own faith traditions teach. I would bet really big money that this course does not teach students the basic differences between various Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church.

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