Say it ain’t so Texas! Tell me that my beloved home of the Alamo, the Houston Texans, mouthwatering barbecue, and an ingrained idea that every Texan has a right to be who they are without coercion from the state is not doing this! Please on all that is holy with Davy Crockett and Sam Houston tell me it is all some terrible nightmare.
Students enrolled in a world religions course this semester at Texas Christian University must attend a mosque service as part of the class. The field trip was scheduled to take place on Good Friday – one of the holiest days for Christians – observed as the day Jesus Christ was crucified. The syllabus for the class states:
“Every student is expected to attend this service, this visit is part of your participation in class. Many other students from our department will join us. It is a religious experience visit. No student is required to participate in mosque’s service during our visit.”
Spring semester launched in mid-January at the private university, located in Fort Worth. The course, “Understanding Diverse Faith Communities,” is taught by Associate Professor of Islamic and Religious Studies Yushau Sodiq, whose faculty pagehe earned his bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies and master’s degree in Islamic law from the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, and his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Temple University. He also taught at a university in Nigeria before his post at Texas Christian University, which he has held since 1992.
Sodiq did not respond to emails asking whether there is an alternative assignment for students who do not wish to observe the Islamic service, and well as for more general information on the course and its educational aims. According to the syllabus, the intention of the mosque visit is to “understand the ritual and tradition of other religions in their context.”
“You can also invite your friends to join in this visit… If you do not attend the mosque, you will not be able to do the quiz and as you know, there is not make-up for quizzes.”
The 90-minute visit will include an address by the “leader of the community” and an observation of the sunset prayer, it adds. One option for extra credit in the class is called “Being for a Day,” in which students can dress as a or tell their family they’ve become and document the reactions.
The syllabus provided by American Freedom Defense Initiative, a nonprofit “dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, individual rights and equality for all before the law.” Geller is known for, among other things, her activism against the encroachment of Sharia Law in the United States and her defiant stance against Islam’s strict and unconstitutional religious tenets, such as the law that the prophet Mohammad must not be drawn. In a statement, Geller expressed concern about the course at Texas Christian University:, who obtained it from a campus source and released it to the public. Geller is president of the
“Sodiq’s syllabus for his ‘Understanding Diverse Faith Communities’ states that the course is meant ‘to enable our students comprehend the meanings and nature of world religions’ … Yet while the class discusses Islam, Judaism, African traditional religions, and Buddhism (apparently Sodiq assumes that students at Texas Christian University know all they need to know about Christianity already), Sodiq’s syllabus plans for five sessions on Islam, plus two more on The Kite Runner, a novel about Muslims in Afghanistan, and another for the mosque visit, for a total of eight on Islam and related themes. Meanwhile, only four class sessions are planned on Buddhism, three on Judaism, and two on African traditional religions.”
Geller also takes issue with the mosque trip: “Sodiq implies that the visit has a proselytizing intent as he writes:”
“You can also invite your friends to join in this visit’ – and ominously, ‘If you do not attend the mosque, you will not be able to do the quiz, and as you know, there is not make-up for quizzes.”
“The syllabus does not explain why there is no visit to a synagogue, church, Buddhist temple, or any other house of worship – only to a mosque,” Geller remarked. “Sodiq also requires that students complete a journal entry on ‘Islamophobia.’ He asks for no journal entry on anti-Semitism or prejudice or hatred against any other group.”
“What is most disturbing about all this is the threat that lies behind it,” she added. “The people who passed this information on to me refused to be identified because they were certain there would be reprisals if their identities were known. Just as disturbing as that is the fact that in contemporary American academia, Yushau Sodiq’s University class of thinly veiled Islamic proselytizing isn’t unusual at all. It’s all too common.”
I was raised a Texan, lived here most of my life, and I still mist up when I think of the Alamo and those brave souls that gave their lives for the Republic of Texas. To think that a Texas Christian University would demand that their students go to a mosque on Good Friday of all days, to dress and act like a just flies in the face of all that is holy in the land of Stephen F. Austin.
I understand that it makes sense to know how other faiths worship or view the world. We should see the world from different perspectives; it helps us grow as people. However, that perspective should never be at the expense of how we see the world. Flip it around to where you were expecting a student to attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve during some holiday and this Professor from the sunnier climates of the Middle East would take to the streets.
He would also have an army of snowflakes with pink knitted hats joining blaming Trump, Abbott and Tony Romo (I threw him in because I usually blame him for most things going wrong in Texas, forgive me Cowpoke fans) for all that is wrong with the world. Remember, what we do is racist, what they do is enlightened.
If this ‘professor’ ( I wonder if he ever was ISIS recruiter of the month somewhere), truly wanted to give students an world view of differing religions, he would have allowed students to pick the religion of their choice and given them the freedom to choose the date they went to observe. This is Texas; it is not hard to find Synagogues, Buddhist Temples and all sorts of other faiths. He just decided that his faith was best and was going to force these young adults to sit through a recruiting pitch.
May the Eyes of Texas cast down their hating stares upon him.
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