At the age of 12, my father decided to put me in Islamic Sunday School at our local mosque. Since I was new to Sunday School, the teachers put me in the kindergarten class. Within one year, I was skipped to second grade and then to fourth grade, before I was ultimately promoted to instructor in an alternative Saturday school. Can you say, “lowered expectations?”
It is not uncommon for mosque Sunday Schools to be staffed by volunteers as young as 13 who just parrot what they’ve heard. As for the content, I learned about how birthdays are prohibited in Islam, that only prostitutes pluck their eyebrows, and how a one-eyed monster will come and get me on the Day of Judgment. In short, I left Islamic Sunday School with the perception that God was a big scary being that was going to throw me into hell.
The experience, however depressing, did inspire me to read the Quran for myself. It was only then that I realized that the vast majority of fairy tales they teach you in Sunday school are not in the Quran—which, by the way, is what Muslims believe is God’s message to humankind. In fact, the lessons taught in my Sunday School growing up didn’t come close to capturing the spirit of the holy book.
It is with that background that I struggled last weekend, wondering whether or not I should send my 5-year-old daughter to the local Sunday School. On one hand, I knew I could do a better job at teaching her the core of religion. On the other, as my friend Shabana stated, Islamic Sunday School is seriously discounted babysitting.
In the end, I decided to sit in on all of her classes to see what would be taught. It turns out that the first two classes are Arabic language and Quran recitation. While I wasn’t impressed with the teachers, the subjects they teach are fairly harmless and straightforward; you can’t really teach alternative viewpoints on language and recitation. The added bonus was that WarriorPrincess (the nickname I have given my daughter) has a friend in both of those classes, and the classroom provides some time to socialize.
The final class of the day was “Islam,” and honestly, I didn’t even want to bother with the possibility of some sort of nutty teaching. I can’t be there every day to monitor everything she hears, so I’ll teach her the basics at home. Simple: One God. Do Good.
Happy that I found a middle ground to my Sunday School dilemma, I asked the principal if WarriorPrincess could attend the first two classes and not the third. I’m still waiting to hear back.
Do you have any crazy Sunday School stories? Please share in the comments!
Update: We’ve taken her out of the Sunday school. MrsHM helps her with her Arabic letters and Memorizing Chapters. I teach her stories from the Qur’an in English and the basic message of Believe, Do Good, And A Day of Judgment.