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.