California makes important corrections to history of Islam and South Asia

California makes important corrections to history of Islam and South Asia

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos expressed satisfaction that progress was made in reversing some of the Islamophobic content that had been injected into the California curriculum.

On July 14, 2016, the California State Board of Education passed recommendations to accurately include Sikh history in the curriculum framework. The purpose of this framework is to provide clear guidance for educators, curriculum leaders and textbook publishers.

For years, the Sikh Coalition has been working tirelessly with community leaders and scholars from across the nation to ensure that Sikh and South Asian history is documented accurately. In California, advocates from a multi-faith and multi-caste community came together to form South Asian Histories For All (SAHFA). This coalition worked together to advocate for the accurate inclusion of Sikh, Dalit, and Muslim history in the California curriculum framework.

At the public hearing in Sacramento on July 14th, the Board of Education responded positively to a letter by the Muslim Studies Faculty Group, a formidable collective of 25 scholars on Islam and Muslim Civilization from premier institutions such as Harvard, UCLA, Georgetown University and Berkeley.  The scholars had called on the Board to delete Islamophobic content from the curriculum, while also urging a reversal of false and malicious statements on Islamic history introduced by the Hindu nationalist lobby in the US

Adding to the weight of scholarship represented by the letter from the Muslim Studies Faculty Group, was a letter from the major American Muslim organizations , urging the State Board of Education to reverse the factually incorrect and biased edits that had made their way into the curriculum framework during the review process. These edits comprised of painting Islamic history in the Indian subcontinent as one of forced conversions, and projecting Islam as an inherently war-mongering religion. The hearing witnessed a large turnout from the American Muslim community, who were motivated by the desire to ensure that their faith was not misrepresented in order to serve an Islamophobic and Hindu supremacist narrative.

Essentially, the State Board of Education accepted three of the five edits recommended by the Muslim Studies Faculty Group, and overturned several edits proposed by the alliance of Hindu nationalist organizations comprising of Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Uberoi Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF).

IAMC has expressed its sincere appreciation for all the coalition partners in the “South Asian Histories For All” (SAHFA) coalition, a broad-based interfaith and inter-caste alliance comprising of Dalits, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, as well as the American Muslim organizations whose support was instrumental in achieving this progress.

Despite much pressure brought upon the State Board of Education (SBE) by the Hindu nationalist groups, the SBE accepted alternative language recommended by the Muslim Studies Faculty Group that represent a more accurate and balanced portrayal of the faith and its complex history.

“It is ironic that while publicly claiming to seek a fair portrayal of Hinduism, Hindu nationalist organizations expended considerable resources in order to inject Islamophobia into the California curriculum,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of the Indian American Muslim Council. “The State Board of Education’s courageous stance in resisting political pressure and a well-funded PR machinery demonstrates that those seeking to normalize anti-Muslim bigotry are running a fool’s errand,” added Mr. Malick.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit our website at: http://iamc.com/

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