Summarizing case against Ibrahim’s position
To refocus the dialogue, can we now start commenting here, please…
Also, remember the main topic here is whether or not Ibrahim is right to suggest that in any good Islamic school “Islam is a given and never challenged”.
Let me summarize my case for getting children to think critically about morality and religion from as young an age as possible:
(i) Actually, individuals cannot avoid the responsibility for making moral judgements. They cannot hand that responsibility over to some religious or other authority. Given they cannot hand it over, shouldn’t they be encouraged and trained to discharge the responsibility properly? Surely the best way to do this is to confront them with the responsibility and encourage them to think and question.
(ii) There’s evidence that raising people to think and question, rather than more or less uncritically defer to authority, provides some protection against the sort of moral catastrophes that marred the 20th Century.
(iii) There’s growing evidence that even young children can think philosophically, and that it is good for them emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Suppress this kind of independent, critical thought and you risk stunting these important forms of development.
(iv) If you raise young people to defer unquestioningly to religious authority, they will be vulnerable, later, to the wiles of other self-styled “authorities”. They will have no critical defences. The best protection against brainwashing by zealots is not to do our own brainwashing first. It’s to train young people to be robust critical thinkers – to equip them with the skills they need to spot when they are being brainwashed and manipulated. By suppressing independent critical thought and expecting mindless acceptance of whatever religious authority says, isn’t Ibrahim’s school churning out the perfect fodder for zealots to turn into weapons of jihad?
Remember, I am not arguing against Islam (here) or against faith schools. Let Ibrahim tell pupils that he believes Islam is true, and explain why he thinks so. But he should also give them the freedom to think and question – and even reject. Other religious folk manage it, so why won’t he?
Perhaps Ibrahim could now summarize his case for saying Islamic schools should present Islam as a “given” that is “never challenged”? Why, exactly, is this a good idea?