To what point should the school system adapt to religious requests?

by Lisa on September 12, 2016 - 1:21pm

An issue that has been brought up recently by the Globe And Mail is of a man, Mohammad Nouman Dasu, refusing to let his children go to their primary school’s mandatory music classes. This issue is extremely controversial, because it confronts the man’s religious beliefs, and Toronto’s school system.  
 
Mr. Dasu, a Qur’an teacher in his neighborhood mosque, categorically refuses for his children to assist to any art class because of religious reasons. He claims that the Qur’an, the Muslim sacred book, prohibits all believers to listen nor to play any music because they can lead to lust. After trying to negotiate with the school board for three long years, he decided that every week, while the students in his children’s class assist to their music class, somebody would come and pick up the children for the duration of the class. He has also proposed the school to bring his children to the library to read, or to make them volunteer around the school during the music or drama classes. Mr. Dasu says he speaks for all the people in his mosque who share his opinion, and thus, gave them a voice (everybody’s interest should have an equal consideration). He considers that he has also made a lot of sacrifices by sending his children to a public school and advocates his right to religious freedom.
 
The Toronto District School Board was against the request of Mr. Dasu, but was ready to negotiate with him. They want to accommodate him, but not to exempt his children from their class (everybody should be treated the same way). Many propositions were given to Mr. Dasu, such as: have his children clap their hands instead of playing any instrument, sing a Capella versions of O Canada, or have the children research about the role of nashid, the Islamic tradition of oral music. The TDSB receives an enormous amount of requests every year for accommodations or exemptions, but often has to be very strict in their decisions for the sake of the school system as a whole (always act in the greater good). Zarqa Nawaz, a writer for the Globe And Mail also had her opinion in the matter and thinks that Mr. Dasu is not being reasonable by refusing the proposal. She thinks that Muslims have come a long way, and are now way more integrated to the Canadian culture than they used to be. She, being a Muslim, disapproves the idea of prohibiting music, and believes that refusing to negotiate with the TDSB is an act of extremism. She supports the moral claim of tolerance, and thinks that Mr. Dasu should try to contribute to the Canadian culture, instead of ignoring it.  
 
For my part, I agree with Mrs. Nawaz because I think that it is important to pair one’s beliefs with the reality they are facing, and to adapt to the society’s evolution with every generation. I think that the TDSB has been very comprehensive of Mr. Dasu’s situation by accepting his religious right even though it diverges from the popular beliefs, and has done everything in its power to accommodate him, but it is now Mr. Dasu’s turn to make a step towards finding a common ground. However, I also think that Mr. Dasu, throughout this whole process, was only trying to look out for his children by fighting for what he believes in and by trying to give his request as much thought and consideration as any other. However, is the TDSB’s decision based on the fact that only a minority of the population share his opinion or because it is what was morally correct? Would their response be different if thousands of people shared this disagreement with the school system? 
 
Works cited
Freeze, Colin. Mahnoor Yawar. Mandatory Music Classes Hit a Bad Note with Some Muslim Parents. The Globe And Mail. 5 Sept. 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/mandatory-music-classes-stri.... Assessed 6 Sept. 2016.
Nawaz, Zarqa. To the Music-Banning Muslim Father: Rejecting Compromise is Extremism. The Globe And Mail. 7 Sept. 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/to-the-muslim-music-banning-fathe.... Assessed 7 Sept. 2016.
 

Comments

Hello,
The title of your article caught my attention and, I found its content as captivating. You describe the event very well which allowed me to really understand both sides of the debate. I agree with your point of view because I believe that if we start accommodating every culture's religious demand, it would be impossible to create a uniform curriculum for schools. As you mentioned in your article, the school where Mr. Dasu's kids attend have taken many measures in order to integrate his religious beliefs as much as possible. Thus, reasonable accommodation does have its boundaries and, immigrants should also take a step forward to integrate themselves in the culture of the country that they chose themselves to live in. Hence, freedom of belief is openly promoted because the school board respects and acknowledges different religious practises. Furthermore by taking into consideration Mr. Dasu's requests, the school acts according to the principle of ''everybody's interests have equal consideration'' rather than systematically refusing the demands. Finally, where should we draw the line on which religious requests are acceptable?

Hi Lisa!
The title of your article catches my attention as I am really interesting in education issues. I didn’t hear the new before and I am glad I learned something new by reading your article. I share your point of view about the fact that it is important to reflect on our beliefs and values as time goes by. Thereby, that's how a generation brilliantly succeeded to his elder, by its interest in its evolution. According to me, to act for the greater good, in this situation is particularly relevant, as you mentioned, but can also be linked to the equality of opportunity. The last value is particularly important for all students because it offers them the opportunity to have access to an impartial education. By this way, they will learn about multiples values and cultures and in the future, will have the opportunity to choose and follow which principles join them the most. In my opinion, Mr. Dasu should consider this value, by according a certain freedom of thoughts to his children and letting them exploring all possibilities before choosing a religion. Continuing on this path, should we allow the sacraments and rituals imposed on young children?