This Little Girl Knows a Lot About Islam… April 1, 2009

This Little Girl Knows a Lot About Islam…

I don’t think that all forms of parents teaching their children about their faith should be considered brainwashing.

But watch this video and then try saying that religion is harmless:

What she’s doing isn’t too bad in and of itself. I doubt she knows what she’s talking about; rather, she’s just repeating what she’s been told.

What I’m more worried about is what will happen to that girl in ten or twenty years.

Will she ever learn that there are alternative ways to think?

Will she ever feel safe exploring any of those alternatives?

Will her family ever let her stray from Islam?

What will be her attitude toward and view of non-Muslims?

We don’t know the answers to any of those questions for sure, but it’s not too hard to speculate.

(via The J-Walk Blog)


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  • Jeremy

    It looks to me like it’s the exact same thing as the Catechism that some Christian children go through (including me).

    I haven’t heard any of the Catechism questions since I was 8 or 9, but I bet that if somebody started asking them now, I could recall the answers.

  • This video could easily be one of a Catholic kid, or a fundamental Christian, and replace the questions with ones involving Abraham and Jesus and parables and Lord’s Prayer and….
    And we can still ask Hemant’s questions.

  • Larry Huffman

    I have mentioned my mormon past and background. If anyone wants to see indoctrination at a very young age, attend a mormon ‘fast and testimony’ meeting…which takes place once a month.

    The meeting is designed to be handed over to the congregation to bear their testimonies. The bishop will finish business, etc…then allow congregation members to get up and speak. One at a time people begin coming up to the podium. Some adults tell uplifting stories or other faith promoting items.

    Almost all end with something like, “I know the church is true. I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of god. I know the Book of Mormon is the true word of god and a second testament of Christ. I know that *insert current church president here* is a true prophet of god, who leads us in these days.”

    But…in most meetings you will also see a real steady stream of kids…little kids…we’re talking 5 and younger even…who will go up and with or without adult assistance, stand up and offer the above stuff almost word for word. One right after another. And those who need adult assistance are the most noteworthy…here goes a little 4 year old…walks up to the podium…folds his arms and bows his head…and freezes. Not to fear, daddy is right there to whisper in his ear exactly what to say. Mind you…dad is telling the kid what to say he believes. Which makes it something different than a testimony…but mormons see no harm in this at all.

    On a side note…My daughter, when about 3 or 4 took the chance to go up to the podium…and if you knew my daughter…well, thankfully she is now an atheist (18, and planning her career as a Navy interpreter). She is fiery and brash. Even young, she walked up and wanted no help at all. My wife and I sat aprehensively…because we just did not know what was going to happen. It should be mentioned…at the time we would have been proud had she repeated what every other kid had said. Not her. The semi-sleeping congregation did not have time to brace for her. She walked up, folder her amrs and yelled…really yelled…JESUS…into the microphone, and then politely went and sat down. The entire congregation jumped as a solid body.

    It was funny then…and it is even funnier now, all things considered.

    Just thought I would point out that you can see blatant brainwashing and indoctrination of children on the part of good mormon americans one sunday a month…in any mormon chapel.

  • David D.G.

    Liam wrote:

    This video could easily be one of a Catholic kid, or a fundamental Christian, and replace the questions with ones involving Abraham and Jesus and parables and Lord’s Prayer and….
    And we can still ask Hemant’s questions.

    I agree with this completely. Early indoctrination plays a big role, but so does exposure to other ways of thinking; over time, that may play a bigger role. If she’s in a society where culturally nobody is even allowed to be anything but Muslim, and all other religious positions are vilified, then she stands little chance of fair exposure to alternate ideas; but if she is in a pluralistic society where plenty of other people of other faiths (and none at all) are considered normal people, then she may be able to see the early indoctrination for what it is: brainwashing.

    ~David D.G.

  • David D.G.

    Larry Huffman wrote:

    On a side note…My daughter, when about 3 or 4 took the chance to go up to the podium…and if you knew my daughter…well, thankfully she is now an atheist (18, and planning her career as a Navy interpreter). She is fiery and brash. Even young, she walked up and wanted no help at all. My wife and I sat aprehensively…because we just did not know what was going to happen. It should be mentioned…at the time we would have been proud had she repeated what every other kid had said. Not her. The semi-sleeping congregation did not have time to brace for her. She walked up, folder her amrs and yelled…really yelled…JESUS…into the microphone, and then politely went and sat down. The entire congregation jumped as a solid body.

    It was funny then…and it is even funnier now, all things considered.

    Oh, man, Larry, that is priceless! If you had caught that on videotape, you’d have gotten first prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos for sure.

    ~David D.G.

  • Nick

    Interesting that Hemant would share this video.

    My three-year old son recently informed a visitor to my house that Jehovah lived up in the sky and Jesus was responsible for the beautiful day we were having.

    Now, a bit of background. My wife and I consider ourselves atheists; I was raised in a Christian household, Jehovah’s Witness being the particular brand. My parents are still JWs but they don’t mention their faith around me or my family. Typically, nothing religious in nature is mentioned at all because there isn’t a reason to discuss it.

    I had assumed my atheism was a well-known fact to the closest members of my family. Apparently, I was wrong. I sent an email to my folks explaining to them a.) my position b.) the need to teach children how to think critically and c.) I don’t appreciate them sharing their particular belief system with my children.

    They didn’t take too kindly to my words, although I took care to express my view in the most respectful way possible. From them? Here’s some direct quotes: “You’ve mocked the living creator,” “Maybe you did come from an ape or slug that crawled out of a swamp,” and my absolute favorite, “May your Atheist god protect you,” which defies logic and reason to such an absurd extreme I don’t even know quite how to address it. (Not to mention the barb at evolution, which has nothing to do with atheism.)

    I’ve been playing email tag with them for most of today to explain myself, to let them calm down, and to open some type of rational discourse. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, the whole rational discourse thing.

    Perhaps I should just link the video here.

  • beckster

    I also think children that are brainwashed like this are far more likely to become victims as teenagers/adults. They may never learn to speak up for themselves or to say no to authority figures, peers, or abusers. My kid is only two and each time he tells me no my heart swells with pride. (okay not each time) No doesn’t always work out for him how he’d like it . . . but I am going to indoctrinate that tendency out of him. I know it will come in handy for him someday.

  • beckster

    I am NOT going to indoctrinate that tendency out of him!!

  • jemand

    she’s cute and sweet and has obviously known a lot of love. Sure, the questions and answers are somewhat startling but as has been pointed out before, it is pretty much par for the course. She looks happy and apparently feels quite secure with herself so I see no reason to be too concerned…

    Of course, I hope with time she will have freedom to explore other ideas if she wishes, but perhaps she will.

  • Julie

    “she’s cute and sweet and has obviously known a lot of love”

    Sure, but love is not the only thing parents are responsible for. Social skills and education are just as important.

  • Secular Humanist

    I spent 40-some years working as a newspaper editor, and the whole time I was picking up pictures of little Arab kids with toy guns shouting “Death to the Jews!”

  • Mriana

    It maybe much like Christian indoctrination, but it horrid in my mind. The poor child! She is definitely being brainwashed, but she is also being taught to some very negative things. 🙁 Such a sweet looking child too. It’s such a shame.

  • I agree that *most* of this is like Christian children memorizing the catechism or something. The only parts that stood out for me as being intolerant in a way that you don’t see in other religions was this section:

    “What is the worst sin?”
    “Polytheism” (*Hinduism is polytheist, by the way)

    “Who are stuck by Allah’s wrath?”
    “The Jews”
    “Who are the misguided?”
    “The Christians”

    Yes, I’m sure Christians teach children that all the other religions are wrong, but to start teaching children that other religions are wrong so early is different than what I see in other religions. Christianity tends to stick with the teachings of the Bible in early childhood – and doesn’t concern itself too much with vilifying other religions quite that early. In this video, they vilify most of the other major religions.

  • anonymouse

    poor little girl 🙁

  • jamboh

    Tinyfrog says that Christianity “doesn’t concern itself too much with vilifying other religions quite that early”.

    But it makes up for it later.

    My friends’ 5-year child was recently collected from Catholic school in a dreadful state recently. Asked to draw a picture of heaven, she drew herself surrounded by her family, friends, angels, etc. Asked to describe the picture, she pointed to one person as “my best friend, Sarah”. Asked which school Sarah attended, she replied naming a nearby non-Catholic school at which point the teacher stated “Well Sarah can’t go to heaven as she denies the existence of our god. She’s going to burn in hell for ever like we discussed at Sunday school.”

    When her mother, on collecting her daughter, asked why she was utterly distraught the teacher dismissed her sobbing with “She over-reacted to some comments made in class, you know how kids are”.

  • CC

    This is ‘rote’ learning and a core part of most religions. I was raised Catholic and this is how it is done. I did attend 2 funerals last year as they were family and close friend. It was SO hard NOT to just do the prayer responses. I actually felt myself open my mouth but catch the words before they popped out. It’s part of your routine and feels wrong to do it another way. My husband grew up in the Ukranian Catholic faith. He can say the responses in Ukranian, but couldn’t tell you even what a quarter of them mean.
    This little girl is just parroting what she’s been told. She’s not any smarter than any other toddler. Sometimes I would want to get the kids to bed quicker and try and skip a page or two at bedtime. Hah! An 18 month old has the book memorized! It’s those spongy brains that are the core to learning, putting out trash for them so suck up..that’s wrong.

  • Spurs Fan

    She looks happy and apparently feels quite secure with herself so I see no reason to be too concerned

    Um, I would be concerned. She is two and already understands which people she should hate or think are misguided.

    I do agree with most of you here that the first thing that came to my mind were similarities to kids reciting Bible stories or verses. While I’m an Atheist, my wife is a Christian and she takes our children to Sunday school and church on a regular basis. I’ve noticed that when they come home reciting a verse, even I think it’s cute. Sometime the verse is harmless (Do good to others. etc.), but sometime it is exclusive (There is no salvation in any other name, etc.). Either way, I always find myself thinking it’s cute and harmless. But when I watched this, I didn’t think that and it made me, a skeptic, realize that even I’m not immune from thinking certain religions are “normal” while others are not.

  • Grimalkin

    Why is he yelling at her?

    Also, what is with the gettup? How is she supposed to be a child? How is she supposed to run around or climb trees with that awful thing wrapped around her head?

    Maybe her parents do indeed love her and maybe she does look secure with herself – but she’s two years old. What will be the effect of having her family force her into sexual “modesty” (effectively sexualizing the child by implying that there is something there to hide)? How will she feel at 7 or 10 when her brothers are outside playing but she can’t join in because her clothes restrict her movement (assuming she would even be allowed to play outside with boys in the first place)?