My Time in a Madrassa

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota Several years ago, I would have told you confidently—if haltingly—that I worked in a madrassa. Ana bashtaghal fi madrassa, I would’ve said. I worked there as a mudarissa, a teacher. Madrassa and mudarissa were two of the first words to drop into my growing Arabic vocabulary. After all, I’d traveled all the way to Cairo, Egypt to take a job teaching pre-K at an international school. The words were useful. For me, the word madrassa was almost empty of connotations, like escuela or école. When I first learned them, the words had no layers: Read More …

Students Deserve Equal Religious Rights Under the Law

By Fedwa Wazwaz and Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota On April 9, we read Katherine Kersten’s column in the Star Tribune, and the e-mail exchange between Kersten and Asad Zaman, executive director of Tariq ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), and were compelled to respond. I (Fedwa) have an eight-year-old daughter. I visited TIZA and decided not to enroll my daughter, choosing instead Al Amal School in Fridley. The primary reason is that I was convinced TIZA is not an Islamic School and does not teach Islamic Education to kids. I pay from my own pocket to put my daughter in Al Read More …

Support the Same Standards for All

Since Katherine Kersten’s column regarding Tariq ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in yesterday’s Star Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Education has been inundated with negative calls. Kersten’s column claims that TIZA is violating its charter and the “church and state” separation. She bases this largely on the observations of one short-time substitute teacher who was immersed in a different school culture, and could easily have been mistaken in her impressions and interpretations. However, whether or not TIZA has violated the strictest interpretation of religion-state separation is not the issue. What school in Minnesota has not? Indeed, last December, the Minneapolis public Read More …