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'We Are Americans': A Visit To Wichita's Only Islamic School

Wichita has many parochial schools--schools connected to a church, though they accept people of all faiths. KMUW's Aileen LeBlanc visits a private school open to all: This one is connected to the faith of Islam.

    

Below are highlights from Aileen's interview with Islamic Society of Wichita spokesman Hussam Madi.

On the visibility of the hijab:

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Credit Hugo Phan / KMUW
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KMUW
Students walk through Annoor Islamic School in north Wichita.

"There are concerns, especially amongst the younger generation where they are always exposed in colleges and high schools, especially. And [my daughter's friend asked her]: 'If the pressure continues or if I feel more fearful than I am now, can I take off my veil? That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in Islam, I’m just protecting my life and not being in danger.' That question is there.

What does that mean, you give up here and in the future there might be a principle about speaking out? Somebody says, 'Nope, you can’t speak out, about for example, public officials. You can’t pick on some decisions that they make.' Are you going to be quiet? That’s basically the same thing—if it’s something you believe in, you just live your life. And pave the way for others."

On teaching the Koran to students:

"What he was reciting is just like any other religion of these monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity. He was reciting about Moses.

And this is how the Koran was really taught from the beginning from the time of the prophet from angel Gabriel to [the prophet] Mohammed and then from Mohammed to the companions, it was always recited like this. That’s why it’s memorized by heart. He memorizes 362 pages by heart, letter by letter, dot by dot. And you can find millions of these Muslims do that. ...I have a third of it down."

On the call to prayer heard often outside in predominantly Muslim countries:

"In the beginning you say you glorify your god, you say god is great, god is great, and then the first part of it, I said I bare witness and testify that there is no deity to worship except god."

On the fear of Muslims in America:

"We are Americans. And just because we believe in something else doesn’t take our [patriotism] out of the picture. It doesn’t. Nobody wants to violate the constitution. We live here. Nobody wants to be unsafe. We have our children here, and so we don’t want anything that will come from foreign place to harm our children. So we’re all in this together.

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Credit Aileen LeBlanc / KMUW
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KMUW
Hussam Madi and his daughter, Hannah, a 7th-grader at Annoor. Madi's older daughter, a student at WSU, has been asked by friends if she would consider removing her hijab over safety concerns.

There is fear from the American public at large because they don’t know. They don’t know who this group. All they see is TV, and that’s how our brains work.

So to the American public at large, we invite anyone and everyone to come and ask. Just ask. Ask whatever you want to know: Ask what they believe in, ask to look at them, whether they are from the moon or from Earth, ask if you’d like to know does [the Koran] really say, do you kill people? There's some people that said that. And of course there's not. There's no place in the Koran that it says you kill anyone that is not a Muslim. On the contrary, it says to save man's life. Human beings' life is very sacred."

See more from a day at the Annoor Islamic School:

The Global Learning Center will host a panel discussion, "Islam as a Way of Faith and Life," at the Islamic Society of Wichita Muslim Community Center, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. To RSVP for the meal portion of the evening, call the mosque office at (316) 682-5479.

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Aileen LeBlanc is news director at KMUW. Follow her on Twitter @Aileen_LeBlanc.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.