Not too long ago came the news that a Muslim Sunday school in the GTA was propagating anti-Jewish messages through its website. Jewish groups expressed shock and reservations over the curriculum on the Madrassah’s website that called ancient Jews “treacherous” and “crafty” and accused them of “conspiring to kill the Prophet Muhammad.”Following this, the Toronto Public Board barred the school from using a Scarborough school for holding weekend classes until investigations were wrapped up. The Madrassah or school under scrutiny wasted no time in issuing an apology. In a press release, the school wished to, “unreservedly apologize to the Jewish community for the unintentional offence that the item has caused.”
The incident brings to light the sensitive yet important issue of religious tolerance. In a multi-religious country like Canada, respecting faiths different than one’s own is paramount to maintaining harmony. Any breach of this can lead to needless conflict, which doesn’t serve anyone in the end. However, what is more disturbing about the above incident is the possibility of young minds being infected with negative information regarding a faith other than their own. Growing children are amongst the most impressionable of age groups and must be treated with great care. Their minds, sponge-like, can absorb whatever is fed to them.
Nobel winner anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate…” This is exactly the possibility one fears with institutions or teachings that tend to deride particular communities in an effort to exalt their own. Growing minds exposed to such teachings can, unbeknownst to themselves, “learn to hate the other.”
At the core of every religion is love. Being compassionate, caring for one’s fellow human or animal is part of all religious teachings. This week, we feature a lady who has been passionately working to disseminate that message to different faith groups across Canada. We need more people like her, who bring together, not divide, religious groups.