questionmark.jpg A difficult time has come to me… a time which every Muslim child in the West will reach, an event which every Muslim child in the West will experience.

Studying the Holocaust.

That terrible, terrible series of events – the rise of Hitler and his government, the proliferation of racist policies, the stirring of hateful feelings against 'the Others', the xenophobia rising to such a level that it resulted in Kristallnacht (Crystal Night/The Night of Broken Glass)… and finally, the concentration camps: torture and brutal death, ending in mass graves of rotting bodies, not a single honourable funeral performed.

I'd like to know how Muslim parents tell their children about the Holocaust, or if they do at all.

Mine never did… I found out about the Holocaust through independent reading of my own, and now, through school. The few times I've brought it up with my parents, they dismissed it… well, not dismissed it, exactly – rather, they said that the numbers were exaggerated, and while yes, it did happen, similar and perhaps even worse things are happening to Muslims around the world today and nobody pays as much attention to *them*.

(Please note that I'm not saying this to cast my parents in a negative light or anything; rather, I'm sharing my personal experience so that I may compare and contrast it to how others approach the issue.)

Now, I know that many readers here are Muslim parents, so I have a bunch of questions for you.

Depending on your children's age, have you taught your children about the Holocaust yet? Do you consider the Holocaust a special issue deserving of special attention? Have your children asked questions about the Holocaust, or the Nazis; and if so, what were those questions and how did you answer them? When discussing the Holocaust, do you emphasize that the main targets were Jews (although the Roma, mentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals were also victims)? Do you draw parallels between the Holocaust and what is happening to Muslims around the world today?

For those of you who *aren't* parents, what was your first knowledge/experience of the Holocaust, and how did you deal with it?

As I mentioned above, I'm now studying the Holocaust for school (grade 11). I also have to do an assignment – a project – related to this.
Three options are given: Create an original art exhibit (can be hand-drawn, two-dimensional art; collage; digital art; audio, video or Powerpoint file); Develop a tutorial or slide show that teaches students about the Holocaust; or Write a series of letters based on readings.

I'm leaning towards option #1 – creating a work of art that would be my personal response to the Holocaust. I'm just not sure what to make, though, and what to include. I was thinking of a poster, or collage… however, I don't want to have the typical run-of-the-mill 'the Holocaust was bad and we should remember the victims' thing; I want something that'll emphasize our duty to stand up and fight against the factors that resulted in the Holocaust – arrogance, fear, irrational hatred – so that no group of people would ever again suffer such a disgusting injustice. And in regards to this, I'm wondering whether or not to include Islam/Muslims in this project… after all, this is a *personal* response project, and I look at all of this through the eyes of a Muslim.

What do you think?

Comments, suggestions, answers to my questions will all be greatly appreciated; jazakAllahu khairan in advance!

23 Responses

  1. Mujahideen Ryder

    The Jews really suffered with the Nazis. Option #2 is what I would choose. In High school (4 years ago), I use to make the crazy computer presentations with sounds and animations.

    Butt wateva floats ya boat.

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  2. inexplicabletimelessness

    As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

    Hey!! You posted this at the right time, sister! We too have begun to study WW2 and its causes in our AP US History class. Our teaching was talking about Hitler and possible theories about why he hated Jews so much and a possible theory was that his beloved mother who had cancer’s doctor was a Jew and he wasn’t able to save her.

    Anyway I thought of something: Hitler primarily caused disruption in socio-political affairs of Europe, that caused WW2, that caused the Holocaust, the Holocaust and WW2 ended with the eventual creation of the state of Israel, that caused Palestinian oppression and backlash because Israel took their land, this caused and continues to cause much anti-Israel and anti-West sentiment in the Muslim world, which is causing a huge, huge divide between
    the “West” and the Muslim world.

    What will be the effects of this tension? Will it be the war of the end of times and the coming of Mahdi and ‘Eesa bin Maryam (Jesus son of Mary, peace be upon him). (Of course, Allah knows best, I’m just thinking out loud here).

    wassalam

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  3. inexplicabletimelessness

    PS To answer some of your questions, although I am not a parent yet, I still think as a parent, it would be utmost job to tell my kids the truth. So of course, I wouldn’t at all hide the blatant fact that Hiter xenophobically slaughtered 6 million Jews. I don’t think at all that the numbers are skewed, actually, this I think is a historical fact. I would tell my kids that these kinds of injustices are filthy and genocide and brutually murdering innocent civilians, women and children based on arrogance and racism is not only immature but Islamically forbidden.

    However, I would make it a point that I believe the suffering many Jews went through does not justify at ALL the suffering many Palestinians are going through today at the hands of Jews. I find it rather ironic that they would have to face with this ordeal. Is Israel now getting revenge for the crimes committed against it with an innocent people that had nothing to do with this? I think this is a huge paradox and sad reality.

    In your project, depending on how you view the entire situation, I think it would be intriguing to add in the Muslim viewpoint and add in that just because you are Muslim you don’t intrinsically hate Jewish people so much that you don’t think history has given you the right numbers. (Again, this is my own opinion, so don’t feel forced to agree ;)). I’d emphasize the fact that although Muslims do not agree with Judaism and vice versa, it would be a shame to believe that killing any innocents was justified, and Allah is the Most Just and has never called for this horrendous act. Maybe adding a snip about the current state of affairs with Palestine is ironic.

    wow… sorry I said so much. :) take care & best wishes with the project!

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  4. abu ameerah

    As’Salaamu Alaikum wa’Rahmatullah…

    In my experience, studying the Holocaust was not difficult at all. Why, as a jahil baggy-pants wearin’ youth, I even visited the Holocaust Museum right here in gooooood ol’ Washington DC. Actually, it didn’t bother me that much since I went to the museum over a decade ago…

    In the post 9/11 era of rampant faggotry that we live in today…studying the Holocaust might be awkward for some Muslims.

    However, as students — and more importantly — as Parents…we must educate our children about the crimes of the past. The Holocaust does have a real place in history — however, as a result of all of the politicization that has gone on over the last few years — the message of the Holocaust has been somewhat lost or distorted.

    Though there may be many messages and lessons to be learned from the Holocaust — the one thing that we must learn and teach our children is that the Holocaust is a real human tragedy. It is real in the sense that we can actually go to the concentration camps where people were killed…find Holocaust survivors…and read Nazi propoganda.

    The lesson that we can learn from the Holocaust — and teach our children — is that: Hate Kills (real “hate” — the kind that controls political parties and entire nations — with the ability to enrage the body politic into a giant killing machine of sorts).

    We must put the tragedy of the Holocaust into perspective and educate our children that:

    1. No Muslim ever participated in the wholesale slaugher of millions Jews. On the contrary…it was Xtians who did so. The Nazis were Christian lest we forget.

    2. Islam has never inspired the genocide of a people.

    3. Just as Hitler hated Jews…he also hated Blacks…Catholics…and other Europeans. Hitler did kill some 1.2 + million Gypsies.

    4. Hitler’s methodology of propoganda and mass killing (genocide) has been copied in some way, shape, or form in: Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia/Kosovo…

    5. Muslims have experienced genocide as well. Jews, despite what the media or politicians (beholden to special interest groups) may tell us, do not own the ideas of pain and suffering as a people.

    Simply…the Holocaust must be taught to our children — however it should not be done so without a proper contextual understanding of history or of current geopolitical realities.

    …now i’m going to sleep…

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  5. Ruth Nasrullah

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    Bear in mind that roughly the same number of non-Jews as Jews were killed by the Nazis, and their voices shouldn’t go unheard.

    The thing I always felt made the Nazis stand out is how diabolically meticulous and organized they were – for example, they actually took the time to tattoo people they were likely going to work to death or execute…they brought them in on trains in an orderly manner…and the death camps were also organized and purposeful. Think of how much manpower and money was spent on all that. That’s what I think sets the holocaust apart from other genocides and massacres. In Rwanda a million people were slaughtered within a couple months, but they were killed in rampages and killed where they were found. Proportionate to time and numbers, that tragedy was far worse than the holocaust, but it wasn’t accompanied by the slow purposefulness of the Nazis’.

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  6. AnonyMouse

    MR: I’d do #2, but I’ve done so many PowerPoints for school that it’s getting dull now… so I wanna try something new…

    IT: As always, jazaakillaahi khair for your comment(s)! They’re always appreciated, no matter how long they are! :) I think I’ve decided to make a poster that’ll identify key words of what caused the Holocaust… like arrogance, hatred, fear, oppression, injustice, etc. and place a relevant quote (a Hadith or an aayah in most cases) next to it… also, somehow show that such actions can result in similar things later on. Insha’Allah, if/when I complete it I’ll email it to you! :)

    Abu Ameerah and sis Ruth: JazakAllahu khairan for the comments! :)

    -Mouse

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  7. um ahmad

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  8. AnonyMouse

    Sis Um Ahmad, I am homeschooled… it’s done through distance education, though, which means I do the same public school curriculum. However, my teachers are actually pretty cool, which is why I’m going to mention how others – non-Jews – continue to suffer even today due to the same reasons that caused the Holocaust (arrogance, hatred, fear, etc.)…

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  9. iMuslim

    I agree, place emphasis on the “forgotten many”; all those non-Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis. I didn’t hear about them till very recently, which just shows how skewed presentation of this important piece of recent history.

    Btw, i was never taught about WWII at school, because i dropped History quite early on. I learnt about it in dribs and drabs over the years, most of it via my third parent, the TV!

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  10. Umm Layth

    I just wanted to say that even though you are schooled at home, you are still considered a public school student and not a true homeschooler because you are going based on what the govt wants you to learn. So yeah you are fed what the govt wants to feed you.

    Anyways, I learned about this in school, whenever it came up and the emphasis placed on it, was of course quite high. I also learned in California and through elementary school we used books that made Muslims look pretty good (I wasn’t Muslim). So I don’t know how biased they were there or then or what.

    I suppose in our times it is a bit different. I mean I haven’t been out of school that long myself but still with all that has occured now, the agenda of these non-Muslims has obviously changed quite a bit.

    I wouldn’t teach my son about the holocaust or any other big history issue like this until it was time to teach him that and even then, as a Muslimah, I know that teaching facts and teaching conjecture are two totally different things. So I would teach him every angle and have him open his mind as he grows insha’Allaah. It isn’t a must that he even knows about it, but there is no need to hide history but at the same time he would learn what has happened to non-jews, including Muslims.

    Many non-Muslims and Muslims take offense when we doubt its validity as they have portrayed it (so validity in certain aspects), but we have learned in Islaam that proof needs to back up what we say.

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    • Dawood

      It does not need to be taught? I must strongly disagree. From my study of history, the Holocaust was the first, state-run organized mass-murder of millions of people. Many Holocaust Museums make it known that many non-Jews died and that information is not forgotten, however, most of the propaganda in Nazi Germany targeted Jews as a national pariah, because it was easy to do so. There were rumors and racial stereotypes and religious beliefs that were wholly untrue and all used as excuses to dehumanize people just as people now say Muslims are all dangerous people that cannot be trusted or be sent back to our “desert lands”.

      What about our brothers and sisters in Bosnia? Was that not modeled on the Holocaust? Ironically, despite what people here have said that it does not need to be taught, when looking at how hard people around the world try to make this a fact of history, it happens over and over again. And the proof is there, there are the concentration camps, the museums, the shoes, the photographs and tens of thousands of papers and dozens of buildings proving it happened.

      I do not believe in conspiracy theories by anyone because they are used against our own people as well and we know they are not true. May this message of warning and peace and truth come to all inshallah.

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  11. Umm Reem

    Acually, sister Umm Layth it is kind of hard to be homeschooled and still be totally ‘protected’. :) unless you make your own curriculum which i found to be very difficult since I am not qualified enough to make one and the islamic sites for homeschooling are not as organized and efficient.

    You may be surprised to know that some of the nice homeschool curriculum are totally ‘Christian’ based. You have to be church member to order them. The least govt/religion involved curriculum that I found is k-12 but I was advised not to use their history/govt. subject even for small children because it is just one-sided tainted history. Although, I was very selective in the courses I chose for my daughter, one of her literature books is just biblical stories and she is supposed to be tested over it.

    In any case, Mouse I know one convert sister from Judaism (the one and only I know) and it was interesting what she was telling me about what happens in Israel (she grew up there). Every high school teenager is supposed to go through this field trip where they take the students to ‘Holocaust sites’ and keep them there for about 7-10 days. They get the worse treatment there…similar to what the victims of Holocaust received, just to get a glimpse. She said basically when they come out of this ‘field trip’ every single teenager feels so much for all those victims that they get pretty much brainwashed in justifying every and any action they may have to take to keep a ‘secure’ homeland for themselves!

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  12. Umm Layth

    Yes you are right but the difference between homeschooling and going through a charter school @ home is that you as a parent have full control to teach them what you want, how you want and when you want.

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  13. anon

    You posed a lot of interesting questions Mouse:) I was exposed to this (not all of it but parts of it) from really early on in my childhood, mainly because my mom’s parents and a lot of her other relatives lived through it. So I grew up hearing stories (very sanitized albeit) from my grandparents and great-aunts/uncles about what they lived through and saw very early on. I think that if it hadn’t been for my mom’s family connection to this I probably wouldn’t have started learning about it until I was in highschool like most of you it seems and it wouldn’t have been such a big deal as it currently is in the one half of my family.

    I’m not quite sure what one of the commenters meant about “real” hate. What other kind is there? “Fake” hate? But I agree that the biggest message/lesson that should be drawn from the Holocaust and taught to all children is that it was started because of fear, hate, ignorance, xenophobia, racism and everything we see today. There could very well be another one if we are not careful. And there is certainly no shortage of that in the muslim world as well so lets not go about placing all the blame on the west/nonmuslims.

    About the Nazis being Christian btw, I don’t think you can just go labeling everyone to be of a certain religion based on what color their skin is or where they were born. Every religion, including Islam requires a conscious choice to accept. So I don’t agree with the statement that the perpetrators of the Holocaust were “Christian”. This is exactly what nonmuslims say about “muslims” who kill. Because they are Arab or Pakistani or Bosnian or whatever that must automatically make them muslim. It does not. These kind of blanket statements always irritate me. Sorry

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  14. Abul-Hussein

    AS

    You know I have studied the Holocaust for some years now. The only thing that I found meaning in was to learn how people function under pressure. The German resorted to killing and the jews and others resorting to learn the techniques of survival. From what I have gathered it was only those who had meaning to live that made it through ok, I mean those who had a purpose to live.

    To me that was a nice lesson and Muslims should study this well that we will overcome the struggles we face when we believe in the purpose of life as dictated to us by Allah {swt}.

    On the other hand, the Holocaust is a demonstration that life is not to be lived by reason alone nor by nationalism. Germany and Prussia at the time before the Holocaust were the most advanced states and likewise they turned into the most rationally inhuman.
    Again a lesson in life with shirk. In one case reason was idolized and in the other the nation, the race and what did it amount to?

    I am always thrown aback that after the world studied the holocaust the jews turned around and commited crimes in Jenin and Shateela. I am boggled that they forget what happened.

    Although at times I think that the Holocaust is what led to the mentality that now governed occupied Palestine.

    If we are to learn anything from the Holocaust let it be that we commit to justice and humanity when we are weak and when we have power. We must commit to the Qur’anic ethic that dictates that killing one human being is like killing a nation now that is a lesson for life and not death.

    Abul-Hussein

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    • Dawood

      I would have to say that not all Jews as a whole act on everything and believe everything the same. I know there are many Jews in and outside of Israel that protest Israeli actions and know that horrible things have happened in Palestine.

      Many of my Jewish friends have always said though they don’t feel that because of the Holocaust that Israel has a right to kill people or can get revenge for what happened in the 40s or it has a right to do bad things as a result. I think Israel’s actions are due to the conflict itself and the hardening of hearts. I am not saying what happens is okay, but I am just trying to be logical about this.

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  15. Sarah

    Hi everyone,

    I stumbled across this website and wondered if it might be helpful…

    http://projetaladin.org/en/muslims-and-jews/the-holocaust-and-muslims.html

    If you scroll down about half-way it says that the holocaust did not actually cause the re-creation of Israel and the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    “The Holocaust did not ‘create’ Israel, and its establishment was not motivated by any feelings of guilt of the world’s nations at the time, as minutes of the United Nations General Assembly discussions that led to the creation of Israel show. ”

    Does this change/add to the discussion a little?

    Sorry, I guess it’s a little late for the school project though!

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  16. Harunshot

    as a palestinian muslim i feel that, while it is bad what happened to the jews, they went and did the same thing to us.  why should i care about what happened to them when they stole land from my family and kicked us out of the country?  and the fact that the jews back then owned everything and where corrupting society as they are today.  just look at what they are doing in the US, they own everything and steal money from the US for their terrorist state, i think that they will never learn.  this is why there is 1/3 of the quran warning us about the jews.  dont get me wrong not all of them are bad, infact most of them are good people but there is the group that is deciptfull that we should be aware of.  

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    • dreamadventurer

      My heart goes to you and all Palestinians. I think that we should care about what happened in WWII, though, because the Holocaust was unjust. What happened to the Jews then, can happen to Muslims today. In fact, it is happening: 1 million Iraqi Muslims killed, hundreds of thousands Palestinians continue to suffer, Afghanistanis too, etc. Why are there secret “prisons”? I call them concentration camps. As Muslims, we must always be just. Yes, some of the Jews have done to Palestinians what happened to them/their ancestors. It is a fact. But just because they are wrong, does not mean we should be wrong. Our religion does not teach us to support evil of any kind or to deny the truth.

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  17. Rory Calhoun

    All this is bullshit and I am no Jew. Both Nazis and the likes of the Grand mufti of Jerusalem and other fascist Muslims murdered Jews and killed them. Dont believe it then you are mad…insane.
    Palestinians could have had a beautiful flourishing land if they would have accepted partition in 1948.
    The koran says that Israel is the home of the Jews.
    Hamas accepts that most Pals. came from Egypt and Stria.

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  18. dreamadventurer

    I am born Muslim, have been Muslim all my life. My parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers–all who were Muslims, have told me about the Holocaust. My grandfather (a Muslim) lost both his parents to Nazi supporters when he was 14. So, my family was touched by the evil of Holocaust. How can one not know about holocaust? Seriously?
    I think it is dangerous to assume, and anti-Muslim propaganda supporting, to question all Muslims whether they ever heard of Holocaust? There is one billion something of us out there. Perhaps majority of the 15% of Muslims that Arabs make do not hear about Holocaust, but all others Muslims have learned about it since they were little. And none of us deny it.

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    • DawnJuio59

      Contrary
      To what you are saying, I have talked to more than a few Muslims about this topic and the deny the Holocaust,

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  19. AtheistMe

    It is dispicable that anyone should deny the Holocaust happened. It is an undeniable part of the worlds history and only those who hold themselves above others would deny that this incredibly inhumane event took place. Regardless of how YOU feel about those of the Jewish faith, we need to teach our children about the holocaust (and the innocent people who lost their lives trying to stop it!) because if you don’t LEARN from history, it will repeat itself.
    It seems to me that all religions are guilty of the persecution of other race/religions at some time in history and that’s sad because until we can learn to dispose of these hateful Holy books, we will never be free of hate.
    Goodness comes from within you, you are born with it until someone teaches you otherwise.
    Teach your kids however you want but please remember to teach them to love all others, don’t teach them hate.

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