This thread was sparked by a column on the Huffington Post written by an Imam at Howard University dealing with LGBTQ muslims on campus. He discusses a number of issues, two in particular stood out.

1. Muslim day-schools need to stop inadvertently highlighting so many historical Islamic battles and Muslim warriors in grade school Islamic pedagogy.
Stop teaching timelines in which, “Muslims fought this group and this warrior defeated this man” etc. etc.
If students are taught like this, we’re inadvertently creating a narrative that justifies violence. You have to create new books in which banking war-dates is out the window and implementing intellectual rigor and emotional engagement from students takes precedence instead.
Students should not only be learning about different religions but also different lifestyles with an emphasis on a non-theological approach. They need to know how the real world works and not have a narrow 7th century middle eastern interpretation of faith imposed on them. If you need help in developing a better approach, go to and I will assist you in creating new strategies.
2. Imams and sermon-givers stop preaching that Muhammad was a one dimensional macho warrior always with sword in hand.
Muhammad was first and foremost a grandson, a husband, a father, a statesman and a good neighbor and friend to Jews and Christians alike. He was assaulted and persecuted for his belief in monotheism and looked for help from Christian nations and sought advice from Jews. Five hundred years later, the Muslims reciprocated this fellowship during periods of religious unrest when Jews and Christians needed protection.
People talk about what a religion teaches, often focusing on holy books and history. But there is, of course, a broad range of events and actions within those books and histories. Each teacher and each school / church / mosque / synagogue etc will likely focus on particular aspects. As a result those who have been brought up in a particular tradition will have a view of the entire religion created by the lens of that tradition.

These lenses are hidden in the sectarian arguments both inside and outside of each religion. Because they are what people are looking through, most people don't even notice they are there. The views created are treated as unchangeable facts, not the results of particular perspective. Worse still, the people who are most firmly attached to a particular lens are the ones who usually speak loudest and most confidently about what their religion must mean. As a result those who are opposed to the religion are most likely to share in the lenses of the most firmly entrenched.

If this imam's view is accurate, the image of Islam as primarily a religion of the sword is at least as much the result of bad early childhood education as it is of any serious theology. A similar case could be made for Creationism in Christianity being sustained by teaching children the story of the Garden of Eden and of Noah's Ark (two very popular biblical kids stories).