The Corner

Floreat Etona?

Eton, the most famous and, with the greatest respect to my alma mater, probably, the finest of the English ‘public’ (private) schools is to appoint an ‘imam’. Nothing wrong with that. The school has Muslim pupils, and their spiritual needs should be catered for. More worrying is the suggestion that this cleric’s functions will also include helping other pupils ‘gain an understanding of Islamic culture and thought’. Again, fair enough, but only so long as he is not the sole source of such information. One of the problems with our understanding (such as it is) of Islam is that too much of it (normally pap of the ‘religion of peace’ variety) comes through the conduit of true believers, men who are unlikely to be objective in assessing the strengths and considerable weaknesses of their faith, let alone its decidedly mixed contribution to history. A proper understanding of Islam is essential these days, but, so far as anything can be, it must be objective, and an ‘imam’ will not be that. He can’t be. Yes, yes, before anyone writes to complain, I should stress that if I wished to give pupils an ‘understanding of Christian culture and thought’ I wouldn’t leave that solely to priests either.

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