Fact Check

Massachusetts School Is Forcing Students to Learn a Muslim Prayer?

Rumor: Students in Revere, Massachusetts, were forced to recite an Islamic conversion prayer.

Published Jan. 7, 2015


Claim:   Students in Revere, Massachusetts, were forced to recite an Islamic conversion prayer.


TRUE: Students in a Massachusetts school were taught an Islamic creed (Shahada) as part of a social studies lesson on Islam.
FALSE: Students in that school were forced to recite the Shahada and "officially converted to Islam" by that process.

Example:   [Collected via email, January 2015]

This headline sounds implausible to me. "Boston Public School Is Now Forcing It's Non-Islamic Students To Learn A Muslim Prayer." Would
you check this out, please?

Origins:   On 7 January 2015, the web site American Overlook published an article titled "Boston Public School Is Now Forcing It's [sic] Non-Islamic Students to Learn a Muslim Prayer." While the headline did not explicitly suggest students in Revere were being indoctrinated by Muslim infiltrators, the body of the article was a bit more bombastic.

According to the site, a newly appointed Muslim Boston Police Department captain somehow inexplicably created the situation whereby students were "forced to learn the Islam conversion prayer":

While some parents are completely outraged, most of these liberal parents are one hundred percent okay with it and do not mind it at all. They must not realize this key component of the Islam conversion prayer. By simply reciting the prayer, this means you are officially converted to Islam. Forcing non-Muslim students to recite the prayer, the Shahada, is simply wrong and considered manipulation.

What many people do not realize and what the liberal media is not reporting is that the Boston Police Department just announced that its first Muslim has been promoted to Captain. Part of Captain Haseeb Hosein's plan as captain is to increase the police department's involvement with the public school system.

As is often the case, something that was offered as part of a school curriculum for teaching students about world religions was falsely declared as an attempt to indoctrinate students into a particular religion. In this case, the details of the story date back to October 2014, and later retellings of it diverge sharply from the original narrative.

Initially, a local news station reported the father of a one student in Revere objected to the inclusion of a lesson involving Islam as part of a social studies curriculum. While the article mentioned "some parents" in Revere, only one parent was named, and no reference was made to any other complaints registered about the lessons:

Some parents in Revere were angry when they learned students were being taught about Islam and the Muslim religion.

"No religion should be taught at school. In their paper it says Allah is their only God. That's insulting to me as a Christian who believes in just Jesus only," said Anthony Giannino.

"We don't believe in Allah. I don't believe in my son learning about this here," he said. "If my son was from another country and came here, he would have been catered to. But where he's not being catered to, they give him an F."

According to the station, Giannino removed his son (whose grade level was not mentioned) from the classroom due to the lesson on Islam. What later recirculated versions of the claim failed to mention was the school's administration also commented at the time of the controversy, sending a letter to parents that explained the lesson was in no way an effort to indoctrinate children:

The superintendent of Revere Public Schools wrote the parents a letter explaining that it is simply part of the history in that section of the curriculum, and stated, "I want to be very clear that no religion is taught with the purpose of converting students to that religion."

"When you're talking about a specific region in the world, there's going to be traditions and there's gonna be religions that children should learn about," said Ovidio Raffa.

It's not clear any of the students at that school were actually required to recite the Shahada, a creed expressing a Muslim profession of faith, as part of a social studies lesson (related news articles merely mention that the Shahada was included in printed course materials), but in no case would they have been "officially converted to Islam" through the process. By the faith's tenets, those who wish to convert must sincerely and knowingly recite the prayer with conviction. Children of another religion (or no faith at all) simply reading or reciting the creed because they were directed to do so as part of a school history lesson would not satisfy the requirements for conversion to Islam.

Last updated:   7 January 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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