History Dead or Alive!

Anyone with the desire to obtain a sense of what our children are learning about Islam in school, would be well served by paying attention to some of our children’s history text books.  

The California standard 7th Grade text for history is titled , “History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.” Not only is it rife with mistruths about medieval history, but it blatantly glorifies and promotes Islam at the expense of  Christianity.

History Alive! is a standard text and used in most of our country’s public schools. You would think that an American text book devoted to the medieval world would provide a balanced picture of pre-Enlightenment Europe and its accomplishments. 

But you would be wrong.  

This text barely scrapes together an outline of the Western civilization’s growth and development, but spends an inordinate amount of space displaying the growth (and worth) of Islam.   In fact an entire unit, 55 pages, featuring such chapter titles as The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula, The Prophet Muhammad and Islam’s Contribution to World Civilization, glorifies Islam’s contributions to our civilization while failing entirely to  recount  the bloodshed that accompanied its conquest of most of the Mediterranean world. 

The obvious impression left is that Islam’s spread was peaceful and benign, being implemented through trade and cultural exchange. Unanswered is how Islam converted populaces so implicitly unhappy with their heritage, that they forsook Christianity to take up a new religion. 

Strangely enough Christianity, in the same time period, has only 15 pages devoted to it – mainly centering on the Crusades, which are described as violent campaigns and massacres launched as attempts to regain captured lands.    Judaism is barely mentioned except in terms of the Spanish Inquisition.  There is no reference at all to the philosophical contributions of St. Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides, Solomon Ibn Ezra and William of Ockam.    Nor is there much discussion of English Common Law, crucial to the growth of the continental legal system and the future American system of justice.

Additionally, Christian beliefs are presented as legends while the claims of Islam are presented as facts. For instance, “Moses claimed to receive the Ten Commandments from God” but Mohammad simply “received the Koran from God”. 

On the subject of Jihad: “Muslims should fulfill jihad with the heart, tongue, and hand. Muslims use the heart in their struggle to resist evil. The tongue may convince others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research. Hands may perform good works and correct wrongs.” 

No mention of the carnage and havoc wrought by Jihad’s call to arms throughout the medieval period. 

There was also substantial puffery and misinformation. The text tells us that Muhammad “taught equality and told his followers to share their wealth and to care for the less fortunate in society,”  –  a fact even most Islamic scholars might dispute. 

Where does all this come from? 

Well in 1998, the California State Board of Education adopted “History, Social Science Content Standards for CA Public Schools” which explicitly defines the content that students need to learn at each grade level.  For 7th Grade history,  students are required, among a number of other things, to analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages. Within the prescribed activities, they must explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in Muslims’ daily life, discussing the expansion of Muslim rule through military conquests and treaties while emphasizing the spread and acceptance of Islam and the Arabic language. 

In other words, Californian 7th grade students must receive instruction and engage in activities to learn about Islamic history, culture and religious practices, whether they want to or not.  The guidelines indicate that the school’s approach to religion should be academic, not devotional and that the school may sponsor study about religion, but may not sponsor the practice of religion. 

It is important to note that the textbook’s publisher, Teacher’s Curriculum Institute (TCI), enjoys a close relationship with the Islamic Networks Group (ING), a Muslim propaganda agency based in San Jose, California. The ING website was formerly connected to several Islamist websites, including a propaganda outlet in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.   It sported a website devoted to corrupting American history–and endorsing TCI textbooks. ING promotes no other schoolbook publisher.

The book credits Ayad Al-Qazzaz as its chief author-advisor on Islam. Al Qazzaz is professor of sociology at California State University, Sacramento who is a Muslim apologist and  a frequent speaker in Northern California school districts promoting Islam and Arab causes. He also co-authored The Arab World Notebook, issued by the Arab World and Islamic Resources (AWAIR) which is a proselytizing non-profit organization that conducts teacher workshops and sells supplementary materials to schools.

 Maybe it all began innocently enough with a State Board attempting to create a balanced multicultural approach to education.  

But this text is only multicultural in the sense that it presents the historical narratives of a range of cultures, without critique or comment and without offering any support for the value of the culture and civilization to which the students belong. 

The American Textbook Council (ATC), a national non-profit watchdog group, singled out History Alive! for its bias and prejudice, excoriating it for “an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.” 

In a 2008 report, ATC spells out a damning indictment of the way such spurious material like this makes it into school texts throughout the country.   Its conclusions are worth quoting in full: 

“Textbook editors try to avoid any subject that could turn into a political grenade. Willingly, they adjust the definition of jihad and sharia or remove these words from lessons to avoid inconvenient truths that the editors fear activists will contest. Explicit facts that non-Muslims might find disturbing are varnished or deleted. Textbooks pare to a minimum such touchy subjects as Israel and oil as agents of change in the Middle East since 1945. Terrorism and Islam are uncoupled and the ultimate dangers of Islamic militancy hidden from view.

 None of this is accidental.  Islamic organizations, willing to sow misinformation, are active in curriculum politics. These activists are eager to expunge any critical thought about Islam from textbooks and all public discourse. They are succeeding, assisted by partisan scholars and associations. It is not remarkable that Islamic organizations would try to use ready-made American political movements such as multiculturalism to adjust the history curriculum to their advantage. It is alarming that so many individuals with the power to shape the curriculum are willfully blind to or openly sympathetic with these efforts. 

These distortions and biases about Islam in history textbooks could not prevail were it not for the all-important bridge between Islamist activists and multicultural organizations on and off campus. Both are eager to restrict what textbooks say about Islam. Multiculturalists are determined that social studies curricula do not transmit “Eurocentric”or “triumphalist” presuppositions about Western history and society. Middle East centers on campuses promote an uncritical view of Islam, often with a caustic anti-Western spin. Historians actively interested in taking world history curricula in this direction are prominent in textbook authorship. Encouraged to do so by reputable authorities, textbook publishers court the Council on Islamic Education and other Muslim organizations—or at least try to appease them. This legitimacy is bestowed in spite of longstanding questions about sources of funding and degree of control over publishers.”

 All parents should be concerned about these developments and should demand to be given a say in how Islam is portrayed in our children’s textbooks.  For the current curriculum and the texts themselves amount to a whitewash of Islamic teachings and history, failing entirely to account for a 1400-year- long legacy of Jihad and attempts to subvert the West.

The fact that the global  terrorist campaigns we witness today derive their legitimacy and inspiration from the same teachings that drove the Islamic conquests of medieval times, should be something our students know and learn.   This must be so no matter how and whether it breaches the boundaries of accepted multicultural dogma or aspirations.


One Response to History Dead or Alive!

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