Yet another so-called history textbook is under fire, this time in Florida. And like other similar cases around the country, this textbook teaches a revisionist and sugar-coated view of Islam and devotes much more coverage to Islam than any other world religion.
Todd Starnes of Fox News reports in this article one glaring example of a sugar-coated revisionist history stated as fact in this book. The book says, “Jihad may be interpreted as a holy war to defend Islam and the Muslim community, much like the Crusades to defend Christianity.” At best, this statement is misleading and incomplete, and at worst it is inaccurate and wrong. One should expect students in our public schools to receive accurate and truthful information, particularly when studying history.
First, the Christian Crusades were to defend Christianity, yes, but from what? The book does not say. The Crusades historically was a defensive response to 400 years of prior offensive Islamic aggression against Christian lands and people. Indeed, in the first 100 years after the death of Islam’s prophet in 632 AD, beginning with his first successor Abu Bakr, Islam spread primarily by coercion and armed aggression from Arabia both eastward to the western border of India and westward across north Africa and across the Mediterranean into Spain, where its advance was halted in 732 AD by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. Over the next several hundred years, Islamic conquest by offensive jihad continued unchallenged, engulfing a significant portion of the then-known world, as the following series of pictures demonstrates.
Thus, it can be seen that jihad is not simply defending the Islamic community, but primarily is an offensive tactic to spread Islam. Jihad has never been understood to be primarily a defensive mechanism, but one used for offensive purposes. Indeed, two authoritative sources confirm this for us.
The Encyclopedia of Islam defines jihad as, “In law, according to general doctrine and in historical tradition, the jihad consists of military action with the object of the expansion of Islam and, if need be, its defense” [emphasis added]. The manual of sharia law under the Arabic name Umdat al-Salik and titled in English “Reliance of the Traveller,” accepted as authoritative by Al Ahzar University in Cairo, defines jihad for us. Jihad “means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.” Again, the textbook mentions none of this, defining jihad as a rather innocuous term which allowed for Muslim communities to simply defend themselves when attacked. Who can be against the right to self defense after all?
Second, the textbook also calls Muhammad ‘God’s messenger’ matter-of-factly, as if this is an historically established fact, while mentioning that Jesus was thought of by some as the Messiah.
Not surprisingly, Prentice Hall’s ‘World History’ has an Islamic scholar on its review board to ensure the academic quality of it’s material on Islam. The Islamic expert named is a member of a group formerly known as the Council of Islamic Education in Fountain Valley, California, which changed its name a while back to the less innocuous Institute on Religion and Civic Values. This organization has a track record of influencing prior textbooks with revisionist Islamic history as this article shows.
Another area of concern is the book’s portrayal of Jews and Christians as “People of the Book.” Yes, that is what the Quran calls both Jews and Christians, but the textbook implies that both Jews and Christians are looked upon as equals to Muslims. The reality in Islamic nations both today and historically stands in stark contrast to the rosy picture painted by the author. If they were allowed to remain once conquered by Muslim warriors, Christians and Jews were allotted the status of second class citizens, known under the umbrella Islamic term “dhimmi” where they were obligated to pay a protection tax called ‘jizya’ and were barred from owning land, participating in government, with no voting rights, and were ruled by a Muslim overlord. Mark Durie provides an excellent historical review of Jews and Christians living in Islamic nations in his book “The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude, and Freedom.”
Misrepresenting the view of women in Islam is another area of concern with the textbook. According to Fox News, “This content is confusing at best and intellectually dishonest at worst” and cites school board member Amy Kneessy, who says she was very disheartened at the portrayal of Muslim women in the book. “To see such a blatant misportrayal of how women are treated in Muslim countries, I found disconcerting.”
I have written extensively on the subject of women in Islam. Readers interested in more can view and/or download my booklet on Scribd.com “Women in Islam: What Muslims Don’t Want You to Know“.
The textbook also quotes verses from the Quran, like many others before it, yet says nothing about the Bible or the Torah.
I will be adding a YouTube video shortly. In the mean time, here is a video interview of Todd Starnes who is investigating this issue.