Terry Graves on Textbook Publishers Who Lie About Islam
More than a century ago, A. W. Tuer chose this name for his guide to English-Portuguese conversation: English As She Is Spoke. I am reminded of this by a dispatch from the Associated Press (AP) about private schools whose curriculum had so many errors that outraged authorities in four states have acted to close them down. The schools, run by Daniel Gossai, target Hispanic immigrants and charge between $450 and $1,450 for a ten-week course.
According to California’s attorney general, the schools claimed the course “would lead to a valid diploma and help (students) get into college, find better jobs and get financial aid.” But its only teaching material was one slim volume, the AP went on, containing howlers such as:
1. The United States has 53 states but the “flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states”: Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
2. World War II began in 1938 and ended in 1942.
3. There are two houses of Congress: the Senate and the House, and “one is for Democrats and the other is for the Republicans, respectively.”
This is History As She Is Wrote! Here are more textbook stunners:
4. “Jihad has often been mistakenly translated simply as ‘holy war.’” It is “an effort in God’s service.” (In both historic and current usage it means war against infidels.)
5. The Archangel Gabriel revealed God’s word to the Prophet Muhammad.
6. The God Muhammad believed in—Allah—is the same God of other monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity. (Muslims deny the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and from the time of the Prophet have been warned against accepting Christians and Jews as friends or allies.)
7. “The shari’a guided the personal conduct of all Muslims . . . outlined the appropriate practices of Islamic government . . . [and] soon became one of the most important elements of the Muslims’ sense of identity.” ( Shari’a rigidly prescribes every aspect of public and private conduct and is backed up by harsh penalties, including mutilation and beheading.)
8. Muslims held Iberia for about 750 years, “a splendid era in Spain . . . a time of religious tolerance: Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony.” (Muslims held Iberia for only 350 years, and Jews and Christians were subjected to gross restrictions.)
9. The Crusades were characterized by bloodletting and looting, while Islam merely “spread rapidly.” (Muslims plundered and murdered as they conquered North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Iberia; the way “Islam spread rapidly” was by religious warfare.)
10. By the seventh century, Cordova [ sic], Spain, was an Islamic city, the Grand Mosque was already built, and the Crusades were in progress (all wrong by one to four centuries).
11. Adam built the Kaaba in Mecca, and jinns are made from fire and can be either good or evil.
12. God transported the Prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem, where he ascended from the Dome of the Rock to heaven upon the grand horse, Buraq. (Islamic lore holds that the Prophet died in 632, while construction of the Dome of the Rock did not begin until 685.)
Why be concerned about the Islamic dogma in the textbook used by Gossai’s private schools? Only the first three items are from that slim volume. All the others are from textbooks used by American public schools: Number 4 is from the nation’s most widely used world-history textbook, published by a division of Pearson; 5 and 6 are from other Pearson textbooks, and 6 also appears in a Houghton Mifflin text; and 7 is in a Harcourt text-book.
The well-known publishers just mentioned—which, along with McGraw-Hill, are called the “Big Four” by the American School Board Journal ( ASB Journal)—sell textbooks to American schools by the tens of millions. Numbers 8 and 9 are from an eleven-volume series from another famous house, Oxford University Press; California, among other states, has adopted that series. California also approved the book, from Interact, that contains items 10 through 12.
These are hardly the only examples where American textbooks give misleading or false information about Islam. Other examples are readily available from sources as disparate as the Protestant Educational Research Analysts, the moderate American Textbook Council (ATC), and William Bennetta’s combatively secular The Textbook Letter. These sources also provide dozens of examples about the textbooks’ teaching of history (Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo, for example) and science (the equator passes through Texas and Florida).
Terry Graves is a freelance writer living near Pittsburgh. His novel, Rain in Hell, is about Original Sin, without, he hopes, being yet another effect of it.
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