While Christian belligerence is magnified, Islamic inequality, subjugation, and
enslavement get the airbrush. ... 21


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....Terrorism and Islam are uncoupled and the ultimate dangers of Islamic.militancy hidden from view.9

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.9

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.9

Seventh-grade world history textbooks introduce Islam’s origins, creeds, and core beliefs
as a blend of history and scripture, weaving together revelation, legend, and fact.10

With material laden with angels, revelations, miracles, prayers, and sacred exclamations... and the titles “Messenger of God” and “Prophet of Islam,” the seventhgrade textbooks cross the line into something other than history, that is, scripture or myth. 12
Lavish textbook praise of Islam continues after the presentation of these
foundation stories. Some textbooks provide glowing declarations of Muslim social conscience....12

The textbooks feature manifold contributions of Islam to the arts and science, expanding coverage to a degree that seems out of proportion to the relative slimness of the material that the same volumes dedicate to European achievements.12
The seventh-grade world history textbooks reviewed avoid all conflict and bloodshed in describing Islam’s push out of Arabia and rapid conquest of most of the Mediterranean world.... Once it was common to state that Islam was spread by the sword. Now, textbooks imply, it moves peacefully with traders... People adopt it freely.... 12-13?

...In Islam’s history the slaughter of conquered infidels was discouraged. Sometimes the fate of the conquered was slavery. Sometimes it was limited tolerance by the Islamic regime. In Islam’s early conquests Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians were to be the tax base of the state....13

The Holt and Prentice Hall definitions of jihad may be imperfect, yet they provide essential definitions that the Glencoe and McDougal Littell seventh-grade volumes do not. These two latter volumes fail to acknowledge jihad. The material has simply been deleted. ...

After jihad, in some textbooks, comes Islamic law, shariah, which textbooks spell in a variety of ways. In their definitions, some textbooks lapse into intentional vagueness.... Shariah is a “law” very different from the one that Americans
understand. ... The struggle against the infidel (jihad) is rooted in theological law (shariah). ...

The volume does not explain, for example, that apostasy is officially a capital crime. Renunciation of Islam may be regarded as treason, not an act of conscience or personal choice.... It does not point out that freedom of religion is
forbidden in nations throughout the Muslim world....

Islamic law does not have much capacity or desire to promote freedom of religion. It is not “tolerant” by nature. The idea of Islamic coexistence with other systems of belief is at odds with foundational beliefs as prescribed in the Qur’an (a revelation) and the Hadiths (commentary on Muhammad). Sharia sanctions violence against nonbelievers....

History textbooks highlight the theme of Islamic tolerance, celebrating what the
Prentice Hall volume ludicrously calls a “multicultural society.” Once non-Arabs have
been conquered, students learn, those societies and civilizations with non-Islamic systems
of belief live in a wonderland of interreligious cooperation...

The accompanying Teacher’s Annotated Edition includes a catechistic set of questions and answers that it labels an “Essential Question”:
Q: How did the caliphs who expanded the Musli...m Empire treat those they conquered?
A: They treated them with tolerance.

At a time when intolerance marks Islamic cultures worldwide and multiculturalism is a ruling idea in U.S. schools, these “wonderland-of-tolerance” tropes constitute a major content distortion. To present Islam’s past exclusively through the lens of “tolerance” and “equality,” indeed, as a unique triumph of interreligious harmony, is seriously misleading. The McDougal Littell volume broadly states: “Muslim law requires that Muslim leaders offer religious toleration.”...
....The Crusades, students learn from TCI, were “a terrible ordeal for many Muslims. An unknown number of Muslims lost their lives in battles and massacres. Crusaders also destroyed Muslim property.” TCI ... describes the Crusades as “religious wars launched against Muslims by European Christians.”  When the Seljuks or other Muslim groups attack Christian peoples, kill them, and take their lands, the process is referred to as “building” an empire. Christian attempts to restore those lands are labeled as “violent attacks” or “massacres.” A passage about the Second Crusade characterizes Christians as “invaders”—something they would have denied—while the Seljuks are simply “migrating” into Christian territories.

The treatment of the Crusades by History Alive! is riddled with major and minor errors, according to the historian Thomas F. Madden. The pope “promised entry to heaven to all who joined the fight.” Not so. The Crusaders wore red crosses, the book says. No, only Templars did. ...

The McDougal Littell textbook ....contains a section titled “Defending Muslim Spain,” forgetting that Muslims encroached upon Christian territory, and not the other way around.10 “Christians are trounced and portrayed as murderers of the Muslim and Jewish people,” one parent complained of History Alive, objecting to bias....19

Outright errors or lies: The McDougal Littell volume claims that “Jews who faced persecution in Christian lands flocked to al-Andalus to enjoy this freedom.” No, in fact, Jews who migrated (not “flocked”) to Andalusia did so to
escape persecution in Muslim lands. ...

While Christian belligerence is magnified, Islamic inequality, subjugation, and
enslavement get the airbrush. ... 21

Textbooks mention Islamic slavery only obliquely... or not at all. Enslaved Africans and Slavs were transported to Muslim lands from the eighth century on. Slaves were accumulated through conquest, tribute, and sale. In contrast to slavery in the Western Hemisphere, Islamic slavery did not have a racial dimension and slaves could and did achieve a variety of social stations, some of them of considerable power. Muslim enslavement went on from the Balkans to Africa and Central Asia, and the estimated fourteen million slaves taken captive by Muslim rulers all over the world was a larger population than the eleven million Africans exported to the New World before 1850.

In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, in the late nineteenth century, an estimated twenty-five thousand slaves were traded annually. Vestiges of Islamic slavery persist worldwide. ...

Islamic Fundamentalism
What do world history textbooks say about terrorism and its connections to Islamic faith?
Prentice Hall’s The Modern World mentions the Wahhabi sect of Islam, describing
Wahhabi as “strict” but otherwise failing to explain what it is, what it wants, or how it
has become a global force inside and outside the Arab world. “Islamic fundamentalism”
is mentioned but in many different places and passages; because the concept is never
explained, it is hard to discern any core idea or threat. ....

...serious omissions and
misrepresentations in Islam-related chapters are apparent, and not in just one or two
textbooks. To understand how this happened, it is important to take into account the
system that oversees the textbook adoption process. State departments of education are
usually eager to quiet the unquiet. Boards of education may take sides on content for
political reasons. The system encourages pressure groups to do what they do. For simple
economic reasons, not on account of ideology, publishers allow partisan participation in
editing and writing. Editors make changes in response to detailed lists and objections
submitted by recognized religious and nonreligious lobbies. Local panels want to
minimize friction..... Islamic activists, some with no academic
credentials or background, are listed as academic reviewers in major textbooks from
several companies and imprints. The Council on Islamic Education and other Islamic
education organizations are secretive and easily agitated. Their links and consulting
activities with publishers raise unanswered questions and merit further scrutiny....

Ready-made political movements, especially those on campus, allow Islamist
organizations and allied scholars to game textbook content. Islamists use the rhetoric of
diversity, rights, tolerance, and democracy to conduct a cultural struggle over history
textbook content to their ad
vantage. In 2008, the Council on Islamic Education, trading
on its influence with textbook publishers, opened a website for the entirely spectral
Institute for Religion and Civic Values. It offered “consulting, training and resources
pertaining to issues of religion, identity, freedom, and pluralism to policymakers,
educators, the media, organizations and communities, in order to strengthen civil
society.” . . .

Reverential treatment of Islamic history is accompanied by lost reverence for—or even interest in—Western
achievement and influence. Europeans and Americans respond to religion-based cultural differences with “what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness,” Bernard Lewis observed in 2007. “In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions.

This review finds: ...
• Outright errors are not the main problem in textbooks, although in certain
subject areas they are plentiful. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed
definitions and tenuous claims that are presented as established facts. Careful wording
hides more than it explains. Euphemisms and artful phrases abound. When textbooks
write of the “vision of a pure Islamic society” or Islamic “tradition,” what do they mean?