ISLAM: A Simulation has no educational purpose, and it can serve no educational function. From beginning to end, it is nothing but a Muslim religious publication, produced by writers who seek to exploit classroom teachers for propagating Islam.
From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation directs teachers to deceive their students and to boost Islam by disseminating lies and by falsifying history. From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation requires teachers to indoctrinate their students by feeding them servings of "information" in which historical facts are insidiously intermixed with Muslim myths and Muslim woo-woo. From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation directs teachers to present facts, myths and woo-woo as equivalent, equipotent items. From beginning to end, ISLAM: A Simulation requires teachers and students alike to abandon rationality, to shun analytical thinking, and to embrace the view that any claim about anything -- no matter how fatuous the claim may be -- must be accepted as true.
These are the defining properties of ISLAM: A Simulation, and I shall analyze them, later, in some detail. First, however, I must devote a few paragraphs to a lesser but significant feature of Interact's document: It is so heavily loaded with anachronisms that it has no sense of time.
Enthusiasm for what? Enthusiasm for seeing camels drown as they try to walk across the Strait of Gibraltar? Enthusiasm for believing that Cordova was an Islamic city in the early years of the 7th century, even though the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula didn't begin until the second decade of the 8th century?
The mislabeling of 7th-century Cordova as an Islamic city is but one of a multitude of anachronisms found in ISLAM: A Simulation. During the caravan-race, students who supposedly are driving camels through the 7th century receive bulletins such as "While in Damascus, you are inspired by the Great Mosque" and "While in Damascus you are attacked by Christian crusaders" -- but the mosque at Damascus wasn't built until the 8th century, and the crusades didn't begin until the closing years of the 11th. The caravanners also learn factoids such as "Of the former Soviet Union's 15 republics, six have primarily Muslim populations" and "Arabic music has influenced famous composers, such as Bartok and Stravinsky" -- but those statements wouldn't have made any sense at all, to anyone, in the 7th century. When the students make "Muslim food," they use recipes that call for peanuts and tomatoes -- but the peanut and the tomato, which originated in the New World, were not seen in the Old World till the 1500s. And so on, and so on.
I don't want to belabor this matter, but I do want you to know that ISLAM: A Simulation, which purports to enable teachers to inform their students about "history," is ahistorical and indeed antihistorical. It is an antihistorical mishmash, hastily assembled to serve as a platform for religious indoctrination. Now I'll show you how this indoctrination is supposed to work.
Phase 1, "Introduction," takes one day. During this phase, the classroom teacher assigns his students to their city-teams, leads them through the adoption of their "Islamic" names and their "Islamic" clothes [see note 1, below], and gives them a handout which includes an Islamic prayer [note 2 and note 3]. Then the teacher distributes a handout titled "Islam: A History" (pages 1:22 through 1:26).
The "History" handout is a fraud. Here are some of the items that it presents as history:
The area in southwest Asia, between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, is called the Arabian Peninsula. . . . Largely a desert region, the peninsula stretches [sic] for about a million and a quarter square miles. Some areas, such as Yemen, feature well-watered fertile mountains in its [sic] interior. . . . Before and after the establishment of Islam, many Arabs were Bedouins, or nomads of the desert. . . . Before God revealed His message to Prophet Muhammad, the Arabs worshiped many gods. . . . When Prophet Muhammad was 25, he married Khadija, a rich widow. . . . While meditating in a cave in the desert, he had a vision of an angel. He was told by the angel Gabriel to be the apostle of God and to "warn" the people. . . . God's revelations were written down over a period of 23 years which today constitute the Qur'an [Koran], the holy book of Muslims. . . . There are more than one billion Muslims . . . . Africa has the largest number of Muslims; followed by India. The biggest predominantly Muslim country is Indonesia. . . . During the Hajj [a religious pilgrimage to Mecca], Muslims are required to visit the ancient shrine of the Kaaba. The Kaaba is a large cubelike structure in the center of the courtyard of the Holy Mosque in Makkah [Mecca]. The Kaaba, originally built by Adam as the first building to glorify God, was later rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ismail [note 4].
Now you understand what I meant when I said that ISLAM: A Simulation requires teachers to deceive their students, to feed them servings of "information" in which historical facts are insidiously intermixed with Muslim myths and Muslim woo-woo, and to present facts, myths and woo-woo as equivalent items. When students read the "History" handout, they learn that Muhammad received divine revelations -- and they learn that this is history, and they learn that there is no qualitative difference between a claim about divine revelations and a claim about the size of the Arabian Peninsula. When students read the handout, they learn that the Kaaba was built by Adam -- and they learn that this is history, and they learn that a myth about Adam is no different from a statement about the geography of Yemen.
The "History" handout thus reflects the grand indoctrination strategy that Interact's writers use throughout ISLAM: A Simulation. Their strategy is to turn students into true believers by turning them into fools -- fools who will be unable to recognize the difference between a fact and a superstition, unable to distinguish a statement that is supported by evidence from a statement that isn't, and unable to distinguish a claim that can be tested from a claim that can't. This strategy pervades the writers' efforts to recruit converts for Allah, and it is implemented with great vigor and viciousness in Phase 2.
The Wisdom Cards are divided into three categories -- Truth, Fact, and Trivia. On each card, some prose that deals with Islam or with Arabia is followed by the label Truth or the label Fact or the label Trivia. No other labels are used. Here, as examples, are the items displayed on six of the Truth cards:
People who believe in Islam are called Muslims. Truth
The symbol of Muslims is the crescent moon and star. Truth
Archangel Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad while he meditated in a cave and revealed
God's word to him. Revelations continued for 23 years. Truth
The Umayyad Dynasty lasted from 661 to 750. Truth
The Kaaba in Makkah is the holiest shrine of Islam. It was originally built by Adam
and later rebuilt by Abraham and his son, Ismail. The Black Stone came down from heaven
with Adam and was placed by him in the southeastern corner of the Kaaba. Truth [note 5]
The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. Truth
Here are the items displayed on six of the Fact cards:
Throughout the Islamic World, the faithful are called to prayer by a muezzin, sometimes
with a loud speaker. Fact
The Qur'an has 114 chapters or suras, has 6,226 verses, and is God's third revelation
that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Fact
Islamic art is usually calligraphy, designs, and patterns. Fact
Islam forbids the drinking of alcohol. Fact
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation in population. Fact
Jinns, who were created from fire, can be good or evil, with the chief evil jinn
being "Iblis" or Satan. Fact [note 6]
And here are the items displayed on six of the Trivia cards:
Islam uses a lunar calendar. Trivia
Prophet Muhammad first began to receive revelations from God at the age of 40. Trivia
Of the former Soviet Union's 280 million people, more than 20% are Muslims. Trivia
The Arabic alphabet is read from right to left and is made up of 28 symbols. Trivia
There are about 11.5 million Muslims in America. Trivia
The holy books of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have much of the same history, stories, and beliefs. Trivia
Whenever a team wins a Wisdom Card, the teacher reads the content of the card aloud. No matter which team wins the Kaaba card, the teacher reads aloud that "The Black Stone came down from heaven with Adam" -- and all the students on all the teams learn that this is a Truth, no different from the Truth that "People who believe in Islam are called Muslims." No matter which team wins the Jinns card, the teacher proclaims that Satan and the other jinns were created from fire -- and all the students learn that this is a Fact, no different from the Fact that "Islam forbids the drinking of alcohol." By requiring the teacher to read every card aloud, Interact's writers ensure that all the students on all the teams will receive full and equal doses of religious indoctrination.
The division of the Wisdom Cards into the categories Truth, Fact, and Trivia merits attention, for this categorization is itself an indoctrination device. Notice first that the categorization is phony. Interact's writers falsely treat Truth, Fact and Trivia as three discrete, mutually exclusive classes -- in other words, they claim that a truth can't be a fact, that a fact can't be a truth, and that neither a truth nor a fact can be trivial. Those propositions are bogus. The writers have invented their phony categories to confuse students, to create opportunities for applying the label Truth to statements that aren't true, and to create opportunities for applying the label Fact to statements that aren't facts at all.
Now notice this: By equipping every card with the label Truth or the label Fact or the label Trivia, the writers have excluded all other descriptors and have sought to render students blind to all other possibilities. If students were permitted to think, and were permitted to choose labels of their own, the brighter students might come up with False or Myth or Superstition or Folktale or Lie -- but there is no room in Interact's program for allowing students to think.
There is, however, ample room for forcing the students to swallow lies, and some of the statements conveyed on the Wisdom Cards -- whether labeled as Truth or as Fact or as Trivia -- are quite false. As examples, recall the last two Trivia items that I quoted above:
The Quiz Cards that students encounter during Caravan Days reinforce the indoctrination which the Interact writers, using the teacher as their patsy, have delivered on the Wisdom Cards and (during Phase 1) on the "History" handout. When a student responds properly to a Quiz Card, his city-team wins five dirhams of "Arabic money" as a prize, and this helps the team to advance in the caravan-race to Mecca [note 9].
Here are the items that appear on ten of the Quiz Cards. Again we see the deceptive intermixing of factual material with religious claims and woo-woo:
Complete this phrase: "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his ________."
Nomads of the desert are called ________.
The holiest article of the Kaaba in Makkah is called the ________.
The Arabic term for the pilgrimage to Makkah is ________.
Islam prohibits the drinking of ________.
The body of water along the western edge of Saudi Arabia is ________.
Prophet Muhammad was called by God while meditating here: ________.
The most important animal for early Arabs was the ________.
This was brought down from heaven by Adam: ________.
Shaded area with water in the desert: ________.
Interact's writers, with the help of their patsy, have made a good start in their effort to turn students into fools. That effort will continue in Phase 3.
At the start of Phase 3, the members of each team pick two or more projects that they will develop into Festival Presentations. The Festival Presentations will be delivered during Phase 4. Interact's writers provide a list of 37 suggested projects, such as these:
Create a play, poem or presentation on the life of the ancient Bedouins or nomads of the desert.
Prepare a play or discussion on the mystic Islamic group -- Sufis.
Prepare a presentation on the Five Pillars of Faith.
Prepare a presentation on the dromedary or camel, use slides, pictures, etc.
Create a newspaper with headlines, photos, and articles.
Design a title page for the Qur'an using the proper designs and writings. Then present information on the Qur'an itself.
Make a large tapestry [!] with Arabic scenes or perhaps verses from the Qur'an.
Make and explain some examples of Arabic jewelry and describe the significance.
Build a replica of the sacred Kaaba or a mosque or minaret. Present information on the symbolism of Islamic architecture and a history of the building you're presenting.
Become a Muslim warrior during the crusades or during an ancient jihad. Explain weapons, tactics, etc.
After picking their projects, the students turn their attention to Islam's Five Pillars of Faith -- professing, praying, fasting, practicing charity, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. To profess their faith, the members of each city-team make a banner displaying the name of their city and the Bismillah. (The Bismillah is the Koran's opening invocation -- "In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.") To simulate praying, each member of the team must memorize five proverbs (chosen from a list of proverbs on page 3:12) and must "analyze" at least one verse of the Koran (chosen from a list on pages 3:13 and 3:14). To simulate fasting, "each group should give up one lunch or snack period to work on their Festival Presentation." To practice charity, "Each person in the group must provide one service for one of the following: community, school, faculty, administration, rival group." There is no simulation of the fifth Pillar, the pilgrimage to Mecca: The students are deemed to have made the pilgrimage by participating in the caravan-race in Phase 2.
Next comes a lengthy role-playing activity in which selected students impersonate six Muslims who were prominent at various times between the middle the 7th century and the middle of the 11th century [note 10]. Each of these six celebrities visits each of the city-teams and answers questions. A script on page 3:27 provides the questions that must be posed to each celebrity, and "profile sheets" on pages through 3:15 through 3:26 provide the material that the celebrities will use in fashioning their replies. Each celebrity's visit to each group ends with the prayer "Jazaak Allahu khairun (may God bless you with the best of his rewards). Ma'a salama (go with peace)."
During this exercise, all the students must be dressed in their "Islamic" clothing. A note to the teacher says, "Stress that those students who do not dress up will not be allowed to actively participate and must sit at the back of the room."
The last segment of Phase 3 is titled "Introduction to Prophet Muhammad." Now it is the teacher's turn to play a role -- the role of a 7th-century person who was a friend of Muhammad. While the students sit on simulated prayer rugs (which they have made by drawing abstract designs on large sheets of paper), the teacher preaches to them, voices devotional slogans [note 11], and presents twenty items of "information." The twenty items are supplied to the teacher on pages 3:6 and 3:7, in question-and-answer form. Here are eight of them:
When and where was Prophet Muhammad born? Prophet Muhammad was born in 570 in Makkah, which is about halfway down western Arabia near the Red Sea. He was called al-Amin -- "the trustworthy man," and his Arabic name means "highly praised."
Who were his mother and father and what clan and tribe was he from? Prophet Muhammad's father died before he was born. His name was Abdullah and was a trader from the clan of Hashim, which belonged to the powerful tribe of the Quraysh. His mother's name was Amina.
After Prophet Muhammad was orphaned, at age six, who raised him? After Prophet Muhammad's mother died he was raised by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, who died two years later. He was then raised by his paternal uncle, Abu Talib, who reared him to manhood.
Prophet Muhammad is God's messenger and the final prophet. How did God reveal His Message to him? God revealed His Message to Prophet Muhammad through revelations and through Angel Gabriel. They were written down during his lifetime and became the Holy Qur'an.
What will hell or heaven be like? According to the Qur'an, Heaven will be a vast garden in which believers will be shaded with large trees, dressed in silks, adorned with gems, and fed fruit by rivers of milk and honey. Hell will be filled with burning heat, your shoes will be made of fire, and you will drink boiling water.
Why is the sacred Kaaba in Makkah so important? Originally built by Adam, who brought the Black Stone down with him from Paradise, the Kaaba in Makkah was later rebuilt by Abraham and his first son, Ismail. It is here that Muslims must make the hajj pilgrimage once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able to do so.
Did Prophet Muhammad ever dream that Islam would be the second largest religion in the world? He was always sure that Islam was the world's most important religion.
Can you describe the occasion when Prophet Muhammad visited in heaven? God transported Prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem where he ascended from the Dome of the Rock to heaven upon the grand horse, Buraq.
The mundane statements that constitute the first three items may look like history, but they actually are Muslim myths that have no historical foundation. Practically nothing is known about Muhammad's life before he set himself up as a prophet. Even the claim that he was born and reared in Mecca is unsupported by evidence [note 12].
The fourth item, too, is quite mythical, including the claim that Muhammad's "revelations" were "written down during his lifetime and became the Holy Qur'an." The origins and development of the Koran are obscure, to say the least. The Koran didn't appear until the closing years of the 7th century, decades after Muhammad died -- and even then, apparently, its content hadn't been fixed [note 13].
The fifth and sixth items don't require comment; and the seventh item, in which the prescribed "answer" obviously fails to meet the question, is remarkable only for its silliness. The eighth item, however, is a doozie that incorporates one of the Interact writers' most laughable anachronisms. According to Muslim lore, Muhammad died in 632 -- but the construction of the Dome of the Rock, the great Muslim temple in Jerusalem, didn't begin until 685 or so, and it wasn't completed until 691. Flying horse or no flying horse, Muhammad couldn't have made any journeys, to anywhere, from the Dome of the Rock.
Phase 5, the climax of ISLAM: A Simulation, is titled "Islamic Bowl." The Islamic Bowl is a one-day contest, "designed to review important information," in which selected members of the six city-teams compete for dirhams by trying to answer questions posed by the teacher. The questions come from the Quiz Cards that were used in Phase 2 -- so the class learns again that "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his prophet," that Muhammad was called by God while meditating in a cave, that the Black Stone was brought down from heaven by Adam, and so forth.
A note to the teacher says that the program may include "an intermission for venders [sic] selling dates, goats [sic] milk, etc."
At the finish of the Islamic Bowl, the teacher announces the name of the city-team that has won, and then the teacher declares: "That's all we have time for. So until next time, 'in sha Allah, assalam aleikoom and Allahu akbar (God willing, may peace be with you, and there is none greater than God Almighty)'."
I have seen various schoolbooks and curriculum manuals which have been designed to deceive students, but I cannot cite any other product in which outright lies and other devices of deceit are as strongly concentrated as they are in ISLAM: A Simulation. This document's malignancy transcends mere deceit, however, for the Interact writers have used their lies and other devices to mount a sustained attack on rationality itself.
I have sought to emphasize, in this review, that Interact's program requires a great deal of promotion and participation by the classroom teacher -- the teacher who must serve as Interact's dupe, must carry out Interact's instructions for bamboozling and deluding students, and must even recount a flying-horse legend as if it were history. I now assert that any teacher who would do such things should be sacked forthwith. I assert that any teacher who would have anything to do with Islam: A Simulation should be fired before the day is out. Islam: A Simulation has no place in any legitimate school, and neither does any teacher who is so ignorant and so stupid that he cannot recognize Interact's manual of rubbish for what it is.
The first page of Interact's manual carries an introductory statement which acknowledges that two Muslim agencies were involved in the genesis of ISLAM: A Simulation. The names of the agencies are given as "the Islamic Education and Information Center (San Jose, California)" and "the Council of [sic] Islamic Education (Los Angeles)."
I haven't encountered the Islamic Education and Information Center heretofore, but I know of the second outfit -- the Council on Islamic Education -- because its name appears in several schoolbooks that falsify the history of Islam, spread Muslim propaganda, and subject students to Muslim indoctrination. One such book is Across the Centuries [note 14], published by Houghton Mifflin: The list of "Consultants" displayed on the copyright page of Across the Centuries includes "Shabbir Mansuri, Founding Director, Council on Islamic Education, Fountain Valley, California." Another such book is Prentice Hall World History: Connections to Today [note 15]. The list of "Content Reviewers" on page iv of Prentice Hall World History: Connections to Today includes "Shabbir Mansuri, Director, Council on Islamic Education, Fountain Valley, California" and another CIE luminary, Susan Douglass [note 16].
In the name of God, Most Gracious,
Praise be to God, The Cherisher
and Sustainer of the Worlds;
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgment;
Thee do we worship,
And Thine aid we seek,
Show us the straight path,
The way on [sic] those whom Thou
hast bestowed Thy Grace.
Those whose portion is not wrath,
And who go not astray.
Amen [return to text]
William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.
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