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How a Public School in Scottsdale, Arizona,
Subjected Students to Islamic Indoctrination

William J. Bennetta

Summary:

At the Mohave Middle School in Scottsdale, Arizona, students who took a 7th-grade social-studies course during the 2004-2005 school year were subjected to gross, prolonged indoctrination in Islam.

Much of the indoctrination was delivered in a corrupt schoolbook titled History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, produced by a commercial publishing company that calls itself the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI). The writers of History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, by relentlessly presenting Muslim religious tales and religious beliefs as matters of historical fact, have striven hard to induce students to embrace Islam.

The heavy indoctrination material in History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond is concentrated in chapters 8 and 9. This material consists overwhelmingly of Islamic religious propaganda. It includes blatant preaching as well as deceptive claims and extensive fraudulent narratives dealing with the beginnings of Islam, the life of Muhammad, and the inception of the Koran. These claims and narratives are disguised as accounts of history. They actually are restatements of Muslim fables and superstitions.

While TCI's book disseminates and endorses Muslim legends and pseudohistorical fantasies in abundance, it ignores history. TCI's writers have scorned historical scholarship, and they have concealed everything that historians have discovered or deduced about the origins of Islam, about Muhammad, and about the emergence of the Koran.

By depicting the dogmas and fantasies of Muslim believers as history, and by simultaneously excluding the findings and deductions of historians, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond subjects students to a sectarian double-whammy.

I have asked an officer of TCI to identify the source or sources of the TCI book's accounts of Muhammad, the beginnings of Islam, and the genesis of the Koran. He has refused to do so.

TCI evidently enjoys a close relationship with the Islamic Networks Group (ING), a Muslim propaganda agency based in San Jose, California. TCI certainly commands the ING's admiration, for the ING (on its Web site) endorses TCI's products. The ING doesn't promote the products of any other publisher of schoolbooks.

History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond sometimes exhibits contempt for Judaism and Christianity. For example: In a passage in chapter 9, the TCI writers convey the lesson that a religious view held by Muslims is important, but views held by Jews and Christians are unworthy of consideration.

As they strive to make students accept Muslim myths and folktales as history, the TCI writers viciously distort the concept of historical evidence. For example: They teach, in chapter 9, that if someone encounters some antiquated hearsay and jots it down, the hearsay becomes "written evidence" of historical happenings.

The religious-indoctrination chapters in TCI's book are complemented by two other chapters that deal with Islam. Chapter 10 purports to tell about Muslim contributions to "world civilization." The claims that are set forth in this chapter include falsehoods, gross distortions, and deep absurdities. Chapter 11 is dominated by bizarre pseudohistorical narratives about the crusades. The stuff in these narratives diverges widely and often from anything that could be called history. It is heavily laden with falsehoods and with distortions that have been contrived to vilify the crusaders and to whitewash the crusaders' Muslim enemies.

When the Scottsdale Unified School District caused students at the Mohave Middle School to undergo instruction based on the vividly sectarian, vividly promotional treatment of Islam in TCI's book, the district effected violations of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Arizona.

Besides being burdened with History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, 7th-grade students at the Mohave Middle School were subjected to presentations by agents of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona. A student who attended a presentation by one of those agents has reported that no knowledgeable adult was present to monitor the agent's claims.

We can't infer that the functionaries who control and implement the Scottsdale Unified School District's social-studies curriculum knew what they were doing when -- by introducing TCI's corrupt book into the Mohave Middle School -- they set the stage for the illegal religious indoctrination of the school's 7th-graders. We can't infer that those functionaries acted deliberately, and we surely can't infer that they were engaged in some dark conspiracy. A much simpler but fully adequate explanation for the Mohave Middle School episode exists, and it is this: The functionaries who control and implement the Scottsdale Unified School District's social-studies curriculum are profoundly ignorant, spectacularly incompetent and terminally gullible.


Introduction

At the Mohave Middle School in Scottsdale, Arizona, students who took a 7th-grade social-studies course during the 2004-2005 school year were subjected to gross, prolonged indoctrination in Islam. The Mohave Middle School is an operating unit of the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Much of the indoctrination was delivered in a corrupt schoolbook produced by a commercial publishing company that calls itself the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI). The textbook is titled History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. Its ISBN is 1-58371-376-X, and its copyright date is 2005. TCI promotes History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond to teachers, schools and school districts while explicitly and falsely representing it as a textbook of history.

This report is an analytical account of the indoctrination that the Mohave Middle School students experienced. In preparing the report, I have relied on my own reading of History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, on my own collecting of information from published sources (which are cited in the end-notes that support my text), on my own knowledge of Muslim propaganda agencies, and on help that I have received from Janie White.

Janie White, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, is the mother of a student, Rachel White, who underwent Islamic indoctrination while taking the 7th-grade social-studies course at the Mohave Middle School. In October 2004 Janie White wrote to me about what was happening in that course, and she directed my attention to History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. In later months, she corresponded with functionaries of the Scottsdale Unified School District and sought official information about what the District had done -- and she kept me informed as those functionaries stonewalled by evading or ignoring her inquiries.

Janie White also enlisted the historian Thomas F. Madden, who is a specialist in the history of the crusades, to prepare a partial analysis of the material about the crusades that appears in History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. I have incorporated much of his analysis into my report.

My text has nine major parts:

In Part 1 (titled "Muslim Propagandists, Crooked Publishers and Ignorant Schoolteachers"), I equip my readers to comprehend that the Mohave Middle School episode wasn't unusual. It was merely one of countless cases in which Muslim propagandists, by exploiting the ignorance and gullibility of teachers, have been able to inject Muslim religious preaching and phony Muslim "history" into public schools.

In Part 2 ("The Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI)"), I introduce the company that publishes and sells History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

In Part 3, I formally address the term history, and I set forth the meanings that it will carry when I use it in the remainder of my report. I explain that the word history, as I shall use it, always will imply attention to evidence and reason -- two things that TCI's writers have spurned and scorned during their generation of the fake "history" that appears in History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

In Part 4, I conduct a detailed examination of how Islam is presented in TCI's book.

In Part 5, I tell that an officer of TCI, who is also one of the purported authors of History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, has refused to identify the source or sources of that book's accounts of Muhammad, the beginnings of Islam, and the genesis of the Koran.

In Part 6, I look at the workbook that accompanies, and is correlated with, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

In Part 7, I tell that the Scottsdale Unified School District -- by causing students at the Mohave Middle School to undergo religious instruction, and by using public money to promote and propagate Islam -- has effected violations of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Arizona.

In Part 8, I call attention to a weird stylistic feature of History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. TCI's writers repeatedly and absurdly embellish dates with the notation "C.E." -- but they flatly refuse to explain what "C.E." signifies.

In Part 9, I tell that agents of a Muslim organization made presentations to students in the 7th-grade social studies course at the Mohave Middle School. These agents evidently were allowed to disseminate whatever claims they chose to make, religious or otherwise, without any risk of being challenged by a knowledgeable adult.

Part 1     Muslim Propagandists, Crooked Publishers and Ignorant Teachers

I offer here a sketch of the context in which the Mohave Middle School episode has unfolded. My readers must understand this context so that they will not imagine that the Mohave Middle School episode is unusual. It is not. It is only one of countless cases in which ignorant, gullible teachers have used specious textbooks in their classrooms, have taught fake "history" concocted by Muslim propagandists, and sometimes have caused their students to hear oral presentations given by speakers from Muslim propaganda agencies.

Muslim propagandists operating in America have been highly successful in impelling our public schools to disseminate pseudohistorical claptrap in which Islam is glorified and whitewashed, Muslim religious legends and fantasies are promoted and endorsed as accounts of historical events, and Muslim religious claims are presented as facts. In schools that dispense such claptrap, students are induced -- indeed, are required -- to accept and to parrot Muslim religious beliefs.

The Muslim propagandists owe much of their success to their skillful manipulation of publishers of instructional materials. They have been able to persuade various publishers to become their confederates, and these publishers have produced corrupt textbooks and corrupt curriculum manuals which say what the Muslims want them to say, exclude any topics that the Muslims don't like, and shun any information that the Muslims don't want to see in print.

As examples of corrupt schoolbooks and corrupt curriculum manuals that reflect the labors and influence of Muslim pressure groups and propagandists, I cite:

Prentice Hall's high-school book World Cultures: A Global Mosaic  (See "Promoting Islam in American Schoolrooms" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 1.)

Oxford University Press's elementary-school book A History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies  (See "Joy Hakim Should Not Write About the History of Europe" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 12, No. 1.)

Interaction Publishers' curriculum manual ISLAM: A Simulation  (See "Page for Page, This Is the Most Malignant Product That I've Seen During All My Years as a Reviewer" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 4.)

Houghton Mifflin's middle-school textbook Across the Centuries  (See "Houghton Mifflin's Islamic Connection" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 3.)

Interaction Publishers' curriculum manual INTO ISLAM  (See "Another Manual, Another Fraud" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 12, No. 1.)

The fake "history" found in instructional publications which have been perverted by Muslim pressure groups is not limited to fantastic claims about supernatural beings and supernatural happenings. In typical cases, the corrupted publications also have sought to glorify and whitewash Islam by presenting such phony "facts" as these: Europeans didn't have any sailing ships until they learned about sails from Muslims; the existence of bacteria was discovered by a medieval Muslim, long before the invention of the microscope; and the subordination of women in Muslim countries today is attributable to "oppressive local traditions" rather than to "Muslim principles."

An uninitiated observer may be amazed and bewildered when he learns that the publishers of "educational" products print religious fables as "history" and print false, misleading or utterly nonsensical claims like the ones that I have just cited. But a person who has studied the educational-publishing industry will not be amazed or bewildered at all. Companies that supply instructional products to American public schools routinely cater to propagandists, respond to the propagandists' inducements, and turn out textbooks and other products which incorporate and endorse material derived from the propagandists' handouts. Any hustler, huckster, con artist, quack or religious zany, if he has enough skill and money, can get his message into schoolbooks -- or so it seems. Over the years, The Textbook Letter has called attention to bald propaganda, in schoolbooks, that plugged commercial products [see note 1, below], promoted various forms of quackery [note 2], endorsed phony "history" that glorified American Indians [note 3], endorsed the hoax-holiday Kwanzaa [note 4], and so forth.

The uninitiated observer now wonders how instructional-material companies can get away with such malfeasance. The uninitiated observer wonders how companies which sell out to propagandists, and which print books larded with promotional claptrap, can successfully market such books to schools. And the uninitiated observer asks: Don't educators recognize that the books are serving as vehicles for propaganda and are functioning as devices for deceiving and duping students?

In answering that question, I shall focus on the realm of history education -- the realm that is directly and intimately relevant to the subject of this report. My short answer to the question is: No, the educators don't recognize that the books are serving as vehicles for propaganda and are functioning as devices for deceiving and duping students. My longer answer is: A few of them may recognize it, but most of them don't, because most of them are too ignorant.

To understand this, my readers must understand that most (not all, but certainly most) of the people who give history courses in American middle schools and high schools do not possess any professional knowledge or understanding of history. Most (not all, but most) of the people who give history courses in American middle schools and high schools have not studied history and do not even know what history is -- that is, they do not know that the scholarly discipline which we designate by the name history is devoted to reconstructing and analyzing the past through the use of evidence and reason.

Because they are so ignorant, most of the people who purport to teach history in American middle schools and high schools are appallingly gullible. They readily believe (and convey to students) any claim that is touted as history on a printed page, no matter how absurd the claim may be -- and hence they are ready-made pigeons for unscrupulous publishers.

The sad condition of the corps of teachers who provide history education in our schools has been described often. One of the best expositions of this topic appeared in a speech that the historian Diane Ravitch gave to the National Council for History Education on 18 October 1997. That speech was titled "Who Prepares Our History Teachers? Who Should Prepare Our History Teachers?" It included a statistical sketch (based on data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics) of what America's history teachers studied in college:

Of those teachers who describe themselves as social studies teachers, that is, those who teach social studies in middle school or secondary school, only 18.5% have either a major or a minor in history. That is, 81.5% of social studies teachers did not study history in college either as a major or a minor. In case you think you didn't hear me correctly, let me say it again: 81.5% of social studies teachers did not study history in college either as a major or a minor. This figure helps to explain why history is no longer the center of the social studies, since so few social studies teachers have ever studied history.

Of those who teach one or more history courses, 55% do not have at least a minor in history [emphasis added]. Of those who teach two or more history courses, 53% do not have a major or a minor in history; of those who teach one history course, 64% lack either a major or a minor in history.

Fifty-nine percent of students in middle school and 43% of students in high school study history with a teacher who did not earn at least a history minor in college.

. . . . Perhaps you assume that most social studies teachers earned their degrees in one of the social sciences, like sociology, psychology, economics, or political science, or in literature or the humanities. Wrong. Most social studies teachers received their undergraduate degree in education.

Among all those who identify themselves as social studies teachers, 71% took their undergraduate degree in education. When the 18.5% with history degrees are removed from the pool, 79% of the remaining social studies teachers have their undergraduate degree in education. What is the educational background of the social studies teachers who did not major or minor in history? About one in seven (14%) gained an undergraduate degree in social studies education. However, about two-thirds (65%) have an education degree that is not related to any academic discipline, from such fields as special education, secondary education, bilingual education, curriculum and instruction, educational administration, counseling and guidance, or any one of a score of other pedagogical studies.

I have quoted at length from Ravitch's speech to help my readers comprehend why a crooked company, having allied itself with a Muslim pressure group, can merrily and safely produce a schoolbook which presents as "history" a narrative in which Muhammad goes into a cave and has a meeting with an angel -- yes, an angel! In a history-book market where most of the buyers don't even know what history is, a crooked company's book can be a commercial success even if it peddles absurd items of supernaturalistic woo-woo as historical facts.

The Council on Islamic Education     One Muslim pressure group has been especially diligent and especially successful in gaining influence over instructional-materials companies and inducing the companies to produce corrupt schoolbooks and other corrupt products that disseminate Muslim pseudohistory. This pressure group is the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), based in Fountain Valley, California.

The CIE's founding director, Shabbir Mansuri, openly boasts that the CIE has been "collaborating" with "K-12 publishers," has done "consulting on new history/social studies textbook programs," and has been "developing classroom materials and providing in-service workshops to educators" [note 5]. What is more, some instructional products openly acknowledge that the CIE participated in creating them! In a recent survey of world-history and social-studies materials, I have found that Mansuri is listed as a consultant or a reviewer in schoolbooks or curriculum manuals published by Prentice Hall, by the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies, by Houghton Mifflin, and by Harcourt Brace & Company. In some books, Mansuri alone is listed; in other books, the lists of reviewers and consultants show the names of Mansuri and another CIE luminary, Susan Douglass. In some cases, Susan Douglass's connection with the CIE is disclosed, but in other cases it is concealed.

I have examined the passages about Islam in instructional products which explicitly acknowledge participation by the CIE or Mansuri or both, and I have found that such passages are consistently fraudulent and vicious.

Concealing the Realities of the Arab World     Now let me call upon Diane Ravitch again. This time I quote some observations that she has made in her recent, excellent book The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. In her ninth chapter Ravitch tells that world-history schoolbooks routinely whitewash, sanitize and even glorify religions, and she calls attention to one way in which the books distort and corrupt the history of Islam:

The texts appropriately describe Islamic civilization as the richest, most powerful, and most creative in the world during the Middle ages, but they shed little light on the reasons for its loss of dominance to Europe.

Later in the same chapter she writes:

Three publishers [of world-history books] -- Glencoe, Houghton Mifflin, and Prentice Hall -- rely on the same individual [i.e., Shabbir Mansuri] from the Council on Islamic Education to review their Islamic content. This may account for the similarity of their material on Islam as well as their omission of anything that would enable students to understand conflicts between Islamic fundamentalism and Western liberalism. . . .

[In] 2002, prominent Arab intellectuals wrote a report for the United Nations Development Fund warning that their societies were being stifled by a lack of political freedom, the subjection of women, and a repressive social climate. Despite the region's vast oil income, the report said, per capita income was just above that of subSaharan Africa. Research, science, and technology were stagnant. Half the region's women were illiterate, and nearly all were denied opportunities for advancement. The authors of the report noted that the entire Arab world, in the thousand years since the reign of Caliph Mamoun, had translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.

American students, having read in their world history textbooks only about the glories of Islam, will have no understanding of contemporary realities in the Arab world. . . . [note 6]

Ravitch is making a polite understatement, I believe, when she says that world-history textbooks "shed little light" on the reasons for the Islamic world's decline. As far as I know, today's history texts say nothing whatever about the Islamic world's decline. They don't even acknowledge it, let alone explaining it. I have seen many schoolbooks which offer gushy accounts of the intellectual endeavors that prospered in Islamic societies of the Middle East during medieval times, but I never have seen a schoolbook which tells how those societies later stagnated, fell behind the West in intellectual affairs, and became the societies that characterize the Islamic Middle East today -- societies mired in institutionalized ignorance and backwardness.

Part 2     The Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI)

I already have told that the Islamic indoctrination which has been imposed on students at the Mohave Middle School has been delivered by a fraudulent textbook -- History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond -- published by the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI). I shall say much more about that book, later in this report, and I shall provide a detailed examination of how it whitewashes, endorses and promotes Islam. First, however, I must tell a little about TCI.

Though the name Teachers' Curriculum Institute may suggest an academic organization, TCI is a commercial publisher. It has at least two addresses for mail: Post Office Box 1327, Rancho Cordova, California 95471 and Post Office Box 50996, Palo Alto, California 94303. Its editorial operations evidently are based in Palo Alto.

TCI's products include a collection of materials that are marketed under the general title History Alive! and are sold to schools. Among these products are four textbooks:

History Alive! America's Past
History Alive! The Ancient World
History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond
History Alive! The United States

The History Alive! textbooks are highly derivative. They are loaded with material that has appeared in earlier schoolbooks, including material that has been well discredited. The TCI writers have repeatedly scorned historical scholarship and the very concept of history, and any informed reader will recognize instances in which these writers have simply appropriated stale material (whether from old schoolbooks or from other products) without trying to verify it. Likewise, any informed reader will recognize that the TCI writers have larded their books with "facts" that are simply the writers' guesses.

Here are three quick examples to illustrate the points that I have just set forth. I have picked these items from among the many derangements that appear in History Alive! America's Past, the first book in the History Alive! series. I consider it important to demonstrate that History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond isn't the only TCI book that reflects the TCI writers' affection for mindless copying and guesswork:

  • In chapter 8 of History Alive! America's Past, in a section dealing with the Atlantic slave trade and specifically with the Middle Passage, the student reads:

    Some slaves tried to revolt [as they were being shipped across the Atlantic], attacking the crew with knives or pieces of iron and wood they tore off the ship. But the white men had guns, and sometimes other slave ships came to help. Once in a while the slaves did win. A slave named Joseph Cinque led a revolt on the ship Amistad in 1839. The slaves killed the captain and took over the ship.

    Now here are the facts. The Amistad incident had nothing to do with the Middle Passage. The slaves who were involved in that incident had already been carried across the Atlantic on the Portuguese slaver Tecora and had been landed at Havana. They later were put aboard the schooner Amistad for a short trip from Havana to another Cuban port, Puerto Principe. Amistad was not a slaver, and her principal cargo, as she set sail for Puerto Principe, comprised wine, saddles, gold and silk [note 7]. In short: The TCI writers have made a guess, instead of trying to learn the relevant history, and their guess is quite wrong.

  • In the same chapter of History Alive! America's Past, the student sees an illustration that consists chiefly of plan-view drawings of two decks of a ship. The decks are packed with little figures representing slaves. Under the illustration, TCI's writers have placed a caption that says: "This diagram shows the inhumane, crowded conditions on slave ships." Actually, however, the diagram shows a fantasy.

    The diagram in question, supposedly depicting the "tight packing" of slaves aboard the British slaver Brookes, originated in 1789. It was adopted as propaganda by British opponents of the international slave trade, and it was redrawn and circulated in many versions. In one version or another, it has been reproduced in American schoolbooks for years, and it invariably has been presented as it is presented in the TCI book -- with a worthless, history-free caption that fails to tell anything about the ship, fails to tell anything about the origin of the diagram, and fails to disclose this: The diagram is fanciful, not factual, and the depicted arrangement of slaves couldn't have been used in any practical situation [note 8]. In short: The TCI writers have presented an iconic fantasy as if it were a historical reality [note 9].

  • Later in History Alive! America's Past, in chapter 18, the student reads:

    One of the bravest "conductors" on the Underground Railroad was a former slave named Harriet Tubman. After escaping to the North herself, she risked her life by going back to the South 19 times and guiding hundreds of other slaves to freedom.

    Good old Harriet and her 19 trips! That stuff is tommyrot, but schoolbook-company plagiarists have copied and recopied it into one book after another. In truth, no one knows how many trips Harriet Tubman may have made, or how many slaves she may have taken. Nor was the Underground Railroad in the business of launching slave-stealing raids, no matter what Harriet Tubman may or may not have done. Nor did Tubman ever venture into the interior of "the South." She made short slave-stealing trips from Pennsylvania into either or both of two border states -- Maryland and Delaware [note 10].

I think that these three examples suffice to introduce TCI, to show how TCI operates, and to demonstrate that TCI's "history" books cannot be trusted to deliver history.

TCI's Product The Modern Middle East     Besides producing textbooks, TCI produces discrete "supplemental programs" that purportedly enable teachers to give lessons about various topics in history and social studies. One of these programs, titled The Modern Middle East, received considerable attention after it was analyzed and denounced by two members of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), headquartered in San Francisco.

In October 2003 the JCRC analysts promulgated an admirable, detailed review of The Modern Middle East [note 11], and they showed that it was rife with inaccurate or misleading claims, misleading nomenclature, part-truths, distortions and other rhetorical tricks. They concluded that the TCI writers' depiction of the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was "clearly aimed at producing feelings of sympathy in the students for one side of the conflict, the Palestinian."

Even if we ignore the JCRC analysts' grand conclusion that The Modern Middle East has been contrived to evoke "sympathy in the students for one side of the conflict," we are left with the analysts' specific, well supported findings: The Modern Middle East is indeed loaded with false claims, misleading "information," distortions, and other devices. The JCRC knows this, we know it, and -- most importantly -- TCI knows it too. But TCI, at this writing, still is promoting The Modern Middle East and selling it for use in schools.

An Islamic Agency's Endorsement of TCI Products     The Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a Muslim propaganda agency based in San Jose, California. On its Web site, on a page headlined "Tips for Teaching About Islam in the Context of Social Studies and World History" [note 12], ING recommends the publications of three organizations. The first of these is the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), the Muslim pressure group that I cited earlier in this report. The second is AWAIR: Arab World And Islamic Resources and School Services, a Muslim propaganda agency that seems to operate from Abiquiu, New Mexico. The third is TCI.

TCI is not the only schoolbook company that sells books which carry Muslim propaganda and serve as vehicles for Islamic indoctrination, yet TCI is the only schoolbook company whose products are endorsed by the ING. TCI evidently enjoys an especially close relationship with the ING (and perhaps with other Muslim agencies).

Part 3     Defining the Word History

Heretofore in this report, I have used the term history casually and without definition. I believe, however, that I now must define that term explicitly and set forth the meanings that history will carry in the rest of my text.

When the word history entered our language, some 600 years ago, it simply meant a narrative. It was applied to any account of events, whether the events were real or imaginary. With the passing of time, however, that original way of using history faded, and history acquired a narrower meaning: It came to denote a narrative that was professedly an account of events that actually had occurred, as distinct from a narrative of happenings that were acknowledgedly fictitious [note 13].

In today's lexicon, the word history has three major meanings:

  • History can mean the scholarly discipline that is devoted to reconstructing and analyzing the past through the study of real events. What are real events? They are events that can be verified through the use of evidence and reason. A crucial aspect of historical scholarship is the use of evidence and reason to separate real events from events which have been wrongly (and perhaps maliciously) held forth as actual occurrences.

  • History can mean a narrative of real events -- with real events being defined, again, as events that can be verified by recourse to evidence and reason [note 14].

  • History can mean an aggregation of real events that cohere within some stated context -- e.g., the history of France, or the history of ornithology. When we speak of the history of ornithology, we mean the real events -- the events themselves, as distinct from any particular narrative of them -- that have figured in the evolution of the science which we recognize today as ornithology. Here again, real events are defined as events that can be verified through the use of evidence and reason. Hence the history of ornithology includes the Magellan expedition's discovery of penguins in 1520, but the history of ornithology does not include Sinbad's fictional encounter with the roc.

In the rest of this report the word history always will carry one of those three meanings, unless it appears in quotation marks or in the title of a TCI publication. In the rest of this report the word history, unless it appears in quotation marks or in the title of a TCI publication, always will imply recourse to evidence and reason. It always will mean the scholarly discipline that invokes evidence and reason for reconstructing and analyzing the past; or a narrative of events that are verifiable through the use of evidence and reason; or an aggregation of events, verifiable through the use of evidence and reason, that cohere within some stated context.

With this background information in place, I now turn to analyzing the fraudulent treatment of Islam in TCI's book History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

Henceforth I shall refer to the book in question by the abbreviated title Medieval World.

Part 4     The Depiction of Islam in Medieval World

Medieval World purports to cover the period from 476 (which is taken as the date of the Roman Empire's collapse) through 1800. The book has thirty-five chapters, deployed in eight units.

Islam is covered in Unit 2. This unit, titled "The Rise of Islam," comprises chapter 7 ("The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula"), chapter 8 ("The Prophet Muhammad"), chapter 9 ("The Teachings of Islam"), chapter 10 ("Contributions of Muslims to World Civilization") and chapter 11 ("From the Crusades to New Muslim Empires").

Nowhere in the book is there a chapter that describes the decline and decay of the Arabic Muslim world, although those processes became conspicuous and important long before the end of the period that Medieval World supposedly spans.

As a whole, the treatment of Islam in Medieval World is off-the-shelf stuff. It is typical of the propaganda distributed by Muslim pressure groups, and it displays these characteristic properties:

  • The TCI writers flatly refuse to describe the current state of our understanding of how Islam originated or of how Islam's holy book, the Koran, originated. They refuse to acknowledge scholarly information about those matters, they refuse to tell that such information is scanty and tenuous, and they refuse to describe any of the important historical questions that scholars are trying to answer about how Islam and the Koran arose.

  • What the TCI writers try to pass off as historical information about the origin of Islam and the origin of the Koran isn't history at all. It is an aggregation of items drawn from the Muslim foundation myth.

The Muslim Foundation Myth     A foundation myth is a myth that purports to describe the origin of some group of people or some institution. Such myths are everywhere: Foundation myths have been invented to account for the origins of corporations, sports teams, towns, nations, ethnic groups, political parties, roadside attractions, and so forth. A foundation myth may be a single simple story, or it may be a grand, elaborate concatenation of many discrete narratives and claims.

Some of the most elaborate foundation myths are those that deal with the origins of certain religious groups. One example is the Hebrew foundation myth, which comprises hundreds of discrete stories and is set forth in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers and the Book of Deuteronomy.)

Another example is the foundation myth of the Muslims.

The major elements of the Muslims' foundation myth are well known. A fellow named Muhammad, born in Mecca circa 570, is orphaned at an early age and is raised in Mecca by two of his relatives -- first by one of his grandfathers, later by one of his uncles. Muhammad becomes a trader and takes employment with a widow, Khadijah, who runs a trading enterprise. Eventually he marries her. At some time around 610, Muhammad goes into a secluded cave and meets an angel, Gabriel, who tells Muhammad that he has been chosen to become a prophet, a messenger of Allah. Over the next 22 years or so, Gabriel relays messages from Allah to Muhammad. At some point, Muhammad begins to preach Allah's messages, and he acquires some followers. These become the first devotees of Islam, even though Islam is still taking shape and hasn't yet acquired its holy book, the Koran. Muhammad's followers memorize his utterances, and at least some of the followers preserve the utterances as written records. Later, these records are combined to form the Koran.

Comparing the Muslim Myth with History     Islam is an offshoot of Judaism. Within its Judaic framework it includes various doctrines that were derived from a form of Christianity that flourished in Arabia some 1,300 years ago, and it also includes doctrines that seem to be novel -- i.e., that seem not to be based on Jewish or Christian precursors.

Historical information about how Islam originated is sparse. Here is a summary, based chiefly on four publications [note 15] that have been issued during the past seven years or so:

The earliest adherents to the religion that eventually would become Islam were evidently people who accepted the opening books of the Hebrew Bible but didn't accept the rest of Jewish scripture. These people -- let us call them proto-Muslims -- considered themselves to be descendants of three mythical figures who appear in the Book of Genesis: Abraham, Abraham's consort Hagar, and their son Ishmael. (The character Abraham is the Hebrews' legendary progenitor. Much of the Book of Genesis is given to tales about him and his offspring.)

In or around 635, the proto-Muslims wrested Jerusalem from the Byzantines. After their victory, they claimed that they were securing their Promised Land, just as the followers of Moses (in the foundation myth of the Hebrews) had secured a Promised Land by conquering the inhabitants of Canaan.

The proto-Muslims adopted Jerusalem as their holy city, and their earliest temples were oriented so that worshipers faced Jerusalem when they prayed. The elevation of Mecca to the rank of Islam's principal holy city would come later.

After they established themselves as the rulers of Jerusalem, the proto-Muslims began to borrow religious concepts from their Christian subjects. Apparently they came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth had been a prophet, though they rejected the Christian doctrine which held that Jesus had been a divine savior.

Muhammad almost certainly existed. By this I mean that Islam, in its early days, almost certainly had a leader who later became the model or armature for the Muhammad who appears in the Muslim foundation myth. It is reasonable to call this leader "Muhammad," though we can't be sure that this was his original name. This Muhammad's early life is a mystery, and even the claim that he was born in Mecca isn't supported by evidence.

Historians don't know how the Koran was composed, or when, or by whom. Nor do they know how many versions were written and rewritten before the canonical version -- the version that Muslims use today -- was fashioned. Some Koranic inscriptions appear on the Dome of the Rock, in Jersualem), which was completed in 691. There is no earlier, reliably dated evidence of the Koran's existence.

Fragments of Korans written on parchment were found in Yemen in 1972. They seem to have been produced in the 7th century or the 8th. The text shown on some of these fragments differs from the text of the canonical version.

The literary evolution of the Koran has included the alteration of its alphabet and the choosing of fixed interpretations for words that, in early Korans, were ambiguous -- ambiguous because they had been written without vowels and without the diacritical marks that are used in modern Arabic to clarify meanings.

No student will acquire any of that information by reading Unit 2 of Medieval World because all of that information has been excluded by TCI's writers and the Muslim puppet-masters who control them. No student will apprehend how little is known about the origins of Islam because TCI's writers and their Muslim masters -- by presenting Muslim fables as facts -- have led students to believe that the origins of Islam and the origins of the Koran are well understood.

Now let me look closely at Unit 2 and consider its chapters in order.

Chapter 7     Titled "The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula," chapter 7 is largely valid, is rather innocuous, and seems to contain only one piece of trickery -- the statement that "The founder of Islam, Muhammad, came from Makkah [Mecca], an ancient holy place and trading center. . . ." [note 16]. As I have said, the claim that Muhammad was a native of Mecca isn't supported by evidence. It comes from the realm of myth, not from history.

Chapter 8     Chapter 8 is called "The Prophet Muhammad." A catalogue of all the lies, selective omissions, distortions, evasions and other deceitful devices that are employed in chapter 8 would be unbearably tedious to compile and unbearably tedious to read. Let these examples suffice:

Page 83    TCI's writers restate the claim that Muhammad was a native of Mecca, and then they say:

According to Arab and Muslim tradition, many centuries before Muhammad was born, it was here [i.e., at Mecca] that God tested the faith of the prophet Abraham by commanding that he leave his wife Hagar and baby son Ishmael in a desolate valley."

Setting aside the question of who "God" may be, I point out that, in the quoted passage, TCI writers are deceiving students by using the "According to" trick. Let me explain this:

When a malicious writer of a "history" schoolbook decides to delude the students who will read his material, he usually does this in a straightforward way: He writes a lie -- he writes something that is plainly and simply false. Occasionally, however, such a writer chooses to create a delusion by using an "According to" statement that is literally accurate but in every other way is perverse and deceitful. The writer accurately states that "According to" some specified source, a particular event occurred -- but he doesn't tell that the specified source has no standing as a record of history, or that the source's claim has no standing in the realm of historical scholarship. By using this technique, which is merely another way to tell a lie, the malicious writer seeks to impel students to accept a pseudohistorical fancy as a historical fact.

In the case at hand, the pseudohistorical fancy is a Muslim religious tale. If TCI's writers were at all honest, they would have made clear that the "Arab and Muslim tradition" about Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael is a myth -- not history.

They also would have told that Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael are mythical figures that the Muslims have borrowed from Judaism and from the Book of Genesis. It isn't surprising that TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have omitted this information. Muslim propagandists don't like to acknowledge Islam's mythological debt to Judaism.

Page 83    "According to Arab and Muslim tradition, . . . Abraham built a house of worship called the Ka'ba."

No! In Muslim lore, the figure who builds the Ka'ba is Adam, the first man. Like Abraham, Adam is a character whom the Muslims have imported into Islam from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Genesis. By falsely claiming that Muslims attribute the building of the Ka'ba to Abraham, TCI's writers have avoided the need to mention Adam at all -- and they again have avoided acknowledging Islam's mythological debt to Judaism. (As it happens, there really is a connection in Muslim lore between the Ka'ba and Abraham, even if the connection has been hidden by TCI's writers: Muslims have a series of stories in which the Ka'ba, originally built by Adam, later is rebuilt by a succession of figures, one of whom is Abraham [note 17].)

Page 83    "Muhammad was living in Makkah when he experienced his own call to prophethood."

That isn't history, and it cannot be history. A supernaturalistic claim (in this case, a claim about a "call to prophethood") cannot be tested against evidence and cannot be supported or verified by evidence.

Page 83    "Like Abraham, [Muhammad] proclaimed belief in a single God."

Humbug! Muslim propagandists persistently describe Abraham as a monotheist, but their description is false. The Book of Genesis doesn't portray Abraham as a monotheist and doesn't provide any support for attempts to turn him into one. The Hebrew Bible's first suggestions of monotheism occur not in the Book of Genesis but in the Book of Exodus. They are linked not to Abraham but to Moses, the latter book's hero.

Page 85    Now TCI's writers start to tell about Muhammad all over again, starting with another repetition of their claim about his birthplace: "Around 570 C.E., a boy named Muhammad was born in Makkah" [note 18]. This line introduces a six-paragraph passage in which the writers present a foundation-myth narrative of Muhammad's early life, complete with the grandfather, the uncle, and so on.

Page 86    Here we read a long passage about Muhammad's adventure in the cave:

In about 610 C.E., Muhammad went to pray in a cave in the mountains. It was there that he received the call to be a prophet, or messenger of God, whom the Arabs called Allah.

Muhammad later described the remarkable events of that night. He told that he received a visit from the angel Gabriel. Muhammad described how Gabriel told him several times to "recite." Muhammad asked what he was to recite, and Gabriel answered:

Recite -- in the name of thy Lord!
Who created man from blood coagulated
Recite Thy Lord is wondrous kind
Who by the pen has taught mankind
Things they [sic] knew not.

Muhammad left the cave, quaking with fear. But Gabriel spoke to him again, declaring, "You are the messenger of God."

That passage consists entirely of supernaturalism and superstition. It contains no history at all.

Now please read that Muhammad-in-the-cave passage again, and notice the line about creation from coagulated blood. TCI's writers conceal the fact that this statement about the creation of man is contradicted by other claims that appear in Islamic scripture. In sura 6 of the Koran, for example, we read that man was made from clay; and in sura 18 we read that man was made "from dust, then from a drop." Indeed, Muslim lore is laden with contradictions -- but Muslim propagandists avoid acknowledging them, and no student will learn about any of them by reading Medieval World.

Page 86    To reinforce the notion that the tale of Muhammad's adventure in the cave is an account of history, page 86 displays a photograph which shows some large stones and some stone steps, and which carries this caption: "The Hira Cave is where Muhammad was first visited by the angel Gabriel." This reminds me of the joke about the fellow who offered photographic proof that he had seen a Martian spaceship: He showed a photo of the chair in which he had been sitting when the Martian vehicle flew into view.

Page 86    "The faith of Islam is based on monotheism, or belief in a single god. This God, Muhammad taught, was the same God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus."

Ah, yes -- Jesus! Here in America, where about 80% of the adult population consists of persons who call themselves Christians, Muslim propagandists invariably put forth distorted claims that link Islam with Jesus of Nazareth. It is true that Muslim lore includes a figure whom Muslims equate with Jesus of Nazareth, and whom they designate by an Arabic name that commonly is transliterated into English as Isa or 'Isa -- but there are vast differences between this Muslim version of Jesus and the Jesus envisioned by most Christians. To convey what I mean by "vast differences," I offer these examples of how Muslims view Isa:

  • Isa, the Muslim version of Jesus, isn't divine. (Muslims reject the doctrine that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, just as they reject the doctrine of the Trinity. The Koran tells -- in sura 9, verse 30 -- that Muhammad wanted Christians to be damned by Allah because they said that Jesus of Nazareth was a son of God.)

  • The Muslim version of Jesus is not a figure who died on a cross to atone for humanity's sins. (The idea that Jesus was crucified is explicitly denounced in the Koran, sura 4, verse 157.)

  • The Muslim version of Jesus is a prophet of Islam -- one of many prophets to whom Allah delivered books that revealed Islam. (See the Koran, sura 6, verses 86 through 92.)

A detailed article about the Muslim Jesus [note 19] can be found at http://answering-islam.org.uk/Intro/islamic_jesus.html on the Web. After studying it, my readers will understand this: Any unexplained, unqualified claim that Jesus is a figure shared by Islam and Christianity is simply a lie. Any unexplained, casual claim that Jesus is revered by Muslims and Christians alike is an exercise in deceit.

Page 86    Here the TCI writers recite a foundation-myth account of the genesis of the Koran:

Though Muhammad apparently could neither read nor write, he said that the messages from Gabriel were imprinted on his mind and heart. His followers also memorized them. Eventually, some followers wrote down these words and collected them in the Qur'an (also spelled Koran), the holy book of Islam.

That unverifiable and fantastic stuff isn't history, but it is suitable for duping young students because it is simplistic, pat and vague. When were Muhammad's utterances written down? -- during his lifetime or afterward? And when were his written-down utterances turned into the Koran? -- during his lifetime or afterward? TCI's writers refuse to say anything about those matters, although they later will imply (on page 89) that the Koran was completed before Muhammad died.

Page 87    "The Qur'an tells the story of the Night Journey in which a winged horse took Muhammad to Jerusalem. There he met and prayed with earlier prophets, like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The horse then guided Muhammad through the seven levels of heaven, and Muhammad met God."

No, the Koran does not tell the story of Muhammad's trip on the flying horse. The flying-horse myth is an extra-Koranic invention, and the notion that it appears in the Koran is a metamyth -- i.e., a myth about a myth [note 20].

Page 88    "Muslims [at Medina] pledged to be loyal and helpful to each other. . . . Muhammad also asked his followers to respect Christians and Jews. Like Muslims, these 'People of the Book' believed in one God."

That is deceitful rubbish. In sura 5, verse 51 of the Koran, the book that allegedly conveys Muhammad's utterances, we read: "O believers, do not hold Jews and Christians as your allies. They are allies of one another; and anyone who makes them his friends is surely one of them; and God does not guide the unjust." Moreover, the Koran explicitly says (in sura 9, verse 29) that Jews and Christians must be attacked and subjugated: "Fight those people of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not prohibit what God and His Apostle [i.e., Muhammad] have forbidden, nor accept divine law, until all of them pay protective tax in submission."

Page 88    "In March 632, Muhammad led his final pilgrimage. . . . Shortly after his return to Madinah, Muhammad died."

Please remember that date, 632, as we read further.

Page 89    "[After Muhammad died] Abu Bakr became the first caliph, or Muslim ruler. He and the three leaders who followed him came to be known as the 'rightly guided' caliphs. These caliphs followed the Qur'an and the example of Muhammad."

Let us examine that claim. If Abu Bakr "followed the Qur'an" when he succeeded Muhammad, then the Koran must have been compiled before Muhammad died -- and if Muhammad died in 632, then the Koran must have been compiled before or during that year. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that the Koran existed, in any form, in 632 [note 21].

Page 89    We now read that Abu Bakr died in 634, that he was succeeded by a caliph named Umar, and that

[Umar] let Jews and Christians worship as they liked. In Egypt, treaties allowed for freedom of worship in exchange for the payment of tribute. Later, Muslims completed similar treaties with the Nubians, . . . .

Here we have an absurdity combined with a whitewash-job. The absurdity is the claim that subjugated Christians and subjugated Jews enjoyed "freedom of worship," even though they were not allowed to practice their religions unless they paid money for the privilege of doing so. The whitewash-job is the hiding of all the other restrictions and requirements that Muslims imposed on subjugated people who didn't follow Islam.

Page 90    The last section of chapter 8 (excepting the Chapter Summary) appears on page 90 and is titled "The Umayyad Dynasty." The narrative in this section spans the years from 661 through 732 [note 22]. Please remember that date, 732, as we turn to chapter 9.

Chapter 9     Chapter 9, "The Teachings of Islam," begins thus:

In Chapter 8, you learned about the prophet Muhammad and the early spread of Islam. Now you will take a closer look at the Islamic faith.

If you visited any city in a Muslim country today, you would notice many things that reflect the teachings of Islam. Five times a day, you would hear a call to prayer throughout the city. While some people hurry to houses of worship, called mosques, others simply remain where they are to pray, even in the street. You would see people dressed modestly and many women wearing head scarf. You would find that Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork. . . .

Whoa! Almost thirteen centuries have vanished! The writers of Medieval World have hopped all the way from 732 to the present. They have hopped all the way to what students might encounter in "any city in a Muslim country today." What are the TCI writers up to?

The answer is: They are launching a deliberately confused, confusing chapter that is set in the present but is spiked with pseudohistorical flashbacks to the past. This scheme -- this alternation between present and past -- helps to create the confusion that the writers have sought. Let us read:

Page 94    "Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have much in common."

Let us ignore the fact that it is an overstatement to say that those three religions have "much" in common. What is really important here is that TCI's writers shun the question that must occur to any alert student: Why do Judaism, Christianity and Islam have anything in common? In other words, how can we explain their sharing any features at all? The explanation lies, of course, in the history of Islam: Islam arose as a derivative of Judaism, and it later absorbed material from Christianity. But students won't learn this from Medieval World because TCI's writers say nothing -- exactly nothing -- about how Islam's resemblances to Judaism and Christianity originated. In Medieval World, those resemblances seem to be mere accidents or coincidences.

Page 94    "Muslims believe that all three religions [Judaism, Christianity and Islam] worship the same God."

Here the TCI writers are reinforcing a notion that they introduced on page 86 -- the notion that the god of Islam is identical with the god of Judaism and Christianity. On page 86 this was something that "Muhammad taught." Now it something that "Muslims believe." To evaluate this notion, students would have to know, and would have to ask questions about, some of the things that the god of Islam has done. The students cannot do this, of course, because TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have deprived the students of all the information that might be relevant here. Let me take the students' place and ask, on their behalf, a few questions about what "Muslims believe":

  • Do Muslims really believe that Jews and Christians worship Allah, who has scorned Jews and Christians as "unjust" and has warned Muslims against receiving Jews or Christians as friends or allies?

  • Do Muslims really believe that Jews and Christians worship a god who has ordered Muslims to fight against Jews and Christians until those "people of the Book" accept and acknowledge the dominion of Islam?

  • Do Muslims really believe that Jews and Christians worship a god who has appointed Muhammad to be the ultimate prophet -- the figure who has superseded all the prophets of Judaism and has superseded Jesus too? (For my part, I haven't met any Christians whose god has placed Muhammad above Jesus.)

  • Do Muslims really believe that Jews and Christians worship a god who (according to the Koran's sura 48, verse 13) has prepared a blazing fire for all people who do not accept Muhammad and the claims that Muslims attribute to him?

I have an editorial question too: Why do TCI's writers tell us what "Muslims believe" -- but not what Jews or Christians believe -- about this matter of a shared god? Students will wonder whether Jews and Christians subscribe to the claim that the Muslim god is identical with the god of the Jews and the god of the Christians, but TCI's writers say nothing about Jewish or Christians opinions. Why is the Muslim view important while views held by Jews and Christians are unworthy of notice?

I hope that TCI's writers, if they encounter this report, will send me their answers to the questions that I have posed.

Page 95    "Through the Qur'an, God describes his laws and moral teachings, or the 'straight path.' "

TCI's writers again have disguised untestable, supernaturalistic woo-woo as fact.

Page 95    In a flashback to the 7th century, the TCI puppets tell (again) that Muhammad's followers memorized his utterances, and that the utterances were written down. The puppets now attribute the writing-down to "scribes," but they refuse (again) to give any answers to these obvious questions: When did the writing-down take place? -- during Muhammad's lifetime or afterward? And when were the written-down utterances turned into the Koran? -- during Muhammad's lifetime or afterward?

Page 95    Here comes another flashback:

In about 651 C.E., Caliph Uthman [the successor to Umar] established an official edition of the Qur'an. He destroyed other versions. The Qur'an used today has not changed since then.

That stuff about Uthman's "official edition" projects the inescapable implication that multiple versions of the Koran existed by 651 or so (roughly twenty years after the alleged date of Muhammad's death). In truth, there is no evidence to suggest that even one version of the Koran existed in 651 -- and the claim that "The Qur'an used today has not changed since then" is ridiculous on its face.

Page 95    Now we get a flashback to the alleged origins of the hadith, which are canonized stories about things that Muhammad supposedly said and did:

Within 200 years after Muhammad's death, thousands of reports about the prophet had traveled throughout Muslim lands. Scholars looked into each story. They placed the stories they could verify into collections.

The "stories they could verify"? How, pray tell, did those so-called scholars "verify" stories that had been originated by people long dead -- stories that had mutated again and again, as they were told and retold, during a period of 200 years?

Page 95    Continuing their tale of the hadith, TCI's writers say:

Called hadith (tradition), these accounts provided written evidence of Muhammad's Sunnah as seen in his words and deeds. They continue to have this role today.

What a spectacle! The TCI writers' contempt for students evidently has no limits. Hearsay doesn't become "written evidence" merely because someone jots it down on a piece of paper -- and according to the TCI writers' own narrative, the hadith are nothing more than collections of hearsay. Even if the hadith were carved in stone, they still would be nothing more than collections of hearsay, and they still wouldn't constitute evidence of anything.

Given the gross dishonesty of TCI's writers, I find it perversely appropriate that, in all of chapter 9, the only passage which includes the word "evidence" is a lie. I find it perversely appropriate that the only occurrence of the word "evidence" comes in a passage which has been calculated to deceive students and to mock the very concept of evidence.

After their flashback to the concocting of the hadith, TCI's writers return to the present day and say that "The most basic acts of worship for Muslims are called the Five Pillars of Faith." Then they devote five full pages -- pages 96 through 100 -- to telling about the "pillars," i.e., shahadah (the profession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (the giving of alms), siyam (fasting) and hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). This material on on pages 96 through 100 is set in the present, is written with present-tense verbs, and has three noteworthy properties:

  • It is plainly anachronistic and plainly irrelevant to the subject of TCI's book. Recall that Medieval World allegedly deals with things that happened in the period which began in 476 and ended in 1800.

  • It is laughably overloaded with details. For example: On the salat page, we read about how Muslims perform a prayer ritual at a mosque:

    All mosques have fountains where worshipers wash their hands, face [sic], arms, and feet. With a sense of being purified, Muslims enter the prayer area. There they form lines behind a prayer leader called an imam. The worshipers face the qibla, the direction of Makkah. A niche in a wall marks the qibla. People of all classes stand shoulder to shoulder, but men stand in separate rows from women.

    Another example: On the siyam page, we find this account of how Muslims fast during Ramadan:

    During the daylight hours on each day of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat any food or drink any liquid, including water. It is considered time to eat when a person standing outside cannot tell a white thread from a black thread. Muslims then break their fast, often with dates and other food and beverages -- as Muhammad did [!] -- and perform the sunset prayer. After a meal shared with family or friends, Muslims attend a special prayer session. Each night a portion of the Qur'an is read aloud. By the end of Ramadan, Muslims have heard the entire holy book.

  • Even if we ignore the fact that the material on these five pages is anachronistic, it seems needless and purposeless. In a book for middle-school students, honest writers can sketch the history of Islam without giving bloated accounts of Islamic rituals and observances -- just as honest writers can sketch the history of Christianity without giving bloated descriptions of, say, a Roman Catholic mass or an Eastern Orthodox observance of Easter.

    TCI's writers, however, aren't honest, and they certainly don't want to tell about the history of Islam. Furthermore, their stuff about present-day Islamic rituals does have a purpose. In fact, it has two purposes. First: It inflates the chapter; it fills a lot of space but contains nothing that Muslim propagandists find inconvenient. Second: It implicitly and subtly conveys to students the notion that Islam is the same today as it always has been, and that Islam hasn't evolved over time. This is a very important theme in Muslim propaganda. After all, Muslims claim that Islam is the final, perfect religion -- and a final, perfect religion has no need to evolve, does it?

I cannot leave chapter 9 without returning to its opening page and to the TCI writers' claim that, during a visit to any city in a Muslim country, students "would find that Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork." There, in only a few words, the TCI writers and their Muslim masters provide two blazing demonstrations of their zeal for bamboozling young students: They convey a false "fact" about Muslims, and they teach students to embrace a logical fallacy.

The false "fact" is the notion that Muslims don't drink alcohol or eat pork. (Here is the truth: Islam formally prohibits the consumption of alcohol and pork, and many Muslims observe these restrictions -- but other Muslims do not.) The logical fallacy is the notion that the students, by roaming through a city for a while and making some observations, would gain a perfect knowledge of how all Muslims behave at all times. Let me elaborate:

The statement that "Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork" is a universal negative, equivalent to the more formal statement "No Muslim drinks alcohol or eats pork at any time." As it happens, a universal negative cannot be established by any finite number of observations, no matter how large the number of observations may be.

Suppose that I have visited Chicago for a week (or a month or a year), and suppose that I haven't seen any Chicagoan wearing a dickey. Can I conclude that Chicagoans never wear dickeys? Can I infer that no Chicagoan ever wears a dickey, at any time? Of course not -- because I don't know whether there are Chicagoans who wear dickeys but who escaped my notice, and I don't know whether any Chicagoans donned dickeys after I made my observations. Obviously, the inference that no Chicagoan wears a dickey at any time would be unwarranted and fallacious.

TCI's writers are teaching students to embrace that kind of fallacious reasoning.

Chapter 10     Chapter 10 is titled "Contributions of Muslims to World Civilization." If my readers are familiar with the code-words that are used in trashy schoolbooks, they will immediately grasp the import of that word "contributions." It signals that the TCI writers and their Muslim masters are ready to stage a circus of glorification.

Predictably, the "contributions" claims in chapter 10 include falsehoods, gross distortions, and deep absurdities. Here are some examples:

  • In the section titled "Science and Technology," the subsection called "Zoology" carries this splurge of baffle-gab:

    A number of Muslim scholars became interested in zoology, the scientific study of animals. Some wrote books describing the structure of animals' bodies. Others explained how to make medicines from animals. In the 800s, a scholar named al-Jahiz even presented theories about the evolution of animals. Muslims also established zoological gardens, or zoos, where exotic animals were displayed.

    So what? All of those "contributions" to "world civilization" had already been engendered by other peoples -- but TCI's writers omit this information. These writers are using selective omission to distort history and to generate the false impression that the Muslims' efforts were unique.

    Notice that TCI's writers make the grandiose claim that "In the 800s . . . al-Jahiz even presented theories about the evolution of animals," but the writers don't tell anything about the nature or content of those "theories." Whatever al-Jahiz's so-called theories may have been, we don't have any reason to believe that they were "contributions" to anything. The world's intellectual history is littered with speculations about the origination of new species from older species, but the first coherent, supportable, intellectually tenable theory of organic evolution was not promulgated until the late 1850s (about 1,000 years after al-Jahiz's day). I refer, of course, to Darwin and Wallace's mighty theory of descent with modification under the influence of natural selection [note 23].

  • In the section titled "Science and Technology," the subsection about "Irrigation and Underground [sic] Wells" teaches this:

    . . . . Much of the land under Muslim rule was hot and dry. Muslims restored old irrigation systems and designed new ones. They built dams and aqueducts to provide water for households, mills, and fields. They improved existing systems of canals and underground [sic] wells. . . . Muslims also used water wheels to bring water up from canals and reservoirs.

    So what? Other peoples already had done all of those things. TCI's writers and their Muslim masters are again employing selective omission to create the false impression that the Muslims' efforts were unique.

  • In the section titled "Medicine," a passage that seems to be set in the 10th century includes this:

    Muslim doctors made many discoveries and helped spread medical knowledge. For example, al-Razi, a Persian doctor, realized that infections were caused by bacteria.

    That is a plain lie. Bacteria were unknown until the 17th century, when they were discovered by Anton van Leeuwenhoek, the great Dutch microscopist. Some of Leeuwenhoek's contemporaries speculated that bacteria and other microbes might be pathogenic, but the germ theory of disease didn't take shape until the 19th century, when Louis Pasteur (a Frenchman) and Robert Koch (a German) did their magnificent work in microbiology and experimental medicine.

  • In the section headlined "City Building and Architecture," the TCI writers devote a subsection to the development of the mosque as a new kind of building. Their account says, in part:

    The Mosque     Muslims created distinctive forms of architecture. A particularly important type of building was the mosque, the Muslim house of worship.

    Mosques usually had a minaret (tower) with a small balcony where the muezzin chanted the call to prayer. In the walled courtyard stood a fountain for washing before prayers.

    Inside the mosque was the prayer room. Worshipers sat on mats and carpets on the floor. The imam, or prayer leader, gave his sermon from a raised pulpit called the minbar. Next to the minbar was the mihrab, the niche that indicated the direction of Makkah.

    We may grant that the development of the mosque was important to Islam, but in what way was it a "contribution" to "world civilization"? Why should we believe that "world civilization" was altered when Muslims adopted the ancient, utterly mundane practice of putting fountains in courtyards? Why should we imagine that "world civilization" was shaped by the practice of equipping mosques with towers? TCI's writers don't suggest any answers to such questions.

    Now look again at the last line that I have quoted from the TCI writers' description of a mosque. The writers say: Next to the minbar was the mihrab, the niche that indicated the direction of Makkah. Informed adults will ask: Does this mean that no mosque was built before the time when Muslims demoted Jerusalem and chose Mecca to be their principal holy city? But the young students who are TCI's intended victims won't ask that question, because TCI's writers have concealed the crucial fact that the earliest Muslim temples were oriented so that worshipers faced Jerusalem.

Chapter 11     Chapter 11, "From the Crusades to New Muslim Empires," has eight sections (excluding the Chapter Summary). In six of those sections, TCI's writers pretend to tell about the crusades -- but their material is a load of Muslim claptrap, much like the "history" of the crusades that appears in other American schoolbooks which have been tailored to gratify Islamists.

Instructional materials sold by American publishers often depict the crusades as criminal enterprises and the crusaders as imperialists and thugs. These images of the crusades and the crusaders reflect the work of Muslim propagandists. Muslim pressure groups have induced the writers of various schoolbooks and curriculum manuals to teach American students that the crusades were malicious undertakings in which Christian aggressors attacked peaceful Muslims and tried to seize territory that properly belonged to such Muslim sweethearts as the Seljuk Turks.

In some schoolbooks and teachers' manuals, the passages of Muslim propaganda about the crusades are so inept and heavy-handed that they seem comical, as two examples will show:

  • In the second book of the eleven-book series A History of Us, issued by Oxford University Press, students read:

    [In Europe during the Middle Ages] knights, lords and ladies lived in splendid feudal castles. And crusaders set off for Israel (called the Holy Land) in the name of religion, but managed to plunder and murder as they went.

    And so much for that. The writer of the book in question, Joy Hakim, says nothing else -- absolutely nothing -- about crusaders or crusades. She doesn't even tell what "crusaders" were! Obviously, the only purpose of her cryptic sentence about "crusaders" is to teach students to associate the word "crusaders" with the words "plunder" and "murder" [note 24].

  • In the curriculum manual ISLAM: A Simulation [note 25], issued by Interaction Publishers, students who are pretending to be Muslims, and are pretending to live in the 7th century, read this:

    While in Damascus you are attacked by Christian crusaders.

    Of course, the crusades didn't begin until the closing years of the 11th century, so there were no crusaders in Damascus, or anywhere else, during the 7th -- but chronology doesn't matter to the Muslim agents who feed fake "history" to publishers of instructional materials.

The material about the crusades in Medieval World is, as I have said, another load of Muslim claptrap, and it diverges widely and often from anything that could be called history. I shall describe it here at some length, conveying information that was supplied to Janie White by the historian Thomas F. Madden.

Thomas F. Madden is a professor of history at Saint Louis University (in St. Louis, Missouri), a specialist in the history of the crusades, a coauthor of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (issued in 1997 by the University of Pennsylvania Press), the author of A Concise History of the Crusades (issued in 1999 by Rowman and Littlefield), and the author of The New Concise History of the Crusades (issued in 2005 by the same publisher). Janie White sent him copies of the Medieval World pages on which TCI's writers purport to tell about the crusades, and Madden responded to her by sending a partial analysis of the TCI writers' narratives.

Madden's analysis wasn't intended to be comprehensive or exhaustive, but it exposed many of the falsehoods and vicious distortions that TCI's writers have presented to students. Let me cite some items from his report:

Madden begins by remarking that the treatment of the crusades in Medieval World displays a great many errors, and he observes that TCI's writers sometimes seem to be making things up. Then he says:

The choice of words [used by TCI's writers] is often surprising. When the Seljuks or other Muslim groups attack Christian peoples, kill them, and take their lands it is referred to as "building" an empire. Christian attempts to restore those lands are referred to as "violent attacks" or "massacres."

Madden then turns to analyzing some specific passages and assertions that caught his eye as he read the Medieval World pages:

Page 120    In accounting for the genesis of the crusades, TCI's writers assert that European Christians reacted with fear to the expanding power of the Seljuks -- "[Christians in Europe] feared for the safety and property of Christians living in the east," and "Christians feared they would no longer be able to visit Jerusalem and other sacred sites in the Holy Land," and "this fear helped pave the way for the crusades."

Such statements, Madden says, suggest that the crusades originated because European Christians were paranoid and were driven by their fear of things that might happen in the future. But in fact, Madden explains, these things already had happened -- indeed they had been happening for many years. "The crusades were a belated response to these events," Madden writes. "Fear had nothing to do with it."

Page 121    The TCI writers tell that by 1095 the Seljuks had advanced to within 100 miles of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and that the Byzantine emperor appealed to Pope Urban II for help in thwarting the Seljuks' territorial ambitions. Then the writers say:

The pope called nobles and church leaders to a council in Clermont, France. There he called for a crusade to drive the Muslims back and reclaim Jerusalem. He promised entry to heaven to all who joined the fight.

Madden comments: "It is incorrect to say that the pope 'promised entry to heaven to all who joined the fight.' " We do not know, Madden says, what the pope promised, but in no medieval account does he promise automatic admittance to heaven. He may have promised the standard indulgence that was associated with a pilgrimage, but this would only have provided remission of the temporal penalties for sins. By itself, such an indulgence couldn't have sufficed to enable a crusader to gain a free entry into heaven.

Page 121    "Throughout the crusades," TCI's writers declare, "Christian faith inspired many to put on the red cross worn by crusaders."

Madden explains that the red cross was worn by the Templars. Other crusaders wore crosses of different colors, and the color of each man's cross usually indicated his native land.

Page 121    TCI's writers claim that some people joined the crusades because they hoped to acquire wealth: "Merchants saw the chance to earn money through trade. Younger sons of nobles hoped to gain estates in the Holy Land."

Madden remarks that four decades of scholarship have discredited the 19th-century idea that merchants and young noblemen took the cross for gain.

Page 121    The TCI writers assert that "Four nobles led the First Crusade."

Not true, Madden says. There were many more leaders than that.

Page 121    In their account of the First Crusade, the TCI writers make these claims:

[In June 1099] the crusaders surrounded Jerusalem and scaled the city walls. In July 1099, the city surrendered. The victorious crusaders massacred Muslims and Jews throughout the city. The survivors were sold into slavery.

Madden raises several objections to that passage. First, the defenders of Jerusalem didn't surrender. (If they had yielded, they could have sued for terms; but they didn't yield, and their city was taken by force.) Second, the TCI writers' claim that the victorious Christians "massacred" Jerusalem's Muslims and Jews is false. And third, the inhabitants of Jerusalem who survived the capture of their city weren't sold into slavery: Many of them were allowed to go free, and others were ransomed to their relatives. Madden points out that the selling of captives into slavery was a custom practiced by Muslims, not by Christians.

Page 122    In their short passage about the Second Crusade, the TCI writers say that Christians set out to take Edessa, and that they incidentally mounted an attack on Damascus:

In 1144, Muslims captured Edessa, the capital of the northernmost crusader kingdom. Christians answered by mounting the Second Crusade.

The crusade ended in failure. An army from Germany was badly beaten in Anatolia. A second army, led by the king of France, arrived in Jerusalem in 1148. About 50,000 crusaders marched on the city of Damascus, which was on the way to Edessa. Muslims from Edessa came to the city's aid an beat back the crusaders. Soon after this defeat, the French army went home, ending the second crusade.

Here too, Madden raises several objections. First, Damascus was not "on the way to Edessa." Next, the crusaders who attacked Damascus had already abandoned the idea of recapturing Edessa. Next, the Muslims who intended to help the defenders of Damascus came from Aleppo, not Edessa -- and they did not "beat back the crusaders." Long before those Muslim troops arrived at Damascus, the crusaders had concluded that their own position was untenable.

Page 122    In their account of the Third Crusade, the TCI writers tell that Salah-al-Din (Saladin) captured Jerusalem in 1187 and that he "did not kill his prisoners, as the crusaders had done."

Madden discloses what TCI's writers have concealed: Saladin had planned to kill the entire population -- but Jerusalem's defenders, by threatening to destroy the Muslim holy sites that lay within the city, forced Saladin to allow them to surrender peacefully.

Page 122    TCI's writers give this account of the capture of Acre by crusaders under the command of Richard the Lionheart:

In 1191, Richard's army forced the surrender of the Palestinian town of Acre. Afterward, arrangements were made between the two sides to exchange prisoners. After waiting for a time, Richard felt that Salah al-Din was taking too long to meet his end of the bargain. Growing impatient, he ordered his men to kill all 2,700 of his Muslim prisoners.

Madden refutes the TCI writers' claim that Richard ordered the killing of those 2,700 Muslims because he "felt" that Saladin was taking too long to act on their agreement. Feelings had nothing to do with it, Madden explains: Saladin had missed the agreed-upon deadline for the exchanging of prisoners, and Richard suspected (probably rightly) that Saladin was stalling for time so that he could raise more troops.

Madden also makes this observation: TCI's writers tell that Richard's men massacred 2,700 Muslim soldiers at Acre in 1191, but the writers do not tell that Saladin's men had massacred more than 5,000 Christian prisoners after the Battle of Hattin, in 1187.

Page 122    TCI's writers claim that "Richard then fought his way toward Jerusalem, but his army was not strong enough to attack the city."

That isn't true, Madden says. Richard's army was strong enough to take Jerusalem, but the Christians would not have been able to maintain an adequate garrison -- a garrison strong enough to hold the city indefinitely -- after Richard's army went home.

Page 122    In a passage labeled "Later Crusades," the TCI writers say:

Some crusades were popular movements of poor people rather than organized military campaigns. In 1212, for example, tens of thousands of peasant children from France and Germany marched in a "Children's Crusade." Few, if any, ever reached the Holy Land. Some made it as far as European port cities, only to be sold into slavery by merchants. Many disappeared without a trace.

That material, Madden says, is "wretchedly confused" and seems to have come from an old dime-store publication. The so-called Children's Crusade Madden explains, was neither a crusade nor an expedition of children. It acquired its misleading name because medieval writers used the term pueri (the Latin word for boys) in referring to members of the lower classes, and some 18th-century readers of medieval accounts took pueri literally. In fact, the "Children's Crusade" was a mass movement of adults, mostly poor, with some adolescents and a few children thrown in. The claim that merchants in Marseilles sold these people into slavery is a very late embellishment, and no historian accepts it as history.

Page 124    In a section titled "Christians and the Crusades," a subsection called "Impact on Christians as a Group" includes these claims:

The crusades brought many economic changes to Europe. Crusaders needed a way to pay for supplies. Their need increased the use of money in Europe. Some knights began performing banking functions, such as making loans or investments. Kings started tax systems to raise funds for crusades.

The crusades changed society as well. Monarchs grew more powerful as nobles and knights left home to fight in the Middle East. The increasing power of monarchs helped to end feudalism.

Madden remarks that he has no idea of where TCI's writers got that material, but they certainly didn't get it from any scholarly history written in the last century. Then he writes: "The suggestion that the European economy developed liquid capital, banking, and taxation because of the demands of the crusades is laughable. Those elements existed before the crusades. It was the increase in European prosperity that made the crusades possible in the first place."

Furthermore, Madden tells, most historians today hold that the crusades had a negative impact on the European economy because they required enormous outlays of capital but produced virtually no returns. And it is absurd, Madden says, to suggest that monarchs gained power because their nobles left home to fight in crusades. Even a seventh-grade student will notice that the kings, too, left home: Most of the crusades described in TCI's book were led by kings.

Page 124    TCI's writers say that Richard the Lionheart spent most of his reign on crusade.

Madden replies: "The Third Crusade was 1189-1192. Richard's reign was 1189-1199. Do the math."

Page 126    At the start of a section headlined "Jews and the Crusades," TCI's writers declare:

The violence unleashed by the crusades caused great suffering for Jews. Crusaders in the Holy Land slaughtered Jews as well as Muslims. Other Jews became slaves.

That passage, Madden says, suggests that crusaders regularly practiced the slaughtering and enslaving of Jews, yet TCI's writers do not cite any cases in point. Madden tells that during an isolated incident that occurred in 1099, crusaders killed some Jews whom they had captured -- but even in that instance, most of the Jewish captives were released and went to live in Ascalon. Madden then writes: "So when did all this slaughtering and enslaving happen? (Short answer: It didn't.)"

Page 126    Later in the section on "Jews and the Crusades," TCI's writers say:

During the First Crusade, European Jews suffered a series of violent persecutions. As crusaders crossed northern France and Germany, some of them murdered whole communities of Jews. They destroyed synagogues and holy books. They looted homes and businesses. Some crusaders tortured Jews to make them accept Christianity.

The TCI writers' narrative, Madden says, creates the false impression that killing Jews was a regular part of crusading. Then Madden asks these questions: Shouldn't the TCI writers have noted that the killing of Jews was forbidden by church law, and that persons who violated that proscription were considered criminals? And shouldn't the writers have described how the bishops of European cities tried to save the lives of Jews who were in danger of being murdered? "As it stands," Madden observes, "this section is highly misleading."

Madden concludes by remarking that the treatment of the crusades in Medieval World contains many more defects than he has cited in his analysis.

Part 5     A TCI Officer's Refusal to Disclose Sources

The title page of Medieval World shows the book's authors to be Bert Bower and Jim Lobdell. The title page doesn't provide any identification of these men by affiliation or rank, but a page on TCI's Web site says that Bower is TCI's executive director and Lobdell holds the title "senior director."

On 15 February 2005 I sent an e-mail message to Lobdell, with a copy to Bower [note 26], and I made two requests:

1. In chapter 8 of The Medieval World and Beyond, the first six sections -- 8.1 ("Introduction") through 8.6 ("From the Migration to Madinah to the End of His Life") -- purport to cover the early life of Muhammad, the origins of the Koran, and the origins of Islam. Please identify for me the source or sources from which you and Bert Bower derived the material that is set forth in those sections.

2. In the last paragraph on page 87, I find:
     The Qur'an tells the story of the Night Journey in which
     a winged horse took Muhammad to Jerusalem. There
     he met and prayed with earlier prophets, like Abraham,
     Moses, and Jesus. The horse then guided Muhammad
     through the seven levels of heaven, and Muhammad
     met God.
Please identify for me the sura and verse (or verses) of the Koran in which the Night Journey story is told.

Lobdell replied to me on 18 February. He refused my requests, and he said: "Unless required by a public agency, as a company policy we do not share specific source information for discreet [sic] passages."

Part 6     The Workbook That Accompanies Medieval World

The workbook that TCI sells to accompany the Medieval World textbook is titled History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond: Interactive Student Notebook. It shows 1-58371-382-4 as its ISBN and 2004 as its copyright date. It has 247 numbered pages and some 20 unnumbered pages, and it serves chiefly to reinforce the material in the textbook. Only two features of the Notebook merit comment:

The first feature is the absence of any exercise that calls for critical thinking about claims. During my own reading of the Notebook, I haven't noticed any exercise in which students are required to consider how a claim, put forth as an item of history, can be evaluated. Nor have I seen any exercise in which students are required to describe the kinds of evidence that they might demand before deciding whether a claim, put forth as an item of history, merits acceptance. Nor have I seen any exercise which acknowledges, in any way, that a claim which has been put forth as an item of history may be false and, indeed, may be an outright lie.

The second noteworthy feature of the Notebook is a bizarre exercise which leads students to discern that Muhammad was the most influential person who ever has lived! This exercise, titled "Preview 8," is one of various activities related to Unit 2 of the Medieval World textbook. There are other "Preview" items distributed throughout the Notebook, but none of the others bears any resemblance to "Preview 8."

In performing the "Preview 8" exercise, each student must read "a list of people that many historians have named as being very influential in the history of the world"; then the student must offer an opinion about which of the listed persons was the "most influential" of all. The names on the list are Buddha, Julius Caesar, Albert Einstein, Queen Elizabeth I, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Muhammad, and Rosa Parks.

A sophisticated reader will immediately notice three properties of this exercise:

  • The exercise is absurd. Asking a 7th-grader to pick the most influential person in the history of the world is idiotic.

  • The name "Jesus" is ambiguous. Does it denote the historical Jesus, of whom we know very little? Does it denote the literary Jesus -- the mythic figure who is the hero of tales told in the New Testament? Or does it denote Isa -- the character who, in Muslim lore [note 27], is a prophet of Islam but allegedly corresponds to Jesus of Nazareth?

  • The name "Muhammad," too, is ambiguous. Does it denote the historical Muhammad? Or does it denote the literary Muhammad, the central figure in the Muslims' foundation myth?

Students in the 7th grade, however, are not sophisticated, and very few 7th-graders understand the distinction between the historical Jesus and the literary Jesus, or the distinction between the historical Muhammad and the literary Muhammad. On the other hand, most 7th-graders will readily grasp that they are supposed to pick Muhammad as the winner of the "most influential" contest. TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have rigged the contest, heavily, to favor this result.

Muhammad enjoys an obvious advantage because "Preview 8" is linked to Unit 2, the textbook's unit about Islam -- and this immediately signals to students that they are expected to designate Muhammad as Mr. Influential. Muhammad enjoys other advantages as well, because the other contestants are competing under crushing handicaps. Buddha surely will lose, for the students haven't encountered him yet: The first acknowledgment of Buddhism in Medieval World will come in Unit 4, "Imperial China." Good Queen Bess will lose, too: The students won't encounter her until they reach Unit 7, "Europe's Renaissance and Reformation." Julius Caesar, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mozart and Rosa Parks certainly will lose because Medieval World, according to its index, doesn't tell anything, anywhere, about any of them.

That leaves Jesus. Jesus is mentioned several times in Medieval World, though all of the mentionings occur in Unit 2, where he is cast as a subsidiary character in Muslim lore -- one of Muhammad's prophetic predecessors. (See, above, my accounts of how Jesus turns up in chapters 8 and 9 of TCI's book.) Even so, Jesus will be a formidable contestant because many students will have encountered him in other contexts. These students will know that Jesus isn't merely a minor attraction in Islam's parade of prophets, they will know that he is an important religious figure in his own right, and they may be tempted to give him the prize for influence -- so TCI's writers have provided the classroom teacher with some rhetorical tactics for helping students to see that the prize properly belongs to Muhammad.

These tactics are set forth in Lesson Guide 1, a pedagogic manual that TCI sells with Medieval World. On page 177 of Lesson Guide 1, TCI's writers direct the teacher to tell students that Muhammad already has been cited as history's most influential person in a book written by one Michael Hart (whoever that may be). Then the writers give the teacher this instruction:

After students have shared their ideas, say, Some people think Muhammad was the most influential person in history. If you don't know much about him, you may not have considered him. Explain that Muhammad influenced the world in many ways. He and his followers created an empire that stretched from Spain to India. Today, one of every five people worldwide are followers of Islam, the religion he followed . . . .

Anyone who is worthy of the title "teacher" will refuse to engage in such bald manipulation of students -- just as anyone who is worthy of the title "history teacher" will refuse to have anything to do with Medieval World.

Part 7     Constitutional Matters

When the Supreme Court of the United States decided the case of Edwards v. Aguillard (in 1987), the Court declared that the Constitution of the United States enjoins public schools from delivering instruction that is "tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma." It is abundantly clear that the Scottsdale Unified School District, by compelling students at the Mohave Middle School to endure instruction based on Unit 2 of Medieval World, has effected a violation of that constitutional injunction.

It is equally clear that the Scottsdale Unified School District, by compelling students at the Mohave Middle School to endure instruction based on Unit 2 of TCI's book Medieval World, has effected a violation of the Constitution of the State of Arizona. In its Article 2, Section 12, Arizona's Constitution explicitly prohibits the application of public money "to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment."

Part 8     "C.E."

In examining Medieval World, I have been struck by the TCI writers' practice of gratuitously embellishing dates with the notation "C.E." They do so in a multitude of passages, including some that I have cited in Part 4 of this report. (Recall, for example: "Around 570 C.E., a boy named Muhammad was born . . . ." (page 85); "In about 610 C.E., Muhammad went to pray . . . ." (page 86); and "In about 651 C.E., Caliph Uthman established an official edition . . . ." (page 95).) "C.E." occurs throughout the text of Medieval World, but it seems to be especially frequent in the chapters that deal with Islam.

As many of my readers will know, "C.E." is an abbreviation that some people use as a substitute for the conventional English datemark "A.D."  "A.D." stands for Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning "in the year of the Lord."  "C.E." stands for "Common Era." The purpose of substituting "C.E." for "A.D." is to suppress a classic manifestation of the importance of Christianity and Christian scholarship in the history of the world [note 28].

The people who want to do this have another abbreviation -- "B.C.E." -- which they substitute for the customary English datemark "B.C."  "B.C." stands for "Before Christ."  "B.C.E." stands for "Before the Common Era."

"C.E." and "B.C.E" were devised decades ago, but they didn't gain much popularity until 1990 or so.

Because Medieval World covers a period that didn't begin until A.D. 476 -- long after the conventional date that has been assigned to the birth of Christ -- TCI's writers didn't have to use any datemarks at all. Yet they have littered their text with wholly pointless, wholly gratuitous "C.E." abbreviations.

At the same time, they have flatly refused to explain what "C.E." signifies, and they have refused to place "C.E." in any historical context. To see what I mean, turn to page 4 of Medieval World. There the terms "C.E." and "B.C.E." are mentioned and dispatched in a single sentence that is utterly inane and is enclosed in parentheses:

The period of time we call medieval began with the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted until about 1500 C.E. (C.E. means Common Era, and B.C.E. means Before the Common Era).

The TCI writers have refused to answer the questions that will occur to any alert student: When did the Common Era begin? Why did it begin then? When did the Common Era end? Why was it common? Was the previous era -- "Before the Common Era" -- an uncommon era? If it was uncommon, what made it so? If it was uncommon, why isn't it called the Uncommon Era instead of "Before the Common Era"? And so forth.

I think I know why the writers have refused to address those questions: To do so, they would have had to disclose that the so-called Common Era began 2005 years ago, in the year that once was thought to have included the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. This disclosure, however, would have entirely defeated the writers' purposes -- viz., to indoctrinate students into the use of "C.E.," and to conceal the fact that historical time is reckoned with respect to Jesus's putative birth-date. So TCI's writers have run away and have left the student with nothing but the inane sentence that I have quoted. I say again: The TCI writers' contempt for students seems to have no limits.

Part 9     Presentations at the Mohave School by Agents of an Islamic Organization

In Parts 1 through 8 of this report, I have concentrated on the principal mechanism by which Muslim pressure groups inject their religious propaganda into public-school courses and public-school classrooms: They induce unscrupulous publishers to incorporate such propaganda into schoolbooks and other instructional materials.

Now I must note another mechanism that some Muslim pressure groups employ: They dispatch agents who, while posing as experts on the history and content of Islam, deliver propaganda to students and teachers during oral presentations. Sometimes these agents appear as guest speakers in classrooms, where they indoctrinate students directly. In other instances, they stage phony "teacher-training workshops" or "seminars" in which they deliver propaganda to teachers; then they rely on the teachers to transfer the propaganda to students [note 29].

On 1 February 2005, students in the 7th-grade social-studies course at the Mohave Middle School heard presentations by two agents of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona (ISBA), an organization affiliated with the Islamic Networks Group [note 30].

Far more students were taking the 7th-grade social-studies course than could be accommodated in one classroom, so the course was divided into several sections that convened at various times during the school day. One or the other of the ISBA agents made a presentation to students in each section.

There is no evident way to find out what went on during any of those presentations. One person who has tried to find out is Janie White, whose daughter, Rachel, took the social-studies course in a section administered by a teacher named Molly Hewlett. Janie White has sought to learn whether any functionary of the Scottsdale Unified School District made or possesses a recording of the presentation that Rachel attended, but all of her inquiries have been ignored or deflected. Both Molly Hewlett and the District's superintendent, John Baracy, have stonewalled and have refused to tell Janie White whether any such recording exists [note 31].

On 1 April 2005, I talked with Rachel White and learned a little about the presentation that she had witnessed in her section of the course. She told me that the ISBA agent who addressed that section was a woman named Azra Hussain, and that Azra Hussain had recited and translated phrases from Muslim prayers, had deplored the exclusion of praying from public-school activities, had claimed that Islam was a religion of peace, and had claimed that Jesus was connected with Islam and Muhammad [note 32].

I asked Rachel whether, during the presentation, a knowledgeable adult was present to monitor the ISBA agent's statements and to challenge any falsehoods, distortions or sectarian claims that the agent might have dispensed. No, Rachel said. No such adult was present.

Concluding Remarks

We can't infer that the functionaries who control and implement the Scottsdale Unified School District's social-studies curriculum knew what they were doing when -- by introducing TCI's corrupt book into the Mohave Middle School -- they set the stage for the illegal religious indoctrination of the school's 7th-graders. We can't infer that those functionaries acted deliberately, and we surely can't infer that they were engaged in some dark conspiracy. A much simpler but fully adequate explanation for the Mohave Middle School episode exists, and it is this: The functionaries who control and implement the Scottsdale Unified School District's social-studies curriculum are profoundly ignorant, spectacularly incompetent and terminally gullible.

Notes

  1. See, for example, "Glencoe's Manual of Fuzz" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 10, No. 2, and give special attention to the section that begins with the subheading "Selling 'Dream Jeans.' " Then see "Keeping an Eye on the Scams, Shams and Swindles" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 10, No. 3. [return to text]

  2. See, for example, "Leading Students into the Clutches of Quacks" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 5, No. 3, and "How a Glencoe 'Health' Textbook Promotes Psycho-Quackery" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 5, No. 6. [return to text]

  3. See, for example, "Chief Thunderbottom, the Panderer's Friend" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 5, No. 5, and "More Fake 'History' from Glencoe" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 10, No. 4. [return to text]

  4. See "The Kwanzaa Hoax" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 4. This article deals with the promotion of the Kwanzaa hoax in a high-school "history" book published by Prentice Hall. [return to text]

  5. See Mansuri's letter (dated 12 October 2001) that was published in Religion & Education, Vol. 28, No. 2. After reading that letter, I sent to Mansuri (on 24 December 2001) a written request for a list of all the history textbooks and social-studies textbooks, published since 1990, that had benefited from the CIE's "consulting." I also requested a list of all the "classroom materials" that the CIE had developed. I repeated these requests, in e-mail correspondence, while Mansuri and one of his assistants dodged and ducked them. At the end of March 2002, I abandoned my effort. Mansuri was obviously unwilling to provide the lists that I had sought. [return to text]

  6. Ravitch's book deserves to be read, in full, by everyone who cares about the ongoing corruption of public education in America. I have quoted from the paperback edition, issued in 2004 by the Vintage Books unit of Knopf Publishing. [return to text]

  7. See "The Amistad Case" on the Web site of the School of Law of the University of Missouri at Kansas City: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMI_ACT.HTM. [return to text]

  8. This is quite obvious, if only because the diagram fails to provide any maneuvering space for the officers or crewmen who (on any real slaver) would have had to descend into the hold, carry out inspection and maintenance tasks, and manage the slaves. That the arrangement shown in the diagram is imaginary has been noted in various scholarly books. See, for example, what John Reader says in Africa: A Biography of the Continent, published in 1998 by Alfred A. Knopf. [return to text]

  9. I suspect that the brainless use of the Brookes diagram (and derivatives thereof) in trashy schoolbooks has done much to sustain two common misconceptions -- viz., that slaves invariably were tight-packed when they were transported across the Atlantic, and that tight packing promoted mortality. In truth, some captains used tight packing but other captains did not; and analyses of ships' records have consistently failed to disclose any correlation between crowding and mortality. Among the documented correlates of mortality, the most important was time at sea: The longer the duration of a voyage, the greater the loss of slaves. See chapter XII in James A. Rawley's book The Transatlantic Slave Trade (published in 1981 by W.W. Norton & Company). [return to text]

  10. See "Schoolbooks Teach Falsehoods and Feel-Good Myths About the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 12, No.1. [return to text]

  11. The review, titled A Critical Analysis, is available on the JCRC's Web site. Go to http://www.jcrc.org/israel/tci.htm -- then click on the phrase "Read the Entire Report" at the bottom of the page. [return to text]

  12. http://www.ing.org/speakers/subpage.asp?num=2&pagenum=1 [return to text]

  13. See the article "history" in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. [return to text]

  14. I am aware that, even today, the word history may be used playfully in the title of a piece of writing that is patently fictitious. This usage is irrelevant to our discussion. An author may call his novel The Curious History of Brenda and Her Yodeling Goldfish, but no one imagines that a novel is an account of real events, or that the author is holding it forth as an account of real events. [return to text]

  15. The publications are:

    The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book, a collection of scholarly articles, edited by Ibn Warraq, that was published in 1998 by Prometheus Books (Amherst, New York);

    The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, another collection of scholarly articles, edited by Ibn Warraq, that was published by Prometheus Books in 2000;

    Toby Lester's article "What Is the Koran?" in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1999;

    Alexander Stille's article "Radical New Views of Islam and the Origins of the Koran" in The New York Times, 2 March 2002.     [return to text]

  16. Muslim pressure groups seem generally to favor "Makkah" as an alternative spelling of Mecca. This is harmless, unless it is used for deliberately creating confusion. [return to text]

  17. For a summary, consult "Appendix II. -- The Bayt Ullah" in Volume 2 of Richard F. Burton's renowned Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah, first published in 1855. [return to text]

  18. See Part 8 of this report for comments on the TCI writers' strident and absurd use of the datemark "C.E." [return to text]

  19. " 'Isa, the Muslim Jesus," by Mark Durie. [return to text]

  20. This Muslim metamyth is comparable to the notion, held by many Christians, that the New Testament contains a story in which three kings bring gifts to the infant Jesus. That too is a metamyth. The New Testament has no such tale. [return to text]

  21. See, for example, Alexander Stille's article that is cited in note 15, above. Here is how Stille summarizes scholarly information about the advent of the Koran:

    [S]cholars agree that there is no evidence of the Koran until 691 -- 59 years after Muhammad's death -- when the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem was built, carrying several Koranic inscriptions.

    These inscriptions differ to some degree from the version of the Koran that has been handed down through the centuries, suggesting, scholars say, that the Koran may have still been evolving in the last decade of the seventh century. [return to text]

  22. In 732, at Tours, a Christian army defeated a Muslim army and scotched the Muslims' advance into Europe. [return to text]

  23. I must note that TCI's writers don't even know what evolution means. In a box near their text about al-Jahiz, they define evolution as "the process by which different kinds of animals and other living things develop." Ugh! Wrong! [return to text]

  24. See "Joy Hakim Should Not Write About the History of Europe" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 12, No. 1. [return to text]

  25. See "Page for Page, This Is the Most Malignant Product That I've Seen During All My Years as a Reviewer" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 4. [return to text]

  26. I chose Lobdell to be the primary recipient of my message because I already had corresponded with him to obtain copies of the four History Alive! schoolbooks. [return to text]

  27. See the brief account of Isa in Part 4 of this report. [return to text]

  28. "C.E.," "Common Era," "B.C.E." and "Before the Common Era" embody a specific hostility toward Christianity and a Christian deity, and this hostility seems to be unique. As far as I am aware, no one is striving to abolish and replace the English names for the months of the year or the days of the week, even though many of those names commemorate ancient Roman or ancient Germanic deities. I wonder: Do the people who promote "Common Era" and "Before the Common Era" also have a humbug-name for the Gregorian calendar? They surely cannot tolerate its real name, because that name commemorates Pope Gregory XIII. Nor, I suppose, can they tolerate geographical names like Christmas Island and Easter Island -- geographical names that reflect Christian chronometry. [return to text]

  29. Information about the teacher-indoctrination operations conducted by some Muslim pressure groups appears in Sandra Stotsky's fine report The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America's History Teachers. This document was issued in April 2004 by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (Washington, D.C.). It is available on the Foundation's Web site. [return to text]

  30. See "An Islamic Agency's Endorsement of TCI Products" in Part 2 of this report. The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona identifies itself as an affiliate of the Islamic Networks Group on this Web page: http://www.isb-az.org. [return to text]

  31. Their stonewalling is well documented by e-mail messages. Copies of those messages have been furnished to me by Janie White. [return to text]

  32. Recall from my analysis of chapter 8 of the TCI textbook: Muslim propagandists who operate in America invariably put forth distorted claims that link Islam with Jesus of Nazareth. [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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