Part II: Rick Perry & the Aga Khan; Islamic Curriculum in Texas' Schools….

By Robert Spencer

One of the oddest and most telling aspects of this Rick Perry/Aga Khan curriculum controversy is that when Pamela Geller and I started writing about the curriculum, it was scrubbed from the web. Now it has been scrubbed from the Google cache, as I notedhere. This is highly suspicious, and gives the lie to those who claim that the curriculum material was actually innocuous, or that we weren’t actually discussing the actual curriculum material, or that we were discussing curriculum material that was only used by a few Texas teachers at best. Clearly we had the right stuff, and clearly it was bad, and clearly Perry’s people knew it was bad, and that is why it is gone now.

But Pamela Geller has screenshots of it all, as well as the full text, here.

When Geller and I first started criticizing the Rick Perry/Aga Khan curriculum on Islam for Texas schools, the response was furious, and primarily focused on two claims.

First, defenders of Perry such as David Stein and Ace of the Ace of Spades blog claimed that what we had wasn’t the curriculum at all, and presented what they said was actually the curriculum. This turned out to be false, as I explained here: they were presenting one teacher’s lesson plan as the official curriculum, while what we were presenting was actually the official material, developed by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and UT-Austin in a partnership known as the Muslim Histories and Cultures Program (MHC) and proudly announcing that it was the fruit of “Governor Rick Perry’s desire to better educate Texas teachers on Muslim topics.” It also says that “Governor Perry was instrumental in getting this program off the ground.”

Neither Stein nor Ace nor any of those who have echoed their false claims have ever admitted that they were not working from the actual curriculum, and passing off as the official curriculum something that was not remotely that.

Second, as my old friend Bryan Preston claims here, many asserted that the curriculum — the real one, that we presented — wasn’t so bad anyway, or as Bryan says, “I don’t think it’s a dawah.” Preston also downplays the connection of Rick Perry to the curriculum, which I have shown in the quotes above. Dawah is Islamic proselytizing, and it takes many forms. In Methodology of Dawah by Shamim A. Siddiqi, a book that is designed to teach Muslims how to convert people to Islam, Siddiqi tells Muslims to present Islam in a “concocted or abbreviated form” and only introduce them to “the revolutionary aspect of Islam” after they convert.

Concocted = made up. Abbreviated = things are cut out. And that is just what the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum does: it presents a fantasy benign Islam, with all the violent and oppressive bits cut out. Here are some of the elements of the program that show it to be a whitewash of Islam:

Session One

  • The main reading is from Carl Ernst’s Following Muhammad, the first three chapters. This book whitewashes Muhammad, saying that he “was, by all accounts, a charismatic person known for his integrity” (p. 85). Muhammad’s exhortations to make war against unbelievers, his multiple marriages and child marriage, and other negative aspects of his biography are explained away or ignored entirely. 
  • The curriculum directs participants to “consider Carl Ernst’s statement, ‘It is safe to say that no religion has such a negative image in Western eyes as Islam.’” Then it asks them: “Why is this so? How have political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States impacted perceptions of Islam, in the past and the present? How have they impacted perceptions of the ‘West’ among Muslims?” Note that participants are guided to see the “negative image” of Islam as the result of “political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States.” No hint is given of the possibility that Islam might have a “negative image” in the West because of jihad conquests, institutionalized oppression of women and non-Muslims, and the like.
  • The curriculum quotes Edward Said, who ascribed all critical discussion of Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism to racism and neo-colonialism, as warning that one should speak of “Islams rather than Islam,” and warns that in dealing with Islam “one has entered an astoundingly complicated world.” This invocation of Islam’s complexity is frequently used to discourage those who point to the Qur’an’s violent passages and Muhammad’s exhortations to warfare as evidence of Islam’s bellicose intentions. Yet Islamic jihadists routinely refer to this material with no hesitation based on Islam’s “complexity.”

Session Two

  • Readings for the session entitled “Muhammad through History” includeCelebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Poetry andThe Miraculous Journey of Mahomet. It notes, correctly, that “for millions of Muslims around the world, the Prophet Muhammad has become the paradigm, or role model, who is worthy of being emulated.” However, there is no hint whatsoever of how Muhammad, as a model to be emulated, has inspired jihad warriors and terrorists.
  • The common Islamic apologetic claim that Islam inspired all the greatest achievements of Western Judeo-Christian civilization appears in the assertion that “there is strong evidence to suggest that Muslim poetic accounts of the mi’raj,reaching Europe through the Arab courts in medieval Spain, inspired the Italian writer Dante to compose his famous work, The Divine Comedy.” No mention is made of how Dante placed Muhammad in hell as a false prophet.

Session Three

  • This session on the Qur’an makes no mention whatsoever of the elements of the Qur’an that exhort Muslims to hate unbelievers and make war against them (98:6; 48:29; 47:4; 2:191; 4:89; 9:5; 9:29: 9:123; etc.) The text used is Michael Sells’sApproaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations, which doesn’t even include the sections of the Qur’an that most directly and emphatically call for violence against non-Muslims.
  • The curriculum makes sure to point out that “believers point to this very perfection of the text as the proof of the prophethood of Muhammad,” and that “for many, the notion that the Qur’an is inimitable, that is, no human could possibly have produced anything so perfect, proves that it had to be God who revealed this message to Muhammad.” But it makes no mention of the text’s designation of non-believers as “the most vile of created beings” (98:6), the warlike passages noted above; its call to beat disobedient women (4:34) and the like.

Session Four

  • This second session on the Qur’an tells participants to “discuss the role of the Qur’an in providing direction for an ethical life.” Here again, no mention is made of the ways in which Islamic jihadists use the Qur’an’s teachings to justify violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers.
  • The curriculum lists eight central themes of the Qur’an. Although there are well over 100 Qur’an verses exhorting believers to jihad warfare, jihad does not make the list.

Session Five

  • This session on the Sunni/Shi’ite split and other sects in Islam fails to mention one salient point: Islamic law calls for the execution of heretics and apostates; this law has been the foundation for an extraordinary amount of bloodshed between adherents of various Muslim sects throughout history and today.

Session Six

  • This session dismisses as a “misconception” the idea that “Islam forbids music and representational art.” It does not explain why so many Muslims, including the Taliban who destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, came to hold this “misconception.”

Session Seven

  • Participants are asked, “What conditions in Baghdad encouraged such a vast array of discoveries and inventions?” But the readings give no hint of the fact that Jews and Christians in Baghdad actually accounted for the great majority of these inventions. See here for a full explanation.
  • Participants are also asked: “Why was there such an abundance of inventions and discoveries attributed to Muslims in Medieval times but not today?” This question guides students toward a discussion of the trumped-up and manipulative modern concept of “Islamophobia.”
  • The curriculum states: “The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness.” Again, no mention is made of Muhammad’s exhortations to hate and violence, his child marriage (which many Muslims consider exemplary behavior and imitate it), and the like.
  • The curriculum states: “Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, who were subjects of new Arab rulers, could maintain their religious practices provided they paid jizya, a tax in tribute in lieu of military service.” It gives no hint of the institutionalized discrimination and humiliation that this dhimmi status involved.
  • The curriculum quotes Maria Rosa Menocal, the modern scholar most responsible for the myth of a tolerant, pluralistic Muslim Spain. It also discusses this tolerant Muslim Spain as a fact. In reality, however, Jews and Christians had a humiliating second-class status in Muslim Spain. When one Muslim ruler appointed a Jew as a local governor in Granada in 1066, the Muslims rioted and murdered four thousand Jews. The curriculum doesn’t mention any of that.

Session Eight

  • The readings for this session again include Carl Ernst’s Following Muhammad, as well as John Esposito’s The Straight Path. Both are highly apologetic, one-sided works that give the reader little idea why Muslims would wage jihad or commit violence in the name of Islam. No works of other perspectives are included.
  • The curriculum blames the restriction of rights of Muslim women on European colonialism, ignoring the many Islamic texts and teachings that restrict women’s rights.

Session Nine

  • The participants are again directed to read Carl Ernst and John Esposito, as well as another modern-day non-Muslim Islamic apologist, Charles Kurzman. No works of differing perspectives are presented.

Don’t believe me? Fine. Examine the material for yourself here.

2 thoughts on “Part II: Rick Perry & the Aga Khan; Islamic Curriculum in Texas' Schools….”

  1. Geller: The Real Perry/Aga Khan Curriculum Is Bad For Children

    In “The Real Perry/Aga Khan Curriculum Is Bad For Children” in The American Thinker today, Pamela Geller exposes more misinformation about the Rick Perry/Aga Khan curriculum in Texas — about which all too many ill-advised and/or agenda-driven people in the blogosphere continue to repeat the false claims of David Stein, who misrepresented one individual teacher’s lesson plan as the actual official curriculum:

    Last weekend the Thinker ran an article by Amil Imani and a blog by Andrew Bostom, both of which gave a stamp of approval to Rick Perry’s public-school Islamic school curriculum. The only problem was that both Imani and Bostom were presenting a false argument. Neither Imani nor Bostom was actually evaluating the curriculum at all; rather, they were praising one individual teacher’s lesson plan, not the actual curriculum. Thus Imani and Bostom were basing their entire argument about the curriculum upon an incorrect assumption. Stupefying.
    The actual curriculum has been scrubbed entirely from the web after I first exposed it a couple of weeks back; not only has it been taken down, but the Google cache has been scrubbed as well. Clearly the Perry camp are embarrassed by the curriculum, or they wouldn’t have resorted to this drastic measure to cover it up. They know what the real curriculum is, and they reveal that knowledge by this action.

    Here are some of the elements of the program that show it to be a whitewash of Islam:

    Session One

    The main reading is from Carl Ernst’s Following Muhammad, the first three chapters. This book whitewashes Muhammad, saying that he “was, by all accounts, a charismatic person known for his integrity” (p. 85). Muhammad’s exhortations to make war against unbelievers, his multiple marriages and child marriage, and other negative aspects of his biography are explained away or ignored entirely.
    The curriculum directs participants to “consider Carl Ernst’s statement, ‘It is safe to say that no religion has such a negative image in Western eyes as Islam.'” Then it asks them: “Why is this so? How have political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States impacted perceptions of Islam, in the past and the present? How have they impacted perceptions of the ‘West’ among Muslims?” Note that participants are guided to see the “negative image” of Islam as the result of “political and economic relationships between the Middle East and Western Europe and the United States.” No hint is given of the possibility that Islam might have a “negative image” in the West because of jihad conquests, institutionalized oppression of women and non-Muslims, and the like.
    The curriculum quotes Edward Said, who ascribed all critical discussion of Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism to racism and neo-colonialism, as warning that one should speak of “Islams rather than Islam,” and warns that in dealing with Islam “one has entered an astoundingly complicated world.” This invocation of Islam’s complexity is frequently used to discourage those who point to the Qur’an’s violent passages and Muhammad’s exhortations to warfare as evidence of Islam’s bellicose intentions. Yet Islamic jihadists routinely refer to this material with no hesitation based on Islam’s “complexity.”

    Session Two

    Readings for the session entitled “Muhammad through History” include Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Poetry and The Miraculous Journey of Mahomet. It notes, correctly, that “for millions of Muslims around the world, the Prophet Muhammad has become the paradigm, or role model, who is worthy of being emulated.” However, there is no hint whatsoever of how Muhammad, as a model to be emulated, has inspired jihad warriors and terrorists.
    The common Islamic apologetic claim that Islam inspired all the greatest achievements of Western Judeo-Christian civilization appears in the assertion that “there is strong evidence to suggest that Muslim poetic accounts of the mi’raj, reaching Europe through the Arab courts in medieval Spain, inspired the Italian writer Dante to compose his famous work, The Divine Comedy.” No mention is made of how Dante placed Muhammad in hell as a false prophet.

    Session Three

    This session on the Qur’an makes no mention whatsoever of the elements of the Qur’an that exhort Muslims to hate unbelievers and make war against them (98:6, 48:29, 47:4, 2:191, 4:89, 9:5, 9:29, 9:123, etc.). The text used is Michael Sells’s Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations, which doesn’t even include the sections of the Qur’an that most directly and emphatically call for violence against non-Muslims.
    The curriculum makes sure to point out that “believers point to this very perfection of the text as the proof of the prophethood of Muhammad,” and that “for many, the notion that the Qur’an is inimitable, that is, no human could possibly have produced anything so perfect, proves that it had to be God who revealed this message to Muhammad.” But it makes no mention of the text’s designation of non-believers as “the most vile of created beings” (98:6), the warlike passages noted above, its call to beat disobedient women (4:34), and the like.

    Session Four

    This second session on the Qur’an tells participants to “discuss the role of the Qur’an in providing direction for an ethical life.” Here again, no mention is made of the ways in which Islamic jihadists use the Qur’an’s teachings to justify violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers.
    The curriculum lists eight central themes of the Qur’an. Although there are well over 100 Qur’anic verses exhorting believers to jihad warfare, jihad does not make the list.

    Session Five

    This session on the Sunni/Shi’ite split and other sects in Islam fails to mention one salient point: Islamic law calls for the execution of heretics and apostates. This law has been the foundation for an extraordinary amount of bloodshed between adherents of various Muslim sects throughout history and today.

    Session Six

    This session dismisses as a “misconception” the idea that “Islam forbids music and representational art.” It does not explain why so many Muslims, including the Taliban who destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, came to hold this “misconception.”

    Session Seven

    Participants are asked, “What conditions in Baghdad encouraged such a vast array of discoveries and inventions?” But the readings give no hint of the fact that Jews and Christians in Baghdad actually accounted for the great majority of these inventions. See here for a full explanation.
    Participants are also asked: “Why was there such an abundance of inventions and discoveries attributed to Muslims in Medieval times but not today?” This question guides students toward a discussion of the trumped-up and manipulative modern concept of “Islamophobia.”
    The curriculum states: “The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness.” Again, no mention is made of Muhammad’s exhortations to hate and violence, his child marriage (which many Muslims consider exemplary behavior to imitate), and the like.
    The curriculum states: “Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, who were subjects of new Arab rulers, could maintain their religious practices provided they paid jizya, a tax in tribute in lieu of military service.” It gives no hint of the institutionalized discrimination and humiliation that this dhimmi status involved.
    The curriculum quotes Maria Rosa Menocal, the modern scholar most responsible for the myth of a tolerant, pluralistic Muslim Spain. It also discusses this tolerant Muslim Spain as a fact. In reality, however, Jews and Christians had a humiliating second-class status in Muslim Spain. When one Muslim ruler appointed a Jew as a local governor in Granada in 1066, the Muslims rioted and murdered four thousand Jews. The curriculum doesn’t mention any of that.

    Session Eight

    The readings for this session again include Carl Ernst’s Following Muhammad, as well as John Esposito’s The Straight Path. Both are highly apologetic, one-sided works that give the reader little idea why Muslims would wage jihad or commit violence in the name of Islam. No works of other perspectives are included.
    The curriculum blames the restriction of rights of Muslim women on European colonialism, ignoring the many Islamic texts and teachings that restrict women’s rights.

    Session Nine

    The participants are again directed to read Carl Ernst and John Esposito, as well as another modern-day non-Muslim Islamic apologist, Charles Kurzman. No works of differing perspectives are presented. […]

    I disagree that such a curriculum can do any good. Disarming our children in what will be the struggle of their generation is the strategy of the enemy. We should not assist in our own destruction. And again, Imani never reviewed the actual curriculum, which was removed from the web after I exposed it. This is a disinformation campaign waged by our own people. But I took screenshots, and the whole thing can be found here. “Governor Perry,” it says proudly, “was instrumental in getting this program off the ground.” And also: “The curriculum for this project,” it adds, “was developed at Harvard University and modified at the University of Texas at Austin”; the schoolteacher whose lesson plan Imani and Bostom relied on was just a participant in a teacher training program, not a developer of the curriculum. […]

    Would Amil Imani or Andrew Bostom enthusiastically support the actual Perry/Aga Khan curriculum being taught to their kids?

    Read it all.

  2. Rick Perry: Completely unfit to be president

    Rick Perry is woefully unfit to be president of the United States, but not because he couldn’t remember a key element of his own program during Wednesday night’s debate, or because he gave a speech while apparently drunk. Rick Perry is woefully unfit to be president of the United States because he is a tool of Grover Norquist, the man who may be more responsible than anyone else for enabling Muslim Brotherhood access to the highest levels of power in the U.S.

    While it is hard for any Republican candidate to avoid Norquist altogether, so all-pervasive is his influence and power, Norquist is clearly much closer to Perry than to other candidates. As I wrote here, “Perry and Grover Norquist held a joint press conference in March 2011. Perry appeared at a fund-raiser for Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group. Also, Norquist actively campaigned for Perry back in 2009. Their association is longstanding: Perry was investigated by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2004 for allegations that the Governor illegally used campaign money to finance a trip to Bahamas; the point here is not the allegations, but the fact that along on the Bahamas trip at his own expense was Grover Norquist. Perry and Norquist are clearly not just casual acquaintances.”

    Which other candidates have fundraised for Norquist? Which have vacationed with him?

    Then there is the whole business of the Perry/Aga Khan curriculum on Islam for Texas schools, a complete whitewash of Islam and jihad that was initiated and officially sanctioned by Perry himself. The Perry campaign obviously realized how damaging the curriculum could have been to their man’s chances, and so deleted it not only from the web but also from the Google cache, while Perry’s attack dogs on the web energetically spread misinformation and disinformation about the curriculum, while smearing those who called attention to the problems with it.

    The Perry love affair was a comedy of idiocy. Some of the stalwart voices who had initially sounded the alarm about Norquist suddenly discovered that hey, an association with Grover really isn’t that bad a thing, and everybody does it, so what’s the big deal? Others who profess to be anti-Sharia decided that Perry’s sponsoring a whitewashed Islam curriculum was just fine, since his partner in doing so was the Aga Khan, a “moderate.” Some conservative bloggers, including erstwhile friends and allies, responded to Perry’s candidacy with cult-like devotion, asking me to delink them and denouncing me because I dared question their god. One anti-jihad writer of some reputation for honesty about the reality of jihadist teachings and tendencies across the various Islamic sects suddenly discovered an obscure historian from the 1930s whose statements supposedly proved that the misleading and politically correct Perry Islamic curriculum for Texas schools was perfectly fine. Websites with a reputation for intellectual and journalistic rigor uncritically repeated to large audiences the falsehoods that were being spread about the curriculum.

    How’s your boy doing now, fellows?

    Anyway, it all worked out in the end. Rick Perry will probably never be president. And if his campaign does revive and he surges again in the polls, I hope that his followers will behave with more integrity. But I won’t be holding my breath.

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