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,Â 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 explainedÂ 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 claimsÂ 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.Â DawahÂ is Islamic proselytizing, and it takes many forms. InÂ Methodology of DawahÂ 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:
- The main reading is from Carl Ernst’sÂ 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.Â
- 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 curriculumÂ quotesÂ 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 inÂ dealingÂ 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.”
- Readings for the session entitled “Muhammad through History” includeCelebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim PoetryÂ andThe Miraculous Journey of Mahomet.Â 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 theÂ mi’raj,reaching Europe through the Arab courts in medieval Spain, inspired the Italian writer Dante to compose his famous work,Â The Divine Comedy.” No mention is made of how Dante placed Muhammad in hell as a false prophet.
- 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,Â 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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. SeeÂ hereÂ 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 paidÂ 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.
- The readings for this session again include Carl Ernst’sÂ Following Muhammad, as well as John Esposito’sÂ The Straight Path.Â 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.
- 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 yourselfÂ here.