World History

In 2013 parents of Volusia County, Florida, protested about pro-Islamic bias in their children’s textbook, World History. An examination of the text shows good reason to be concerned:

Chapter 10 Section 1 The Rise of Islam.

In an earlier section about the Rise of Christianity it is explained why Jesus came to be known by the honorific Christ but he is only ever referred to as Jesus. In contrast the text refers to Mohammed as the Prophet. The capitalisation normally indicates acceptance by Muslims of his divine mission. When non-Muslims use the honorific it reflects a deference to an alien religious figure not accorded here to the religious figure whose tradition underpins Western civilisation.

Or perhaps the section was actually written by a Muslim. The presentation certainly accords with the practice, commonly found in works of Islamic apologists, of accentuating positive and avoiding negative aspects of Islam to coincide with Western sensibilities. Here are some examples from the text with accompanying comments:

p.265 The primary source chosen for this section is sura 96 verses 1:5, chronologically the first verses of the Koran:

“Proclaim! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher who created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And thy lord is most bountiful. He who taught (the use of) the pen taught man that which he knew not.”

with the question posed “What kind of teaching does the phrase ‘the use of the pen’ refer to?”

Probably of more interest to pupils would be the puzzling phrase “who created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood”. Elsewhere Allah declares that man was created from water (25:54), clay (15:26) dust (30:20) and nothing at all (3:47). Would it be Islamophobic to inform children that Allah knows less science than they do?

p.265 “In Medina, Muhammed displayed impressive leadership skills.”

Indeed. He so impressed two local tribes (the Banu Aus and the Banu Khazraj) that they pledged themselves “to war in complete obedience to Muhammad no matter how evil the circumstances”. They enabled his rise to power by means of caravan raiding, assassination of opponents and then tribal warfare and genocide.

p.265 “He fashioned an agreement that joined his own people with the Arabs and Jews of Medina as a single community.”

Yet within five years Mohammed had exiled, slaughtered or sold into slavery all the Jews in the Medina area.

p.265. “Finally, Muhammed became a military leader.”

Almost as an afterthought it seems.

p.265 “However, he had taken great strides towards unifying the entire Arabian peninsula under Islam.”

That is, under the sword of Islam.

p.267 “Muhammed taught that all Muslims have a responsibility to support the less fortunate. Muslims meet that social responsibility by giving alms, or money for the poor, through a special religious tax.”

The religious tax for Muslims is called zakat and the destitute and the poor comprise two of the eight categories of allowable recipients. But not any poor and destitute as the text implies, only Muslims.

(The other categories are the zakat collectors, weakly committed Muslims or recent converts, slaves wishing to purchase their freedom, those in debt, those conducting jihad (and not the kind involving inner struggle) and travellers in need.)

See the Reliance of the Traveller section h8 for details.

p.268 “Shari’a law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews.”

And also to Zoroastrians but not to any other religious group, and the tolerance is of a very restricted kind. The dhimma (people of the book under the control of the Muslim state) must pay a special tax, the jizya, and live under humiliating conditions intended to “encourage” conversion. If the conditions are not met then the non-Muslim is subject to execution, slavery, release or ransoming at the discretion of the Caliph.

See the Reliance of the Traveller section o11 for details.

Chapter 10 Section 2 Islam Expands.

p.269 “When Muhammed died in 632, the community faced a crisis. Muslims, inspired by the message of Allah, believed they had a duty to carry his word to the world.”

And impose it.

p.269 “The word jihad means striving and can refer to the inner struggle against evil. However the word is also used in the Qur’an to mean an armed struggle against unbelievers.”

The word jihad is overwhelmingly used in the Koran and the Hadiths to mean armed struggle, both defensive and offensive, against unbelievers.

The concept of inner struggle, known as the greater jihad, has become widely disseminated and is regularly used by Islamic apologists to improve Islam’s image, and by non-Muslims to avoid confronting the disturbing reality. However, it is a later idea originating in a hadith, generally regarded as weak or fabricated, from the 11th century.

This is what Professor David Cook has to say on the subject in his book Understanding Jihad:

“In reading Muslim literature — both contemporary and classical — one can see that the evidence for the primacy of spiritual jihad is negligible. Today it is certain that no Muslim, writing in a non-Western language (such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu), would ever make claims that jihad is primarily nonviolent or has been superseded by the spiritual jihad. Such claims are made solely by Western scholars, primarily those who study Sufism and/or work in interfaith dialogue, and by Muslim apologists who are trying to present Islam in the most innocuous manner possible.”

p.269 “For the next two years, Abu-Bakr applied this meaning of jihad to encourage and justify the expansion of Islam.”

Encouraging and justifying are very mild terms for what Abu-Bakr, Mohammed’s successor and the first Caliph, did after Mohammed’s death. First he fought a bloody campaign, known as the Ridda or Apostasy Wars, to suppress Arabian tribes who regarded their loyalty to Mohammed as coming to an end with his death.

(Today a similar campaign of forced submission to what looks like an authentic interpretation of Mohammed’s original Islam is being waged in Syria by ISIS. It is not coincidental that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took the name of the first Caliph.)

It was only after the successful consolidation of Islam in Arabia that Abu-Bakr turned his attention to the expansion of Islam. He dispatched his general Khalid ibn al-Walid to attack the Sassanid Empire to the North. Khalid encouraged the Sassanians to accept Islam with the following letter:

“Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizya (tax), and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life”.

p.269 “They fought to defend Islam and were willing to struggle to extend its word.”

Or to put it more accurately, “They fought to defend Islam and were willing to fight to extend its word.”

p.270 “The persecuted people often welcomed the invaders…”

And often they didn’t, as described here by John of Nikiu at the fall of Alexandria in 641 AD. “None could recount the mourning and lamentation which took place in that city….And they had none to help them, and God destroyed their hopes and delivered the Christians into the hands of their enemies.”

p.270 “Because the Qur’an forbade forced conversion…

This is one interpretation of 2:256 (“There is no compulsion in religion…”) which is often used to defend Islam from the charge of being intolerant and authoritarian, but the issue is far from clear. At the very least there was plenty of encouragement to accept Mohammed’s Islam in the form of threats of death or subjugation in this life and eternal torture in the next.

p.270 “Tolerance like this continued after the Muslim state was established.”

What kind of tolerance is it really that offers a three-fold choice “Convert, pay a special tax and live under humiliating conditions or die”?

Chapter 10 Section 3 Muslim Culture

Section 3 expands on the greatly exaggerated, and sometimes mythical, cultural achievements of Muslim societies in the so called Golden Age. See HERE for details.


Was ever anything more talked about and less known? There are several schools of Sharia, largely in agreement with each other since they are all based on the same scriptures. The most easily accessible version to English speakers is that of the Shafi’i school due to the modern translation of its manual of Islamic jurisprudence known as the “Reliance of the Traveller”.

Section O is of most direct concern to non-Muslims with its subsections on Apostasy, Jihad, the Dhimma (ie subjugated unbelievers) and the Caliphate.

It appears and disappears on the internet because of copyright issues but currently the quickest loading version is to be found HERE.

It would be suitable for older children.

At the same time they might usefully be told about the European Court of Human Rights case in which the court found that “Sharia was incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy….It considered that sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable. Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no place in it”.