World History, Re-Written

Some people are getting very upset over a chapter in a Florida world history book, dedicated to the history of Muslim civilization. Within the chapter, the religion that altered the landscape during that time period, fundamentally changing the social structures, is described in detail.

Some of these people claim they are upset merely because the book does not also teach other religions in such detail, but I suspect the vast majority of them are really upset because, in their minds they have an embedded bias against Islam. 

If you take a look at the contents you will see that there is in fact a section dedicated to the rise of Christianity and also many civilizations that were Christian, such as Byzantium. Below, I highlighted two chapters:

world history textbook contents

I want to allow everyone to test whether or not they have a bias, so I have taken the text from the workbook associated with the textbook, and translated all the Arabic words. I’m not defending the book itself, I actually found certain claims to be incorrect. I have edited those as well. Let me know if you still find this offensive:

The religion of “Surrender to God”, whose followers are called “Those Who Surrender to God”, emerged in a desert central to many continental trade routes. There, in A.D. 570, A man was born, whose name means “praised”. He was born in a trading and religious center. The prevailing religion of that region at the time was the worship of more than 300 idols carved from stone and wood, housed in his city.  

This man worked among nomadic herders. Later, he became a successful merchant and accepted the marriage proposal of the owner of his trade company, a 40 year old, well respected and beautiful woman, when he was 25. He was known for his honesty in business and devotion to his wife and their four daughters. He often meditated on the moral ills of his society, including greed. According to tradition, he became a prophet at 40 when he was asked by an angel to become God’s messenger. When he began teaching, a few listened, but others opposed him with threats and persecution. In 622, he and his followers fled their home for another town who welcomed them, on a journey called the migration. In this new city, thousands adopted “Surrender to God” as their way of life and formed strong, peaceful communities. When the leaders they had fled from, grew more hostile and came to their peaceful city militarily equipped for war, the young city of “Those Who Surrender to God” defeated them in battle. The prophet returned to his home town in 630, and declared forgiveness and freedom for the people who had previously oppressed, tortured him and killed many of his followers. He died in 632. The sacred text of “Surrender to God” is called “the Recitation”, believed to be the direct word of God as told to the prophet. All people who Surrender to God and believe in this prophet study it to learn about God’s will and living a good life.

They believe that priests are not necessary to mediate between people and God. They pray in congregation five times every day. They follow the Five Pillars of Surrender to God, which are the following duties: 1. declaring faith (That there is nothing worthy of worship except God and belief in all God’s prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Jesus and the last one, whose name means “Praised”, 2. praying five times daily, 3. giving charity to the poor, 4. fasting during their holy month, and 5. making the pilgrimage to the prophet’s city where the first house of worship to God was built by Abraham, if a person is able.

Because Jews and Christians worship the same God and study what are considered God’s earlier revelations, “Those Who Surrender to God” call them “People of the Book.” In most cases, they have been allowed religious freedom in societies ruled by “Those Who Surrender to God”.

The “Path to Water” is a body of laws that interprets the Recitation and applies religious principles to legal situations. According to the Recitation, women are spiritually equal to men. Infanticide, which the people previously committed, killing female babies out of shame, was treated as a heinous crime and the prophet taught his followers that the best of them were the ones who treated women best with kindness.

That is the actual text I have edited to reflect the meanings of the Arabic words originally included. Do you think if all the words had been translated in the textbook, or if it had been a different religion that changed the fabric of a region so dramatically, that so many people would be outraged and protesting as they have been when they see the words Islam and Muslims? Let me know what you think.

Take a look at the book for yourself, here:


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