"The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness." Perry/Khan curriculum.
Have you seen supposed "counter jihad" sites giving the Perry/Aga Khan propaganda curriculum an A+? Huh? Did they even bother to read that garbage? it is strangley disquieting to see these "fighters' fight for the Islamic propaganda of unabashed Islamic supremacists. If they are down with this, what exactly is it that they are they fighting? Do they know how stupid they look?
Atlas reader Dave writes:
Thank you for calling attention to Perry's cozy relationship with the Aga Khan. I have personally reviewed the curriculum developed as a joint project between Gov. Perry and "his highness," and discovered that it is indeed a shocking example of Islamic propaganda forced upon unsuspecting students attending Texas public schools. It's appalling. To put it in a nutshell, the Islamic perspective of history has been inserted without critique into Texas classrooms. Please adapt my findings as you see fit and share them with your readers.
You have to read the Texas school curriculum for yourself to believe it. Below the bullet list is information taken directly from the SAN ANTONIO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT's own website (http://www.saisd.net/admin/curric/sstudies/mhcp/mhcproject.html ). In it, you will find the following (highlighted):
- High praise for Gov. Perry's collaboration with the Aga Khan, leaving no question about Perry's complicity and active support.
- A thorough whitewashing of the nature and history of Islam that ignores Islam's bloody history while simultaneously portraying the Crusades as a bloody assault on Islamic soil by Christians.
It's enough to make you want to scream: While Islam "spreads" and "extends," presumably in the same way that dew forms on flower petals, Crusaders "wrest political control of the Holy Land form Muslim rulers, damaging the positive relations that had previously existed." Nowhere is it mentioned that the Crusades were prompted by two crises: (1) the ruthless treatment of Christian pilgrims attempting to see Jerusalem, which was under Muslim control, and (2) Byzantine Emperor Alexius's plea for European knights to help him take back territory that had just been overrun by an invasion of Muslim Turks.
- A presentation of the Koran and Muhammad that can only be described as open proselytization for Islam in public schools.
- An idealized portrayal of Cordoba's "multicultural" society that minimizes the oppression and political upheaval that took place under Muslim misrule, which largely brought on its own demise through infighting similar to what we see in the Islamic world today.
- A bizarrely twisted portrayal of the Islamic world that blames Islam's repression of women on Western Colonialism. (OWWW! MY BRAIN HURTS!!!)
- A naked advertisement for the Aga Khan and the Ismaili sect of Islam. This is particularly dangerous because the Ismailis are a sect of only about 20 - 30 million people -- approximately 2% of the entire Muslim population and therefore not representative of Islam as a whole. Also, while the Ismailis may portray themselves as relatively modern, they still have an anti-Western historical narrative that portrays the West as colonialist while ignoring Islam's own bloody form of colonialism. In making overtures to build bridges with one small Islamic sect, Gov. Perry has replaced the Western narrative of history with the narrative of 1.5 billion Muslims who see the West as the enemy. AND YES, THEY REALLY DO SEE THE WEST AS THE ENEMY, as this curriculum makes clear.
I'm willing to grant Gov. Perry the benefit of the doubt and believe that his actions are the product of naiveté and ignorance, rather than actual hostility to the West. However, his ignorance is inexcusable, and the damage he has done is immense. If Barack Obama had imposed such a curriculum on schools we'd be calling for his impeachment. Therefore it is unconscionable to look the other way when it comes to Perry. In my opinion, not only should Perry not be President, he should be impeached from the Texas governorship.
Thanks again; you were right!Dave
Muslim Histories and Culture Project
What is the Muslim Histories and Culture Project (MHCP)?
The Muslim Histories and Cultures Project was born out of discussions between His Highness The Aga Khan and Texas Governor Rick Perry during the Summer 2002, when The Aga Khan was in Houston for the dedication of a new Ismaili Center. Both His Highness and Governor Perry agreed on the need for Texans to have a greater understanding of Islamic culture, and subsequently brought UT-Austin President Larry Faulkner into the discussions. Located in the state capital, Faulkner’s campus is well positioned to accomplish these goals. A series of meetings followed, with the project ultimately finding a home in UT-Austin’s College of Liberal Arts, under the guidance of Dean Richard W. Lariviere, in association with UT Liberal Arts (UT-LA), the college’s teacher preparation program.
In April 2004, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and UT-Austin finalized a grant proposal that created the partnership that became known as the Muslim Histories and Cultures Program (MHC). Much has happened since the inception of the partnership. Creation and implementation of a model was of prime importance. MHC recruited and directly trained 80 teachers affecting approximately 15,150 students of World History and World Geography in ten key Texas districts during the two sessions conducted in 2005 and 2006. The purpose is two-fold 1) to fulfill Governor Rick Perry's desire to better educate Texas teachers on Muslim topics and 2) to train teachers to use a cultural lens approach to understanding other cultures. Governor Perry was instrumental in getting this program off the ground.
Session 1: Sources of Tradition
The readings from Following Muhammad also examine the Sources of the Islamic tradition, providing a brief overview of the crucial role that Muhammad as Prophet of Islam and the Qur’an, as scripture of Islam, play in defining Muslim religious, social and political consciousness. We will explore each of these sources in greater detail in Sessions Two, Three and Four. The second set of readings, from Historical Atlas of Islam, after a brief summary of foundational beliefs and practices, survey the historical expansion of Arab Muslim imperial rule beyond the Arabian peninsula, covering the period between 600 to 1100 CE. Maps illustrate how the Islamic faith began in the Arabic world but spread to other areas where local culture, geography, language and ethnicity influenced beliefs and practices. The establishment of Arab rule in the Middle East led to the development of trade routes that were controlled by Muslim merchants, bringing in much wealth to the rapidly growing empires. With political and economic expansion, the Arabic language evolved into an international language of administration, culture, learning and commerce. As Arab power extended over more areas in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, non Arab traditions, particularly the Persian and the Greco-Roman, were integrated. The result was a cosmopolitan civilization in which Arabic culture played an important part but in which also participated many different ethnic and religious groups. The historical survey concludes with a brief discussion of the Crusades and the attempts by knights from the Christian kingdoms of the Latin West (including England, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and France) to wrest political control of the Holy Land from Muslim rulers, damaging the positive relations that had previously existed between Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Middle East.
Session 3: The Qur’an: Context & Recitation
The readings selected for Session Three illustrate the role that the Qur’an plays in the lives of Muslims as an oral/aural scripture. While Jews and Christians view their holy books as narratives of divine inspiration that are accessible through the written word, many Muslims interact with and encounter their holy book primarily through the sound of the recited text. The sound permeates every day life in Muslim majority countries as people hear the recited Qur’an in “secular” environments such as markets and shopping malls, over the radio and at a variety of public functions. As such, Muslims are more likely to hear the Qur’an rather than read it. Indeed, it has been said that the majority of the world’s Muslims encounter the Qur’an through the ear rather than the eye. Most Muslims believe that the Qur’an embodies God’s actual speech in Arabic as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel. Not surprisingly, the oral recited Qur’an is absolutely integral to the believer in incorporating a relationship with the Divine into daily life. Muslims view the beauty and perfection of the Qur’an to be manifest in the sound and imagery that the spoken word emotes in the listener. In fact, believers point to this very perfection of the text as the proof of the prophethood of Muhammad. 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.
Session 7: Rise and Reach of Muslim Civilizations
The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness. By the time of his death in 632, loyalty to Muhammad and Islam also provided an important means for forging solidarity among various Arab tribes who had previously been engaged in petty rivalries and wars against each other. In the eighth and ninth centuries, this social and political solidarity, unifying Arabs, became the backbone of a new Arab empire that stretched from Spain in the west to Central Asia and northwestern India in the east. Initially in the new empire, Islam was the religion of the Arab ruling class, a badge of solidarity and superiority. 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. If non-Arabs converted to Islam, they became mawali, or clients of Arab tribes, thus acknowledging Arab superiority. Over the course of time, however, the discriminatory attitude to non-Arab converts was challenged as the religion was interpreted in much richer and inclusive ways, often tinged with strong mystical hues. Notwithstanding the Arabocentric tendencies in its early history, Arab Islamic civilization came to draw upon the institutions and cultures that already existed in the Middle East, including the rich heritage of the Byzantine-Christian and Persian Sassanian civilizations. Many nomadic Bedouin Arabs were integrated into urban communities inhabiting new cities and towns established by Arab rulers. The Arabic language was transformed into a cosmopolitan language which was used far beyond the geographic borders of Arabia as a language of administration, religion, literature and science. Professor Maria Rosa Menocal writes, “The virtue of this Arab-Islamic civilization (in this as in other things not so unlike the Roman) lay precisely in its being able to assimilate and even revive the rich gifts of earlier and indigenous cultures, some crumbling, others crumbled, even as it was itself being crafted. The range of cultural yearning and osmosis of the Islamic empire in this expansive moment was as great as its territorial ambitions: from the Roman spolia that would appear as the distinctive capitals on the columns of countless mosques to the Persian stories that would be known as The Thousand and One (or Arabian) Nights, from the corpus of translated Greek philosophical texts to the spices and silks of the farthest East. Out of this acquisitive confrontation with a universe of languages, cultures, and people, the Umayyad [Arabs], who had come pristine out of the Arabian desert, defined their version of Islam as one that loved its dialogues with other traditions.” (The Ornament of the World, pp. 21-22)
The pluralistic nature of early Islamic civilization was well reflected in the various cultures and traditions represented in the great cities that were built by Muslim rulers and dynasties. Muslim cities such as Cairo, Timbuktu, and Fatehpur Sikri were characterized by plurality which was evident not just in their religious landscapes but also in the arts and the sciences they sponsored. The readings in this Session examine Arab Islamic civilization as it developed in two urban contexts: Baghdad and Cordoba. Founded in 762 by Abu Jafar al-Mansur as the capital of the Abbasid empire, the city of Baghdad was originally called Madinat as-Salaam, the City of Peace. The city reached the apex of its power and reputation in the ninth century when, under the rule of the caliphs al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid, it became one of most important economic, political and cultural capitals of the world. One of the highpoints in Baghdad’s intellectual life was the Bait al-Hikmah, “The House of Wisdom,” founded by the Caliph Maimun in 830. This institution housed hundreds of manuscripts in Greek, Persian, Sanskrit and Syriac many of which translated into Arabic. In some instances, the original texts of important classical works such as Galen’s Anatomical Procedures have since been lost and only the Arabic translation survives. Arab scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, affiliated to this institution did not merely translate works of Western classical antiquity but provided significantly new and original ideas of their own. When the scholarly treatises of these Arab scholars were translated into Latin in the twelfth century they became the basis of a renaissance in Europe, specifically in Arab Spain or al-Andalus.
The city of Cordoba, known as the “bride of al-Andalus,” was first made into the administrative, political, military and cultural capital of Arab Spain by the Umayyad ruler Abd al-Rahman I in 756. By the first half of the tenth century, in the reign of Abd al-Rahman III (d.956), its inhabitants numbered half a million including Muslims, Christians and a considerable number of Jews. Although the vast majority of its population was of Spanish origin, a number of Berbers from North Africa lived there as well. In comparison to other European cities of the time, Cordoba was remarkably clean. Its streets well-paved and lighted with its residents well-supplied with water. News of the grandeur of its buildings, its markets and its vibrant cultural life spread far and wide, reaching even Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, a cloistered nun in Saxony, who called the city “the world’s ornament.” Cordoba was, above all, an intellectual center symbolized by its many libraries. As a result of the patronage of the Caliphs and the city’s economic elite, the city was home to a large group of scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, representing different fields of learning such as medicine, philosophy, geography, astronomy and mathematics. The Caliphal library, containing over 400,000 volumes, was constantly growing out of space as new books were added, so that its premises had to be moved five times. Witnesses recount that on one of these moves, it took five days to transport the books on poetry alone! Cordoba’s Caliphal library was ranked alongside the libraries of Abbasids in Baghdad and the Fatimids in Cairo as one of the three great libraries in the Muslim world.
The flowering of Cordoba and al-Andalus was made possible by the commingling of languages, religions, foods, clothing, music, songs, styles of architecture within multi-religious and multi-ethnic environment in which many people were bilingual in Arabic, Hebrew, and local Hispano-Latin dialects. Although there were periods in Cordoba’s history when religious disputes broke out between communities and non-Muslim populations, particularly Christians, suffered discrimination, yet these instances were exceptional for, overall, Cordoba’s rulers tended to tolerate religious and cultural diversity. Certainly in comparison to their European counterparts, they were exemplary in their treatment of religious minorities. Under these favorable circumstances, it is hardly surprisingly that Cordoba became the center of a brilliant Jewish renaissance promoted by the numerous Jewish intellectuals, poets and philosophers, many of whom had accepted Arabic as their language of thought and culture. Miguel Cruz Hernandez observes that “Cultural coexistence of this kind was made possible by religious and legal principles that were far-reaching in their implications even though they were often transgressed in practice. The Andalusian experience was an exceptional moment in history, probably unique in its own time and rarely matched in any other. It’s most worthy, notable and creative nature was that co-habitation and coexistence were based on religious and legal principles. Our own era, which prides itself on the liberalism and universality of its ideas, offers few examples to match it.” (Unesco Courier, December 1991)
Session 8: Religion, Politics, & Modernity: Competing Visions of Muslim Societies from the 18th & 19th Centuries
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, European economies began to expand as the need for raw materials increased. Political and economic competition forced the establishment of worldwide territorial empires. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the European powers, including Russia (and China) had completed their conquest of almost all Muslim societies. Colonialism drastically changed all aspects of the political, economic, cultural dimensions of the colonized regions. Muslim and European societies were distinctly different in their philosophies toward elites, institutions, and cultures. One of the effects of the new colonial rule was the suspension of the local legal systems and the imposition of the law of the conqueror. The establishment of the new law, however, did not impact all aspects of life in the society. Local customs still prevailed in many aspects of family life and education. Often this resulted in a more strict interpretation of Islamic law, taking away rights previously available to Muslim women.
Session 9: Islamic Modernism
In the Indian subcontinent, the Modernist movement arose in the aftermath of the Indian rebellion of 1857-8 when Hindu and Muslim sepoys (soldiers) began a movement to overthrow the power of the British. The British suppressed the rebellion with brutal force, with many Indians losing their lives and/or their property. In this traumatic context arose a Modernist leader, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), who was firmly convinced that to make progress in the context of colonial India, the best path for the Muslims to follow was that of absolute and unwavering loyalty to the British. Furthermore, he felt that Muslims should participate fully in the Western-style educational system being established by the British so that they would not become a social and economic underclass. Western thought, he believed, was not in fundamental conflict with Islam, nor was the studying the natural sciences, for there could not be a conflict between the Qur’an - the Word of God - and Nature - the Work of God. In this regard, he advocated a rational and contextual approach to Qur’an interpretation since Islam, according to him, accommodates historical change. To promote his ideas and provide young Muslims with Western-style higher education, he fought for and eventually founded the Anglo-Muhammadan Oriental College, which later became Aligarh Muslim University. Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s approach enjoyed the support of several important personalities in Indo-Muslim society and formed the basis of the so-called Aligarh Movement. Among its members were several important literati who wrote Urdu prose and poetry to disseminate their ideas. Most prominent were Altaf Husayn Hali (d. 1914) who wrote the famous poem Madd va gazr-i Islam, “The Ebb and Flow of Islam,” in which he contrasts the past glories and achievements of Islamic civilization with the miserable status of Muslims of his time; Nazir Ahmad (d. 1912) a novelist whose writings, such as Mirat al- Arus “The Bride’s Mirror,” emphasized the need for female education; and Mumtaz Ali whose major work, Huquq al-niswan, “The Rights of Women,” advocates complete equality between men and women. Perhaps the most radical of Sir Sayyid’s collaborators was Chiragh Ali (d. 1895) who not only dismissed traditional Islamic jurisprudence, but more controversially considered the genre of hadith, accounts of the Prophet’s deeds and statements, to be entirely fabricated. A significant intellectual and financial supporter of Aligarh Muslim University was Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III (1877-1957), Imam, or spiritual leader, of the Ismaili branch of the Shia Muslims. Sultan Muhammad Shah utilized his religious authority to institute a social, economic, and educational revolution among his followers that had far reaching consequences, including dramatically improving the status of Ismaili women. For instance, he declared the seclusion of women to be crime, and abolished the practice of veiling among his followers. During his lifetime, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah held several leadership positions within India’s Muslim community organizations representing their interests before the British. In an international context he represented India at the League of Nations, the predecessor to the present-day United Nations, being elected to its presidency in 1937.
More critical documents: This is the belief of Aga Khan here: THE ROLE OF CONSENSUS IN THE CONTEMPORARY STRUGGLE FOR ISLAM. Muslim Histories and Culture Project Here is the teaching site for this program.