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Unbelievable denials by Houghton Mifflin as they ask the question and answer themselves about inducting children to Islam in their textbook. Below are highlights of our response. (very detailed version here).   HM questions and answers are shown as Q or A; Comments are BlessedCause (BC) 

5/5/03 update: Houghton Mifflin has rewritten their questions and answers in response to this rebuttal, but retained the previous date, again creating deception. For our current response to THOSE denials, click here.  

6.  HM’s Q: Was the Council on Islamic Education (CIE) involved in reviewing this textbook?

HM’s A: The CIE, as well as the Hadassah Academic Advisory Board, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and the Christian Educators Association International, were all involved in reviewing the textbook prior to publishing. 

BC CommentChristian Educators DENIES having reviewed "Across the Centuries."  Mr. Turpen, Director of CEAI wrote me the following regarding this issue on June 13, 2002: 

"I agree with you that the response from HM implies that we reviewed the books in the series in total.  That isn't the case at all as we focused only our attention on the Christian perspectives that were written and did not look at or compare the other content of the texts...In essence we did no evaluation of the other religions addressed in any of the textbooks of the HM series."( full letter )

Hadassah, one of the most highly esteemed Jewish sites in America, was also listed by Houghton Mifflin's response in what I consider an implied endorsement.  Hadassah has given me this statement to post:  "Hadassah made a very limited review of only those pages of the manuscript that concerned Judaism, but many of its comments, suggestions and corrections were not incorporated in the textbook. Neither Hadassah nor Dr. Sandra Alfonsi endorse the book."

I have discovered that the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center is very connected with the Council of Islamic Education in that both websites refer to each others with positive commendations.  Additionally, Freedom Forum has teamed up with the Council of Islamic Education to write "Teaching about Religion in National and State Social Studies Standards."   For a closer look click here

7.  HM’s Q:  Did the CIE or any other religious group contribute to the writing of either “A Message of Ancient Days” or “Across the Centuries”?

HM’s A:   No, the scope of their involvement was limited to reviewing the textbook material.

BC CommentThat is not what HM's Editorial Director said in an article profiling the CIE! (Council of Islamic Education). See article  She states very clearly that

"We see our reviewers as playing a crucial role in enabling us to present accurate and complete information," 

She also notes that the information in the textbook about the Crusades was provided by the Council of Islamic Education.

 10.  HM’s Q: Do the textbooks take an “apologetic” tone to covering Islam? Does the text praise only Islam’s “great cultural flowering,” and including nothing about Muslim violence, war, or the decline of its empire?

HM’s A:  Religions and belief systems are presented appropriately; not as better than another, and not apologetically.

 BC Comment:  NINE TIMES in the Islam section, Islam is praised for its tolerance of other beliefs.  Christians are never described as peaceful, tolerant, etc..  A whole section is titled, “Understanding Religious Persecution” and ONLY THE CHRISTIANS are named as persecuting anyone else.  Children are asked to write what is attractive about Islam.  In the Christian section, they are asked how they think others felt to be called an infidel.  This is common practice throughout the sections.  Is this “appropriate” as HM claims?

HM’s A:  The textbooks include accounts of positive contributions, as well as accounts of cultures, including Islam, using violence to conquer lands and  peoples. Chapter 4 of “Across the Centuries” includes a section about how the Abbasids “forcibly took over territories” using a “strong standing army” (page    86).

 BC Comment That is not what the book says.  It states:

“The Abbasids forcibly took over the territories that had been conquered originally during the time of the old Umayyad Empire.” 

The other fragmented quote can be found two paragraphs later,

 “Once the Abbasids had achieved power, they were able to hold onto it because of their strong standing army.”

WOW.  For this explanation sheet, Houghton Mifflin is resorting to cutting and pasting phrases together from paragraphs completely apart, to make it appear to be a much stronger takeover when in the textbook, they only took over what was already conquered.  And their "strong standing army" merely hung onto it.

12.  HM’s Q: The text says that Islam gives “clear rights” to women. However, today some of the most oppressive places in the world are Muslim countries. How can this be?

HM’s A: The two textbooks, “A Message of Ancient Days” and “Across the Centuries,” cover history only up to the year 1789. Although today some women are oppressed in certain parts of the world, in 500 A.D. Muslim women had freedoms that were forbidden in most other parts of the world. The right to get an education, the right to work, the right to control one’s own earnings, the ability to make contracts and the right to serve as a witness in court were all rights that Muslim women had during parts of the Islam Empire (“Across the Centuries,” Chapter 3, page 64).

BC Comment:  ISLAM DID NOT EXIST UNTIL AFTER 600 AD, and HM claims that in 500 AD, Muslim women had all these various rights???  If that was just an unbelievable typo, I would like to know of ANY rights women had similar to what HM claims, because per the Quran or Sunna, women were sex objects akin to slaves, fully authorized to be beaten, slapped and scourged!

16.  HM’s Q: Do the textbooks endorse aspects of the Islamic faith as fact?

HM’s A:  No. When the textbooks discuss aspects of any religion or faith, the editors have qualified their statements by citing them as true only to followers of that particular faith:

BC Comment:  This is a flat out lie.  Some statements do include, “Muslims believe” and are listed below, but many do not, as listed after HM’s quotes below.  I actually counted how much text was dedicated to Jesus and Muhammad’s claims, along with words disclaimers:

Jesus Christ as Lord: 116 words (10 disclaimers, i.e., Christians believe)
Muhammad as Prophet: 998 words (9 disclaimers, i.e., Muslims believe)

This is LESS disclaimers with almost 10 times the text! (Actually I had to count ANYTHING that hinted Jesus was anything more than a teacher, it never even states outright that “Christians believe Jesus is Lord.”

HM’s AFollowers of Muhammad believe the angel then told Muhammad the first of many messages from God… Muhammad’s followers believe that in another vision….” (“Across the Centuries,” Chapter 3, page 58).

BC Comment:  As you can see, much is written about the beliefs.  Then the closing paragraph states, “These revelations confirmed both Muhammad’s belief in monotheism, and his role as the last messenger in a long line of prophets sent by God.”  Sheesh!  All wrapped up with validation?  In addition, the section is listed under the heading, “The Life of the Prophet.”  Interesting that Jesus never receives that kind of acclaim or validation.  Jesus, the “popular teacher with ideas” while Muhammad is heralded as a prophet again and again. This is unbelievable.

Following are statements without disclaimers anywhere near them, and I challenge HM to show me where if they deny it:

  1. “In fact, the very first word the angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad was recite.”

  2. “These revelations confirmed both Muhammad’s belief in one God, and his role as the last messenger in a long line of prophets sent by God.”

  3. “Muhammad’s revelations occurred from 610 until his death…”

  4. "The Quran is the final revelation, just as Muhammad is the final prophet.” 

  5. “Ramadan is a holy time, because in this month Muhammad received his first message from Allah.”

  6. “Arabic lettering had a special significance for Muslims, because it was used to write down God’s words as they had been given to Muhammad.”

  7. “The courtyard and Mosque allowed Muslims to feel Allah’s invisible presence whether they were inside or outside the Mosque.”

  8. “This caliph, Muslims realized, could not give the same kind of spiritual leadership as Muhammad had.  The new caliph would not be the prophet of Allah, as Muhammad had been.”  (pg 66)  (“realizing” affirms it as fact).

17.  HM’s Q: Does the text imply acceptance of Muhammad’s mission by occasionally referring to him as “the prophet Muhammad?”

HM’s A: No.

BC Comment:  WHAT??  Even one of the headings state, “THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET.”  I counted FORTY TWO TIMES Muhammad was referred to as a Prophet!!!  FORTY TWO TIMES!!!!  Look at the quotes I listed just above this question!

I used the newest revision of "Across the Centuries."  Perhaps Houghton Mifflin purposely used a previous version to make such false claims?  I don't have every version printed over the past 11 years, aside from that explanation, it amazes me that HM can make such blatantly false claims.

To see this review in it's entirety, see
 The Truth About the Textbook        Printer Friendly Version 
See also,                        "7th Grade Textbook" and "6th Grade Textbook"