Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media: How Islam Erased Christianity from History

https://www.raymondibrahim.com/2016/04/24/how-islam-erased-christianity-from-history/

How Islam Erased Christianity from History


While Christianity continues to be physically erased from the Middle East, lesser known is that its historical role and presence is also being expunged from memory.
Last month a video emerged showing Islamic State members tossing hundreds of Christian textbooks, many of them emblazoned with crosses, into a large bonfire.   As one report put it, ISIS was “burning Christian textbooks in an attempt to erase all traces of” Christianity from the ancient region of Mosul, where Christianity once thrived for centuries before the rise of Islam.
As usual, ISIS is ultimately an extreme example of Islam’s normative approach.  This was confirmed during a recent conference in Amman, Jordan hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Political Studies. While presenting, Dr. Hena al-Kaldani, a Christian, said that “there is a complete cancelation of Arab Christian history in the pre-Islamic era,” “many historical mistakes,” and “unjustifiable historic leaps in our Jordanian curriculum.”  “Tenth grade textbooks omit any mention of any Christian or church history in the region.”  Wherever Christianity is mentioned, omissions and mischaracterizations proliferate, including the portrayal of Christianity as a Western (that is, “foreign”) source of colonization, said al-Kaldani.
Of course, Christian minorities throughout the Middle East—not just in Jordan—have long maintained that the history taught in public classrooms habitually suppresses the region’s Christian heritage while magnifying (including by lying about) Islam.
“It sounds absurd, but Muslims more or less know nothing about Christians, even though they make up a large part of the population and are in fact the original Egyptians,” said Kamal Mougheeth, a retired teacher in Egypt: “Egypt was Christian for six or seven centuries [before the Muslim invasion around 640].  The sad thing is that for many years the history books skipped from Cleopatra to the Muslim conquest of Egypt.  The Christian era was gone.  Disappeared.  An enormous black whole.”[i]
This agrees perfectly with what I recall my parents, Christians from Egypt, telling me of their classroom experiences from more than half a century ago: there was virtually no mention of Hellenism, Christianity, or the Coptic Church—one thousand years of Egypt’s pre-Islamic history. History began with the pharaohs before jumping to the seventh century when Arabian Muslims “opened” Egypt to Islam. (Wherever Muslims conquer non-Muslim territories, Islamic hagiography euphemistically refers to it as an “opening,” fath, never a “conquest.”)
Sharara Yousif Zara, an influential politician involved in the Iraqi Ministry of Education agrees: “It’s the same situation in Iraq.  There’s almost nothing about us [Christians] in our history books, and what there is, is totally wrong.  There’s nothing about us being here before Islam.  The only Christians mentioned are from the West.  Many Iraqis believe we moved here.  From the West.  That we are guests in this country.”[ii]
Zara might be surprised to learn that similar ignorance and historical revisionism predominates in the West.  Although Christians are in fact the most indigenous inhabitants of most of the Arab world, I am often asked, by educated people, why Christians “choose” to go and live in the Middle East among Muslims, if the latter treat them badly.
At any rate, the Mideast’s pseudo historical approach to Christianity has for generations successfully indoctrinated Muslim students to suspect and hate Christianity, which is regularly seen as a non-organic parasitic remnant left by Western colonialists (though as mentioned, Christianity precedes Islam in the region by some six centuries).
This also explains one of Islam’s bitterest ironies: a great many of today’s Middle East Christians are being persecuted by Muslims — including of the ISIS variety — whose own ancestors were persecuted Christians who converted to Islam to end their suffering. In other words, Muslim descendants of persecuted Christians are today slaughtering their Christian cousins.  Christians are seen as “foreign traitors” in part because many Muslims do not know of their own Christian ancestry.
Due to such entrenched revisionism, Muslim “scholars” are able to disseminate highly dubious and ahistorical theses, as seen in Dr. Fadel Soliman’s 2011 book, Copts: Muslims Before Muhammad.  It claims that, at the time of the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the vast majority of Egyptians were not, as Muslim and Western history has long taught, Christians, but rather prototypical Muslims, or muwahidin, who were being oppressed by European Christians: hence, the Islamic invasion of Egypt was really about “liberating” fellow Muslims.
Needless to say, no historian has ever suggested that Muslims invaded Egypt to liberate “proto-Muslims.” Rather, the Muslim chroniclers who wrote our primary sources on Islam, candidly and refreshingly present the “openings” as they were—conquests, replete with massacres, enslavement, and displacement of Christians and the destruction of thousands of churches.
In the end, of course, the Muslim world’s historical approach to Christianity should be familiar.  After all, doesn’t the West engage in the same chicanery?    In both instances, Christianity is demonized and its history distorted by its usurping enemies: in the West, by a host of “isms”—including leftism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism—and in the Middle East, by Islam.
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[ii] Ibid.



About


RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and has been translated into dozens of languages.
Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and NPR; he has done hundreds of radio interviews and some of his YouTube videos (here and here for example) have received over a million views each.
Ibrahim guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, has briefed governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.
Ibrahim’s dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former. His interest in Islamic civilization was first piqued when he began visiting the Middle East as a child in the 1970s. Interacting and conversing with the locals throughout the decades has provided him with an intimate appreciation for that part of the world, complementing his academic training.
After a brief athletic career—including winning the 1993 NPC Los Angeles Bodybuilding Championship as a teenager—Raymond went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University, Fresno. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on arcane Arabic and Greek texts.
Ibrahim’s resume includes serving as an Arabic language and regional specialist at the Near East Section of the Library of Congress, where he was often contacted by and provided information to defense and intelligence personnel involved in the fields of counterterrorism and area studies, as well as the Congressional Research Service; and serving as associate director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia think tank.
He also often functions as a journalist and has been a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution and news analyst for a variety of media.  His knowledge of Arabic and familiarity with Middle Eastern sources have enabled him to offer breaking news.  Days before the Obama administration blamed an anti-Islamic movie for Muslim uprisings against a U.S. consul and an embassy in Libya and Egypt respectively, Ibrahim showed that the demonstrations were pre-planned and unrelated to the movie.  Similarly, he was first to expose an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula.
Raymond Ibrahim is currently Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute; and Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.