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How Islam Erased Christianity from History

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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 cancellation 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.

Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with the Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

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5 Comments

  1. Kitsy says:

    I will not discount the disturbing actions enumerated here. I will, however, point out that Christ has risen. For me, Jesus the Christ is alive. I am not in the business of protecting Christianity, the -ism. I am in the business of being a follower…no, an ambassador of Chrsit. I will continue to act as Jesus’ hands and feet and I will continue to relate His words and commandments in every way I can. I don’t need on organization. I don’t need an -ism. ‘They’ can destroy textbooks, crosses, icons, whatever. They CAN NOT destroy Jesus the Christ. Take heart. God’s will be done. ‘Histories’ have been manipulated for as long as stories have been told. But what IS…IS. Thanks be to God.

    • Vicki says:

      This is true, praise God, and we are all called to be “ambassadors” for Christ, but still, I don’t think the only point here is “history.” Christians in these areas have been persecuted and killed, and continue to be – where they still exist, anyway. And what is taught is a big reason for this, as mentioned in the article. Christians in other parts of the world wonder why Western Christians seem so lax and don’t see the plight of their brothers and sisters. Do we just say it’s God’s will that they’re persecuted and killed while we sit in comfort? I don’t think that should be where we stand; I don’t think that’s how we’re called to look at things and respond.

      • No excuses…
        “If you falter in a time of trouble,
        how small is your strength!
        Rescue those being led away to death;
        hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
        If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
        does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
        Does not he who guards your life know it?
        Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”
        (Proverbs 24: 10-12)
        God bless you, Sister

  2. peakpower13 says:

    Islam is one big lie made of littler lies. The seek to erase history and the truth because it is a threat to it’s house of card’s. there is also a vast conspiracy in the west to hide the history and true nature of islam, how it came to be and who are it’s inheritors. Ask and it is given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.

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