Mahmud of Ghazni, early 11th century Muslim jihadist who ravaged Hindu India during at least 17 conquering expeditions waged over 25 years.
What New York High School students are required to affirm on their State Regents exams in global history: “Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.”
A summary description of Mahmud of Ghazni’s final expedition to Somanath by Indian historian A.L. Srivastava: Mahmud captured the place [Somanath] without much difficulty and ordered a general slaughter in which more than 50,000 persons are said to have perished. The idol of Somanath was broken to pieces which were sent to Ghazni, Mecca, and Medina and cast in streets and the staircases of chief mosques to be trodden by the Muslims going there for their prayers
A New York Post report (published 8/24/10) by Yoav Gonen highlights the selective Islamophilia readily apparent in reading extracts from the New York State global history and geography Regents examinations. Gonen’s investigation reveals that,
State testmakers played favorites when quizzing high-schoolers on world religions—giving Islam and Buddhism the kid-gloves treatment while socking it to Christianity, critics say. Teachers complain that the reading selections from the Regents exam in global history and geography given last week featured glowing passages pertaining to Muslim society but much more critical essay excerpts on the subject of Christianity.
One unnamed Brooklyn teacher who administered the Regents exam, opined bluntly, with an obvious reference to the Ground Zero mosque controversy in lower Manhattan, about ill timing:
There should have been a little balance in there…To me, this was offensive because it’s just so inappropriate and the timing of it was piss-poor…
Interviewed by Gonen, Michael Dobkowski, Chair of Religious Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, maintained that Christianity, alone, was described in both a salutary and negative light, as opposed to the purely hagiographic assessment of Islam:
Some [essays] suggest a kind of Christian triumphalism and the desire to convert the other that is not present in the treatment of Islam. My impression is that there is certainly a divergence of approaches and impressions that should not appear in a Regents exam of this caliber.
And Gonen cited as perhaps the most disturbing passage this bowdlerized, ahistorical extract about the Islamic jihad conquests from “A World History: A Cultural Approach, ” authored by Daniel Roselle:
Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.
Roselle’s characterization is a grotesque distortion of historical reality. The jihad ravages of various Arab Muslim invaders, and subsequently Islamized Turks, during the identified “8th to 11th century” period, wreaked havoc—massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation—upon culturally more advanced civilizations, not only Byzantine Christian, but also Zoroastrian, and Hindu. Below are some illustrative examples of the actual brutality and cultural devastation that accompanied these Muslim conquests.
Here is a description by the medieval chronicler Michael the Syrian of the 838 CE Muslim conquest of Amorium in Byzantine Anatolia (the current Turkish village of Hisarköy) by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutasim, who ruled from 833-42 (see, pp.598-99):
The sword of the Taiyaye [Arab Muslims] began the slaughter and heaped them up by piles; when their sword was drunk with blood, the order came to massacre no more, but to take the population captive and to lead it away. Then they pillaged the town. When the king entered to see the town, he admired the beautiful structure of the temples and palaces. As news came which worried him, he set the town on fire and burned it down. There were so many women’s convents and monasteries that over a thousand virgins were led into captivity, not counting those that had been slaughtered. They were given to the Moorish and Turkish slaves, so as to assuage their lust: glory to the incomprehensible judgments of God! . They burned all those who were hidden in houses or who had climbed up to the church galleries. When the booty from the town was collected in one place, the king, seeing that the population was very numerous, gave the order to kill four thousand men. He also gave the order to take away the fabrics and the gold, silver and bronze objects and the rest of the yield from the pillage. They also began to take away the population: and there was a clamor of lamentation from the women, men and children, when children were separated and removed from the arms of their parents; they shouted and howled.
The subsequent Muslim conquests by the Seljuk (and later, Ottoman) Turks, beginning in the 11th century, completed this violent, destructive, and chaotic Islamization of the heartlands of Byzantine civilization, as summarized by the great historian Speros Vryonis (see, p.678) :
The [Turkish] conquests in Anatolia were prolonged, repeated (lasting from the 11th-15th centuries), quite destructive and disruptive of life and property. The conquest of Asia Minor virtually destroyed the Anatolian Church. The ecclesiastical administrative documents reveal an almost complete confiscation of church property, income, buildings, and the imposition of heavy taxes by the Turks. In addition, they furnish evidence for further irregularity in ecclesiastical life due to the fact that the conquerors frequently prohibited the entrance of bishops and metropolitans, and often expelled them from their seats.The conquests of Asia Minor were accompanied by large influxes of Turkmen nomads. Consequently, we are dealing not only with a conquest but with an ethnic migration. However, it was not only the numbers which contributed to the Turkification of Anatolia but also the very character of nomadism. Nomadism brought with it political decentralization, instability, and intermittent anarchy; it brought a nomadic economy based on pastoralism, banditry, and slave trading, all of which constituted a heavy burden for the sedentary Christians. These were instrumental in the devastation and disruption of Christian rural life throughout much of Anatolia. The Anatolian place names, so heavily Turkified, seem to reflect the disruption of much of the Christian rural society
Renowned Indian historian K.S. Lal has highlighted the early 11th century exploits against the Hindus of India by Mahmud of Ghazni. Lal notes that Mahmud was a pious Muslim jihadist, esteemed by Muslim historians
Mahmud himself was well-versed in the Quran and was considered its eminent interpreter. He drew around himself, by means of lavish generosity, a galaxy of eminent theologians, scholars, and divines so that on his investiture, when he vowed to the Caliph of Baghdad to undertake every year a campaign against the idolaters of India, he knew that “jihad was central to Islam and that one campaign at least must be undertaken against the unbelievers every year.” Mahmud could launch forth seventeen expeditions during the course of the next thirty years and thereby fulfilled his promise to the Caliph both in letter and in spirit of Islamic theology. For this he has been eulogized sky-high by Muslim poets and Muslim historians…. Let us very briefly recapitulate the achievements of Sultan Mahmud in the usual fields of Islamic expansionism, conversions of non-Muslims to Islam, destruction of temples and acquisition of wealth in order to appreciate the encomiums bestowed upon him as being one of the greatest Muslim conquerors of medieval India.
These “achievements” include extensive massacres and mass enslavements of the Hindu populations ravaged by jihad, but also, as Lal observes (see, pp. 441,443),
Mahmud broke temples and desecrated idols wherever he went. The number of temples destroyed by him during his campaigns is so large that a detailed list is neither possible nor necessary. However, he concentrated more on razing renowned temples to bring glory to Islam rather than waste time on small ones. Some famous temples destroyed by him may be noted here. At Thaneshwar, the temple of Chakraswamin was sacked and its bronze image of Vishnu was taken to Ghazni to be thrown into the hippodrome of the city. Similarly, the magnificent central temple of Mathura was destroyed and its idols broken. At Mathura there was no armed resistance; the people had fled, and Mahmud had been greatly impressed with the beauty and grandeur of the shrines. And yet the temples in the city were thoroughly sacked. Kanauj had a large number of temples (Utbi’s ‘ten thousand’ merely signifies a large number), some of great antiquity. Their destruction was made easy by the flight of those who were not prepared either to die or embrace Islam. Somnath shared the fate of Chakraswamin.
Lastly, historian A.L. Srivastava notes that Mahmud’s final well-known expedition in Hindustan, to Somanath in 1025 C.E., was similarly brutal, and destructive, and accompanied by deliberately humiliating treatment of demolished Hindu religious statuary (see, p. 83):
Mahmud captured the place [Somanath] without much difficulty and ordered a general slaughter in which more than 50,000 persons are said to have perished. The idol of Somanath was broken to pieces which were sent to Ghazni, Mecca, and Medina and cast in streets and the staircases of chief mosques to be trodden by the Muslims going there for their prayers
Gonen’s investigative findings confirm the results of an alarming 2008 survey reported by Gilbert Sewall of the American Textbook Council, entitled, “Islam in the Classroom—What the Textbooks Tell Us” Sewall observed, prominently, that the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons were uniquely disturbing, with history textbooks presenting, “ an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.” Among textbooks copyrighted before 2001, “deficiencies” regarding Islam, “ persist and in some cases have grown worse.” He also maintained that publishers and editors in lieu of making corrections or adjusting contested facts,
…defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional. Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue. Publishers have learned of contested facts and have had the time to correct imbalances. But instead of making changes, they have sustained errors or, in deliberate acts of self-censorship, have removed controversial material.”
And Sewall concluded with this appropriate, but as yet unaddressed warning:
Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
The New York State Regents exams themselves now reflect the corrosive “success” of a sustained campaign of Islamophilic historical negationism. Cultural jihadism has achieved an ominous victory to the great detriment of New York city’s secondary school children, their parents, and society at large.