Jim Knight MP: Teach British children what Muslims did for us
And so schools should teach children ‘what Muslims did for us’ - the contribution Muslims have made to civilisation – ‘in order to combat the threats of extremism and discrimination’. Lessons should be given in ‘the scientific and cultural innovations of Islam over the centuries’ which would ‘give young Muslims a sense of worth and reduce their risk of becoming alienated and falling under the spell of radicals’.
And the ‘debt we all owe to Muslims’ includes ‘coffee and pinhole cameras to the three-course dinner and advancements in maths’. And so the National Curriculum should be amended to reflect this.
Cranmer is not of the anti-Islam fellowship which insists that nothing good could or ever has come out of it. And neither is he the sort of ‘phobe’ who tarnishes its adherents with the same brush and perceives a jihadist under every halal cornflake. But Mr Knight is wrong to insist that the history syllabus should be changed to reflect the positive contributions, while schools dare not mention the negatives for fear of being accused of ‘racism’.
Cranmer is no expert on the origins of the pin-hole camera, or, for that matter, the three-course dinner (didn’t the Jewish seder introduce the notion of ‘courses?), but he would be rather certain that the origin of such as these is, at best, contested. At worst, the claims of proponents of such concepts as ‘Arabic science’ are baseless or exaggerated. An Arabic- sounding name is not evidence of Islamic inspiration, for many who possessed such names were not the progeny only of Muslims, but also Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians. Their achievements in the arts, sciences or humanities were not because they were Muslims or because of Islam, but despite both. We do not, after all, credit the Roman Catholic Church with the achievements of Copernicus, or the Church of England with the theories of Darwin.
To eradicate all debate and produce text books which ascribe the glory to Islam will only serve to inculcate children with a notion of supremicism which will prove divisive. Why not just teach the dogmatic worldview of the Qur’an? For Allah created civilisation, and it is his laws which have been transgressed and it is his moral code which is disobeyed.
Cranmer has never met a Muslim who agitates for the origins of the pinhole camera or the three course dinner to be taught in schools. Yet he has heard of many who insist that Islam may not be questioned and the Qur’an may not be criticised. There can be no lesson on ‘what Muslims did for us’ without the counterbalance of what is being done in their name now - like the suppression of women, the execution of children, the eradication of free speech, the threats of violence, the erosion of Western notions of liberty and democracy. And there can be no unqualified credit without analysis of its perceived intolerance.
Muslim children who live in the United Kingdom need to be taught what Britain and Christianity have done for them – the provision of education, freedom of conscience and inquiry, debate and the exchange of ideas, equality, and reward for hard work. They should be taught to consider this, and then thank God that they do not live in Egypt, Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia, where their liberties would be curtailed, their education narrow, their creativity stifled and their prospects diminished.
Jim Knight ought to read some Ibn Warraq:
A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine; societies that deny the rights of supposedly lower castes; societies that execute homosexuals and apostates. The West has no use for sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems, that make no provisions for the handicapped, and that leave 40 to 50 percent of their citizens illiterate.
Now then, Cranmer is going to make a coffee, and he shall be sure not to thank Allah for inventing it.