WASHINGTON — A top textbook consultant shaping classroom education on Islam
in American public schools recently worked for a school funded and controlled by the Saudi government, which propagates a rigidly anti-Western strain of Islam, a
WorldNetDaily investigation reveals.
The consultant, Susan L. Douglass, has also praised Pakistan’s madrassa
schools as “proud symbols of learning,” even after the U.S. government
blamed them for fueling the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Douglass, routinely described as a “scholar” or “historian,” has edited
manuscripts of world history textbooks used by middle and high school
students across the country. She’s also advised state education boards on
curriculum standards dealing with world religion, and has helped train
thousands of public school teachers on Islamic instruction.
In effect, she is responsible for teaching millions of American children
about Islam, experts say, while operating in relative obscurity.
WorldNetDaily has learned that up until last year Douglass taught social
studies at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., which teaches
Wahhabism through textbooks that condemn Jews and Christians as infidels and
enemies of Islam. Her husband, Usama Amer, still teaches at the grades 2-12
school, a spokeswoman there confirmed. Both are practicing Muslims.
Susan L. Douglass, CIE consultant
The Saudi government funds the school, which has a sister campus in Fairfax,
“It is a school that is under the auspices of the Saudi Embassy,” said Ali
al-Ahmed, executive director of the Washington-based Saudi Institute, a
leading Saudi opposition group. “So the minister of education appoints the
principal of the school, and the teachers are paid by the Saudi government.”
He says many of the academy’s textbooks he has reviewed contain passages
promoting hatred of non-Muslims. For example, the eleventh-grade text says
one sign of the Day of Judgment will be when Muslims fight and kill Jews,
who will hide behind trees that say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of God, here is
a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him.”
Al-Ahmed, a Shiite Muslim born in predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia,
says the school’s religious curriculum was written by Sheik Saleh al-Fawzan,
a senior member of the Saudi religious council, who he said has “encouraged
war against unbelievers.” Al-Fawzan has authored textbooks used in Saudi
A report released last year by the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom found that the Saudi Ministry of Education publishes texts
presenting Islam as “the only true religion” and denouncing all other
religions as “invalid” and “misguided.”
“Christians and Jews repeatedly are labeled as infidels and enemies of Islam
who should not be befriended or emulated, and are referred to in
eighth-grade textbooks as ‘apes and pigs,'” the report said. In addition, it
found that “some Saudi government-funded textbooks used in North American
Islamic schools have been found to encourage incitement to violence again
Critics complain that Douglass, who taught at the Saudi academy for at least
a decade, has convinced American textbook publishers and educators to gloss
over the violent aspects of Islam to make the faith more appealing to
non-Muslim children. The units on Islam reviewed by WND appear to give a
glowing and largely uncritical view of the faith.
Asked about it, Douglass referred questions to the Council on Islamic
Education, which did not respond. CIE’s website lists her in its staff directory as a
“principal researcher and writer.”
CIE is a Los Angeles-based Muslim activist group run by Shabbir Mansuri, who
has been quoted in the local press saying he’s waging a “bloodless”
revolution to fight what he calls anti-Muslim bias in public schools and
promote Islam in a positive light in American classrooms. Mansuri, who
consults with Saudi education ministers at his center, claimed in a 2002 op-ed piece that Islam has been on American soil “since before this nation was founded.”
Also, he spoke at a 2001 Islamic conference with several Muslim extremists,
including an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center
bombing, according to a speakers schedule for the event obtained by WND.
The three major U.S. publishers of world history texts – Houghton Mifflin,
McGraw Hill and Prentice Hall – have all let Mansuri and Douglass review
their books. In fact, Houghton Mifflin’s seventh-grade text, “Across the
Centuries,” was republished according to CIE’s suggestions.
In the past, most K-12 texts devoted no more than a few pages to Islam. But
thanks to CIE’s efforts since 1990 – including lobbying state education
boards – grade-school text units on Islam have flourished. “Across the
Centuries,” for one, spends more than 30 pages on Islam and includes
colorful prose and graphics.
But it offers a sanitized version of Islam, critics say.
For instance, the text softens the meaning of “jihad” – a concept
interpreted in Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s “The Meaning of the Holy Quran” to mean
“waging war,” or “fighting in Allah’s cause” – with dying while fighting in
the cause being the highest form of jihad.
Holy war is not part of the definition found in the “Across the Centuries”
“An Islamic term that is often misunderstood is jihad,” the text says on
page 64. “The term means ‘to struggle,’ to do one’s best to resist
temptation and overcome evil.”
One of CIE’s teachers guides lists quitting smoking as an example of jihad.
“It’s a sugar-coated definition,” said Edward White, associate counsel for
the Thomas More Law Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based public-interest law firm
which has fought what it sees as Islamic indoctrination in U.S. public
Even scholar John L. Esposito, considered by critics to be one of Islam’s
leading apologists, has written that “jihad means the struggle to spread and
to defend Islam” – through “warfare” if necessary.
Houghton Mifflin’s high school world history textbook, “Patterns of
Interaction,” used in Texas and other states, reportedly leaves jihad out
White argues Houghton Mifflin has published an unrealistic picture of Islam,
and has been manipulated by CIE, which clearly has a pro-Muslim bias.
The Boston-based publisher denies it. A spokesman called the assertion
However, its editorial director for school social studies told a Muslim
website in 1999 that it’s also allowed CIE to critique its coverage of
Christian history, and to add its view of what the Crusades were like for
The article, posted on Sound
Vision.com, a marketer of Muslim educational products, quotes Houghton
Mifflin editor Abigail Jungreis as saying, “We’ve had a really good
relationship with them (CIE) over the years. Their reviewers are
Jungreis singles out Douglass for praise in the article.
Douglass has argued for more in-depth coverage of Islam in classrooms, while
at the same time advising that Christian principles, including historic
facts such as Christ’s crucifixion, are clearly qualified with attributions
such as “Christians believe.”
Houghton Mifflin is not the only major publisher influenced by CIE. Prentice
Hall also collaborates with the group. And its “Connections to Today,” which
is the most widely used world history book in the country, instructs
students that jihad is an “inner struggle to achieve spiritual peace,”
according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Also, CIE has helped write supplemental teachers materials that engage
children in entertaining Muslim role-playing activities in the class.
Parents say they make the study of Christianity and other religions seem
dull by comparison.
A CIE-edited teachers aid used in California schools became the subject of a
federal First Amendment case last year, as WorldNetDaily reported. The Thomas More Law Center sued a San Francisco-area school
district on behalf of parents of seventh-graders who were required to
“become Muslims” for two weeks as part of their world history unit on Islam.
However, U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton, a Clinton appointee,
dismissed the lawsuit against the Byron Union School District, arguing the
Muslim unit does not promote religion, and therefore does not violate the
First Amendment’s clause against religious establishment.
White, the lawyer in the case, says he’s filed an appeal to overturn the
The controversial role-playing module, which CIE helped write, requires kids
to recite Muslim prayers and verses of the Quran in class. Students also are
required to give up things like watching TV or eating candy for a day to
simulate Islamic fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“From the beginning, you and your classmates will become Muslims,” the
Student Guide portion of the Islam module instructs seventh-graders as an
introduction to the material.
White notes that the module, titled “Islam: A simulation of Islamic history
and culture,” also white-washes the meaning of jihad, calling it a “struggle
According to a copyright statement on page 91 of the module obtained by
WorldNetDaily, its California-based publisher, Interaction Publishers Inc.,
agreed to allow CIE “to revise the original manuscript” after CIE protested
“errors of fact and interpretation in Western historians’ presentation of
“They had a hand in the revisions to this handbook,” White asserted.
The same page states that the publisher also incorporated suggestions by
Yousef Salem, associate director of the Islamic Education and Information
Center in San Jose, Calif. Salem, a former Saudi resident, has praised the
Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, and called Israelis “terrorists.”
The module mirrors parts of the middle-school religious curriculum at the
Islamic Saudi Academy where Douglass taught, and where her husband still
For instance, the Islamic religion coursework for Grade 7 emphasizes, among
other things, the “importance of reciting the Quran,” according to the academy’s website. Eighth-graders, moreover, study
“fasting” and “pilgrimage.” (They also study Quranic verses that deal with
“the Punishment of the Disbelievers.”)
The California Department of Education, which requires all seventh-grade
world history courses to include a unit on Islam, approved the text and
module. In 1998, the state overhauled its standards for its Islam unit to
include more teaching about the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Quran.
Mansuri made numerous trips to Sacramento to lobby for the changes, and the
department invited CIE to review its draft.
Many California parents say the state essentially is
allowing Muslim activists to brainwash their kids into accepting Islam,
while at the same time marginalizing Christianity.
In contrast to the seventh-grade Muslim unit, where children are first
introduced to Islam, the earlier one on Christianity does not involve any
role play. Students are not asked to recite Christian prayers or memorize
Moreover, parents argue that neither the Islam chapter nor the role-playing
module critically discuss the anti-Christian jihads of old, or new ones led
by Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden. In fact, Byron teachers warned
students against saying anything negative about Islam, U.S. court documents
And Islam is praised for tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs.
Yet the unit on Christianity is critical of that core American faith,
particularly concerning the Crusades (which came on the heels of earlier
Islamic invasions of non-Muslim territory).
One local parent, Jen Schroeder, told WND she worries California may be
unwittingly producing more John Walker Lindhs. Lindh, who joined the
Taliban, was a product of San Francisco public schools.
“John Walker Lindh is the fruit of California’s efforts. He was a young
impressionable child, just as my son is,” she said. “How many more John
Walkers before we stop promoting Islam in public schools?”
She and other critics charge CIE is not just interested in correcting
factual or historical errors in textbooks. They say it has a hidden agenda:
using public schools to promote Islam. And to do that, they say, it must
first make it less threatening to nonbelievers, and more mainstream.
But in an October 2002 white paper, Douglass argued schools should respect
the First Amendment and avoid indoctrinating students into religion.
“Teaching about religion should neither promote nor denigrate the ideals of
any faith,” she wrote.
At the same time, however, she warned teachers against “presenting
non-Western religions as static traditions whose unfamiliarity to students
can make them seem irrational.”
And in the same article, “Teaching about Religion,” she defended Pakistan’s
madrassas, which U.S. officials in the wake of the 9-11 attacks condemned as
hatcheries for future bin Ladens.
According to Douglass, the Islamic schools, where young Muslim boys
endlessly chant verses from the Quran, are “proud symbols of learning” which “have become confused in the public mind with symbols of ignorance.”
Douglass and other staffers at CIE have trained more than 8,000 public
school teachers in America on Islam instruction, according to the
SoundVision.com article. The center has sold hundreds of copies of its
teachers guide to public schools. Besides holding teacher workshops, CIE
staffers also lecture at schools and colleges about Islam.
‘Islam an American religion’
Douglass is associated with another Muslim activist group, one that is under
From 1988 to 1994, she wrote K-6 social studies books for the International
Institute of Islamic Thought, or IIIT, a Saudi-tied charity. Federal
authorities in 2002 raided IIIT’s Northern Virginia offices on suspicion of
Shortly after the raids, Mansuri defended the group’s officials as
“law-abiding Muslims” in a column distributed by the State Department’s
Office of International Information Programs.
IIIT president Taha Jaber al-Alwani once signed a copy of a fatwa declaring
that jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine, according to a federal affidavit for the search warrant. He’s also close to Sami al-Arian, recently
arrested on terrorism-related charges.
In the same 2002 column, “Muslims Due Place at Table,” Mansuri asserted:
“Islam is an American religion,” adding that “Islam has been on this soil
since before the nation was founded, having come over with African slaves.”
In July 2001, Mansuri spoke at the Islamic Circle of North America’s
convention in Cleveland with New York imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as an
unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and with
Sheik Abdur Rahman al-Sudais, the senior imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca,
who has been quoted vilifying Jews as the “scum of humanity” and “the
grandsons of monkeys and pigs.”
The previous year Mansuri also appeared with Wahhaj at a fund-raising
banquet hosted by the Saudi-backed Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. Mansuri received an award for helping to eliminate Muslim stereotypes.
Nonetheless, the Washington-based Muslim-rights group has launched a
coast-to-coast drive to stock public libraries with Islamic books as part of
its campaign to educate Americans on the “peaceful” attributes of Islam.
One of the books on its recommended reading list: “Beyond a Thousand and One
Nights” by Susan L. Douglass.