Throughout history cultures and religions often rise to prominance and then disappear, only to be remembered by historians. Others emerge and evolve over time. Such is the case of Islam, whose position in the world today is very different from its position in the era described in this chapter.
Why is it important to teach about and understand Islam in America today?
It's crucial to note that, while history is often portrayed as a collection of separate stories, in fact, narratives often intersect, making history more complicated and fascinating. This is important since there is pervasive and deep confusion regarding Islam for all Americans, including Jews, Christians, citizens of other religions, or non-believers.
It's not like there aren't any reports about Islam in the news; there are plenty of people eager to remind us that fanaticism and intolerance are essential to Islam and that terror, like suicide bombings, have strong Koranic origins. There are plenty of so-called experts ready to seize on some disturbing remark made by a Muslim intellectual and blame it on Islam as a whole. As a result, spreading the picture of Islam as an adversary, a terrorist, or a terrifying unknown has become all too straightforward.