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Countering Misinformation

Is the Author of a Book Critical of Islam an Ancestor of President Bush?

Media allegations say that Life of Mohammed author is grandfather of President George W. Bush

The December 13, 2004, issue of the London-based, pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat contains an article stating that Cairo’s Al-Azhar Islamic Academy wishes to ban a book critical of Islam authored by the alleged grandfather of President George W. Bush, who was also named George Bush.

Reuters carried a story on the controversy on December 13, 2004, describing the book’s author as an ancestor of the current president.

The facts on this allegation are as follows:

    •  U.S. biblical scholar Reverend George Bush did write a book titled Life of Mohammed in 1830.

    •  Reverend Bush was NOT the grandfather or a direct ancestor of the current president, as verified by the authoritative book Ancestors of American Presidents.

    •  President Bush’s grandfather was Senator Prescott Bush, who was born in 1895 and died in 1972.

    •  Two independent genealogies show Reverend Bush was the cousin of Obadiah Bush, who was the great-great-great grandfather of the current president. This makes the Reverend Bush a distant relative of the current president, five generations removed, but NOT his direct ancestor.

    •  The Life of Mohammed book was out of print from 1901 to 2002. The small Book Tree publishing house decided to reprint individual copies on demand in 2002 as "an interesting historical curiosity." It has sold only 50 copies since then.

    •  In the Al Hayat article, the Al-Azhar Department of Research, Translation, and Writings claims the book slanders Arabs and Muslims and describes them as being "degenerate races, insects, rats, and snakes."

    •  The book is available online, and is searchable by word. Word searches find no instances of the words "insect, insects, rat, rats, or snake," although in one section Reverend Bush does compare Muslims to locusts. There were two references to snakes, neither of them in a characterization of Arabs or Muslims. The word "degenerate" is used twice, both times in a characterization of the state of the Christian church at the time of Mohammed. There were 17 instances of the word "race," none of them in a characterization of Arabs or Muslims.

    •  The book is a product of its more parochial times and takes a harshly negative attitude toward Islam. It refers to Mohammed as an "impostor" and describes Islam as a "heresy" and "horrid superstition," although it reserves its strongest criticism for Roman Catholicism.

    •  These views have nothing to do with the attitudes of current President Bush, who is respectful of Islam as one of the world’s great religions, as evidenced in his remarks on September 17, 2001.

    •  The antiquated views of a 175 year-old book, which sold 50 copies in the past three years, should be viewed as an historical curiosity not reflective in any way of current U.S. views on Islam.

Created: 20 Dec 2004 Updated: 27 Jan 2005

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