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Saudi education system majors in ‘jihad’

Dinsdag, December 24, 2002 / Last Modified: Zondag, Januari 14, 2018

December 24, 2002

Although Saudi Arabia mounted an impressive public-relations blitz recently to
quell American angst after reports that the U.S. “ally” has been supporting
terrorism worldwide, new revelations about Saudi school textbooks aren’t
helping the desert kingdom’s much-cultivated image of being moderate and

The Middle East Media Research Institute, a non-profit research organization
whose Arabic-to-English translations of Middle Eastern documents are widely
cited by the press, has released a preliminary report on Saudi schoolbooks,
based on an upcoming in-depth review to be published in 2003. In it, the Saudi
education system and its role in the radicalization of Saudi youth and Muslim
students in Saudi-supported schools worldwide is readily apparent.

For over 20 years, says the analysis authored by MEMRI Executive Director
Steven Stalinsky, the Saudi kingdom has been engaged in an extensive effort
“to spread Islam to every corner of the earth.”

That outreach has involved “supporting or creating schools with a
curriculum primarily based upon the teachings of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd
Al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Islamist Wahhabiyya movement.”

The Wahhabi movement adheres inflexibly to Islamic Shari’a law, and is the
radical brand of Islam followed and preached by Saudi native and terror kingpin
Osama bin Laden.

According to “Education in Saudi Arabia,” a 1995 book published by the
Saudi Cultural Mission to the U.S., the roots of the contemporary Saudi
education policy date back to the 18th century when Al-Wahhab called for the
return of Muslims to the fundamentals of Islam as preached by the Prophet

The book cites 236 principles that explain how students should promote
loyalty to Islam by denouncing any system or theory that conflicts with Islamic
law. The students are also taught to understand Islam in a “correct manner,”
how to plant and spread Islam throughout the world, and how “to fight
spiritually and physically for the sake of Allah.”

Jihad 101

The core of the Saudi education system is the mandate to spread Islam
throughout the world. According to a document published by the kingdom’s
Higher Committee for Educational Policy: “The purpose of education is to
understand Islam in a proper and complete manner, to implement and spread
the Muslim faith, to provide students with Islamic values, and teachings.”

Part and parcel of spreading Islam is “the spirit of Islamic struggle,” as
exemplified by the following principle noted in “Education in Saudi Arabia”:

“Striving and fighting for the sake of Allah is a prescribed duty, a
followed tradition and an existing necessity. This spirit of striving will remain in
force until the Day of Judgment.”

“Awakening the spirit of Islamic struggle to resist our enemies, restore
our rights and glories, and perform our duties towards the Islamic message,”
the Saudi book adds, is a general theme students are expected to learn.

From an early age, says MEMRI, schoolchildren are taught about jihad “for the
Sake of Allah (Al-Jihad fi sabil Allah)”:

In a textbook for 8th-grade students, a Hadith is introduced about a
companion of the Prophet Muhammad who asked the Prophet: “What labor is
most favored by Allah? He [the Prophet] answered: Prayers on time; he then
asked: What next? The Prophet answered: Love thy parents. He then asked:
What else?: The Prophet answered: Jihad for the sake of Allah.”

The textbook interprets the conversation between the Prophet and his
companion as follows: The most important activity is Jihad for the sake of Allah
and the convocation of Allah’s religion on this earth.

Jews and Christians – apes and pigs

An 8th-grade textbook also explains “why Jews and Christians were cursed by
Allah and turned into apes and pigs.

Quoting Surat Al-Maida, Verse 60, the lesson explains that Jews and
Christians have sinned by accepting polytheism and therefore incurred Allah’s
wrath. To punish them, Allah has turned them into apes and pigs.”

A 9th-grade schoolbook tells a story about Abu Hurayra, one of the Prophet’s
companions who quoted the Prophet as saying:

“The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight
the Jews and kill them. A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the
rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a
Jew behind me, come and kill him!’ Except for the gharqad tree, for it is one of
the trees of the Jews.”

Other statements in the same 9th-grade textbook include:

1. It is Allah’s wisdom that the struggle between Muslims and Jews shall
continue until the Day of Judgment.

2. The Hadith brings forth the glad tidings about the ultimate victory,
with Allah’s help, of Muslims over Jews.

3. The Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the believers. They
will not be favorably disposed toward Muslims and it is necessary to be
cautious [in dealing with them].

The 9th-grade textbook then asks these questions for class discussion:

1. Who will be victorious in the Day of Judgment?

2. With what types of weapons should Muslims arm themselves against
the Jews?

3. Name four factors leading to the victory of Muslims over their enemies.

Exporting the Saudi system worldwide

The spread of Islam throughout the world, long a Saudi aim, is emphasized in
the official Saudi document of the Higher Committee for Educational Policy.
Students are taught “to plant and spread the Islamic creed” and that “preaching
of Islam throughout the world is the duty of the state and its citizens.”

This Saudi ambition to Islamize the entire world has manifested on many fronts:

“On March 1, 2002, ‘Ayn-Al-Yaqeen, a weekly news magazine published
online by the Saudi royal family, detailed the efforts of the Saudi royal family to
spread Islam throughout the world,” said MEMRI. “The cost of King Fahd’s
efforts in this field,” states the Saudi news magazine, “has been astronomical,
amounting to many billions of Saudi riyals. In terms of Islamic institutions, the
result is some 210 Islamic centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia,
more than 1,500 mosques and 202 colleges and almost 2,000 schools for
educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South
America, Australia, and Asia.”

Saudis have established Islamic schools, says Ayn-Al-Yaqeen, in the United
States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Australia,
Belgium, New Zealand, Spain, Austria, Scotland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia,
Hungary, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon,
Yemen, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh,
Burundi, Fiji, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Kenya, Cameroon,
Senegal, Uganda, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Brazil, Eritrea, and Djibouti, among others.

Recently, many members of the Saudi royal family, government spokesmen and
religious authorities have spoken publicly about the Saudi education system. For
instance, Sheikh Majed ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Firian recently stated in the
Suleiman Bin Muqiran mosque in Riyadh:

“Muslims must … educate their children to Jihad. This is the greatest
benefit of the situation: educating the children to Jihad and to hatred of the
Jews, the Christians, and the infidels; educating the children to Jihad and to
revival of the embers of Jihad in their souls. This is what is needed now …”

In response to U.S. criticism, high-level Saudi officials have defended their
education system, insisting it does not teach hatred and Jihad. Indeed, that has
been part of the message of the multi-million dollar Saudi PR campaign in the
U.S. to convince Americans that Saudi Arabia is against terrorism.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif Ibn Abd Al-Aziz gave an interview recently to
the Saudi-owned London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, saying:

“We do believe in the soundness of our educational curriculum, but we
never oppose development of educational methods in a manner that does not
run counter to the country’s deep-rooted principles.”

The prince added: “We strongly believe in the correctness of our
education system and its objectives. We don’t change our systems on the
demands of others … ”

And on Oct. 26, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Ibn Abd Al-‘Aziz said:

“We will never change our education policy, and there is no demand that
we change it. Our country has a policy … and above all religious curricula that
must never be harmed. Any demand by another country in the world that Saudi
Arabia change its curricula is unacceptable interference in [Saudi] sovereignty.
There is no such demand, and we ask that our free press take note that there
are people who belong to Israel [and act] against the [Saudi] kingdom’s policy
and do the impossible in order to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.”

Finally, at a press conference held between American and Saudi officials in late
October, Saudi Deputy Education Minister Dr. Khaled Al-‘Awad claimed
American critics of the Saudi education system had seen the error of their ways
and had even offered to apologize.

“Meetings were held between top Saudi Education Ministry officials and
American media personnel and officials to clarify that the Saudi curriculum is
fine and does not encourage or boost terrorism and hatred of a member of
another religion or faith,” said Al-‘Awad.

“This follows attacks on the Saudi curriculum, according to which it was
claimed that the curricula nourished the [ideas] of terrorism in the souls of the
pupils following the events of September 11, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators
of the events that shocked New York and Washington and killed hundreds of
people were Saudis.”

“These meetings yielded positive results,” added Al-‘Awad, “and since
most of those present realized that the Saudi curricula were fine, they retracted
their baseless accusations. In light of the facts and information presented to
them during this meeting, some of the media personnel realized that the Saudi
learning process is fine, and they promised to stop the attacks and to apologize
for the false accusations. Similarly, some of the officials promised to retract
their previous positions.”

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