By Moaz Nair
August 8, 2018
The Malaysian government has shut down the
Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace.
Saudi Arabia’s ideological role worldwide
has been disputed by many Muslim scholars in view of its official doctrine of
Wahhabism which critics say has inspired extremist Muslim groups and the
Islamic State ideology.
The Saudi education curriculum is
contentious in nature, and consists of textbooks and student workbooks for the
primary, middle and secondary education levels. It in a way reinforces the
Wahhabism school of thought described by many as an ultraconservative, deviant
sectarian movement and a distortion of Islam.
Knowing a little Arabic is adequate to be
able to browse through these textbooks and make a conclusion on this issue.
In fact, most Muslim intellectuals would
also agree with the fact that Saudi school textbooks are based on a “literal”
understanding of some of the verses in the Quran and Hadith, and those who are
indoctrinated by these discourses tend to falsely believe that “violence and
intolerance” are acceptable in the name of religion.
Propagation of Skewed Ideology
Children in Saudi Arabia, as well as in
Saudi-sponsored schools and madrasas all over the world, are indoctrinated or
brainwashed from a tender age, without wisdom, into hating followers of other
faiths. These young and impressionable minds are told that all others are “Kuffar”,
This approach to religion has undeniably
bred the violence and hatred that we see today among extremists in the likes of
the Islamic State and many other deviant Muslim groups.
Petro-dollars, Wahhabism and the political
desire for the Saudi religious guards to remain in power undemocratically, to
be influential and be more influential and dominant in the Sunni-Shia
hostilities, have pushed the propagation of their skewed ideology to many parts
of the world. This has contributed to the creation of some Muslim groups that
have adopted violence as a way of life.
In some non-Arabic speaking countries,
children are taught from youth to memorise verses from the Quran – never mind
if they do not understand the message or meaning of the verses. Here slips in
the proselytisation process to make these children blindly believe the sermons
of the unhinged mullahs whose distorted views of the religion leave much to be
Saudi schools’ religious studies curriculum
contains some detestable and provocative language concerning other religions
and Islamic traditions that they perceive as not adhering to their
interpretation of the Quran and Hadith.
The texts disparage other religious
practices and label Jews, Christians and disciples of other sects in Islam as
“unbelievers” with whom Muslims should not associate. This smacks of political
hegemony more than anything else.
The curriculum calls Jews, Christians and
adherents of other faiths the “disarrayed” and declares that it is the duty of
Muslims to excommunicate them. It says in the textbooks, “for whoever does not
detest them or whoever doubts their religious infidelity is himself an
Imagine if this content were found in our
local religious textbooks. God forbid. Nonetheless, aberrant elements of this
deviant cause are gradually seeping into the psyche of many local sympathisers
with some foreign-born preachers paving the way in subtle manners.
Lessons of ‘Hate’
Saudi Arabia does not allow public worship
by adherents of religions other than Islam. Its school religious textbooks are
but one aspect of an entire system of discrimination that promotes intolerance
towards those perceived as “non-believers” in their version of faith.
Students in Saudi schools are indoctrinated
to loathe all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought.
The classroom lessons in “hate” are reinforced at every level of the school
For instance, the textbook says to
recognise the approach of the Day of Resurrection, “the Hour will not come until
Muslims will fight the Jews, and Muslims will kill the Jews”.
The irony is that the Saudi Sunnis are now
a close ally of Israel and only recently pronounced that Jews should not be
killed but befriended!
Similarly, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia,
Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, issued a surprising religious ruling, saying that fighting
against Israel (the Jews) was inappropriate.
Another disturbing lesson in the curriculum
warns against imitating, associating with, or joining the “non-believers” in
their traditions and practices. It denounces the practice of celebrating the
birth of the Prophet, accusing these people of imitating Christians – the
“unbelievers” – in their celebration of the birth of Jesus. Those who make the
graves of prophets and the righteous into mosques are also considered
Saudi Arabia even had a plan to clear the
grave of the Prophet to make way for development! They have already cleared
many Islamic historical structures in the name of expansion and development for
the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages where they make billions of dollars
annually. Apparently, to the Saudi dynasty, money talks more than anything
Elements of Extremism
The textbooks also overtly call on Muslims
to reserve loyalty for God, the Prophet, and other believers and to express
enmity and resentment towards believers of other faiths.
It warns Muslims that by imitating
“unbelievers” or even joining them in their celebrations by wishing them, one
is at risk of displaying loyalty to them, and worse, becoming one of them.
These elements of extremism must have germinated from the thoughts of some
zealous groups among the Saudi mullahs who interpret the Quran and hadith
The Saudi way has always been to disparage
other religious groups and ban the public practice of other religions. This has
spurred provocation to hatred or discrimination. Saudi Arabia is not tolerant
of other people’s personal beliefs, regardless of which faith they are from –
an indication of incitement to discrimination and hostility.
Saudi Arabia has been promoting this menace
for more than half a century to consolidate its power base and influence. But
this has also backfired in many ways and Saudi Arabia has now come to realise
its self-made blunders that have created many extremist groups among the
Muslims, albeit a little bit too late.
As reported, Mohammad Salman Abdul Aziz
Al-Saud, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, is now calling for a review of the
school curriculum and a review of the books of Hadith and the literal understanding
of some of the verses in the Quran, which were revealed in the seventh century.
He said they should not be interpreted in the context of the past era and
circumstances but rather the present.
Wahhabism strictly adheres to a literal
interpretation of the Quran or Hadith, conforming to the era when the verses
were revealed or narrated. However, enlightened Muslim clerics of the 21st
century are of the opinion that many verses of the Quran should not be
interpreted literally in the present context, for instance:
wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing:
But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah. But
if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and
take no friends or helpers from their ranks.” (Quran, 4:89)
when your Lord inspired the angels… I will cast terror into the hearts of those
who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip
of them.” (Quran 8:12)
There are many more Hadith, authentic or
otherwise, denoting the same fervour, for instance:
Apostle said, ‘Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords’.” (Sahih
unbelievers is a small matter to us.” (Tabari, 9:69)
“I leapt upon him and cut off his head and
ran in the direction of the camp shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and my two companions
did likewise”. (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham, 990)
Broader Curriculum Overhaul Necessary to
Transform the Country
In the light of these self-created dilemmas
by the Saudi dynasty in the cradle of Islam, they have now admitted that a
broader curriculum overhaul is necessary to transform the country religiously,
culturally and economically. This has to be the way forward for Saudi Arabia
and the Muslim world in general.
News is that Saudi Arabia has embarked on a
programme to purify religious books of extremism by producing new books to be
taught in Saudi Arabia and distributed worldwide to some Muslim countries that
have been influenced by Saudi indoctrination. Even young imams in Saudi mosques
are now being moulded to abandon any extremist approach to Islam.
This is in line with Article 18 of the
International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, which states: “Everyone
shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right
shall include the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice,
and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or
in private, to manifest his religion or relief in worship, observance, practice
Putrajaya made the right decision to shut
down the Saudi-backed anti-terrorism centre, as it serves no purpose in a
multi-religious country like Malaysia and where the majority Muslims belong to
the Sunni school of thought.