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Syria’s Islamic Textbooks: Politics, Intolerance, and Dogma

Syria’s Islamic curriculum is discriminatory, divisive, and intolerant of non-Muslims. To prolong the Asad Alawite minority’s hold on power, the Islamic textbooks are loaded with political indoctrination, intolerance of the other, and dogma. This article argues that Syria’s Islamic education is designed to fortify the Asad regime’s strategies of exploiting Sunni Islam and maintaining a technical state of war with Israel.

 

 

Introduction

Religious education in Syria is compulsory; Sunni Islam for all Muslim students; Christianity for Christians. The school system is divided into three stages; the first six years represent the elementary stage, the next three years; the middle stage, and the last three years; the secondary stage. Muslim students between the ages of eight years in the third grade and eighteen years in the final year of high school are exposed in their Islamic studies to, among others, political indoctrination, intolerance of non-Muslims, and dogmatic instruction.

To study the government’s exploitation of the Islamic curriculum, this article will be divided into four parts. The first lists a sample of 40 quotations from the textbooks to demonstrate the regime’s agenda in using religious injunctions to shape and to control the thought process and value system of Syrian youth. The second part addresses the political agenda behind a purportedly “secular” Alawite regime embracing Sunni education and way of life. The third considers why Islam helps prolong the hold on power of non-representative regimes like Syria’s. Finally, the Appendix lists 100 quotations, selected from the textbooks on political indoctrination, intolerance of non-Muslims, and dogmatic instruction.

All ten textbooks under review are in current use. All were printed in 2010/2011. Textbooks for grades three, four, seven, and ten were revised and edited comprehensively in content, teaching method, and format in 2010 by a special committee formed by the ministerial order 2053/943 dated April 1, 2010. Eleventh grade textbook was revised “extensively” in the academic year 1996/1997. Twelfth grade textbook was revised “extensively” in the academic year 1997/1998. The rest of the textbooks, while printed in 2010/2011, were printed for the first time in 2001/2002 (fifth grade), 2002/2003 (sixth grade), and 2004/2005 (eighth and ninth grades). Quotations from the textbooks are my own translation from the Arabic original.

 

Acknowledgement. I would like to thank ALL4SYRIA Website for supplying me with the ten textbooks.

 

Syria’s Islamic textbooks’ agenda

Syria’s Islamic education is designed to help prolong the hold of the Asad clan on power. The Ministry of Education loads the Islamic textbooks with religious injunctions to obey Mr. Asad and support his politics. In the next three sections the Ministry’s use of the Islamic textbook to blend religious dictums with political indoctrination, intolerance of the other, and promotion of dogmatic reasoning will be outlined. An expanded selection of 100 such teachings appears in the Appendix.

 

Political indoctrination

The political indoctrination mission of Syria’s Ministry of Education may be gauged from the extensive use in the textbooks of words like Jihad, jihadist, war, martyr, martyrdom, Golan Heights, and criticism of Jews. Even adulations for the Asad presidents, Bashar and his father Hafiz, found their way into the Islamic curriculum.

 

In elementary school, third grade pupils learn from the Noah story that the Golan Heights and Jerusalem will be liberated no matter how long their occupation might last because Noah spent 950 years patiently imploring his people to worship God before he was blessed with God’s protection from the flood (third grade, p. 96). In fourth grade, impressionable children learn that the Muslim faithful endears himself [1] to God if he performs those acts that God loves the most; jihad, in particular (fourth grade, p. 93). A picture on page 95 depicting three boys throwing stones at an Israeli tank in a city street illustrates the message on page 93, with instruction to write two lines describing the role of children in defending the homeland (fourth grade, p. 95). Fifth graders are taught that Muslims must obey God, His Messenger, and those in authority amongst them (fifth grade, p. 56). Fifth graders are also lectured that jihad is among God’s best-loved acts (fifth grade, p. 77). In sixth grade, students learn that Palestinians’ defense of the Aqsa Mosque is the finest expression of national pride and dignity (sixth grade, p. 129), and that jihad delivers Muslims from darkness into light (sixth grade, p. 140).

 

In middle school, seventh grade students start by having to compose an essay describing the steadfastness and courageous stands of President Bashar Asad (seventh grade, p. 89). In eighth grade, students learn that Islam is the soul of the Arab nation (eighth grade, p. 131), and in ninth grade, they learn that Islam’s martyrs are alive in paradise enjoying God’s best care (ninth grade, p. 54). As for those who are slow to embrace the call for jihad, ninth graders are told they will suffer untold pain and humiliation on the earth and in the life after (ninth grade, p. 73).

 

In high school, energetic fifteen-year olds in tenth grade are taught that it is written that Muslims are destined to become fighters (tenth grade: p. 71). A year later, in eleventh grade, students are instructed to join the call for Jihad and be prepared to fight valiantly to prevail over the enemy (eleventh grade, p. 40). Eleventh graders are reminded of the greatness of the “eternal leader,” Hafiz Asad. They are lectured about the government’s scientific revolution, in particular since the “victory of the glorious corrective movement of the eternal leader”, who implemented in 1972 a program of compulsory education and provided all prerequisites needed to achieve the educational mission’s objectives (eleventh grade, p. 225). In twelfth grade, the final year of high school, the reward for jihadist’s martyrdom is emphasized; namely, God’s forgiveness of past sins and inheriting paradise (twelfth grade, p. 99). High school graduates are also taught that the Prophet Muhammad wished to die in battle so that God may resurrect Him, then be killed again so that God may resurrect Him again, then be killed three more times. They are informed that the Prophet’s companions always longed to either be victorious in battle or be blessed with martyrdom and paradise (twelfth grade, p. 100). Twelfth grade students are lectured that obedience to the Muslim ruler who applies God’s law is a duty (twelfth grade, p. 172), that rebellious Muslims against the Muslim ruler must be fought, even killed (twelfth grade, p. 173). Further, Muslims must fight atheists if they resist the Islamic state, or become its enemies, or prevent the proliferation of Islam’s message, or attack the land of Islam, after inviting the enemy to embrace Islam and explaining Islam’s teaching and principles (twelfth grade, p. 175).

 

Intolerance of non-Muslims

In third grade, children are taught that Noah’s story warns the non-believers that they will be tortured ruthlessly (third grade, p. 96). In fifth grade, students are instructed that Muslims must be kind and helpful to other Muslims (fifth grade, p. 43). Sixth graders are instructed that Muslims must undertake jihad against the polytheists, the enemies of religion who stand in the way of Islam (sixth grade, p. 7).

 

In middle school, seventh grade students are informed that the Prophet reportedly said: A Muslim who visits a brother in Islam who is in ill health or pays a courtesy visit to a brother in Islam will inherit paradise (al-Tirmithi Hadith collection) (seventh grade, p. 45). In eighth grade, the message of Muslims’ solidarity with one another and kindness to other Muslims is emphasized with a Hadith attributed to the prophet: Do not befriend any one except Muslims (Abi Dawood Hadith collection) (eighth grade, p. 79).

 

In high school, tenth grade students learn that the Quran has designated the Arab people as the best that has ever come to mankind (Quran, 3:110) (tenth grade, p. 77). In eleventh grade, students are taught that Jews never spare an effort to be the enemies of Muslims or to describe the Prophet Muhammad as a liar. Eleventh graders are also informed that the Jewish people are falsifiers of holy books and collaborators with polytheists and atheists against Muslims (eleventh grade, p. 33); and that Jews are stubborn, arrogant, and do not honor their agreements (eleventh grade, pp. 63 and 65). In the final year of high school, twelfth grade students are taught that God has denied the Jewish people certain food delicacies as a punishment for disobeying Him (twelfth grade: p. 61).

 

Dogmatic reasoning

In third grade, students learn that Noah spent nine hundred and fifty years imploring his people to worship God (third grade, p. 95). Fourth graders are taught that reliance on God is what makes foodstuffs grow (fourth grade, p. 52). In fifth grade, ten-year old pupils learn that among the benefits Muslims enjoy from repenting their sins are rain and verdant gardens (fifth grade, p. 66). Sixth grade children are informed that disease and drought are God’s punishment for man’s sins (sixth grade, p. 75).

 

In middle school, seventh grade students are informed that angels’ obedience to God should set the example for Muslims to obey God (seventh grade, p. 58). Eighth grade pupils are taught that the eclipse of the sun and the moon is a reminder of God’s power over the planets and that God’s help must be sought if the illumination of the sun or the moon is to be restored (eighth grade, p. 123). Eighth grade pupils are also taught that drought is God’s punishment for man’s disobedience and that in order for it to rain again, the rain prayer must be performed (eighth grade, p. 125). In ninth grade, students learn that God controls the universe and that the belief in predestination is a duty imposed upon all Muslims (ninth grade, p. 128).

 

In high school, tenth grade students are lectured that the Quran confirms the day of resurrection with evidence and proof (tenth grade, p. 9) and that Islam is a religion valid and applicable to all places and all time (tenth grade, pp. 43, 80, and 96). In eleventh grade students are taught that the Islamic Shari’a is valid and applicable to all places and all time (eleventh grade, p. 182). In twelfth grade, 18-year old savvy young men and women are taught that God created the mountains in order to keep the earth in equilibrium and that such creation proves the miracle of Quranic science (twelfth grade, p. 14).

 

The political agenda behind an Alawite regime adopting Sunni education

Syria’s population of 22 million is home to peoples with a wide variety of backgrounds. More than 70% of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim. There are religious minorities of Alawites; estimated at about 12%, Christians; less than 10%, Druze; some 3%, and Ismailis; around 2%.[2] The Alawite minority sect has been ruling Syria as a police state with an iron fist since the mid 1960s.

 

Who are the Alawites? The Alawites are thought to be a heterodox Ismaili sect, despised by Sunnis. They have inhabited Syria’s northern Mediterranean mountainous region since the tenth century. Sunnis consider the Alawites as heretics. The famous Sunni theologian Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), condemned the heterodox Alawites as being more dangerous than the Christians, and encouraged Muslims to conduct jihad against them.[3] Until Alawite officers took power in a military coup in 1963, their homeland was destitute. Centuries of Sunni subjugation and persecution left deep scars on the collective memory of the Alawite minority.

 

In addition to a security machine renowned for its brutality, the ruling Asad clan and their Baath Party pursue two strategies to prolong their hold on power: First, exploit Sunni Islam. Secondly, maintain a technical state of war with Israel. Each strategy is aimed at two audiences—domestic and foreign. The following will show how Syria’s Islamic textbooks sharpen the effectiveness of both strategies.

 

Exploiting Sunni Islam

Notwithstanding the Baath Party’s secular constitution, the Asad regime exploits Sunni Islam to achieve two objectives—appease Syria’s Sunni majority and frighten Western powers with the Islamist alternative.

 

Exploiting Sunni Islam to appease Syria’s Sunni majority

The Baath Party’s holy trinity is Arab unity, freedom, and socialism. There is no mention of Islam in the Party’s constitution.[4]

 

Despite the Asad dynasty’s obsession with projecting itself as a “secular” regime, its exploitation of Sunni Islam has reached remarkable heights. In addition to a compulsory Sunni curriculum to all Muslim students, three main strategies manifest the regime’s disinterest in its secular roots.

 

First, in the constitution of 1973, promulgated during the reign of Hafiz Asad,[5] article 3.1 makes Islam the necessary religion of the president. Article 3.2 makes Islam “a main source” of legislation. Having failed to abolish articles 3.1 and 3.2, and to remove a barrier to his presidency, Hafiz al-Asad appealed in 1973 to the imam Musa al-Sadr, an influential cleric and head of the Higher Shi’i Council in Lebanon, to issue a fatwa that the Alawites are indeed a community of Shi’i Islam[6], which the imam duly issued.


The second strategy is to safeguard seventh century Shari’a laws and courts in personal status, family, and inheritance affairs (non-Muslims follow their own religious courts). Shari’a law is the antithesis of the liberal laws of the modern age. It denies women many legal rights compared with Muslim men. It impinges on women’s human rights, and reduces their status to that of chattel;
a Muslim man can marry four wives and divorce any one of them without giving reason, leaving the woman with limited child custody rights, housing, or alimony. “Honour killing” of a woman by a male relative results in a light sentence and two women equal one man in legal testimony, witness, and inheritance. Further, eleventh grade students are taught that a human orphan is the child whose father had died, while an animal orphan is the animal whose mother had died (eleventh grade, p. 92).

 

Teaching students that seventh century Islamic Shari’a is valid and applicable to all places and all time (tenth grade; pp. 43, 80, and 96, eleventh grade; p. 182) helps retain the country’s archaic Shari’a law and courts. Such maltreatment of one half of society contradicts the government’s propagation at home and abroad of an image of modernity and equality between the genders.

 

The third strategy is to flaunt the regime’s Islamic rituals. The president is careful to attend prayer in Damascus’ famous Umayyad Mosque on Islamic occasions to media fanfare. Religious events are national holidays. During the month of Ramadan, the working hours of government and private offices are reduced and altered. Special programming on the all-government radio and television stations takes over the airwaves. More mosques, bigger congregations, and more veiled women than ever before have become the order of the day in Syrian cities.

At the direction of President Bashar Asad, a special rain prayer, Salat al-Istisqaa, was performed on December 10, 2010 throughout Syria’s mosques. Students are taught that drought is God’s punishment for man’s sins (fourth grade; p. 52, fifth grade; p. 66, sixth grade; p. 75) and that for it to rain again the rain prayer must be performed (eighth grade, p. 125). The rain prayer is a performance reminiscent of ancient tribal rites in Africa, America, and Australia. The ritual is equivalent to the church’s insistence in the Middle Ages that the earth was flat; lightening was evidence of God's unhappiness with mankind; destructive storms were Satan's work; and ringing church bells would pacify bad weather. That was in the seventeen century. But, for a “secular” Syrian government in the twenty-first century to engage in the collective lunacy of salat al-istisqaa is an affront to human intelligence. For such a government to teach its young that the eclipses of the sun and the moon are reminders of God’s power over the planets (eighth grade, p. 123) is intellectual abuse. To repeatedly direct students between the ages of ten and eighteen years to believe in predestination (Appendix, fifth grade; pp. 39 and 52, sixth grade; pp. 99 and 110, ninth grade; p.128 and 107, twelfth grade; p. 133) is to produce voodoo scientists. And, to lecture 18-year old modern students in the final year of high school that God created the mountains in order to keep the earth in equilibrium (twelfth grade, p. 14) is to anesthetize the brain.[7] A mind is, indeed, a terrible thing to waste.

 

To gain support from the Sunni palace ulama and mollify the Sunni street following the March 2011 violent confrontations between the Asad clan’s soldiers and demonstrators, the president acted to appease the Sunni community. The popular cleric Muhammad Saiid al-Bouti praised Mr. Asad in his weekly religious program on April 5, 2011 on Syrian government television. Mr. al-Bouti applauded Mr. Asad’s permission to allow niqab-wearing (black face cover except for the eyes) female teachers; transferred in July 2010 to desk duties[8] to return to classrooms. Earlier, Mr. al-Bouti had attributed the drought in December 2010 to the transfer from classrooms of the niqab-wearing female teachers. Mr. al-Bouti also praised Mr. Asad forthe formation of the Sham Institute for Advanced Shari’a Studies and Research, and for the establishment of an Islamic satellite television station dedicated to proclaiming the message of Islam.[9]Syria’s first and only casino, which had enraged Islamists when it opened on New Year’s Eve, would be closed as well.[10] The founding fathers of the secular Baath Party must be turning in their graves.

 

Exploiting Sunni Islam to frighten Western powers with the Islamist alternative

Islamism is worrisome to Europe, Israel, and the United States. Damascus plays the Islamist card cleverly to frighten Western powers with the Islamist alternative. In the hand of Mr. Asad, the Islamist card is blackmail for legitimacy. Mr. Asad allows the Islamist threat in Syria to remain sufficiently alive but too weak to pose a serious threat to his regime— Islamists are regularly rounded up and since 1980, membership in the Muslim Brothers organization has been a crime punishable by death.

 

Syria is not unique in this regard. For decades, Arab kings and presidents promoted in Washington and Western circles the self-serving notion that if Islamists were to ever accede to power, American and Western interests would suffer, Without convincing evidence, every single Arab regime has accused Islamist elements of being behind the popular uprisings that engulfed Arab countries since the beginning of 2011. Such warnings have allowed Arab rulers to build police states with monumental human rights abuses and corruption. Such warnings have been accepted by Western powers, despite the fact that the Arab world’s most extreme Islamist regime; Wahhabi Saudi Arabia is among America’s closest and most obsequious allies.

 

Maintaining a technical state of war with Israel

Just like its exploitation of Sunni Islam, the Asad regime has turned a technical state of war with Israel into a tool to control the masses at home and to shape the regime’s regional politics.

 
Maintaining a technical state of war to control the masses at home

A daily diet of nationalistic rhetoric and a long list of restrictions on personal liberties have become a way of life in Syria; ostensibly in the name of the confrontation with Israel, but in reality to prolong the hold of the Asad regime on power. The religious textbooks are helpful. They glorify jihad and jihadists (fourth grade; pp. 93, 94, and 95, fifth grade; p. 77, sixth grade; p. 140, seventh grade; p. 40, tenth grade; p. 71, twelfth grade; p. 100). The textbooks promise paradise to the martyrs (ninth grade; p. 54, twelfth grade; p. 99), threaten those slow to answer the call to jihad with God’s eternal damnation (ninth grade, p. 73), urge blind obedience to the Asad rule (fifth grade; p. 56, seventh grade; p. 89, eleventh grade; p. 225, twelfth grade; pp. 172 and 173), and condemn the Jewish people (eleventh grade; pp. 33, 63 and 65, twelfth grade; p. 61). Together, such injunctions solemnize the government calls to defend the homeland and recover the occupied Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and the Aqsa Mosque (third grade; p. 96, sixth grade; p. 129).

 

Maintaining a technical state of war to shape the regime’s regional politics

Mr. Asad’s support of Sunni Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Shi’ite Hizbollah in Lebanon not only demonstrates the regime’s commitment to Islamic and nationalistic causes but also politicizes Islam in Syria’s domestic and regional Arab discourse. Westernfear of Islamists, combined with a peaceful Golan Heights for the past thirty-five years keeps Western powers patient with Damascus—the devil they know is better than the devil they don’t.

 

Why is Islam helpful to Muslim dictatorships?

The Quran and the Prophetic Sunna enjoin Muslims to obey the Muslim ruler blindly. In 4:59, the Quran demands: “Obey God and obey God’s messenger and obey those of authority among you.” The effects of 4:59 transcend all layers of hierarchy—the male over the female, the father over the children and wife (or wives), the teacher over the student, the employer over the employee, the ruler over the ruled, and so forth.

 

Sunna traditions amplify the Quran. Answering how a Muslim should react to a ruler who does not follow the true guidance, the Prophet reportedly said, according to Sahih Muslim: “He who obeys me obeys God; he who disobeys me, disobeys God. He who obeys the ruler, obeys me; he who disobeys the ruler, disobeys me.”[11]  Such wording or its equivalent occurs two dozen times in Sahih Muslim. Abi Da’ud (d. 888) and Ibn Maja (d. 886) quote the Prophet as imploring Muslims to hear and obey the ruler, even if he were an Ethiopian slave.[12] Al-Bukhari (d. 870) quotes similar traditions.[13]

 

Taking advantage of Quranic and Hadith injunctions, the textbooks urge obedience to the Asad clan (fifth grade; p. 56, seventh grade; p. 89, eleventh grade; p. 225, twelfth grade; pp. 172 and 173).

 

Syrians, like other Arabs, embrace Islam tightly. The Prophet, His Companions, the Quran, and the holy Muslim sanctuaries in Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem are all Arabic. In 3:110, the Quran describes the Arab peoples as the “best race evolved to mankind” (Appendix, tenth grade; p. 77, eleventh grade; p. 133). Arabs feel they are the guardians of an Arabic religion.

 

Further, the Syrian masses are obsessed with the belief in predestination, a core belief in the Islamic creed. The textbooks teach that the belief in predestination is one of the six foundations of Islam (Appendix, fifth grade; pp. 39 and 52, sixth grade; pp. 99 and 110, ninth grade; p.128 and 107, twelfth grade; p. 133). Generally, Muslims attribute all good and bad in life to the will of God. Bad rulers are accepted as if they were ordained by God’s will.

 

Conclusion

Syria’s religious curriculum makes all Muslim students regardless of sect read Sunni Islam. Not a word or a single reference is made in the textbooks to the beliefs and interpretations of the Islamic creed according to the doctrines of Syria’s Alawite, Ismaili, or Druze minorities. In so doing, the Asads have sacrificed the Alawite identity (as well those of Ismailis and Druzes), outwardly at least, in order to appease the Sunni majority. Joshua Landis put it aptly: “The Asads have struggled to be good Sunnis, not to make Sunnis into good liberals.”[14]

 

That a unified Islamic curriculum under the Sunni banner eliminates sectarianism in Syria is wishful thinking. Non-Sunni Muslim families are thought to be resentful of the Sunni classes. As minorities, while they support the Alawite regime politically they protect their cultural identity by teaching the children at home the tenets of the specific sect to which they belong.

 

Syria’s Islamic school education is discriminatory, divisive and intolerant of non-Muslims. Nowhere in the textbooks is there even a hint to be kind or helpful to non-Muslims. The textbooks order kindness and support to Muslims alone (fifth grade; p. 43, seventh grade; p. 45, eighth grade, p. 79). From the third grade to twelfth grade, the textbooks are loaded with antagonistic, prejudiced, and violent references against polytheists, atheist, and other non-Muslim enemies (third grade; p. 96, sixth grade; p. 7, eighth grade; p. 79, tenth grade; p. 77), the eighty percent of the world population who are disallowed from entering Mecca and Medina.

 

Although, the Jewish people are regarded in Islam as “people of the book”, the textbooks reserve their sharpest criticism for Jews (eleventh grade; pp. 33, 63 and 65, twelfth grade; p. 61). On the other hand, references to Christians, also “people of the book” are conspicuously absent; though, orthodox Sunnis regard Christians as polytheists by virtue of the church’s belief in the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

 

To enhance understanding among Syria’s tapestry of different religions and sects, to diminish sectarianism and develop a culture of respect to the other, the beliefs of all religions and religious sects should be taught to all citizens, not only in classrooms but also in the national discourse, in mosques, churches, and through the media. Syria’s Sunni majority needs to learn just as much about Shi’ite sects, about Christianity, from Alawite, Druze, Ismaili, and Christian clerics as these minorities need to learn about Sunnism from the Sunni clerics.

 

If Syria’s regime were to be true to the “secular” image it so keenly seeks to propagate, a curriculum based on comparative religious thought or on the study of ethics and morality should replace both Muslim and Christian curricula that exist today. It is only then that Syria would live up to article 25 of its own constitution: “Citizens are equal before the law in their rights and duties”.

 

 

 

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Appendix
 
Political Indoctrination


Third Grade

The textbook was revised and printed for the first time in 2010/2011. It is 98 pages.

 

Page 32: As I learned of the suffering of the children of the Golan Heights, Palestine, and Iraq I prayed: Oh Lord, please make the children of the Golan Heights, Palestine, and Iraq victorious.

 

Page 75: Piety plants in the heart the love to serve and build the homeland.

 

Page 85: Good work leads to paradise. Should the enemy attack our beloved homeland, we will fight him. As I learned that my friend saves some of his money to help our families in the Golan Heights and Palestine, I followed his example.

 

Page 96: Noah implored his people to worship God for 950 years without success. The way God gave Noah victory after such a long time promises that the Golan Heights and Jerusalem will be liberated regardless of how long their occupation might last, God willing.

 

Page 98: Compose a prayer to express your love of and longing to liberate the Golan Heights and the Aqsa Mosque.

 

Fourth Grade

The textbook was revised and printed for the first time in 2010/2011. It is 107 pages.

 

Page 93: A faithful endears himself to God if he performs those acts that God loves the most; particularly, jihad and resistance to protect the homeland, dispel aggression, liberate the occupied land, and defend all that is sacred. 

 

Page 94: Defending the homeland and all that is sacred is the way to escape hell’s fire.

 

Page 94: A picture of a soldier in a rugged terrain aiming a machine gun is depicted.

 

Page 95: A picture of three boys throwing stones at an Israeli tank in a city street with instruction to write two lines describing the role of children in defending the homeland is depicted.

 

Page 96: Defending the homeland is a way to get closer to God.

 

Fifth Grade

The textbook was printed in 2009/2010. It was printed for the first time in 2001/2002. It is 214 pages.

 

Page 56: Muslims must obey God, His Messenger, and those in authority amongst them.

 

Page 77: Jihad is among God’s best-loved acts.

 

Page 87: Jihad should be undertaken in terms of money and self-sacrifice.

 

Sixth Grade

The textbook was printed in 2010/2011. It was printed for the first time in 2002/2003. It is 184 pages.

 

Page 15: True believers are eager to undertake jihad in defense of Islam and in support of God’s messenger.

 

Page 129: There is no doubt that a Muslim’s pride in Islam and God drives him to defend his homeland. Palestinians’ defense of the Aqsa Mosque, the house of God, the land of the prophets, and the Prophet Muhammad’s night journeys (isra’ and mi’raj) are nothing but an expression of national pride and dignity.

 

Page 140: Jihad delivers Muslims from darkness into light.

 

Seventh Grade

The textbook was revised and printed for the first time in 2010/2011. It is 119 pages.

 

Page 54: Heroes are those who protect the homeland and stand ready to give their lives in its defense and liberation from occupation.

 

Page 56: Compose an essay showing the glory of martyrdom and Syria’s support of its martyrs and their families.

 

Page 85: A picture depicting five soldiers in battle in a rugged terrain with machineguns, a tank, and a bomber is used to illustrate courage in battle.

 

Page 89: Write an essay about the steadfastness and courageous stands of President Bashar al-Asad in facing the threats aimed at our homeland. Search the Internet to show the heroism of the Syrian army in the liberation war of October 1973 and write a one-page essay.

 

Page 104: Search the Internet for images that show the heroism of Palestinian children and other images that show the massacres committed by the terrorist Zionist entity in Palestine (particularly the phosphorous attack on the Gaza Strip) with a commentary that confirms the ugliness of Zionist practices.

 

Eighth Grade:

The textbook was printed in 2010/2011. It was printed for the first time in 2004/2005. It is 184 pages.

 

Page131: Islam is the soul of the Arab nation.

 

Ninth Grade

The textbook was printed in 2010/2011. It was printed for the first time in 2004/2005. It is 216 pages.

 

Pages 54: The martyrs in the way of God are alive and well in paradise enjoying God’s best care.

 

Pages 73: Those who are slow to embrace the call for jihad will suffer pain and humiliation on the earth and in the life after.

 

Page 83: Islam legislated in favor of jihad in order to glorify the word of God, repel aggression, liberate the occupied land, and defend our rights to all that is sacred.

 

Tenth Grade

The textbook was revised and printed for the first time in 2010/2011. It is 106 pages.

 

Page 71: “It is written that you are destined to engage in fighting” (Quran, 2: 216).

 

Eleventh Grade

The textbook was printed in 2010/2011. It was printed for the first time in 1996/1997 with “extensive” revision. It is 243 pages.

 

Page 40: We must be prepared to fight and prevail over the enemy. We must respond positively to the call for Jihad without hesitation. Jihad is a duty to remove injustice, liberate nations, and protect the weak wherever they are, out of love to God, not love to spill blood and enslave others.

 

Page 49 and 50: A jihadist is better than a non-jihadist (unless the non-jihadist is excused from Jihad by a legal Shari’a exemption). Migration to a different land is permitted whenever a Muslim cannot practice Islam freely. Muslims must fight and persevere in battle because the enemy is not better than Muslims in war.

 

Page 225: Education in Islam is compulsory and free. The government bears all expenses associated with education. Islam is the world’s first system to make education free.

In view of the keen interest of the Syrian revolution and of the eternal leader Hafiz al-Asad to promote learning and the acquisition of knowledge, very many schools have been built in Syria’s rural areas and cities. Books are made available in elementary schools free of charge. Syria’s government launched a scientific revolution on all levels of education, particularly following the victory of the glorious corrective movement, led by the eternal leader, Hafiz al-Asad, who implemented in 1972 a program of compulsory education and provided all prerequisites needed to attain the educational mission’s objectives. In 1981, education in Syria became compulsory by law.

 

Twelfth Grade

The textbook was printed in 2010/2011. It was printed for the first time in 1969/1970. It was revised “extensively” in 1997/1998. It is 249 pages.

 

Page 46: A Muslim must abide by God’s orders in the Quran. The Quran is the primary source of legislation.

 

Page 99: The reward for jihadist’s martyrdom is God’s forgiveness of past sins and inheriting paradise.

 

Page 100: Since jihad is Islam’s highest honor and since jihadists enjoy great standing in the eye of God, the Prophet wished to die in battle so that God may resurrect Him, then be killed again so that God may resurrect Him again, then be killed three more times. In battle, the Prophet’s companions always longed to either be victorious or be blessed with martyrdom and paradise forever. 

 

Page 172: Obedience to the ruler who applies God’s law is a duty.

 

Page 173: In order to preserve the unity and solidarity of the nation (umma), rebellious Muslims are considered dangerous renegades and must be fought, even killed, under the leadership of the Muslim ruler. 

 

Page 175: The general meaning of jihad: Acting to promote the glory of God by all means possible; in learning, writing, or money. Jihad, also, means the struggle to become pious and strong in the belief in God and avoid temptation and sin.

 

The special meaning of jihad: Muslims must fight atheists if they resist the Islamic state, or become its enemies, or prevent the proliferation of Islam’s message, or attack the land of Islam, after inviting them to embrace Islam and explaining Islam’s teaching and principles.

 

Page 177: If attacked, all Muslims, men and women, must defend Muslim lands, honor, property, or all that Muslims hold sacred. Such duty is not limited to the citizens of the attacked country alone, but extends to Muslims worldwide.

 

Every Muslim must stand up to defend the occupied land, stolen by Zionists who made its original inhabitants refugees and stole their homes, farms, and resources. Whoever fails to honor this call would be committing a grave sin. That jihad is a duty upon Muslims is derived from the fact that Islam prohibits desertion from battlefield.

 

Page 178: Given the importance of jihad in protecting society and guaranteeing the safety its creed, honor and resources, therefore:

 

A. Islam calls for jihad repeatedly and fervently: “Go to war, whether it be easy or difficult and strive hard in God's cause with your possessions and your lives” (Quran, 9:41).

 

B. Islam promised paradise to jihadists: “God has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them paradise in return” (Quran, 9:111).

 

C. Islam warned those who are slow to embrace jihad with harsh punishment on the earth and after death: “If you do not go to war God will torture you severely and will place another people in your stead” (Quran, 9:39)

 

D. Running away from the battlefield is the gravest of the graves: “When you battle those who are bent on atheism, do not turn your back. Whoever on that day turns his back shall indeed have earned God's condemnation, and shall be in hell (Quran, 8:15-16).

 

Pages 179 and 180: Preparation for jihad should involve psychological readiness, physical endurance, military training, and a strong media machine to make Muslims embrace hard work, avoid laziness, and ignore enemy propaganda. 

 

Muslims must explain to non-Muslims Islam’s humanistic mission. If the non-believers refuse to embrace Islam and act instead to derail its mission or attack the Muslim state, then fighting becomes a must.

 

Pages 221 and 222: Colonialism is an ugly blight that had befallen the Arab nation for a very long time. Colonialism had been a nasty aggression against the political, economic, cultural, and social structures of the Muslim Arab nation. On Arab land, a Jewish national home was created in Palestine. Colonialist monopolistic companies exploited the working classes and distorted the teachings of Islam in order to discourage national struggle and hard work.

 

 

Intolerance of non-Muslims

 

Third Grade

Page 96: Noah’s story shows that the non-believers will be tortured ruthlessly.

 

Fifth Grade

Page 43: Muslims must be kind and helpful to other Muslims.

 

Sixth Grade

Page 7: Muslims must undertake jihad against the polytheists, the enemies of religion who stand in the way of Islam.

 

Seventh Grade

Page 39: The Prophet encouraged Muslims to greet each other so that peace and love amongst them would be maintained.

 

Page 45: The Prophet reportedly said: A Muslim who visits a brother in Islam who is in ill health or pay a courtesy visit to a brother in Islam will inherit paradise (al-Tirmithi Hadith collection).

 

Eighth Grade

P. 79: The Prophet reportedly said: Do not befriend any one except Muslims (Abi Dawood Hadith collection).

 

Tenth Grade

Page 77: The Arab people are the best people to have ever come to mankind.

 

Eleventh Grade

Page 33: Jews will never spare an effort to be our enemies, to claim that our Prophet is a liar, to propagate against us, and to falsify holy books. Jews collaborate with polytheists and atheists against Muslims because they see in Islam a religion that uncovers their trickery and evilness. Among the reasons behind Jewish enmity toward Arabs is that God sent Muhammad as the last and final Prophet from the Arabic People while Jews believe that prophethood is a monopoly of theirs.

 

Page 34: Draw from the Quran characteristics of the Jewish people. Explain the reasons behind Jewish enmity toward Arabs.

 

Page 63 and 65: Jews are stubborn, arrogant, and do not honor agreements.

 

List the most relevant characteristics of the Jewish people as explained in the Quranic sentences quoted in this chapter. Draw conclusions as to the lessons learned from exposing Jewish peoples’ characteristics as described in so many Quranic chapters.

 

Page 92: A human orphan is the child whose father had died. An animal orphan is the animal whose mother had died.

 

Page 105: A Muslim does not infringe on the rights or cheat another Muslim. A Muslim must help his brother in Islam. A Muslim must not ridicule another Muslim.

 

Page 133: The Arab people are the best people to have ever come to mankind (Quran, 3:110).

 

Page 215: Death is the punishment for apostasy from Islam.

 

Twelfth Grade

Page 60: God denied Jews certain delicious food items due to their injustice and as a punishment for disobeying God.

 

Page 61: Why has God denied Jews delicious food items? Indicate the Quranic sentence that specifies such prohibition?

 
 
Dogmatic Teaching

 

Third Grade

Page 31: God is the protector of our country.

 

Page 95: Noah implored his people for 950-year effort to worship God.

 

Fourth Grade

Page 52: Dependency on God leads to earning an honest living, helps to guide others on the right path, and to grow ample produce from the land.

 

Fifth Grade

Pages 39 and 52: Among the six foundations of Islam is the belief in angels, in predestination, and in the day of resurrection.

 

Page 66: Among the benefits Muslims receive from repenting their sins are God’s sending of rain and the spread of verdant gardens.

 

Sixth Grade

Page 11: Belief in God combined with blind obedience lead to paradise.

 

Page 66: Rain makes vegetation possible and quenches the thirsty so that each creature gets whatever God allocates.

 

Page 72: God knows what might exist in the womb, the fetus’ sex, its description, stage of development, and all that is needed for its growth from conception till delivery.

 

Page 74: God is most generous. He sends desperately needed rain to rescue people from drought.

 

Page 75: God’s wisdom decrees that there is no penalty without a cause and that repenting is the only way to God’s forgiveness. If you are afflicted by disease and drought you should know that your sins have brought God’s punishment upon you.

 

Pages 99 and 110: Among the six foundations of Islam is the belief in angels, in the day of resurrection, and in predestination: Good or bad.

 
Page 141: On Friday the 17th of Ramadan, God aided Muhammad and his 314 Muslim fighters in the battle of Badr by sending one thousand angles to help defeat their one thousand polytheists from Macca’s Quraish Tribe.

 

Page 145: The Prophet miraculously cured the injured leg of a companion, Abu Bakr, by simply touching it.

 

Seventh Grade

Page 12: God sends rain after the people have lost hope.

 

Page 57: Angels are God’s soldiers entrusted with performing great duties.

 

Page 58: Angels’ obedience to God should set the example for Muslims to obey God to inherit paradise.

 

Eighth Grade

Page 11 and 12 describe scenes from the day of resurrection and the punishment that awaits the non-believers.

 

Page 34: The existence of man on the earth, growing foodstuffs, and sending clean water are signs of God’s capacity to create and resurrect.

 

Page 99: Miracles are acts incomprehensible to the human mind. Miracles are impossible for humans to emulate, like the miracle of the flowing water from between the Prophet’s fingers.  

 

Page 123: The eclipse prayer. Eclipse of the sun and the moon is a reminder of God’s power over the planets and of the need to seek God’s help if their illumination is to be restored to normalcy and avert disaster.

 

Page 125: The rain prayer. Drought occurs when people commit sin and disobey God. To rain again, the rain prayer should be performed.

 

Page 127: The Prophet reportedly said: Fasting the ninth day of the Arabic month Dhul Hijja absolves two years’ worth of sins past and future. Fasting the tenth day of the Arabic month Muharram absolves one year’s worth of past sins (Ahmad Hadith collection).

 

Ninth Grade

Page 60: God rewards pious believers with the privilege of angels’ guidance.

 

Page 70: God’s powers and generosity are shown in delivering water to the earth and making crops grow.

 

Page 107: Among the six foundations of Islam is the belief in angels, in the day of resurrection, and in predestination.

 

Page 123: God has assigned to the angel of death special assistants to perform two different duties: The first is to treat the soul of the believers gently and assure them of paradise. The second is to torture the soul of the non-believers.

 

Page 128: God controls the universe. The belief in predestination is a duty.

 

Tenth Grade

Page 9: Miracles cited in the Quran prove Muhammad’s prophethood. The Quran confirms the day of resurrection with evidence and proof.

 

Page 23: Address the scientific evidence that would show God’s power behind creating the universe.

 

Page 43, 80, and 96: Islam is a religion valid and applicable to all places and time.

 

Page 75: God says in the Quran: “There is not a creature on the earth whose sustenance is not provided for by God” (Quran, 11: 6).

 

Eleventh Grade

Page 182: The Islamic Shari’a is valid and applicable to all places and all times.

 

Twelfth Grade

Page 14: God created mountains on the earth in order to keep the earth in equilibrium; proving the miracle of Quranic science.

 

Page 133: Among the six foundations of Islam is the belief in angels, in the day of resurrection, and in predestination whether good or bad.

 

 

 

 


[1] Please note that all references to persons throughout the textbooks are in the male gender.

[2]Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook - Syria

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html

[3]Seale,Asad, the Struggle for the Middle East, 10.

[4] Constitution of the Baath Party

http://www.baath-party.org/eng/constitution2.htm

[5] Constitution of Syria

http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sy00000_.html

[6]Seale,Asad, the Struggle for the Middle East,173

[7] For more voodoo science, please see “Dogmatic teaching” in the Appendix

[8]Syria Today, No Place for the Niqab, August 2010, 

http://www.syria-today.com/index.php/politics/11359-no-place-for-the-niqab

[9] Syria Steps, The Leadership Responded Positively to the Demands of the Men of Religion, April 6, 2011,

http://www.syriasteps.com/index.php?d=110&id=65907&in_main_page=1

[10] The New York Times, Syria Tries to Placate Sunnis and Kurds, April 6, 2011,
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/world/middleeast/07syria.html?_r=1&hpw

[11] The Six Books Sahih Muslim, traditions 4746 to 4763, pp. 1007-1008 and traditions 4782 to 4793, pp. 1009-1010.

[12] Ibid., Sunan Abi Da’ud, tradition 4607, p. 1561; and Sunan Ibn Maja, tradition 42, p. 2479.

[13] Ibid., Sahih al-Bukhari, traditions 7137 and 7142, p. 595.

[14] For an excellent research paper on the subject, please see: Joshua Landis, Islamic Education in Syria: Undoing Secularism. Prepared for Constructs of Inclusion and Exclusion: Religion and Identity Formation in Middle Eastern School Curricula, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, November 2003,

http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/Islamic%20Education%20in%20Syria.htm