Saudi Textbooks Poison Kids, Delight Islamophobes


The new year holiday is finally giving me time to get up a few more posts on textbook materials shared by readers. Apologies to everyone who sent in material that we didn’t get to posting until now. Wishing everyone a happy 2020!

All the materials our readers have been sending are problematic. But Amjad in Virginia sends a real doozy. This one is from a textbook funded and produced in Saudi Arabia, though it is designed to be used by English-speaking students around the world. Scholars from America, the UK, and South Africa helped put it together. But like you might suspect of any Islamic education textbooks produced in Saudi Arabia, it has some wacky material, as Amjad explains.

“This textbook is like a caricature of what an Islamophobe thinks about our community: all Muslims want to establish Sharia. Look at what it says.

‘It is important for Islamic states to establish the religion of Islam as the ultimate criterion for deciding issues of varying nature. Islamic law must be implemented or sincere attempts to bring it into vogue must be continuously followed, [including but not limited to] Hudud and Qisas.’

“What this really means is: any country with a majority Muslim population, or which aims to follow Islamic principles, must establish an Islamic state. This attitude is what has destroyed many Muslim-majority countries. I came to America because I didn’t want my children to deal with these crazy ideologies.

“I want my kids to be proud Muslims and feel connected to their tradition – not to think themselves to be ‘bad’ Muslims for not being fanatics. I wanted my kids to learn a spiritual and moral code when I decided to send my kids to the Islamic school. Instead, I discovered they were indoctrinated with a political ideology.

Here in America we are free to practice our religion, which is great. I don’t want my kids thinking they need to impose their religion on other people. Here we don’t need to be squeezed between dictators and fanatics. But even here my children seem not to be entirely safe from the problems I tried to leave behind. This textbook is part of the problem, not the solution.