The Education of Hatred

Continuing on the theme of education, (see the previous post and its comment for good points abot the state of our local educational system - in which I claim, and still do, that it is, for all practical purposes, broken) here is a story from the Washington Post which has garnered a fair amount of press today. The article basically says that since 9/11, Saudi Arabian Islamic education has been changed to try and teach children the importance of living in tolerance of other peoples' beliefs.

The story states that a year ago, an embassy spokesman declared: "We have reviewed our educational curriculums. We have removed materials that are inciteful or intolerant towards people of other faiths." The embassy is also distributing a 74-page review on curriculum reform to show that the textbooks have been moderated.

The problem is: These claims are not true.

The point should be made here that elementary education is the foundation of Saudi Arabia's political ideology, and students are taught the "appropriate" interpretation of Islam. Islamic studies make up 25-30 percent of the daily educational menu. The public school system consists of 25,000 schools, educating about 5 million students, not counting those abroad taught in facilities in other countries (including the US).

I ask you, is this REFORM???


"Every religion other than Islam is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."

Fourth Grade

"True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."

Fifth Grade

"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."

"It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."

"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."

Sixth Grade

"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."

Eighth Grade

"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

"God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did."

"They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them]."

"Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God."

"Activity: The student writes a composition on the danger of imitating the infidels."

Ninth Grade

"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."

"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him."

Tenth Grade

The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:

"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."

Eleventh Grade

"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."

"If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims."

"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."

Twelfth Grade

"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

There is an interesting comment I am thining about making here, but I have chosen to NOT make it, to see if it pops up in someone else's head here inte form of a comment - we shall see.

On a contrasting note, I read a story this morning about the visit of Professor Elie Wiesel to Snow College 2 days ago. (here) Prof Wiesel is an Auschwitz survivor (I beleive - it isn't 100% clear from the text - but the assumption is easy, based on the context).

He spoke about forgiveness and tolerance. Excuse me, but is not this person, on behalf of all his fellow Jews, about the ONLY one around who has the right to the sort of hatred expressed above? But not so.

In Jerusalem, during the Eichmann trial, Prof. Wiesel recognized a man from Auschwitz. He was one who distributed soup, a German, riding on the bus now with Prof. Wiesel. Prof. Wiesel went up to him, asked him if he was from Germany, had been in Poland, in Auschwitz, in a particular block. The man shuddered with the recognition of what this meant. Prof. Wiesel had a few seconds to pass judgment on this man. He had beaten Prof. Wiesel, but he had not been particularly cruel. Prof. Wiesel told him not to worry. In all the time he had to judge, he did not.

There are some people on this earth who seem to melt through the hatred, through having been forced to swallow the fire for the sake of their own existence, and make the world a better place to be because they simply choose to be how they are.

"I do not believe in collective guilt or punishment. Children of murderers are not murderers; they are children. I believe in the responsibility of each of us to maintain the dignity of each other."

Once he went to Germany and talked, gently, about what had happened to him. It was a New Germany, one that had gone a long way in seeking reconciliation with the Jews. Prof. Wiesel was talking with the German Prime Minister and acknowledged all the good that the Germans had done. He then asked, “You have never asked the Jewish people for forgivness. Why not?” A week later, the Prime Minister flew to Israel and did just that.

He closed his speech thusly: "God is God and he judges. Sometimes my words carry. I thank you for being here tonight."


for what it's worth said...

Professor Weisel spoke so eloquently about Auschwitz with Oprah today. He spoke of the camp being a hallowed ground where the souls still speak through the silence. He said that the camp remains as it is, not only for historical purpose, but for an educational one as well. Then we need to educate ourselves.
Looking at our world today, we may not have a "camp" in our neighbourhood, but there still lingers the same hatred for others that there was in Germany and Poland. Whether it is for someone's ethnicity, religion or sexual preference the bigotry and anger are everywhere. We have much to learn from Professor Weisel. As you said, if he, as have other Jewish survivors can forgive, then it behooves us to make an effort to forgive those who trepass against us. Ignorance is not bliss, it is ignorance. Ask questions, seek out solutions to conflict by buoying up our citizens instead of condemning them without a proper knowledge of who they are individually.
I have taught my children that it is not my place or theirs to judge, it is God's. Our job is to love our fellow man, so that when our own judgement comes, we can stand before the Almighty and be proud of our life and the difference we have made. I hope to have some of the courage a man like Professor Weisel bears.

That One Guy said...

Interesting - I had no idea who this was when I read the other story...

Makes one wish more people were of his type.

Reach Upward said...

In our modern pluralistic society, most of the Islamic quotes in your post come across as incredibly bizarre and barbaric. But as I study the Old Testament, I have to wonder if some of my ancestors way back when might not have been perfectly comfortable with similar teachings. Indeed, more recent ancestors probably felt the same way about their belief systems. I think I know the comment you're fishing for, but I'm not quite ready to go that far. One has to be careful when comparing apples and oranges.

To be honest, Judaism and Christianity both have some very violent and barbaric elements in their histories. But the main bodies of both religions have come to grips with modernity and pluralism. (Not that they don't both have extremist elements hanging around, but they're comparatively minimal.) Significant chunks of Islamic society have yet to come to grips with modernity.

Many Christians I know would find "battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice" to be a virtuous pursuit, but could not remotely imagine using the methodologies taught by Wahhabists in that pursuit. Nor would they view the pursuit and its goals in the same way, Bilical and millenarian language notwithstanding. There simply aren't that many Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. around today that feel or teach that it's their duty to kill you if you don't believe as they do.

That One Guy said...

In general, your middle paragraph is where I was coming from - with some local anecdotal stuff thrown in for good measure.

You mentioned Pluralistic society, I'll use the term "Global Citizenship". Somewhere, there has to be some sort of "you do your thing, and I'll do mine" kind of idea going on, especially when both of us expect to be able to call upon the other at some unforeseen point in the future, for any reason.

Increasingly, intolerance and violence, and in particular, intolerance/violence (9/11)(Gaza) in the name of God - whatever he/she may look like, has no place here. We no longer live in Old Testament times. We no longer live in 19th or 20th century times, even - now we must all live together. Is it getting hot in here???

Effectively, our world is becoming smaller. We find ourselves looking out from our own borders (personal, family, civic, state/region, country, continent, world, taking upon ourselves some responsibilities to help those around us, at least to coexist peacefully, no matter how far they are away from us. With that, we must also be tolerant of the things about which we used to know nothing - cultures, etc.

It started to happen with airline travel in the 50's and 60's, and now it is on an exponential growth spurt compared to that, and as co-habitants here on earth, we need to figure out a way to all get along in the same sand-box (oops... perhaps a poor analogy there, given the players...).