September 27, 2004
Special Dispatch No. 790

Egyptian Intellectual: Al-Azhar University Curricula Encourage Extremism and Terrorism

Progressive writer and Cairo University lecturer on the sociology of religion Sayyed Al-Qimni wrote, in an article in the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Youssef, that the curricula of Al-Azhar University encourage extremism and terror. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

'A Few of the Sheikhs at Al-Azhar are Trying to Drag it [Back] to the Middle Ages'

"Let us take a look together at the curricula of Islamic jurisprudence, which are taught in Al-Azhar's intermediate stages, not in order to call for the banning of [books on these curricula], but in order to understand that their removal from the curricula is the first step required for reform. They should, of course, remain in an Islamic library as a source for whoever wants to know what the Muslims thought in the golden era of Islamic jurisprudence and in order for us to understand the way of thinking of [certain] sheikhs [today] and what they want from our youth…

"Al-Azhar continues to be a place of acquisition of education and defense of moderate Islam and of the [generally] accepted ideas. Nevertheless, a few of the sheikhs at Al-Azhar are trying to drag it [back] to the Middle Ages and to draw [their ideas] from some radical schools of thought. If Al-Azhar gets rid of them and of their ideas, it will remove those black stains from its garments.

"If we examine some of the extremist curricula, we will find that the principle of fighting any non-Muslim and killing him is not an offensive innovation by [founder of Wahhabism] Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab and by [ Ayman ] Al-Zawahiri, [Osama bin Laden's deputy and the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization]. This [is] because a book of the Hanafi [school of thought], ' Al-Ikhtiyar fi Ta'lil Al-Mukhtar ' [by Abdallah Ibn Mahmoud Al-Mawsily ] teaches the next generation that 'the war against the infidels is an obligation of all intelligent, healthy, free, and able men… And when the Muslims besiege their enemies in a town or a fortress, they must call upon them to convert to Islam. If they convert, [the Muslims] must cease fighting them, and if they do not convert, they must call upon them to pay the jizya [poll tax]. If they refuse to pay the jizya, the Muslims must call upon Allah's help in the war against them, to erect catapults, to destroy their fields and their trees, to burn them, and to pelt them [with catapult stones], even if [the enemies] use Muslims as a human shield…'"

'What Kind of Thinking are We Teaching Our Next Generation, that It has the Right to Attack Other Countries in Order to Convert Them to Islam?'

"The book then instructs [Muslims] to act with compassion in this war: 'The Muslims must not breach a contract assuring protection [of the subjugated], must not take more than their share of the booty, must not mutilate bodies, kill madmen, women, children, cripples, one whose right hand has been amputated, or an elderly man, unless one of them is a king or a person able to fight, to incite [to war], to give advice about war or to instigate [fighting] by means of his possessions.' The stipulation that women, elderly, and cripples would be pardoned if they did not incite to war implies that everyone, in effect, should be killed, since no citizen living in a country attacked by foreigners does not incite to battle…

"Let us continue to read from some of the curricula of the extremism [' Al-Ikhtiyar fi Ta'lil Al-Mukhtar ']: 'When the imam conquers a country by force, if he so desires – he will divide it among those taking the spoils, [and] if he so desires – he will execute the prisoners, subjugate them, or leave them under the patronage of the Muslims. [Moreover,] if he wishes to return [to the country] [and has] livestock, which he cannot take with him, he will slaughter and burn it.'

"What kind of way of thinking are we teaching our next generation, that it has the right to attack other countries in order to convert them to Islam or to [make them] pay jizya, and that if they don't – we will annihilate them down to the very last one? [That it has the right] to pillage countries and return with the loot, and [that] if it cannot transport the booty – [that it can] burn it? Can anybody imagine a member of another religion, paying jizya, in a state of subjection, to a people he does not recognize, merely because it is able to attack, to kill and to slaughter?… [2] "

'One Must Degrade Dhimmis [Non-Muslims Living in Muslims Countries]'

"And what about after the conquest, the emigration and the taking up of residence in the conquered land alongside its non-Muslim residents, who pay the jizya ? [On this matter] there are guidelines [in ' Al-Rawdh Al-Murabba Sharh Zad Al-Mustaqna ' by Mansur Ibn Yunes Al-Buhuti ] [through which] one can see what the position of an Al-Azhar graduate [will be] towards his [non-Muslim] brother in the [Arab] homeland: '… The [hair] on their foreheads must be cut… They are permitted to ride [mounts] other than horses, such as donkeys, without a saddle… [One] must not rise in their honor or precede them in greetings… [One] must not offer them condolences, visit them in sickness or participate in their celebrations. They are forbidden to establish new churches or to rebuild those that were destroyed… They are forbidden to build a structure higher than those belonging to Muslims… They must be forbidden to raise their voice in mourning the dead.' If a dhimmi [3] invites a Muslim to a wedding celebration, he must not go, 'because one must degrade dhimmis …'"

'This is What is Taught at Al-Azhar … and there are Other Things that Arouse Disgust'

"What else do these extremist curricula contain…? In ' Al-Rawdh Al-Murabba ' … we find the following legal issue concerning relations between the dhimmi and the Muslim: If someone of the People of the Book, [4] the dhimmi, avoids paying the jizya – his life and his property are permissible. If [the dhimmi ] kills a Muslim, he must be killed, but if a Muslim kills him – the Muslim is not to be killed, but must pay blood money, and the blood money for [the killing of] a dhimmi is half the blood money for [the killing of] a Muslim. The height of justice.

However, in addition to all this darkness and ugly tyranny, there are anecdotes. Thus, in a chapter of ' Al-Rawdh Al-Murabba 'de aling with endowments, you find that it is permitted to endow [property] for the benefit of an infidel who is not an enemy or of an apostate. Why is this? [You will] enjoy this [explanation]: because it 'will not be forever, since they both will be executed shortly.'

"In addition, one must prevent the irreverent from reading the Koran and [one must] forbid an infidel to read it even if one wants him to convert… In a chapter about amputation [as punishment] for theft, [it is written that] amputation is conditional upon the stolen [property] being respectable property. [This means that] it is permissible to steal musical instruments…

"This is what is taught at Al-Azhar … and there are other things that arouse disgust and are hurtful, such as the purification condition after relieving oneself… It is forbidden to use respectable paper, meaning the kind on which the name of Allah or a private name is written, such as [books of] Hadith and Shari'a [Islamic law]. However, it is permissible to use disreputable paper, the kind on which philosophical or logical sciences are written, providing one verifies that Allah's name is not mentioned [from ' Al-Iqna' fi Haqq Alfaz Abi Shuja 'by Mansur Ibn Yunes Al-Buhuti ].

"And we wonder where terror comes from. This is just an example of the writings of extremist sheikhs who have infiltrated our noble religious institution. We present [these writings] in the hope that these curricula will be reexamined, that Al-Azhar will attend first and foremost to what is happening within its ranks, and will place the interests of the homeland at the top of its priorities…"


[1] Roz Al-Youssef (Egypt), July 10, 2004.

[2] The concept of the jizya to be paid in a state of subjection appears in Koran 9:29: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, of those who are the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya in a state of subjection."

[3] A non-Muslim under Islamic rule whose life and property are protected, while living in an inferior status.

[4] A Jew or a Christian, who may be offered the choice of living under Muslim rule as dhimmi s while retaining their religion.


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