February 19, 2019 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1442

Review Of Qatari Islamic Education School Textbooks For The First Half Of The 2018-2019 School Year – Chapter IV: Attitudes Towards Jews And Christians, Islam's Superiority Over Other Religions

February 19, 2019
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1442

Qatar's Islamic Education books for Grades 7-11 devote considerable space to the attitude towards Jews and Christians in Islam, while quoting from the Quran and Hadith but occasionally also linking the material to the current era. The Jews are presented, inter alia, as treacherous, quarrelsome, crafty, and vindictive, as well as weak and wretched. These claims about Jews are commonly found in Arab antisemitic propaganda.[45]

Judaism is presented as a false religion that distorts the word of God, and the Jews are accused of having maligned the prophets and even killed some of them, out of their "evil nature." Christianity is presented in an equally negative light, whereas Islam is presented as the true religion intended to deliver mankind out of darkness into the light.

The negative presentation of the Jews is apparently meant to justify their expulsion, the violence against them and the seizing of their property by Muhammad and the Muslims during the early years of Islam in Medina.

Chapter IV reviews the attitude towards Jews and Christians, and the status of Islam verses other religions, as presented in the Qatari Islamic Education books for grades 7-11.


Islam's Superiority Over Other Religions

The Islamic Education textbook for Grade 10, which deals with Islamic pride and conviction, stresses that one of the fundamental values of Islam is the Muslim's pride in his religion – which is the true faith – and his recognition of Islam's superiority over its enemies. The book states: "Greatness, pride and honor are some of the values that Islam instills in the hearts of its followers, the believers, and it refuses to let them be in a state of humiliation or dishonor. On the contrary. [Islam] aspires to imbue every Muslim with confidence in the mission entrusted to him by Allah: to deliver mankind from the darkness into the light and from the worship of [their fellow] men to the worship of the Lord of creation. Islam demands that Muslims always arm themselves with a sense of greatness, honor and superiority, and with conviction that anyone who regards himself as great, other than Allah, is small, and that anyone who takes an arrogant stance vis-vis Allah is despicable and wretched, as stated [in the Quran 35:10]: " Whoever desires honor - then to Allah belongs all honor."[46]

"The True Religion: Islam." The Muslim's mission is to deliver mankind from the darkness into the light (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 10, p. 181)

A subsequent section explains the importance of the Muslims' sense of pride in his religion. It says: "When the faith becomes established in the believers' heart, he immediately absorbs the [sense of] greatness. This impels him to speech and action that emanate directly from an immense sense of pride and superiority over the enemies of this religion."[47]


Attitude Towards Jews and Judaism

As stated, the textbooks present the Jews as treacherous and crafty but at the same time as weak, wretched and cowardly.

The Jews Are Treacherous And Crafty

The Islamic Education textbook for Grade 7 devotes a chapter to the Battle of the Trench (627).[48] Explaining the historical background of the battle, the book states that in the year before it, Muhammad had "exiled the Jews of the Banu Nadir [tribe] from Medina to Khaybar because of their dishonest and treacherous ways,"[49] and that "their hearts burned with hatred for the Prophet and his preaching [da'wa], so they decided to take revenge [upon him]."[50] It states further that the main reason for the Battle of the Trench was "the Jews' incitement of the Arab tribes against the Muslims... The heads of the [Jewish] Banu Nadir tribe, chief of them Huyayy ibn Akhtab, approached the Arab tribes (chief of them Banu Quraysh and Banu Ghatafan), and incited them to join the battle against the Muslims." These Jews and Arabs, the book relates, then formed an army of 10,000 fighters, which was joined by the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, whose members were neighbors of the Muslims and "who violated their contract with the Muslims and besieged them [along with the army] on every side."[51]

Following this, the students are asked to discuss the Banu Qurayza tribe's violation of the contract with the Muslims from the following perspectives: the effect it had on the polytheists, the effect it had on the Prophet's Companions, and the Muslims' response, and to "infer the principle [that can be formulated regarding] the attitude towards the Jews."[52] Listing the "lessons to be drawn" from the Battle of the Trench, the chapter states, inter alia, that "treachery and perfidy are among the traits of the Jews throughout history.">[53]

Assignment requires students to conclude what attitude should be taken against the Jews (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 7, p. 88)

"Treachery and perfidy are among the traits of the Jews throughout history" (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 7, p. 92)

In the Grade 8 textbook, in the section on the Battle of Khaybar (629), which is established in Muslim history as the battle in which the Jews of Medina were defeated, the Jews are again described as vindictive, cunning and cowardly. This textbook reiterates that the Prophet's expulsion of the Jewish Banu Nadir tribe from Medina to Khaybar in 626 "wounded the souls" of these Jews and filled them with hatred and vindictiveness, so the Prophet had no choice but to fight them. The Jews of Khaybar "used their wealth and their property to carry out cunning ploys against Islam and the Muslims" and form a front against them together with Arab tribes. Therefore, "Muhammad ordered his Companions to punish the Jews for betraying the Muslims and eliminate the danger they posed to the Islamic state, which could only [be done] by thoroughly driving them out."[54]

The assignment that follows this section states that "the Quran describes the Jews as haters of the truth [i.e., Islam] and its followers [the Muslims], as Allah said [in the Quran], verse 9:32: 'They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah refuses except to perfect His light, although the disbelievers hate it.'" The students are then asked to explain the connection between this description of the Jews and Muhammad's "decision to attack them."[55]

The students are asked to explain the connection between the Jews' trait as "haters of the truth" and Muhammad's decision to attack them (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 8, p. 76)

The Jews Are Weak And Cowardly

Also in the context of the Battle of Khaybar, the Jews are presented as cowardly, in contrast to the brave and smart Muslims. The book relates that Muhammad sent 'Abbad ibn Bishr to gather intelligence about the enemy, and the latter recruited a Bedouin who "told [the Jews] about the Muslims' great numbers and extensive gear, which terrified them and diminished their fighting spirit." When the Jews understood that Muhammad was about to attack them, they fled to their fortresses, because "it is not their custom to confront [the enemy] in battle." Muhammad's army besieged them and managed to "conquer their fortresses one by one, and the first fortress to fall was Na'im, the strongest of them all."[56] Eventually, the Jews sued for peace, and after negotiations Muhammad agreed to take half their property as loot. The book states that "the Jews had 93 fatalities while the Muslims had only 15 martyrs." The Jews of Fadak, north of Khaybar, offered Muhammad all their property if he agreed to spare them, so "Fadak was conquered without any fighting." [57]

Listing the "lessons to be drawn from the Battle of Khaybar," the chapter states, inter alia, that "cowardice and weakness are among the traits of the Jews throughout history."[58]

Among "the lessons to be drawn from the Battle of Khaybar" is that "cowardice and weakness are among the traits of the Jews throughout the generations" (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 8, p. 80)

One of the assignments at the end of the chapter requires the students to compare the Jew's attitude towards the Muslims in the time of [Muhammad's] prophecy and their attitude towards the Muslims today, in light of the material learned in the lesson. (The students are apparently expected to infer that the traits ascribed to the Jews in the chapter – treachery, cowardice, etc. – are also applicable to the Jews today).[59]

Assignment: Comparing "the Jew's attitude towards the Muslims in the time of [Muhammad's] prophecy and their attitude towards the Muslims today" (Islamic Education textbook for Grade 8, p. 83)

Judaism Is A Distorted Religion

In a chapter about Judaism and Christianity in the Grade 11 textbook, Judaism is defined as a false religion and the Jews as a people who distorted the religion presented to them by the Prophet Moses: "'Judaism' is a new term referring to the false religion that deviated from the true religion presented by [the Prophet] Moussa [i.e. the Biblical Moses]. Moussa didn't present [the religion known as] Judaism, but rather Islam, in the overall sense... Moussa was sent to... the Hebrews, the descendants of Ibrahim [Abraham], known as the tribes of Israel, to preach the singularity of God and the renunciation of idols. However, they... 'took [Allah's] words out of context,[60] violated agreements; claimed that 'Uzair was the son of Allah[61] and [adhered to] other corrupting religious principles.[62]

The book lists the ways in which the Torah is distorted: 1.It attributes faults and weaknesses to God, saying, for example, that "He regretted his actions, such as the troubles he brought upon the Jews," or that "he grew tired and had to rest like a man"; 2. "It describes the prophets in a manner unbefitting their noble stature, claiming that Noah, Lot, and Daoud [David] consumed wine, engaged in forbidden behaviors, cheated, betrayed, etc."; 3. "It omits laws and rules handed down to the Israelites that prove the authenticity of Muhammad's prophecy"; 4. It is "racist, since it presents the Jews as the Chosen People and all other nations as inferior."[63]

Due To Their "Evil Nature," The Jews Killed Their Prophets

The chapter on the principles of faith in the textbook for Grade 8 states that the Jews slandered their prophets and even killed them: "The Israelites were known for accusing their prophets of lying. Due to their evil nature, they even killed several prophets. They made up false and hideous allegations against Daoud, a prophet of Allah, to the point where he cursed those of his own people who disbelieved. Allah says [in Quran 5:78]: 'Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of Daoud and of 'Issa son of Maryam [Jesus]. That was because they disobeyed and transgressed.'"[64]

The Jews Want To Take Over The World

The chapter on Judaism and Christianity in the Grade 11 textbook states that Zionism is "a Jewish political movement" that has nothing to do with the Jewish religion. But at the same time the passage associates Zionism with the antisemitic trope about Jewish world domination, saying that this movement persuaded the majority of the world's Jews to "take over the world so that control [of it] would be in the hands of the Jews."[65]


View Of Christianity

Like Judaism, Christianity is also presented as a religion that has been distorted. The Islamic Education textbook for Grade 11 states: "Christianity was a monotheistic religion, but over time, its adherents took Allah's words out of context and claimed belief in three divine beings [the Trinity] and in other corrupting religious principles.[66]

The book lists the "distortions" of the Gospel, i.e., beliefs that are incompatible with Islam.

  • First, it states that the Christians themselves acknowledge that the Gospel is not divine in origin: "[The Christians] themselves do not claim that [the Gospel] came down to them from Allah but attribute it to its authors, such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and others..."

    Some of the additional "distortions" listed are:

  • "The blatant contradictions and differences between the various Gospels, and various errors that reason cannot accept, which prove that they couldn't have been [authored] by Allah."

  • "The attribution of despicable acts to the prophets of Allah and His messengers."

  • "The belief in the Trinity, or in three divine beings: the Father Allah, the Son the Messiah [Jesus], and the Holy Spirit – [the angel] Gabriel... and [the fact that] they accuse anyone who denies this of heresy. Allah spoke and refuted their words [in Quran 5:73]: 'They have certainly disbelieved who say, "Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.'"

  • "The belief in the Cross and in redemption: [The Christians] claim that Adam died without repenting the sin of eating from the Tree [of Knowledge], and that [his] sin passed down to all his descendants, without exception, until the Messiah came to atone for the sins of those who [lived] before and after him... by sacrificing himself and being crucified as redemption for [all of] mankind and in order to save it...

  • "Sanctification of the Cross and wearing it – because the Cross is symbol of salvation, for [Jesus's] suffering redeemed the sins of mankind..."[67]



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