By: MEMRI Staff
The website of the Qatari Education Ministry posted its Islamic Education school textbooks for Grades 1-12 in Qatari state schools, for the first half of the 2018/2019 school year. The Grade 11 book devotes a chapter to the subject of orientalism and the Christian mission. The chapter presents orientalism and the Christian mission as "the most obvious, significant, and malicious" expressions of "the Western ideological attack" aimed at destroying Islamic culture and undermining Muslims' fundamental principles. Orientalists are referred to as scholars from the West whose research – a product of the Catholic Church – is aimed at vilifying Islam and compensating for the failure of the Crusades and to advance religious, scientific, commercial, cultural, and political goals. It states that orientalist research served Western colonialism by providing advance intelligence that aided the colonialist takeover of the Muslim world and helped "spread Western culture from a position of patronization of other peoples." It adds that orientalist research is biased and is aimed at casting doubts upon the prophethood of Muhammad and distorting Muslim history, while deliberately focusing on its dark chapters and disregarding the golden ages of Islam. At the same time, it presents a number of what it termed "fair" orientalists who praised Islam – among them German author Sigrid Hunke, who was a member of the SS's German Sciences Service.
This report will review the subject of orientalism and the Christian mission as taught in the Qatari Islamic Education textbook for Grade 11.
"Orientalism And The Christian Mission Are The Most Obvious, Significant, And Malicious" Manifestations Of The Western Ideological Attack On Islam
The chapter, which presents orientalism as one of the manifestations of the Christian mission, opens with Verse 2:120 of the Quran, which states: "And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion." The student is asked, "Have you seen anything in reality that proves this verse?" (p. 162).
The introduction to the chapter states that since the beginning of preaching to Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, "there has been a struggle between the righteous path and deviation from it, between truth and falsehood. The flag of falsehood was borne by the polytheists. The Jews went in the polytheists' path, and all the enemies of the [Islamic] ummah allied with them. Thus it was until the Crusader armies attacked the Muslim lands, motivated by blind fanaticism aroused by the Christian clergy among the European peoples by attributing the most loathsome plots to the Muslims."
It goes on to say that after the Crusaders were defeated, "the hostility [to Islam] continued under other slogans, without the Islamic ummah being aware of it. Then an ideological attack began, carried out by the enemies of the Islamic ummah by means of hidden weapons and various ways in order to destroy [this ummah's] culture, distance it from its religion, weaken its internal strength and determination, and undermine all its elements and fundamental principles. This attack was manifested in several ways; orientalism and the Christian mission are the most obvious, significant, and malicious of these" (p. 162).
Orientalists Are Western Scholars Advancing Religious, Academic, Commercial, Cultural And Political Goals
The book defines orientalism as "academic activity by Western scholars focusing on the study of the East" and orientalists as "a group of Western scholars who studied Islam, the Arabic language and the languages, religions and cultures of the East with the aim of achieving religious, academic, commercial, cultural and political goals" (p. 162).
Definition of orientalism
Orientalism Is The Catholic Church's Means of Harming Islam And Compensating For The Crusaders' Defeats
The chapter states: "Orientalist studies began in the framework of the Church, and were inspired by it, particularly the Catholic [Church], in order to belittle the principles of Islam and disparage its values, with the aim of defending the Catholic Church as well as to psychologically compensate for the defeats suffered by the Crusaders in the Muslim lands. Afterwards, these studies became a guide for Western colonialism in the Muslim world" (p. 163).
The Goals Of Orientalism: Aiding Colonialism, Spreading Western Culture
One of the reasons orientalism emerged, according to the chapter, was the Church clergy's fear for their status in the Christian world as many Christians began to convert to Islam; orientalism was a way to fight Islam, damage its image, and distance Christians from it. Another goal was to study the Islamic countries, which possessed great natural resources, in order to exploit them as a source of raw materials and also as markets for Western products. The chapter adds that the orientalists provided information about the countries that the West sought to take over for their resources, and that "the connection between the orientalists' studies and the Western governments continues to this day." It states that one of orientalism's main aims is "to spread Western culture from a position of patronization of other peoples." The Europeans, it adds, spread their languages, fought the Arabic language, and lent the Arab and Muslim countries a Western cultural tone, inter alia by means of establishing missionary research institutes in the Muslim world with the aim of disseminating Western culture and ideas (p. 163-164).
Students learn in this chapter about the means by which orientalists promoted their goals: by publishing books on Islam, "most of which were full of vilification of Islam"; by establishing research centers focusing on Middle East affairs "in the service of colonialism"; and through academic instruction and oversight of scientific research carried out by Arab students, including "selecting topics that play up the disputes and divisions among Muslims." (p. 165).
Orientalist Research Aims To Cast Doubts "On The Truth Of The Prophecy Of Muhammad," Distort Muslim History
The chapter presents the aims of orientalist research as follows: "casting doubts on the truth of the prophecy of Muhammad and its divine source" and on the reliability of the hadiths, and arguing that the Arabic language is incapable of adapting and incorporating scientific developments, as a way of claiming that it should be replaced with a different language with the ultimate goal of "eliminating the language of the Quran." Another orientalist aim, according to the textbook, is "casting doubts on Muslim history and depicting it as a series of civil wars amongst Muslims, by highlighting the dark parts of our civilized history and concealing and disregarding its glorious parts [with their achievements] in every area, [chapters of history] which our righteous forefathers wrote in letters of gold." It adds that the orientalists "acted to revive the tribal fanaticism and sectarian disputes to which Islam had put an end" (p. 165).
Among The "Fair" Orientalists – SS Researcher Hunke
The chapter also discusses orientalists it refers to as "fair and less influenced by the motivations of orientalism who carried out praiseworthy academic research." Among these is the Scottish historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who, it states, "saw Muhammad as a hero and devoted many pages in his book The Heroes to him." Also among them are Sigrid Hunke, the German author who researched racial psychology for the SS's German Sciences Service and who wrote Allah's Sun over the Occident (German: Allahs Sonne über dem Abendland), and the French orientalist Alphonse-Etienne Dinet, whose "research of the truth led him to convert to Islam and change his name to Nasr Al-Din" (p. 164).
Missionaries, Orientalists Are Working To Destroy Islam, In Service Of The Church
The chapter also addresses the Christian mission and its areas of activity in the Muslim countries. Education is one area, it says, where the mission worked unchecked and attained achievements by establishing educational institutions, "which unfortunately are very widespread in the Muslim countries and which are in great demand by parents who claim that their children will learn foreign languages [in them]. This comes at a price of neglecting Islamic studies and the language of the Quran." Likewise, it states that poor peoples' need for aid and medical treatment is exploited by so-called charity organizations and medical centers that provide aid and medical services while preaching Christianity (p. 166).
The chapter concludes by showing a link between orientalism, the Christian mission, and the governments of the Christian countries: "The relationship between orientalism and the [Christian] mission is very close and very strong, since orientalism supports the mission, and the source of both is the Church. [Both orientalists and missionaries] are Christian clerics and both serve the Church to the same extent. The mission of all of them focuses on destroying Islam, casting doubts among people about Islam, distorting the history of the Islamic ummah and its great Prophet, and transforming the Islamic world into areas of Western influence" (p. 166).
 Orientalism is defined as "scholarship, learning, or study in Asian subjects or languages," particularly the Middle East. Since the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism in 1978, the term "Orientalism" is "often used with negative connotations of a colonialist bias underlying and reinforced by such scholarship." Merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Orientalism.
 Islamic Education for Grade 11, p. 165. The "righteous forefathers" is a reference to the first three generations of Islam, which are considered the paradigm of righteousness.
 Carlyle's book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History (1841) included a chapter on the Prophet Muhammad.
 The chapter incorrectly translates the title as "The Arabs' Sun Over The Occident." Hunke claimed that the Arabs' influence on the West was the first step in liberating Europe from Christianity.
 An orientalist painter and co-founder of the Société des Peintres Orientalistes Français, also translated Arabic literature into French.