In 2019, Turkey's Ministry of Education published an edition of a two-volume textbook called "Fundamentals Of Religious Knowledge – Islam II." The book, which is reportedly used in 12th-grade classrooms across Turkey, includes a chapter about jihad that, among other things, says that: "All actions, including war, done to exalt the name of Allah (may his glory be exalted) are included in this concept [of jihad]... It can be performed by any means of the heart, tongue, hand, or weapon that human action makes possible... Our ancestors, who saw martyrdom as one of the supreme stages, when they set out for jihad in the path of Allah, would say 'If I die, I will be a martyr; if I live, I will be a gazi [a fighter in a holy war],' and in saying so they never held back from sacrificing their lives." In 2019, over 891,000 students graduated from high school in Turkey, while in 2020, 894,100 students did the same.
This report will review excerpts from the chapter of the textbook:
"All Actions, Including War, Done To Exalt The Name Of Allah Are Included In This Concept"
The chapter on jihad introduces the concept as follows: "One of the most important forms of worship in our religion is jihad. Based on its root, the word 'jihad' means working, growing tired, and expending effort by word and action using all one's strength. All actions, including war, done to exalt the name of Allah (may his glory be exalted) are included in this concept. When the Islamic scholars emphasized the general meaning of jihad, they said that it was a required form of worship for Muslims. Whereas, when they use the meaning of war, they are in consensus on the idea under normal circumstances it is farz-i kifaye (incumbent upon the community), and in times of general mobilization, it is a form of worship that is farz-i ayn (incumbent upon the individual) and that all Muslims must carry out.
"When it is used as a term, jihad has a wide and interconnected framework of meaning. Just as it means to exert effort in using all material and spiritual possibilities for good to prevail and for evil to be dislodged, it also means defending the homeland against enemies in armed struggle. On the other hand, all struggle that humans give against any kind of evil and shaytan, and the effort to defeat the ugly passions inside oneself are also evaluated in the framework of jihad. When all of these meanings are considered, it can be seen that jihad has a wealth of meanings and that is not only war, that it is at the same time a struggle against the nafs [i.e., ego] and the shaytan; seeking to convey the beauties of Islam to all people through outreach and invitation; by struggling in enjoining good and forbidding evil, and spreading goodness and blocking evil. One who performs jihad is a mujahid."
Jihad Means "Defending One's Islamic Country And The Muslims Against Every Kind Of Danger And Attacks, And When Necessary On This Matter, To Fight"
The textbook cites an entry in the Encyclopedia of Islam, which was published by the Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı ("The Diyanet Foundation Of Turkey," TDV), a government-run charity established in 1975 to support Turkey's Religious Affairs Ministry. For a comprehensive study of Turkey's Religious Affairs Ministry, see MEMRI Special Report 8860, Turkey's Religious Affairs Ministry, Authority Over Hagia Sophia Mosque And 2,000 Mosques Around The World, Part I – Turkish Press Reports On Ministry's Jihad Connections, Corruption, July 23, 2020. The quoted portion from the textbook reads in part: "Jihad carries a comprehensive meaning, from serving Allah as one's life purpose to trying to apply to individual and social life the limits that Allah and His prophet put down, to reaching out to non-Muslims, to defending one's Islamic country and the Muslims against every kind of danger and attacks, and when necessary on this matter, to fight; it can be performed by any means of the heart, tongue, hand, or weapon that human action makes possible."
The chapter quotes a number of Quran verses to support its promotion of jihad, including: Quran 22:39: "Permission to fight back is hereby granted to those being fought, for they have been wronged. And Allah is truly Most Capable of helping them prevail"; Quran 2:190 "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors"; Quran 29:69: "As for those who struggle in our cause, We will surely guide them along Our Way. And Allah is certainly with the good-doers"; and Quran 25:52: "So do not yield to the disbelievers, but strive diligently against them with this Quran."
"Allah Has Given The Good News Of Paradise To Those Who Make Jihad With Their Lives And Their Property"
The schoolbook goes on: "In our time, those who oppose Islam bring jihad to the agenda as something to stay away from by equating it with bad examples, and it is desired that Muslims and these concepts be remembered with these negativities. In the Quran and in the hadith of our prophet (saw) those who make jihad are praised, and Allah has given the good news of paradise to those who make jihad with their lives and their property. In one verse, Allah, by saying: [Quran 49:15] ' The true believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger – never doubting – and strive with their wealth and their lives in the cause of Allah. They are the ones true in faith,' says that making jihad is one of the traits of the true believers..."
"Our Prophet (saw) placed such importance [on jihad] that he did not reconcile avoiding jihad with being a believer, and by saying, 'whoever dies without having fought in the way of Allah or (at least) wanting to do so dies in a type of hypocrisy,' he encouraged the believers to make jihad. In another hadith our prophet said this about jihad: 'Oh people! Do not wish to meet with the enemy, ask for forgiveness from Allah. But, when you do meet with the enemy, be patient and know that paradise is under the shadow of swords.'"
"Jihad Will Always Be A Necessary Form Of Worship, Since The Struggle Between Truth And Falsehood Will Continue Until The Day Of Judgement"
"Our forefathers made jihad, within the framework of being for the sake of Allah, in the path of Allah, and for the Word of Allah, into a way of life, and made the cause of exalting the name of Allah into a duty for themselves. Our ancestors, who saw martyrdom as one of the supreme stages, when they set out for jihad in the path of Allah, would say 'If I die, I will be a martyr; if I live, I will be a gazi [a fighter in a holy war],' and in saying so they never held back from sacrificing their lives."
"Jihad will always be a necessary form of worship, since the struggle of truth and falsehood will continue until the Day of Judgement. In our day, Muslims are obliged to make an effort in the path of Allah, above all when it is necessary to be ready to fight for the purpose of defending their homeland. Defending one's homeland, religion, flag, and sacred values are duties from which a Muslim can never back down. Jihad is one of the forms of worship that the Muslim must, by thinking of martyrdom, carry out using his life, property, knowledge, and every kind of talent that Allah has granted to him." A separate box on one page quotes Quran 2:154: "Do not think that those who have been killed in the path of Allah as dead. No, they are alive, but you cannot know this."